by Mollie Boyd and Abigail Corrigan
Sandi Graham can count the years she has had a passion for teaching, going back from the time she was 5 years old subjecting her father to pretend school. Now, she teaches to empower others. Graham is the proud owner of Vintage Kitchen, 317 Linden St, Scranton. There, she educates both adults and children with classes in both cooking and sewing.
Graham has lived in northeast Pennsylvania for most of her life but left to earn her bachelor’s degree in home economics education (now better known as family consumer science) and nutrition and master’s degree in sports nutrition at Mansfield University.
While Graham did not have a formal business background before she opened Vintage Kitchen, she did learn skills through her well-rounded education. The family consumer science curriculum has a business focus, including classes such as marketing and finance.
Sandi Graham had the idea to open the Vintage Kitchen for 20 years, however, she was especially motivated to open her business when a similar program she had successfully run through a local university for seventeen years came to a halt. She decided to teach the program as her own, naming it Vintage Kitchen. Vintage Kitchen is a hub for learning skills in cooking and sewing, with classes for people of all ages.
“The classes focus on cooking skills to enhance individual and family mealtime,” Graham explains. The lessons give participants the whole cooking experience through hands-on cooking instructions using all the necessary equipment with the provided ingredients. Graham also teaches sewing classes for people of all skill levels. She themes her classes based on current food trends. She reads food magazines and cookbooks for inspiration. Sewing classes are project-based, meaning students learn to cut a pattern, sewing straight and curved seams, seam finishing and back-stitching through example. Vintage Kitchen hosts parties, such as birthday parties, corporate team-bonding events and other private parties.
Graham was motivated to teach lifestyle classes because, she says, “it is what I know best.”
She wants to share her knowledge with others and hopes to teach her students to create healthy, nutritious food in a fun environment. She wants to give people the opportunity to learn how to make meals at home while understanding the nutritional value in what they eat As most small business owners know, it is not always easy to run a company. Graham faced obstacles relating to the business’s location. After unforeseen circumstances, Graham had to relocate from Clarks Summit to Scranton, but she did not let this deter her from educating others.
Graham finds that being a business owner is a rewarding experience. “I can set the hours, I make the rules. And when it is successful, it is nice to think, I made this,” Graham says.
For up and coming entrepreneurs, Graham offers this advice, “If you have an idea, don’t wait. Start. Trust your gut. Make the business sustainable for yourself, your time, your money, your energy. If it fails, so what. You can get fired from a “safe” job.”
Want to join in on the fun? Learn more at vintagekitchencookingclasses.com.
Mollie Boyd and Abigail Corrigan are Marketing majors and The University of Scranton Women’s Entrepreneurship Center interns. They work with Donna Simpson who is Consultant Manager at the University of Scranton Small Business Development Center.