"I am continually impressed by the level of commitment my PNC banker demonstrates. She and her colleagues are empowered to provide a level of personalized service our previous banks couldn't match."
Leaping from Global to Local
After administering a government program for Vietnamese refugee women, serving as a hospital CFO and spending a decade as head of international operations for a Wall Street firm charged with rating global insurance companies, Selina Man stayed awake at night pondering a single question: What next?
"Traveling around the world on business sounds glamorous, but when you do it on a regular basis, it imposes hardships on you and your family," shares Selina, who was born and raised in Hong Kong and has lived and worked in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. "I wanted to enjoy myself doing meaningful work, so I left my Wall Street position to become COO of Ten Thousand Villages, a fair-trade retail business enterprise owned by Mennonite Central Committee."
Selina stayed with the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania-based organization for only a year before realizing that her true passion was to become an entrepreneur. In a stroke of serendipity, her brief stint with Ten Thousand Villages had brought her to the ideal location to pilot a fair-trade cafe. She explains, "In Central Pennsylvania, I found a perfect storefront - an operation that just happened to close the day after I spotted it. Had I been searching in a high-rent district like New York City or Princeton (Selina earned her doctorate in Asian economics at Princeton University and continues to live in Princeton, New Jersey), I might have balked. But the price and location were just right."
Chocolate for Life
Selina's restaurant, Cafe Chocolate of Lititz, specializes in organic, dark and fairly traded chocolates, coffees and teas. Her menu also includes dishes featuring fresh, organic, all-natural ingredients. The concept benefits farmers in Lancaster County and around the world. Selina preaches the greater good of indulging in chocolate. "Most of world's chocolate is produced by some of the poorest countries in Africa," she explains. "Our mission statement reflects our commitment to them: Chocolate for life! For the life of the people who grow it, the life of the rainforest that sustains it and the life of us who eat the real thing!"
To Selina, fair trade means fairness to her own 12 employees as well. She empowers them by sharing financial statements and teaching them everything she can. "The smarter your people are, the better your business will perform," she says.
Selina appreciates that PNC, which provides her with a variety of business and personal banking services, takes a similar approach. "I am continually impressed by the level of commitment my PNC banker demonstrates," she says. "She and her colleagues are empowered to provide a level of personalized service our previous banks couldn't match."
Selina has leveraged the Cafe Chocolate brand in another, newer venture as well - Cooking for Life, an organic-cooking school she began a year ago in a renovated house also located in Central Pennsylvania. She is working on expansion plans for the school as well as a franchise model for the cafe, which has drawn significant interest from potential franchisees. "The concept is in high demand but it's complex," she explains. "It's vital that the model ensures fair trade, giving the farmers the recognition and support they deserve, and empowering the people who work at each cafe. Our concept is about having fun, learning and making money. All three must coexist for true success."