About 5 years ago I was pregnant with my first child and had absolutely no energy. My husband worked until 9:00 or 10:00 most nights. I didn't want to be awake, let alone cook at that hour. Then I saw something on Pinterest about prepping meals for the week all in one day and then just throwing them into the slow cooker throughout the week. Every Sunday I would drag my husband into the kitchen and we would chop, brown and prep everything for the week to come. This worked perfectly for our family!
After our son was born, our friends and family started to catch on to what we were doing and asked us to make extra meals for them as well. Within a few months we had to start buying food in bulk and purchase extra deep freezers to store the meals we were making for others. About this time my husband became convinced that this was a business, I thought he was crazy! We barely had enough in our saving to cover home repairs (most of which are still not done) let alone pour money into opening an actual business. I had never run a business before and I didn't know the first thing about starting one; but he was persistent because he had faith in me and in the concept.
We started small by renting a local kitchen and advertising on social media. It was a very scary process and there were countless times that I thought this was all just too much to handle. Still we pushed on as a family and our little idea started to grow into a real business. It didn't take long for us to outgrow the kitchen we were renting; so we began looking for a kitchen of our own.
The next step was the scariest. We knew that if we really wanted to give this business a shot, we would need a kitchen with a retail space. We were, and still are, far from rich and it costs a lot of money to buy a building and install a custom kitchen for a brand new concept. Since we had no experience with financing, this seemed impossible! We started doing research and after a few loans, using all of our life savings, and help from our family, we had raised just about what we would need to start.
We purchased our building in March of 2014. The build out process was a huge challenge. We had months of delays due to building permits, issues with contractors, and supplies not showing up. We also ran into significant financial issues as almost everything was costing thousands of dollars more than anticipated. There were countless times we thought there was no way we were going to make it to our Grand Opening but somehow we did it. We opened our doors in September of 2014. We had barely enough money left to purchase the ingredients for our first batch of meals.
That was just over three years ago, and at this point, it seems like a lifetime ago. Within the last three years we have had so many ups and downs. Our second baby Isabella was born. We made it through a few very tough summers (who would have thought people don't crock in the summer), and in the past couple years we opened four additional locations, two in Booths Corners Farmers Market, one in Chestnut Hill Philadelphia, and our most recent in Quakertown Farmers Market. (All in PA) Needless to say, we have been busy.
Believe it or not, retail was a very small part of our original plan. Justin (my husband) and I both thought this concept was amazing as an online store but there were a few very large obstacles standing in our way, so we focused on the retail expansion. Throughout the last few years Justin and I have been working tirelessly trying to make this online store a reality, and in December 2016 everything had finally fallen into place and we started shipping to the eastern half of the country. Since then our online business has picked up so much that we have been able to work out agreements with shipping company to expand our reach to the entire country. So our little idea to make home cooked dinners easier that started in our home kitchen has grown into a business with 5 retail locations that has the ability to ship its product to the entire continental United States!
Today I am a proud mom. We have worked so hard for this, it wasn’t easy and it still isn’t; but we are stronger because we decided to take this leap. I feel good about offering a product that helps families. I feel good about the hours we put in and better about the hours we miss with our children because I know we are doing something that will make our family's future brighter.
If your dreams don't scare the hell out of you then they are not big enough. Believe in yourself and follow your dream; and maybe you can make the world a better place in the process.
If it’s with our company or any other small business, the fact is when you shop small your money goes to families instead of investors and to children’s activities instead of hedge funds. So, on behalf of Justin & Izzy, we thank you for making their childhood great and their future bright.