Meet the Krewe: How One Woman’s Pandemic Career Pivot is Boosting UES Small Businesses

Jen Shoemaker's pandemic pivot led to the creation of Krewe de Fromage/Upper East Site
Jen Shoemaker's pandemic pivot led to the creation of Krewe de Fromage/Upper East Site

MANHATTAN – The Covid-19 pandemic forced many of us to pivot in our lives— whether its habits, lifestyles or for some, their careers— we were all forced to change—  but when March 2020 rolled around and New York went on pause, Upper East Sider Jen Shoemaker didn’t know it was going to take her involvement in the community to next level. The owner of the super-popular UES charcuterie purveyor Krewe de Fromage has a lot on her plate these days— from slinging cheese, fruit and deli-cured meats— to organizing a Holiday Pop-up featuring some of the Upper East Side’s best new small businesses and popular UES influencers.

Jen prepares Krewe de Fromage's charcuterie boards for clients large and small/Upper East Site
Jen prepares Krewe de Fromage’s charcuterie boards for clients large and small/Upper East Site

Before Covid-19 changed the world, Jen was an event planner at a midtown hotel– bringing people together has always been focus— back then though she was planning lavish parties and networking events. When the world stopped, it didn’t take long for Jen to find a way to turn her passion into a business.

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“When most people are strolling through instagram for fashion, parties, etc, I was looking at charcuterie boards,” says Shoemaker. 

In August 2020, as the presidential race was heating up, Jen entered a ‘Vote’ charcuterie board in Chrissy Teigan’s ‘Cravings Board Challenge’— among more than 5,000 entries, Shoemaker’s board made it to the Top 10!

Krewe de Fromage's vote charcuterie won 10th place in Chrissy Teigan's Cravings Cheese Board Challenge
Krewe de Fromage’s ‘Vote’ charcuterie won 10th place in Chrissy Teigan’s Cravings Cheese Board Challenge

That’s when Krewe de Fromage was born. To New Orleans natives like Jen, the word ‘krewe’ has special meaning. A krewe is your kin, your community, your club—tight knit. 

This new business would bring the Upper East Side community— which Jen now considers her krewe– closer together through the shared love of entertaining family, friends and a good charcuterie board. 

It wouldn’t be easy though. 

Krewe de Fromage makes charcuterie boards for clients large and small/Upper East Site
Krewe de Fromage makes charcuterie boards for clients large and small/Upper East Site

“Opening up a small business is hard,” Shoemaker told Upper East Site, “there was a point where I offered $100 gift cards for $50 just to keep money flowing in, hoping that they would be used over time.”

Thanks to support from Upper East Side influencers and creators, Krewe got the boost it needed. 

“After Kerry (@UESThings) posted one of my charcuterie boards on her story, I grew over 500 followers in one day and had sales coming in.”

Krewe de Fromage's charcuterie boards include cheese, meats, fruit and homemade jalapeño honey/Upper East Site
Krewe de Fromage’s charcuterie boards include cheese, meats, fruit and homemade jalapeño honey/Upper East Site

Since its humble beginnings, Krewe de Fromage has grown to offer a wide range of charcuterie boards of all sizes, whether you’re having a romantic date night in the park, hosting a bachelorette viewing party for a couple of friends, or throwing a large holiday party with a grazing station she does it all!

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“My priority for my boards is flavor. It needs to taste good!” says Shoemaker. 

Jen scours the Tri-state for all the board’s tasty ingredients. The bread comes from her favorite bakery in New Jersey. Not to mention her homemade jam and jalapeno honey make an appearance to really elevate the flavor.

Krewe de Fromage's ingredients come from across the tri-state/Upper East Site
Krewe de Fromage’s ingredients come from across the tri-state/Upper East Site

Knowing how grateful she was for being discovered and her charcuterie boards shared, she wanted to pay it forward for others. 

“How do we get more eyes on our community’s creators and small businesses?” Jen asked herself. That’s when it hit her and she organized the upcoming UES Holiday Pop-Up.

Krewe de Fromage's charcuterie boards are packed with deliciousness/Elizabeth Blasi for Upper East Site
Krewe de Fromage’s charcuterie boards are packed with deliciousness/Elizabeth Blasi for Upper East Site

This Sunday, December 5th, Jen and Krewe, along with other local small businesses, creators and influencers will gather at DTUT from 3-7 pm for a mini-market packed with Upper East Side flavor, so you can shop local while crossing gifts off your list. 

“I’m really hoping this Holiday pop-up is an opportunity for the community to learn about its small business’

UES Holiday Pop-Up is this Sunday, December 5th
UES Holiday Pop-Up is this Sunday, December 5th

The pop-up includes Krewe de Fromage gift cards and jam,  jewelry, clothes (both new and vintage), candles, sweet treats, and more from UES small business. On top of that, DTUT is planning cocktail and mocktail specials for the event. 

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Jen says there was so much insterest from UES small businesses and creators, she’s already eyeing a Spring Pop-up next— and that might just be the beginning.

“I would love to establish a community of creators and small businesses here, to get together and learn from one another.“

“In a world that needs more kindness,” Jen says, “why not be kind through cheese.”

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