Women Who Own It

Edele Singer of Duobed

Women Who Own It

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Edele Singer

CEO of Duobed, LLC 

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What inspired you to start your business?

I came up with Duobed design while remodeling the den in of my condo. I have two grandsons, and I wanted that room to be a place for them to sleep when they visited. But when I used it for a den or work, I wanted it to be comfortable, and a sofa bed is the most uncomfortable thing there is. I was not going to sit in on furniture that was going to break my back, so I created a multifunctional concept – basic ottomans that can be put together many creative ways – chairs, sofas, beds, or chaise lounges. I chose high-density foam for the cushions to provide great back support, and fabrics that would look stylish, but that the kids couldn’t ruin.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

As a senior entrepreneur you need an open mind hire employees from different generations with expertise in all aspects of your business.  Money is also critical, and no matter how much you plan it will never be enough, so you have to be resourceful.

What three traits define you? 

Visionary. Perseverance. Optimism. I always see the glass half full.

What women inspire you? 

Women who have worked at a profession successfully, regardless of the hurdles it took to get there.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

I had absolutely no idea what I would need to do to market Duobed. I signed up for the first Platinum Supplier Class [through WBEC-West] and started to learn what selling Duobed would really require.  

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

Selling furniture online is becoming an accepted way of buying.  I would not be able to sell an American made furniture unit and still be successful if I had to sell to retail stores.

What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?

Experience, funding and mentoring.

When you have a product, you have to be passionate about it and be ready to give 100% in order to make it really fly, because you’re going to hit every roadblock and bump in the road before you get it launched and going. One of my WBENC mentors early on said, “At every lunch sit at a table where you don’t know anybody,” That’s great advice because it’s really important to be out there and talk to other people. You never know who knows somebody else who might be able to help you.

What do you love about being a business owner?

I really appreciate all the people who see Duobed before they buy and tell me what a great idea it is and how much they love the product. The consumer reviews online are so enthusiastic. It validates why I keep trying to market Duobed.

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

I haven’t been able to take a real vacation since I started Duobed.

How do you define success?

You get positive feedback about your product, and the bottom line financial statement is positive.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

From my son: “Mother you need to hire someone half your age who knows how to do spreadsheets and work with Amazon, and to stop trying to do it all yourself.”

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I love to work and do some of my most efficient work early in the morning.

What are you reading or listening to now? (Book, blog, magazine, podcast, etc.)

Books on tape as I drive. I live in Southern California and spend a lot of time on the 405 Freeway.

What’s the best way to start your day?

With a big sales order.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was raised to be a wife and mother, went to college and majored in education. When I started to practice teaching, I hated it, so I got married. When I got the family candy store, I found my business/entrepreneurial calling. I loved selling candy to consumers and corporations for gifts at the holidays. I also got into real estate which I really liked doing. I purchased a lot and built a house on it at age 28. I went on to do a condo conversion, build 14 apartments, and remodel several more houses.

What do you like about your workspace?

I bought the building before it was built and it has all the things that make me feel successful.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... look for a mentor.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... be careful not to extend myself financially. 
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my companion, my dogs, kids, and good friends.
By this time next year, I will be... ·       successful because I was able to get a hospital to see the value of Duobed to make a patient’s family comfortable, especially when staying overnight with a sick relative.
The best thing that happened to me last week was... finding out how WBENC is supporting Women Owned retail product businesses. We have different selling needs than service businesses.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... have good conversations with others, especially my WBEC sisters encountering the same problems I have had and how we can learn from and partner with each other.

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About Duobed

Duobed is an American furniture manufacturing company with a new concept, designed for today's lifestyle with comfort and style, maximizing your space and minimizing your cost.  Our modular multifunctional furniture system easily converts chairs, sofas and sectionals; to beds (Twin or King), chaises, the possibilities are endless. We can customize the fabric, cushion firmness, and even the dimensions to meet your needs. Duobed is ideal for family and visitor seating or sleeping in hospitals, hotels, offices, government housing, student housing, and any home -- anywhere people need to sit and sleep. Learn more. 

Caron Ng of NU-SET Lock

Women Who Own It

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Caron Ng

Vice President of Business Development at NU-SET Lock

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What inspired you to start your business?

I formed a new subsidiary company to change the narrative around locks for the sharing economy and to lead my family's third generation business into the digital era.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them? 

I grew up in the family business, but that didn’t make anything easier for me. In fact, the obstacles I experienced were equally or more challenging to that of a startup business. NU-SET was established in 1993 and I didn’t earn my leadership role until 2011. It was a tough time to be a leader, our main business revolved around Real Estate Operations and our company was hit hard by the recession and housing crisis; and by 2013 we were on the verge of closing down.

I realized then, that there was an expiration date to blaming my parents and grandparents for drafting me into the family business. I asked for a chance to lead and to try new business strategies. It was a bold move since I have no business training. The process was challenging, and I made many mistakes, but when I look back and connect the dots: it was quite a rewarding and exciting journey.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Don’t stand in your own way: Just do it.

What three traits define you? 

Conscientiousness, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I did not feel a sense of duty and that constant inward desire to do my best.

Dominance, it wasn’t until I had to face so many obstacles that I realized how much I enjoyed overcoming them. So yes, my assertive, decisive, and competitive attitude defines me.

Intuitiveness, reasoning and logic can only get you so far. Trusting my “gut” feeling has never steered me wrong.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

My first breakthrough was finding WBENC! It was where I began my entrepreneurial adventure. I earned an opportunity to study at UCLA Anderson School of Business for my Master’s in Entrepreneurship, fully sponsored by Chevron; studied at USC Marshall School of Business for my Finance Certificate, fully sponsored by Southern California Gas Company; I finished my program with Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business and completed the ICCC Program nominated by WBEC-West. Through every step I learned new skills, and the result is the success of launching new products on Amazon, Grainger, Home Depot and Lowe’s, as well as finding new funding for my company’s growth.

How do you define success?

Winston Churchill said it best, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Or as my 7-year-old son’s favorite quote says “Never, never, never give up.”

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I would finally read all the books I have been meaning to get to, and (albeit unenthusiastically) I would exercise a bit more because I should.

What are you reading our listening to now?

I am reading “The Rise and Fall of Nations” by Ruchir Sharma, and I am listening to the latest album from Ed Sheeran.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... pray.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... don't worry so much. 
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my children..
By this time next year, I will be... hard at work as usual. 
The best thing that happened to me last week was... spending spring break with my kids.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... drive. 

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About NU-SET LOCK

NU-SET Lock is a trusted global leader in lock design with four decades of lock manufacturing experience. NU-SET is also embracing smart technology to help transform how we secure and share our spaces. We are particularly excited about the new Eyecon Smart LockBox, which builds upon NU-SET’s legacy lock box designs and adds innovative technology to meet the needs of today’s connected world. Learn more.

Porcha Johnson of Black Girl Health

Women Who Own It

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Porcha Johnson

Founder of Black Girl Health

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What inspired you to start your business?

I started my business due to my own struggle with fibroids and seeing how that plagued many African Americans. As result I found women were getting compromising surgeries and hysterectomies at young ages. I noticed it’s the lack of knowledge that was making women make ill-informed decisions about their health. This need I thought could be fulfilled with a platform that directly talks the target group to raise awareness about conditions and diseases that disproportionately affect them. As our organization evolved, we started using our brand and audience to help other companies spread awareness about their brand, mission, products, and services to select target groups.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Many entrepreneurs may be concerned about leaving their corporate job or concerned about their business being viable. My message is, “Leap out on Faith”

What three traits define you? 

Determined, Meticulous, and Fair

What do you love about being a business owner?

I love that I can create jobs and window of opportunity for other women through my company.

What's the hardest part about being a business owner?

The hardest part is keeping your business lucrative and viable so that you can continue to grow. 

How do you define success?

Success to me is defined by having the courage to go after your goals.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Find new ways to grow my business

What’s the best way to start your day?

Prayer, meditation, music, tea, and workout. In that order.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... work hard to overcome it.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... take chances. 
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... passion.
By this time next year, I will be... making bigger moves with growing my business. 
The best thing that happened to me last week was... got overdue work done.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... listen to therapeutic music. 

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About Black Girl Health

Black Girl Health is a digital marketing service that targets minority women to live healthier lifestyles. In addition to our own publication, newsletter, food and nutrition portals, outreach events, and social media campaigns, we provide other companies a platform to increase awareness and engagement of their brand, products, and mission to their select target audience. The platforms provided include online, print social media marketing services, videos, campaigns, and community outreach. Learn more. 

Jenna Pugh of Nod Products

Women Who Own It

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Jenna Pugh

Co-Founder of NOD Products, a division of Creative Resources

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What inspired you to start your business?

There was a gap in the retail industry of fun, innovative products that were well designed, affordable and great quality, so we have designed and produced products to fill that gap. We are a small, dedicated, fun-loving brand that designs products for people like us. Since 2014, we have been working tirelessly to make the lives of our consumers anything but ordinary.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them? 

Trying to balance it all!  I started the company 6 months after my daughter was born and now have another one on the way. Trying to balance family needs and running a rapidly growing business is tough, however, it also allows me the flexibility to be with my daughter for important moments.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Stick with it and reach out to others to create a network of “people like you.” It can be overwhelming at times but being able to talk to others inevitably going through something similar can be best pick me up you can get!

What women inspire you? 

Our parent company Creative Resources was founded by Caren Schweitzer and she has always inspired me to work hard and always strive to be the best I can be. She started the company in her basement as a single mom trying to balance it all and has turned it into a wildly successful company!

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

Keeping things fresh and making sure I have a happy team. At the end of the day it’s all about the people. My small but mighty team works tirelessly to ensure NOD is the best it can be regardless of what is going on in their own lives. As a small business, things are not always the most glamorous and do not always come easy, however we always seem to keep moving forward and I believe are all better for it.

How do you define success?

Being your best self. I have learned there are always going to be improvements needed in every aspect of our business but taking the time to celebrate the wins and how far we have come is equally as important. This year we were three months ahead of where we were last year on product development, and before we jump to discussing how we need to be three more months ahead next year, it is important to take a moment and recognize the wins. 

What’s your favorite career moment?

Seeing our products on retail shelves nationwide!  We spend hours upon hours designing, discussing, and creating our product line, and to see them on retail shelves (and selling) is one of the most rewarding feelings.

What’s the best way to start your day?

Coffee! I generally spend an hour or two at home with my daughter before the day gets going. If I can get to the office and take 20-30 minutes to get organized that is always a great way to start the day.

How do you unwind after a long workday?

Nothing is better than coming home after a long, stressful day to my daughter running up to me with a huge smile on her face, hugging me like she hasn’t seen me in days. Somehow she manages to make any worries disappear! 

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... try to step back and look at the big picture and what needs to get accomplished.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... everything happens for a reason and given time it will all work out.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my family (and work family)
By this time next year, I will be... in our new office, yay!
The best thing that happened to me last week was... New, big retail partners orders shipped.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... get out of the office and into a different environment.  Anywhere from a coffee shop, gift store, museum, park is a great place to get inspiration!

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About Nod Products

We are a small, dedicated, fun-loving brand that designs products for people like us. We drive and thrive in the express lane between innovation and retail shelves. Since 2014, we have been working tirelessly to make the lives of our consumers anything but ordinary. Our products are inventive, affordable and purposeful. This year we are excited to introduce a slew of new items that include cocktail—bar utensils like our patented Bloody Mary Tree and Mojito Miggler as well as gift items such as our Craft Carriers. Learn more. 

Alison Gutterman of Jelmar

Women Who Own It

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Allison Gutterman

President & CEO of Jelmar, LLC

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What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?

Working in a male-dominated industry and as the only third-generation female owner of a large cleaning products company, earning respect and gaining confidence has been a struggle. Early in my career at Jelmar, I was managing men in their 40s when I was only 25. They were more experienced than I and often dismissed my new ideas about marketing and sales, and some assumed I didn’t have the drive to put in the long hours and hard work they did. I have had to learn to build my confidence, better defend my thoughts and ideas – despite the naysayers – and overcome my negative self-talk.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Lead with courage and confidence. People will come with their presumptions and judgments about your capabilities, work ethic and success. Leave those comments behind. If you don’t believe in yourself and your decisions, then why should they?

What three traits define you? 

Innovative, strong-willed and funny. As a business leader, you have to continually keep your brain thinking of ways to improve your business. You often have to work hard to get ideas pushed through to actualization—this particularly rings true in my early years at Jelmar. And in the end of the day, you have to know how to take it easy sometimes, have a sense of humor and laugh at yourself.

What women inspire you?

In 2018, there are too many to name. I think that all of the women who were brave enough to come forward and talk about issues of harassment are inspirational. While I may not have experienced harassment at the same level, I think it is so important to speak about, and teach our girls about. Being the single mom of two girls, one in her tweens, the message is important now more than ever.

What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?

As the third generation, but first female president of a company, I had tremendous support from my family, but I remember seeing few female role models in business up until then. Young women who may or may not have the support system I did need to see more women carving out a place for themselves in the business world. Simply showing young women the many options they have and empowering them to explore them whether it be through organizations, schools, or mentoring opportunities is a critical first step.

What do you love about being a business owner?

What I love about being a business owner is kind of particular to Jelmar and its strong family values. Everyday I work to honor the company’s past while continuing to build its future. I love and enjoy helping to foster our warm, familial company culture. This culture is evident in our staff of 15 employees, many with longstanding loyalty and over 10 years at the company.

How do you define success? 

This year I defined success for our company not only in financial terms, but in how our employees worked, solved problems, and created opportunities as a team. Success isn’t always the numbers on the balance sheet, sometimes you have to look at other KPI’s as a yard stick. For 2018, I am hopeful that our success will not only be financial, but will also include some of the innovations we are developing. To me success can be fluid, and change from year to year.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? 

Don’t be afraid to fail. It may not seem like it at first, but it can help lead to so many great things like opportunities for self evaluation, realization for growth and learning or even simply learning what will or will not work when it comes to what you were trying to make successful.

What’s your favorite career moment? 

Being named Entrepreneur of the Year by EY for family owned businesses in 2017. It was an honor to represent our company and our accomplishments during our 50 year history.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I would hope my kids, Michaela an Eli, didn’t have to sleep either. Then I would use that extra time for even more quality time with them. I work my schedule so I am able to be home with them for dinner, to attend their special events and set aside individual quality time with each of them to doing activities they enjoy. I truly cherish this time, so the more of it, the better.

What are you reading or listening to now? 

I have just started to listen to podcasts (I know a little late to the game), I really like the podcasts from NPR, and the NY Times. They both have really great human interest stories that I would be unlikely to hear or read about on a daily basis. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Truly, what I aspired to be when I was young is certainly along the lines of exactly what I am doing today. I felt inspired watching the innovation of my grandfather and father running Jelmar when I was young. It was also pretty evident this was my path back then by my pure excitement of a seventh grade project around developing a product and creating a marketing campaign around it.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... dig in.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... have more fun, don’t be such a goody two shoes.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... well two, obviously my kids…And chocolate.
By this time next year, I will be... 50.
The best thing that happened to me last week was... my 8 year old daughter snuck into my bed and slept with me. Usually my older one sneaks in, it was a treat for me to have my younger one want to snuggle.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... listen to music.

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About Jelmar

Jelmar LLC. is a third-generation consumer and industrial cleaning products company. The company makes both the CLR® and Tarn-X® brands of products which are American-made, environmentally friendly, and specially formulated to solve tough and delicate household cleaning problems. These products are sold in hardware, do-it-yourself, grocery and drug chains, throughout the US, Canada, Mexico and Australia. Learn more. 

Irene Rojas Stanbury of LemonKind

Women Who Own It

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Irene Rojas Stanbury

CEO of LemonKind

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What inspired you to start your business?

I always say that putting healthy, good-for-you products in your body is the best gift a person can give themselves. Unfortunately, the food market in the United States does not operate under that mentality. There are a lot of beverages that aren’t very good for you available on store shelves. Beverages teeming with preservatives, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, and ingredients you can’t pronounce. My goal was to create all natural, delicious juices that didn’t harm our health or slow it down and that would fit into everyone’s busy lives. LemonKind stands behind juice that's not only 100% good-for-you and convenient, but has REAL nutritional value. That’s why our juices are made with 100% natural and non-GMO fruits and veggies, are packaged in shelf-stable resealable pouches, are infused with vegan protein, chia seeds and nutrient-rich superfoods, never chemically treated, and always remain completely vegan, gluten, pesticide, and preservative free. People deserve to have that option, and I wanted to give it to them.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Do not let anyone ever tell you that you can’t have it all. You will have to work harder than your male counterparts but...

  • if you are an expert in your field people will listen and respect you
  • if you allow yourself to share your experiences and provide guidance to those who seek it, it will come back to you five-fold (even when the best part of giving is not expecting anything in return)
  • if you allow yourself to disconnect at least one day of the week, those around you will appreciate it and support you and be there when you feel like the whole world in resting on your shoulders.

What three traits define you? 

Kind, Resourceful and Honest.

What do you love about being a business owner?

I love the freedom of been able to choose my own path and to never have to compromise when it comes to my values or morals.

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

Other than the obvious 24/7  aspect, for me it has been having to grow a thicker skin. It is impossible to not take things personally when it is your business, but if you can’t learn to “pick yourself up and move on” you will spend most of the time dwelling instead of growing and evolving.

How do you define success? 

If I can look at myself in the mirror every morning and still like who I have become as a person, as a friend, as a daughter, as a boss, and as a partner then I would say that to me, that is the definition of success.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? 

  • From a random person I shared an Uber once from the airport: “Turnover is for vanity, profit is for sanity”
  • From my father: “Never choose business partners based solely on price.”

What’s your favorite career moment? 

I was 100 feet from crashing – I had no money in the bank, I maxed out my credit cards, and Amazon denied my seller application 5 times, so I signed up for a webinar. Upon completion I harassed the instructor to which he responded, “happy selling” and proceeded to activate my account. Following that I spent 100 hours setting up the items and making sure the listing was perfect. Then I watched the products go live and danced in my living room when I made my first sale, then my second, then my third… then… oh my gosh! I went out of stock in 5 days! So I rushed to make more and send more and I went out of stock in 10 days, and so on, and on. Today we are Amazon’s choice in our category and the ride has not always been easy but it sure has been worth it!

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Don’t tempt me, I would probably spend it working more!

What are you reading or listening to now? 

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

How do you unwind after a long workday?

A nice long run down the Hudson River! The best is during the summer/fall because sometimes we get these colorful sunsets that just take my breath away.

What do you like about your workspace?

We work out of a WeWork and I love the atmosphere, the people and the energy.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... take a step back, assess, dissect, and address each issue at a time.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... to call my family more often.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my taste buds, I love to eat, plus I make food!
By this time next year, I will be... equally as busy or more but with more people to share the load
The best thing that happened to me last week was... getting into Target and The Fresh Market
To get my creative juices flowing, I... go for a run, I usually get my best ideas that way.

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About LemonKind

LemonKind is an environmentally and socially driven company that makes innovatively delicious juices and teas that are all-natural, preservative-free, superfood-infused and 100% good-for-you.
Learn more. 

Merrilee Kick of BuzzBallz

Women Who Own It

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Merrilee Kick

 


CEO and Founder of BuzzBallz

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What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?

Some of my challenges were based on being a woman in a male-dominated field, but other challenges were just a lack of experience in the alcoholic beverage field. I think, in a male dominated field, when you are accepted as one of the guys, that is fun. I don’t get all ruffled about comments, because I know I can put them in their place. I’m pretty confident about limits.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Be the best at your craft, work day and night, flash your charm, and work-it.

What three traits define you? 

Perseverance, Determination, Public Speaking

What women inspire you?

I like Madeline Albright. She is older, experienced, smart as hell, and she has her wits. My mom inspires me, she was always able to make something out of nothing.

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry? 

Trying to stay ahead of the trends, We are trendsetters!  We are on the cutting edge for technology, new R&D, new flavors, new packaging, and names that make you laugh. We have serious brands, and non-alcoholic brands too. We also will start R&D into infused products in the next year.

How do you define success? 

Being happy. Being satisfied with me, seeing my family succeed and learn. Seeing my employees thrive. Getting hugs from my team.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? 

Get a buyer before you try to get a loan.

What’s your favorite career moment? 

Seeing my new brand at Cesar’s Palace in a trophy case, winning a major Double Gold award in the Wine & Spirits Wholesaler’s of America…I squealed. During that tradeshow we landed 15 new states for distribution. It was the first time I felt like we had made it.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Build another business! I love building businesses, and I always have ideas. If I was older/retired, I’d hang with the grandkids. I’m hoping I’ll have some one day!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to set the world on fire. I was sure I would be someone important, I just didn’t know who or what. I expected it of myself. I pushed myself to always try to be the best, and to work really hard. I didn’t like failure, and I hated laziness. I feared being broke. I feared not being capable of taking care of myself. I wanted to never have that happen to me. I wanted to take care of me, my kids, my family, and my inner circle.

How do you unwind after a long workday?

Wine!

What do you like about your workspace? 

We have a bar! Lots of colors on the walls.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... jump in head first. I can’t wait!
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... to have confidence and go go go!
The one thing I couldn’t live without is.... my kids. 
By this time next year, I will be... adding more building space, expanding our distillery.
The best thing that happened to me last week was... I got to speak at an event at the Omni Hotel called SharpHeels – a women’s conference. I loved that.
To get my creative juices flowing, I...  design art for new products, write down ideas on how the structure would work, and start creating a new business!

About BuzzBallz

BuzzBallz/Southern Champion is a Distillery/Winery manufacturing company in Dallas, that specializes in making ready-to-drink cocktails (BuzzBallz), as well as premium spirits like vodka, rum, gin and bourbon. Learn more.

Sue Kakuk of Kakookies

Women Who Own It

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Sue Kakuk

 


Founder and CEO of Kakookies

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What inspired you to start your business?

My daughter was a collegiate cyclist and I wasn’t comfortable knowing they were stopping at fast-food before their races, so I was determined to bake something that was packed with energy, nutrition and wholesome ingredients. Everybody loves cookies and in a world bursting with over-processed snack bars, I wanted to be different by creating nutritious, delicious, grab n go COOKIES made specifically for over-scheduled families and active lifestyles.

What three traits define you?

Creative, innovator, sincere.

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

Better For You snacking, and it’s about time! I once had a grocery buyer tell me that “cookies shouldn’t be healthy." Today, I love watching people read our ingredient and nutrition label, taste a Kakookie, and smile with surprise and pleasure.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

Doing the right thing and staying true to the Kakookies brand. I always worry about keeping our customers satisfied by producing quality cookies and good customer service.  

How do you define success?

Happy customers. I love hearing their stories and reading our customer reviews.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I’d be gardening or planning my garden, creating more recipes, and traveling to more National Parks.

What are you reading or listening to now?

I read the daily newspaper and lots of food industry magazines

What’s the best way to start your day?

With a Kakookie and a cup of coffee - of course!

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... try to find creative solutions.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... what are you thinking?
The one thing I couldn’t live without is.... onions and garlic.
By this time next year, I will be... a better person from all the people I’ve met, the lessons I’ve learned, and the challenges I’ve overcome
The best thing that happened to me last week was...preparing meals for and with my 2 ½ year old grandson.  
To get my creative juices flowing, I... have a glass of wine with my husband.

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About Kakookies

Kakookies are deliciously flavorful grab-n-go cookies made with wholesome superfood ingredients. Packaged for convenience, Kakookies are a popular hand held breakfast and On-the-Go energy snack with athletes, travelers, busy families and anyone interested in eating better and living better. 
Learn more.

Kristen Preau Moore of Jambalaya Girl

Women Who Own It

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 40 Under 40

Kristen Preau Moore

 


CEO of Jambalaya Girl / Cook Me Something Mister

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What inspired you to start your business?

I have always wanted to work with a company that promotes New Orleans culture, which is why early in my career I worked with companies like the Louisiana Superdome, the University of New Orleans Athletic Department, and even in high school, I was a costume character at the local theme park Jazzland. It was not until after Hurricane Katrina that I had the "ah-ha" moment for what later turned my passion for New Orleans into the Jambalaya Girl business. My house had flooded, I was evacuated and I wanted to help, so I started cooking Jambalaya.

My dad was a small business owner in the outdoor cooking equipment industry in New Orleans, so I grew up cooking big cast iron pots full of Jambalaya with him for festivals, parties, fundraisers and at my older brother's sporting events. After the hurricane, my dad and I came up with a fundraising idea to travel to college football tailgates across the country to serve our jambalaya - which raised more than $100,000 for New Orleans. People LOVED the jambalaya, they kept asking us for the recipe. This connection inspired me to create my business.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Honestly, as a kid I had my dreams set on leading one of the dance groups that marched in Mardi Gras parades! But as I got a little older, I wanted to pursue a career in journalism to write about my favorite city. Thankfully, this all came together in a way and I have achieved these goals through my business and through being the character that is the girl with the fork earrings . . . Jambalaya Girl!

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

The craving for New Orleans flavor has reached international levels.

What are you reading or listening to now? 

How I Built This on NPR

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Take advantage of professional resources for small and women-owned businesses. The foundation of my business was built many thanks to organizations like WBEC South/WBENC, LA Small Business Development Center, Idea Village and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

What has benefited my business the most is the access to supplier diversity professionals at larger corporations and retailers. There is no guarantee for business, but these professionals help prepare you to do business with their companies so you become the top pick for the job or opportunity.    

Fill in the blank: 

When I face a challenge, I... ask questions to find if there's an opportunity for growth.
If I could go back in time, I... would tell myself keep being the character that you are, you'll make a great business out of it one day.  
The one thing I couldn’t live without is.... the "trinity" for Louisiana cooking - celery, onion and bell pepper.
By this time next year, I will be... a working mom.  (I am due to have my first child April 20!)
The best thing that happened to me last week was...hearing from customers how much they love our jambalaya and gumbo.  
To get my creative juices flowing, my go to is great conversations over a good meal.

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About Jambalaya girl

Jambalaya Girl brings her taste of New Orleans to the world with easy to prepare food products inspired by her family recipes, made proudly in New Orleans. Learn more.