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

candace

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

JIT

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

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

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

Babies & Barre

Six years ago when I was a new mom, I remember feeling so much love, but also very alone at times. I wasn’t alone in the physical sense; there was my husband, there with me every step of the way, Lola’s grandmother’s checking in, and my big sister trying to answer all of my questions from one moment to the next. But the one thing I was missing was a fellow new mom to talk to, or even cry to – yes, I’m a big crier.

“I started taking barre when I had gained a large amount of weight from having breast cancer at 26,” said Paulina Kashirsky, owner of JC Barre. “The hormones and sickness had me up to a size 12 and I hated my body. I tried running and classes at the gym, but never felt like I was pushed or much changed happen. A friend told me to try barre and I was hooked. The changes started after a few weeks of committing to an unlimited package but I still felt I lacked cardio.  I also always felt like the frumpy no make-up girl in class. I opened JC Barre after testing multiple barre work outs but found one with cardio breaks bit in and tweaked on the method to make a fast flowing and body shaking (I love the shake since it shows change is happening) and fat burning class. We wanted to create a studio that was simple but wasn’t intimidating to any body type and had no preset pretenses. As time went on we saw that people loved our instructors who were often dancers and added dance and cardio blend classes to complement our barre classes.”

Today, six years later, I am so happy to see that there are so many chances for new moms to connect in Jersey City. JC Barre holds a mommy and me barre class (baby not required), where new moms, veteran moms and future moms can get some exercise in and meet new friends. How cool is that!?

I recently sat down with JC Barre’s manager, Megan Smith. I immediately felt like we were bff’s — Megan has such a bubbly and outgoing personality, we were immediately new best friends.

She has 21 years of dance experience behind her. She started dancing when she was 3-years-old. During her Hunter College days, where she majored at their School of Dance. After graduating, she was introduced to Pilates, fell in love with it, and that is when she decided to pursue fitness as a profession.

She is a certified Pilates, MegaPlyojam instructor and an A.C.E. personal trainer, specializing in pre-post-natal. With various clients in NYC, she also teaches youth fitness to the kids at the OLC school. While a college student, she was also a nanny so she has always had a fondness for kids. Doesn’t my new best friend sound super cool?!

When I asked Megan to sum up the studio in a few words, she described as, “A place that’s less stuffy than most barre studios. Always very welcoming and never any judgement.” She adds that the mommy and me classes are a great social factor where you meet new mom friends, and get to connect with them a few times a week at the same time, seeing results with the core-strengthening exercises.

I had never taken a barre class and was intimated. I’m no ballerina, that’s for sure. I attended the mommy and me B3 class and really enjoyed it! It was a fusion of ballet and Pilates. We used small weights that really worked both my arms and legs. Even though it was my first time taking the class, I didn’t feel left behind or judged in any way. Megan encouraged us all and provided clear instructions. The few babies in the class enjoyed the class as well – most of them napped the whole time. After class, I chatted with the fellow moms and even though I have a big girl now, we shared stories and advice. I even bumped into one of the moms at a JC kids event a week later. That’s our awesome community for you!

In addition to 4 mommy and me classes during the week, they also have early morning, evening classes and weekend classes. I highly recommend attending a class to not only become a fit mom, but to find new mom friends along the way. They even offer a Flyaroo fitness class for kids ages 5-6, which is a fitness, yoga and cardio blend that incorporates different cultures from around the world. You can find their full schedule and prices on their website: http://www.jcbarrestudio.com/

*Special deal for my readers and first time JC Barre students: You can take any class on the current class schedule for free. Be sure to mention the JC Mom Blog. *

Keep an eye out for them at the upcoming Grove Street Holiday Market – you just may nab a free class card. They also offer new student specials and have different promotions all year round.

xoxo

Jersey City’s First Midnight Market – November 4th 6:30pm-Midnight

Growing up in Jersey City in the early 90’s, I led a typical childhood — going to the mall, movies, and going out to eat with my parents. Occasionally we would drive out of Jersey City looking for some culinary diversity. After living somewhere your entire life, eventually you will have eaten everywhere. Luckily, Jersey City now features some of the most diverse and delicious food establishments, ranging from food trucks, store fronts, and pop-up shops. Nowadays, I don’t have to travel far to satisfy any of my food cravings!

On November 4th, a bunch of those great establishments will be at the first ever Midnight Market, hosted by two Jersey natives and fairly new Jersey City residents, Perla Nieves and Alysis Vasquez. The ladies are best friends, with a combined expertise in social media and hospitality. Alysis is also the owner and chef of Chilltown Kitchen, the JC pop-up supper club. They cooked up the Midnight Market idea together.

“As people in our late 20s, there isn’t much to do in town after dark besides go to a bar or head into the city.  The ideal spot would be a place to go and just dance with our friends, grab some late night bites, sip on an inexpensive drink and just vibe,” says the French Culinary Institute graduate. “Since that space doesn’t exist, we decided to create it ourselves. Tapping into JC’s love of markets and need for nightlife, we came up with the Midnight Market.”

The Midnight Market is going to be a ‘pay it forward’ campaign, focusing on community strengthening and supporting local businesses. “As an exercise in building community and supporting our vendors, we decided to take a shot of grassroots version of kick starter. The vendors agreed to sell food at a $5 price cap. As a community we can support and encourage their hard work by essentially crowdfunding the participation fee ($150 per vendor)! Contributors can choose their favorite vendor or leave it to fate through random selection,” says Alysis.

The event will be held at the increasingly popular Harborside Atrium, located at 210 Hudson Street. I’m looking forward to covering this event — not only do I get to eat delicious, non-expensive food, but I also get to support our community, which is what Jersey City Mom Blog is all about. See ya there!

xoxo

Namaste, Moms

I’ve practiced yoga on and off for the past 7 years. When I was first introduced to yoga, I instantly fell in love with how it made me feel. I’ve practiced vinyasa, hot yoga, pre-natal yoga and most recently, gentle yoga and meditation. I’m always on the go, both physically and mentally — I just don’t know how to stop. I’ve even contemplated taking up transcendental meditation but finding the time to attend an introductory class has been an obstacle in itself. Luckily for me, Kathleen Kraft, studio manager and YogaCity NYC regular features writer, offered me the opportunity to attend the gentle yoga and meditation class by the Michelle Timek Yoga studio.

Anytime I am covering an event or business for the blog, I want to make sure it can be beneficial to my fellow moms. Well, a few minutes after sitting down with Kathleen, owner Michelle Timek and her husband Dan walked in with their newborn baby girl and it made me smile from ear-to-ear. Seeing her walk in with her child assured me kids are welcomed and will be treated with care and attention; it can be very disheartening to support a business that does not welcome children with open arms. At that very moment, I knew exactly why I was sitting there! In addition, I get to support a new mom and a fellow mompreneur.

Kathleen has been teaching yoga for 3 years and also teaches kids yoga/creative movement to 3rd and 4th graders at the Stevens Cooperative School in Jersey City and Hoboken. A few of the other instructors are moms as well, and all of the instructors have a pre-natal background. The studio offers mommy and me classes for children ages from newborn to 5-years-old. At the moment, they offer two sessions on Tuesday and Saturday. This is a mommy friendly studio!

Located on the 9th floor at 150 Bay Street in downtown, you immediately feel an at home vibe; maybe that’s due to the fact you are in an actual residence. Studio owners Michelle and Dan actually live on one half of the studio. The space has great natural light and a wonderful corner of horticultural beauties.

michelle-timek-1

On October 29th, the studio is hosting a babycare and breastfeeding preparation workshop. The course is being taught by Jayne Freeman, who has been working with pregnant families for over 8 years in and around Jersey City. She is a certified childbirth educator, breastfeeding counselor and postpartum doula. Jayne has also taught at several pediatric practices & hospitals; she was a consultant for the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health where she directed the postpartum mood disorder initiative. To register for the event, please visit: http://www.michelletimekyoga.com/workshops

I will keep you all updated on future workshops. When the warm weather returns, we can all attend rooftop yoga, the only studio is Jersey City offering such a thing! I simply can’t wait.

xoxo