Name: Emmanuela Mujica
Business: paleyobakery, LLC
Location: Newark, New Jersey
Specialty: paleyobakery is a gluten-and-grain-free baked goods delivery service specializing in plantain-based foods, like Yowaffles, made with plantains, local pasture-raised eggs, avocado oil, sea salt and baking soda.
What problem your business solves: About 15 million Americans currently suffer from food allergies, and even more are suffering from autoimmune diseases. The rise in illness is likely caused by our modern food system, rife with GMOs and pesticides, and the Standard American Diet, chock-full of refined sugar, preservatives and chemical additives. Because of this, many folks are really taking a look at what's on their plates, and some have realized that they have to clean up their diets to achieve optimal health.
From seed to sale, paleyobakery is food with a mission. Our products are free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, wheat and refined sugar. Through our commitment to organic, sustainably-sourced ingredients, food justice and social good, our mission is to inspire others to feel love through food. Our easy online ordering process, our home delivery service, and our commitment to natural ingredients gives people a totally pure, nourishing, and convenient food experience.
What makes your business unique: We're the first commercial producer of plantain-based baked goods... ever! And we donate a percentage of our sales to urban farming, culinary arts and nutrition programs in underserved communities.
How you got your start: I'm healing from Crohn's Disease, a condition I attribute to a typical 90s childhood full of too much TV, antibiotics and junk food. To heal my gut, I started an auto-immune paleo diet, which is bare-bones (literally!). I had to eliminate all food allergens from my diet. Bye bye dairy, nuts, seeds, soy, legumes, gluten and wheat. I was cool with fruits and veggies, but I craved comfort foods. So my husband and I got creative in the kitchen. We discovered that I could tolerate plantains, the green bananas of my native Puerto Rico. We played around with recipes until we created a waffle that is, quite frankly, magical. Totally delicious and digestible, Yowaffles have changed my life. No longer in pain after each meal, I regained my love of food. I just had this gut feeling I had to sell our plantain-based products and become a conscious business owner. I'm healing myself to heal others and earning more to give more. This business is my vehicle for social change. This is my calling.
One piece of advice you have for other food entrepreneurs: Dream big, start small, and use what you've got to grow.
What do you wish you had known before you started your business: I wish I had known that there's nothing to lose... I would have started this business years ago!
Your greatest challenge in your business and how you’re overcoming it: As a small start-up, my greatest challenge is having enough capital to meet my demand. I don't have a loan or a grant, so I'm totally bootstrapping this biz from my own budget. Luckily, I'm pragmatic, savvy and blessed beyond belief! I've managed to keep my overhead low by bartering culinary services for a kitchen space, by having my incredible husband on board as my culinary artist and champion, and by rallying our amazing network of friends and family to volunteer their time for food prep, events, and deliveries. Next step is to apply for a woman-owned business grant!
What you’re most proud of about your business: I'm proud of a lot of things with the business, but the first thing that comes to mind is the beautiful partnership I have with my husband, Jamie. He's the culinary mastermind, yet he's given me the reigns to run with this business as the sole owner. Our partnership is unique in that we are both creative leaders, so we are mutually supporting each other’s businesses rather than partnering on one. I am also proud that within the first month of launching, we had over 90 orders and actually made a profit. Thanks to our amazing customers, we're thriving!
What’s yummy about being a food entrepreneur: I love that moment of absolute joy and wonderment on people's faces when they try our plantain-based products. Each and every satisfied smile becomes a spark in the motor that keeps me running!
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