About $15,000 to $20,000 was invested in certification, leasing and initial inventory. The business serves 10 to 20 families a month and is not yet profitable.
But Leon-Vega sees potential. Tutti Bambini is expanding to a 12,000 square-foot facility in Coral Gables in the coming months. The first floor will include a baby gear and maternity showroom, breastfeeding room and event room. The second floor will have two spa rooms for pre- and postnatal treatments, fitness rooms, a photo studio and meeting rooms. “It’s everything a mom could want, pre- and postnatal,” Leon-Vega said. “They could find it there.”
Ready. Set. Cupcake!
Professional baker Carolyn Shulevitz started experimenting with dairy- and egg-free recipes when her son, Harley, 18, was diagnosed with food allergies as a pre-schooler. Her cupcakes became so popular that she started freezing batter to keep up with demand. In 2010, Shulevitz and Leslie Kaplan, a friend in the hospitality industry, founded Ready. Set. Cupcake! by The Piping Gourmets, www.readysetcupcake.com, a line of frozen, ready-to-bake all-natural batter and icing.
The preservative-free products come packaged in pastry bags to defrost and use. The batter, available in varieties free of gluten, casein and eggs, makes 24 mini cupcakes or one seven-inch cake and sells for $5.99. The buttercream icing is $6.99. The products are sold in freezer cases at Whole Foods Markets, as well as Epicure Market in Miami Beach and Sunny Isles.
Shulevitz graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has worked as a freelance caterer. Kaplan has worked in her family’s business, The Carousel Yacht and Great Bay Yacht Charters. The women, both Miami Beach residents, met at a Mommy and Me group 20 years ago and remained friends. The two were working together on The Carousel Yacht when a surge in business led Shulevitz to start freezing cake batter to keep up. The women saw a business opportunity, and jumped in.
Frozen cake batter fills a void for people who want to bake, but didn’t want the mess, Shulevitz said. “Everybody wants fresh-baked goods, but some people don’t know how to bake. They’re intimidated by the process,” she said.
Shulevitz froze the product at different time intervals to test quality, shelf life and freshness. They handed out frozen batter samples to friends to get feedback. They sent samples to a professional testing lab to get a nutritional and shelf-life analysis.
They found a production house in Hialeah. A website was launched and the product hit the shelf in October 2011. They do demos at food trade shows and participate in community and charity events. The line was named Own It Ventures Best Product 2013.
The partners initially spent $100,000 on research, product development, packaging, testing, marketing and inventory. They sell about 600 units per week.
“Believe in yourself, because there is a perception that women can’t do it, and that moms won’t have the time,” Shulevitz said. “But if you focus, you know you will.”
Book N Cookin
Robyne Friedland was used to an action-packed schedule, first as an elementary school teacher, then as a stay-at-home mom with two boys. But when her youngest, Dylan, entered preschool in 2007, the Coral Springs mom began to get a little antsy.