photo credit: Tamara Fleming Photography
I was introduced to ‘mompreneur’ Djenaba Johnson-Jones of Hudson Kitchen this past November during the first Midnight Market (http://tinyurl.com/jponulp) and I was immediately impressed. Her perseverance and determination is inspiring. She’s the perfect example of looking around and identifying what is missing in the local community and doing something to fix it.
Upon being laid off from her corporate gig in marketing and business development, she decided to take the opportunity to go after a dream — becoming a personal trainer and starting her own fitness and food concierge service. After becoming certified and acquiring a few clients, Djenaba had hoped on finding a location to begin her meal preparation delivery service but unfortunately she was not able to do so.
Rather than letting that take her down, she came up with a new goal she knew would be beneficial to the growing food business in Jersey City. After struggling to find the resources and information to start her own health and fitness company, Djenaba launched Hudson Kitchen in July of 2015, which is a kitchen incubator, devoted to the development of early-stage catering, retail and wholesale food businesses.
In March 2016, she hosted the first ever ‘Table Talk Live’ networking event, which was open to food entrepreneurs and the press. With 75 food entrepreneurs on hand and industry professionals in attendance, guests benefited from panels such as, “Finding Your Mix: Following Your Dreams as a Food Entrepreneur,” which included local food entrepreneurs: Dawn Pascale, founder of OM Sweet Home, a specialty bakery focusing on plant-based and gluten-free desserts and cakes; Alysis Vasquez, executive chef and owner of Chilltown Kitchen, a Jersey City Chef Collective & Pop-Up Supper Club; Eddie Cotto, Jr., executive chef and owner of ME Casa Restaurant and Catering; Lloyd Ortuoste, co-founder of Baonanas, an artisanal banana pudding company.
Using her background in marketing, Djenaba’s first networking even was a hit, which of course prompted a second Table Talk Live event back in June, titled “How to Market on a Budget”. This past Septembers Table Talk Live event was a speed networking event, where 25 food entrepreneurs got 6 minutes with each of the 17 food experts in attendance.
This was a great collaboration, with some of the food experts being local grocery store owners and buyers for Whole Foods. These events are now part of a quarterly series. The latest Table Talk Live event was held on December 8th.
In addition to their very successful networking events, Hudson Kitchen also hosts workshops for food entrepreneurs. Past workshops included, “The First 10 Steps to Starting a Food Business” and “Pricing Food Product for Profit”.
The upcoming workshop, which is going to be a 7-class series, begins January 24, 2017. Titled, “From Concept to Farmer’s Market in Four Months,” the idea is to help future food entrepreneurs get into the 2017 farmers markets, which begins in May. You have the option of taking all 7 classes or as many as you’d like. All information can be found here.
She’s determined to help future entrepreneurs avoid the same setbacks she did and hasn’t stopped pursuing her initial dream — in 2017, Djenaba will be opening a communal kitchen location, that will be shared by local food businesses in need of food preparation space. For more information, visit http://www.thehudsonkitchen.com/.