Mompreneur Spotlight: Caked by Candace, Jersey City’s cake jar baker

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Initially a caterer with her late chef-trained husband, focus eventually shifted to Candace Rodriguez’s self-taught baking skills, which were wildly popular. They both decided to shift the businesses on her talents, thus the origins for Caked by Candace.

Known for her famous jarred cakes, we sat down with Candace to chat and nibble on a few of her most popular cake flavors, which were all very delicious! My favorites were the tres leche and red velvet. Her fondant creations are almost too good looking to eat.

In addition to her cake jars, Candace makes customized cakes for any occasion. Her recent masterpieces have included Shopkins, Moana, a dinosaur, Wonder Woman, a unicorn and even a three-tier wedding cake. She also makes cupcakes, cake pops, cheesecakes and whoopie pies. And if you’re looking for something specific, all you have to do is ask. No challenge is too great!

I have paid hundreds of dollars for a specialized cake, which looked pretty but tasted awful. Candace is not only delivering the idea, but the taste as well!

Since then, Caked by Candace has grown mostly by word-of-mouth, lots of self-promotion and referrals from happy customers. Celebrating her fifth year in business, she has decided to focus on the business full-time and left her day job once and for all! Keep an eye out for her at your local farmer’s markets this upcoming spring and summer, where she hopes to introduce a line of adult beverage cake jars.

You can find many examples of her creations on her Instagram page @CakedbyCandace.

xoxo

Mompreneur Spotlight: Taking Control of Your Child’s Future With Jomayra Torres

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Lola is in kindergarten and learning a lot. I’ve been told she will know how to read by the end of the school year, which is just 3 months away now! She is already reading small picture books to me every night and she’s constantly asking us how to spell words as she writes letters to her friends and family. It’s a very exciting time!

I’m fortunate enough to have her enrolled in a school that’s progressive, but not all families have that opportunity. I know some families that are looking to do more at home, families with older kids that have a hard time helping their kids with their homework assignments. For fellow Jersey City mom Jomayra Torres, her mission is to provide tutoring services to children, as well as parents, making the educational process a family affair.

Jomayra, a mom of 2 kids, realized the need for such a service when several parents reached out to her for help for themselves. An educator at the ‘Beloved Community Charter School’, she educates students and parents with an understanding the new mandates being passed within the new common code standards. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an educational proposal in the United States that details what K–12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. She quickly developed a clientele and realized she had a new business to offer Jersey City.

Named Joys In Teaching, parents have the opportunity to choose from a number of tutors who focus on different areas of interest. In addition to connecting with tutors for one-on-one help, the company also offers workshops for children and parents. There is the ‘Young Entrepreneurs’ workshop, which teaches children the basics of taking their passions and developing a business, including branding and marketing. Then there’s the ‘Young Explorers Club’, where students engage in hands on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities and experiments, which help develop their problem solving and inquiry based skills. They also have a ‘Reading Readiness’ workshop, which is perfect for new readers like my Lola. This program focuses on the alphabet, the concept of print, phonological awareness, phonics, high-frequency words, and fluency, with fine motor and writing integration.

Jomayra understands how expensive it can be to find affordable enrichment programs for our children and that is why she has made all her services affordable. You can review all the programs and prices here.

Joymara Torres

Jomayra’s passion and desire to help our youth is necessary, as she stated during our conversation, “We need to invest in our children and give them real meaningful experiences to help them develop as strong willed and successful adults who give back to their community.”

xoxo

Mompreneur Spotlight: Diana Robles of Loveprint Photography

Sometimes life’s unexpected turns have their own way of leading you to exactly where you belong.

New Jersey native Diana Robles has always loved taking pictures and capturing special moments. After the birth of her son in June 2013, she began photographing his every move. I know we can all relate, right moms?!

At that time, she had relocated to North Carolina to be with her husband, who was stationed there. Diana then had the idea to share her talent with her fellow marine moms on base, as well as her new city. She wanted to capture special moments of families, just as she had done for herself.

With the combination of promoting herself via Instagram, Facebook and word of mouth, she eventually found herself running her very own photography business. After nailing down the family circuit, she started to expand her portfolio by including models.

Today, her areas of expertise include family, maternity, newborn and children. She also holds private sessions. In addition to participating in events around New Jersey, such as the NJ Baby Expo, she is also partnered up with two studios in Hasbrouck Heights and Union, NJ.

With her vision and photographical flexibility, she can basically accommodate any need so whether you want an indoor, outdoor, family or solo session, Diana is your girl! Let’s support this fellow Mom Boss!

Take a look at her work on her Instagram and Facebook pages.

To save 10% on your session, please use promo code: JCMOMBLOG!

xoxo

 

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Mompreneur Spotlight: Christine Goodman of Art House Productions

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Jersey City was a very different city back in the day. There wasn’t a vast amount of cafes, farmer’s markets were rare, and art galleries didn’t exist. The city lacked a general sense of artistic expression. Sixteen years ago, Jersey City resident Christine Goodman was just an actor and student of the arts searching for a place to host her first open mic night. Today, she is the Executive Director and creative force behind Jersey City’s art venue, Art House Productions.

Art House Productions started out very small and grew alongside Jersey City. As the community’s interest in the arts grew, so did Art House Productions. As the programs expanded, so did the staff, as well as the business. Naturally, so did Christine. She grew as an artist, teaching people of all ages, but more importantly, as a business owner.

In addition to searching locations, applying for permits, hiring a staff, social media advertising and filing to become an official non-profit organization, she’s even helped create the Jersey City Arts Council, where people can go and ask all the art-related questions pertaining to all art endeavors in Jersey City.

Today, the Art House Productions is a multi-art venue, offering programs in music, art and theatre. There are programs available all year round, from acting classes for adults, open mics, dance programs, theatre festivals and their very popular program, STAGES! Theater company for Youth. This is a semester-long, afterschool program for performers ages 7-17 years old. At the end of the semester, the kids put on an actual performance for the public.

Their newest program is the Access Committee, which accommodates those individuals with disabilities. The program not only introduces the differently abled to the arts, they are encouraged to attend the shows and participate in them as well. A few weeks ago, the committee hosted, “The Twelve Dates of Christmas,” a one-woman show, featuring Rachel Handler, an amputee.

Still a proud Jersey City resident, but now a wife and mom to two little ones, Christine is proud of what her dream has become. As we sat in the art gallery chatting, I could sense the pride she has for all flourishing artists. I can’t wait for Lola to break a leg next year and attend the STAGES! Program!

xoxo

Hudson Kitchen: Jersey City’s Only Kitchen Incubator

the-hudson-kitchen             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/.

xoxo

Jersey City Tooth Fairy

As a woman, mom, aunt and mentor to a few younger ladies, I stress the awareness of fear; don’t be afraid to take chances, changing your mind, or maneuvering out of your comfort zone. With a Masters in chemical engineering, Dr. Min Jin Kim worked in the engineering field for 4 years before deciding to leave to enroll in dental school. A lot of us wish we could start over, but how many of us really go for it? Well she not only went for it, but excelled at it, such as her current position as Chief of Pediatric Dental Services at the Department of Dentistry at Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC).

Achieving her goal in 6 years, she completed her residency at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn and in 2013, moved to Jersey City. Today, in addition to her Chief of Pediatric Dental Services position, she also teaches pediatric dentistry to dental residents enrolled in the General Practice Residency program at JCMC.

Currently, Dr. Min Jin Kim is opening up a pediatric dental office in the Old Colony Square plaza in downtown Jersey City. About one year ago, she decided to open up her own pediatric dental office. With the guidance of mentors and bosses, she soon found a location. Suited for children of all ages, special needs children and adults as well, the office will be open 7 days a week – yes, I said 7 days a week – and have extended office hours during the week. There’s also plenty of free parking available, which is usually a nightmare for anyone familiar with the downtown Jersey City area.

She recently gave me a tour of the soon-to-be office. She has super-cute balloon light fixtures, alligator sink handle covers, and the entire ceiling is going to painted like the sky, complete with white cloud light fixtures. Families will be able to sit side-by-side during teeth cleanings and watch TV, which are installed in the ceiling above the chairs. At the end of each visit, children will be able to spin the prize wheel and be inducted into the ‘No Cavity Club’ – I mean really, how cute is that?! Make sure you also check her out on Instagram (@deartoothfairyjc), which has plenty of photos.

I applaud her courage. It’s extremely important that women are given real life examples of what is attainable. Remember, not all superheroes wear capes!

xoxo

Imagination Approved

My daughter Lola is an only child and has a very active imagination; she loves to change her voice and do impressions, usually performing for either her father and I or her stuffed animals, demanding our attention.

I searched Jersey City and surrounding areas for a drama or acting class, but only found a few that were geared towards younger kids and only offering standard active play time. Luckily, I saw an Instagram post about Treasure Trunk Theatre (TTT) hosting a new imaginative play program at Three Little Birds.

Founded by Elisa Pupko 4 years ago in Brooklyn, TTT combines her love for the arts and teaching children. After relocating to Brooklyn from Seattle, with her husband, she became a nanny while pursuing an acting career. During that time, she came up with an idea to put together a program to teach kids something different – how to enjoy imaginative play.

She rented a space in a yoga studio, ran her program and after one year, was hosting her first camp. The rest is history! Today, in addition to their recent partnership with Jersey City’s Three Little Birds, a performance studio, TTT offers programs at 9 other locations in Brooklyn, as well as being a part of 2 after-school programs. TTT has 15 teaching artists, with backgrounds in theatre and child education, ready to accommodate any demand.

Lola joined the class and it was kismet! She met a few other girls her age who also had very active and colorful imaginations. Elisa took them on a wild adventure to find the royal rose. The girls did improv, while Elisa encouraged them to use their broad imaginations to lead the story their own way. They opened the treasure trunk and found crowns and wands to take along their adventure. The entire experience was magical to watch; Lola was in her element. At the end of the class, Lola immediately asked when she could return!

I invite you to bring your little ones to explore a magical adventure with Elisa. All my readers can take their first class for just $5! Follow this link to register for an individual class date and enter promo code ‘jcmomblog’ at checkout.

Class Details:

Imagination Adventure
For Ages 3-6
Thursdays 4:30-5:15pm (September 15 – December 15)
No Class November 24

Three Little Birds                                                                                                                                            16 Erie St                                                                                                                                                        Jersey City, NJ, 07302

“Imagination Adventure –  Act, Move, Create, and Play… Where will your imagination take you today? In this class, children will go on a dramatic adventure that begins with the opening of the treasure trunk. The props and costumes inside the trunk provide the spark that inspires a story that we will create using our voices, bodies, and imaginations.  Children will learn how to work together as an ensemble and explore the art of improvisation. This class provides a great way for children to begin incorporating dramatic arts into story telling. Every class is a new adventure!” – Elisa Pupko

xoxo