Friedland turned her experiences as a teacher and a mom into Book N Cookin, which offers customized, themed entertainment that incorporates cooking, storytelling and games. Designed for birthday parties, fund-raisers, even corporate functions, Book N Cookin goes anywhere in the tri-county area. Programs range from a Tinkerbell party for a 3-year-old to a French cooking class for adults. Sessions are 45 minutes for up to 25 people and range from $100 to $200.
Friedland said her first idea was to start a Mommy and Me class. The class started, no one came, and Friedland decided to take her show on the road.
“I knew I had some good stuff, so I kept the cooking, storytelling and games” to put together a program that could go to a customer’s venue, she said.
The first step was assembling inventory. For cooking, she needed blenders, measuring cups, mixing bowls and the like. For storytelling, she collected books, puppets and craft materials. For the games, she bought hula hoops, scooters, music and obstacle course supplies.
Over time, Friedland developed a running list of packages. Today popular themes include nutrition, in which Friedland will read a nutrition-based book, exercise to music and make a healthy snack like a fruit smoothie or crepe. For a Thanksgiving theme, she’ll make cornbread from scratch and homemade butter, decorate placemats and do turkey races. For Valentine’s Day, she’ll make homemade fudge or chocolate fondue, read poems and do three-legged races.
During the school year, she does about 12 events a month, mostly after-school activities. In the summer, she’s busy nearly every day with camps and library programs.
Initial capital outlay was about $1,000, for business expenses and licensing, party inventory and office supplies. Friedland’s husband, Steve, a computer programmer, built the company website. It took about three years to become profitable, she said.
Friedland showcases her business at vendor fairs for preschool, camp and library directors and hands out brochures at kids’ events.
“Don’t let people tell you no, that you can’t do it,” Friedland said. “And don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Jilea Hemmings started looking for all-natural prepared foods for her son, Jayden, when he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. She and her husband, Jamie, both worked full-time, and it was hard to make traditional home-cooked meals every night.
When she couldn’t find anything to her liking, Jilea, who loves to cook, created Greenie Tots, a line of frozen organic vegetarian meals for kids. She developed her own recipes, putting a healthy spin on traditional kids’ favorites. The all-natural meals can be microwaved or baked and are $6 each.
Greenie Tots tested products on kid focus groups, and launched its initial product line at the end of 2009. They sold the products at farmers markets on weekends and online.
They used a New York kitchen for six months, then found an Italian restaurant in Sunrise that could lease them their kitchen at night. Jilea and Jamie did everything — cook, package and ship.
Things changed when they began talks with Whole Foods in March 2011. They revamped the product line and downsized product offerings from 12 to five. At the end of 2012, they started using a New Jersey manufacturer because they could no longer handle the volume.