Just throw it in a...jar?
1. Tell me a little about yourself and your business? What service (s) or product (s) do you offer/manufacture?
I recently started my business and I produce restaurant styled dessert jars. Really the idea is to have restaurant quality desserts, in your hand and on the go, to take with you. The jar concept is really for those who love desserts but don’t want to eat it all at once. So, you can take a bite and pop it right back in the fridge until you’re ready for more. In a way, it allows you to have portion control. lol
The idea was not really original. I originally saw something similar on Shark Tank and I thought “this looks good” and I eventually tried one at a company I worked for. I’ve always wanted to own a bakery so, I thought “I can do this a lot better!” so, I decided to elevate this idea.
2. How long have you been in business and How did you get started in this business?
I started in December, so fairly recently. Since high school, I’ve always wanted to own my own business and I knew I wanted to get into the food industry. So, it was really just a matter of timing and in December I felt like it was the right time. The crazy thing is, this actually wasn’t my original idea. I actually planned on doing something completely different and just selling the jars for extra money to invest. Now, because they’re both related, I look at it as a way to invest but grow two business at the same time.
3. How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
In general, I’ve always enjoyed cooking. Once I figured out that the food business was what I wanted to pursue, I narrowed it down to what I enjoyed the most. For example, between savory and desserts, I felt like I had the natural ability to create deserts better.
I received my Bachelors in Economics and Finance because I wanted to understand money, which is an important part of business. I later went back to learn the fundamentals and techniques for baking and pastry. That has allowed me to fine tune everything regarding baking, ingredients, and making sure that things are done correctly.
4. What is unique about your business?
I’ve researched this and the only business that I’m aware of that does something like this was the restaurant on Shark Tank. No one does anything like this. Even with the idea from Shark Tank, they baked cupcakes in a jar with frosting. So, what I do is very different. As I mentioned before, I’m thinking of desserts that you will find in a restaurant, so I’m literally creating my own recipes and everything is made from scratch.
Also, when I was in school for baking and pastry, I interned at WD Bar and Grill. That taught me what was specifically important and looked for and the type of products you could make and how to elevate them. I put a lot of time into learning new techniques and matching for the best flavors and products. Also, the jars have multiple uses J
5. What is the most common misconception that people have about your job/occupation?
I’ve learned that in general, working in the food industry, as an employee you don’t really make money. So, it’s a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours and you aren’t really compensated well. Me being on the ownership side was always an interest but I knew that long term it would be financially better. I think a misconception that many people have is that there is a lack of intelligence regarding baking. They don’t think that you would typically go to a four year college or baking school. They also, think you don’t have any other options and that this was kind of a last resort type of thing. I don’t think they take into consideration the education and also the creativity that is invested.
6. If you could pick a mentor to shadow, who would it be?
I don’t really have people that I’ve really looked up to but, I’ve always looked at what I didn’t want and what I needed, to be successful. I don’t really have a celebrity that I follow but I’ve always kind of looked at what I was good at and invested in that. I think having a mentor is amazing but I haven’t really put too much thought into it.
7. What are the biggest challenges that you have experienced as a black business owner? (Or as business owner in general?
I’m still new in this, so I haven’t really experienced anything too difficult. I knew since college that I had a great support system. It took me a while to start but I’ve always had people willing to support. I think the biggest thing for me now, is taking my time and doing things correctly.
I think I will hit road blocks eventually but that’s normal. I’ll just take them for what they are and learn and grow from them.
8. Tell me about a time you've failed and overcame?
I would say business wise, the third jar that I created was a fail. I mis-measured an ingredient and when I tasted it, I immediately knew it wasn’t right. I literally had to remake every ingredient. It was late night, I had spent 5 hours prepping and baking everything and I knew it wasn’t up to standard. And I didn’t want to put out something subpar so I had to start all over.
9. If you had to recite any 90s jam, word for word, to win a million dollars what song would it be?
Uuuuuummmm, yeah I don’t have one! I’ve never been able to recite any song word for word. Growing up in my household we played all gospel music! I don’t think I heard a hip hop song until probably the 8th grade. I’d definitely lose out on that million dollars! Lol I love music but I listen more so for the beat rather the lyrics. I’d say, I pride myself in being different! LOL
10.Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
Actually this year one of my goals was to produce at least $1,000 monthly from selling the jars. I’m boot strapping, which is basically moving at pace they I can personally handle. So, not taking any loans, any outside investments, just working at my own level allows me to take my time. I just want to sustain my business. And launch into the next extension of the business when the time is right.
11.If you were given time off to volunteer, what type of work would you choose? Why?
Growing up, the biggest and most important thing to me was the concept of money. As a child, my family didn’t have a lot of money and there wasn’t really anyone that I was able to look up to and say “they’re well off, I want to be like them”. In high school and college my focus was how to make more money. After learning this I’ve always wanted to give back. Immediately post graduating I became a financial adviser because I love the work and educating the black community on finances. So, teaching the younger generation about the important of finances is important to me. Maybe even finding a way to involve food. People love food and to get the financial education and information that I’ve learned back into the community would be awesome!
12.When the going gets tough and you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” what is your answer going to be? B.) what keeps you motivated?
For me, there are a couple of reasons. One being, the flexibility that having money offers. Secondly, being able to support a family when the time comes also serves as motivation. Lastly, working in the corporate world, I found that taking orders is not something I do well. Especially when I am being told to do something that doesn’t make sense. I want to build something that is my own and work for myself.
13.Tell me something good about yourself that you think I should know about you - something I wouldn't know unless you told me.
Contrary to the stereotypes, I can swim really well. I was on a swim team for a lot of my life.
14.Describe an accomplishment that you are really proud of and tell me how you achieved it?
The biggest thing for me was finishing my degree. I was at UB (The University at Buffalo)
for three years and I wasn’t as focused as I should have been. I was trying to make too many study buddies instead of studying. Lol Before class I would literally stand in the front of the lecture hall, find someone I thought was attractive and talk about studying together. I mean, I made a lot of friends but I wasn’t focused and it showed in my grades. Ultimately, I ended up losing my financial aid my last semester and I had to take two years off to pay my last semester. I then, made a transition in my life. I starting dressing more professional, I cut my hair, I had started a little side hustle, I started sitting in the front of class and had my blinders on. I wasn’t focusing on a girl! lol I eventually got back into school and finished in three semesters. The idea of not being in school and seeing my friends graduating/getting good jobs, while I’m still working at Tops was hitting me. I knew I had to get focused. Since then I’ve put my best foot forward.
15.What was the last thing you learned?
A lot of what I’m learning now is financially based but I’m currently reading How Successful People Think. I’m learning to become a bigger thinker and putting myself in an environment that fosters create thinking. So, trying to get out of my comfort zone and being in a place where you can be progressive.
16.What words of wisdom can you share with readers who want to start their own business?
Based off of what I’ve been through, I say don’t overthink or over analyze what you want to do. Figure out what you want and jump into it as soon as possible.