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Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

Allie Constantinou: The Cheese and Cracker Creator

Example of a Cheese and Cracker NJ charcuterie board by Allie Constantinou (Photo courtesy of Allie Constantinou)

Parties can be extremely stressful for both hosts and guests alike. For hosts, hospitality and perfection are key, but it can be extremely time consuming. From deep cleaning the entire house to preparing food that is both delicious and pretty, there is no room for error. As for guests, the stress is rooted in the desire to show gratitude. Finding the proper courtesy gift can be more challenging than one thinks, especially when you’re already preoccupied with other things. Luckily for all local partiers, though, current WHS senior Allie Constantinou can help ease the stress. Through her small business, Cheese and Crackers NJ, she creates Pinterest worthy charcuterie boards, ready to serve or bring to any party.

For a business owner, confidence is key, and confidence is exactly what Constantinou had when she entered the cafeteria. Her outfit was put together and meshed well with her gold jewelry and shiny, blown-out hair. As she took her seat across from me, the energy she radiated was one that was a refreshing mix of welcoming and professional. 

The start of Cheese and Crackers NJ was one that was sudden and unplanned. It all began around a year ago when Constantinou’s mother informed her of a friend who was looking for a board for her Galentine’s Day party. Constantinou, who has previously made charcuterie boards for fun, accepted the offer. As she finished the board and guests began to arrive, Constantinou was swarmed. “[People] were like ‘Oh my goodness! Do you have a business? Can I follow you on Facebook?’ All these things and looking to order, so I thought it would be silly not to take them up on it,” said Constantinou.

Constantinou, even before creating Cheese and Crackers NJ in 2021, has always shown an interest in business. For a period of time during the pandemic, she ran her own embroidery business called Embroidered by Allie. Constantinou said, “It was short lived, but lived nonetheless.”

Even though the success of this business was not quite the same as Cheese and Crackers NJ, Embroidered by Allie gave Constantinou one very important thing: experience. “Although it didn’t go that well, it kind of led me to pursue another creative endeavor,” said Constantinou. 

Other ways Constantinou expresses her interest in business is through academics. She said, “The two most important classes that I took for a business perspective were entrepreneurship and accounting.” Although entrepreneurship didn’t exactly teach the lessons she expected, she specifically noted that accounting has helped her as it inspired her to “start making spreadsheets to track [her] expenses and what kinds of boards people are ordering.”

Jack Paris, Constantinou’s boyfriend and WHS senior, has taken note of all of Constantinou’s dedication. He shared, “Allie has already taken several business classes in high school and she takes them very seriously.”

After she graduates, Constantinou looks to further her education in business, by attending the McCombs School of Business at University of Texas at Austin and majoring in accounting. Constantinou shared, “I was completely blown away by the [business school]. It’s ranked really well nationally and is the number one accounting program for both undergrad and post grad.”

Her interest in accounting, much like her interest in charcuterie boards, was sparked by her mother. “My mom is an accountant and she convinced me that accountants don’t just do taxes or bookkeeping, there’s actually a lot they can do within the world of business, finance and management that all stem from a good working knowledge of accounting,” explained Constantinou.

Expressing herself in a creative way is very important to Constantinou. Outside of Cheese and Crackers NJ, Constantinou enjoys the creativity of fashion. She believes that fashion is “something that I’ve also done and something that I will continue to do.”

This is a major aspect of why Constantinou enjoys Cheese and Crackers NJ: it provides her with another creative outlet. In the eyes of WHS Senior and friend of Constantinou, Belen Arbelaez, “She truly does have an artistic view for charcuterie boards.” Every board is a new and unique artistic endeavor for Constantinou. She tailors each board specifically to match her audience. 

Cheese and Cracker creator Allie Constantinou (Photo courtesy of Allie Constantinou)

Constantinou’s dedication to the business can especially be appreciated during holiday seasons when she receives the most orders. She shared, “Holiday seasons [are] definitely busy… I have to carve out time between sports and homework and seeing friends and also making time for family.”

A major value of Constantinou is sustainability and maintaining an eco-friendly lifestyle. This was shown through Embroidered by Allie which “was mostly aimed at reducing clothing waste” and currently in Cheese and Crackers NJ as Constantinou reuses the charcuterie boards. “Reusing boards is really important to me because it delivers a better quality product and also it’s more sustainable than buying a pack of 200 plastic containers from Amazon,” she explained.

In the future, Constantinou looks to continue practicing sustainability. In fact when she attends college she is planning on joining an organization at Texas called the Global Sustainability and Leadership Institute that has the goal of putting the environment at the focus of a business mindset.

Not only does reusing the boards have positive effects on the environment, but it also is a smart financial move. Another method that Constantinou uses to limit her expenditures is buying her food in bulk. “Usually I buy cheese in bulk from Costco if it’s a bigger order or if I have multiple orders around the same time,” she said. Properly managing money is an important aspect of a small business that Constantinou has developed a skill for.

Currently, Constantinou publicizes her business only through an Instagram account: @cheeseandcrackers_nj. On Instagram she includes photos of completed boards as well as a link for people to order. The order form allows customers to give personal information, choose the size of the board, choose the type of board, make note of dietary restrictions and inform Constantinou of other additional requests. 

Cheese and Crackers NJ offers four different board sizes: small, medium, large and extra large. For parties who need even more, Constantinou makes a grazing table, which utilizes an entire table rather than just a board.

As for types of boards, Constantinou provides four. The first type is charcuterie which can contain cheese and meats. The second is dessert which includes sweets such as candy and chocolate. Then there is fruit which is a board arranged with a variety of different fruits. Finally the fourth type is crudités which is an arrangement of raw vegetables. 

To assemble each board, Constantinou has a strict routine. She explains that around “two and a half hours before the designated time for pick up or drop off” she will clean her work area and begin the construction of the board. After that she will take photos of her final product, wrap the board, and deliver it to her customer. 

Although most of her customers come from recommendations from people she currently knows, Instagram has allowed her to expand her range and interact with people she has absolutely no connection with. Constantinou said, “I do have a couple people that I have absolutely no connection with and that are buying just because they see online.”

When she leaves for college in the fall, Constantinou looks to continue managing Cheese and Crackers NJ whenever she is home. “I won’t be following [Cheese and Crackers NJ] as closely [while at college]… but I do except to continue it during breaks because the breaks should line up with when I’m busiest anyways,” said Constantinou.

Also in the future, Constantinou looks to expand to a website or other social media platforms to further grow her business. “My Facebook got hacked… but I’m working on getting back to it,” she explained, “I do think maybe for the summer I’ll take more steps and spend money on promotion because I have seen that, that can help.” 

As a result of her dedication and hard work, Constantinou was able to turn Cheese and Crackers NJ into a reliable and respectable small business. Her success acts as an inspiration to all teenagers who hope to achieve a similar outcome with a business of their very own.

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