Name: Alessia Aron / Janis Borroto
Business/Location: Jersey Girls Food Tours/Jersey City, Rutherford, Princeton, & Red Bank
Specialty: Food Tours! Specializing in custom, interactive, intimate culinary experiences!
The problem your business solves: There are so many dining options in the cities we tour, it’s hard to know where to go or what to order. We are addressing this problem by offering a fun, worry-free culinary journey of multiple eateries in one evening or afternoon. With JGFT, there is no need to make reservations, wait for a table, or cross the river to NYC. We curate the entire experience so guests can sit back and have a great time, while learning about the city itself along the way.
What makes your business unique: We are definitely not your average food tour company! No two tours are the same and we really cater to the needs of our customers. With over 60 partner restaurants, we pride ourselves on the relationships we’ve built and it shows on our tours (and our 5-star rep on TripAdvisor and Yelp :)). Whether its a group of 6 or a group of 100, we’re going make sure you have a great time, and delivery the highest quality service along the way.
What’s your story: Like a lot of entrepreneurs, we realized that Corporate America was not fulfilling. We essentially met on the premise of starting a business together, and with a shared passion for food, bringing people together, and a love for Jersey City.
Alessia: I was working as an ambassador for a food events company in Jersey City and Janis signed up for the last event that I was running.
Janis: I was food blogging about the Jersey City food scene at the time and seeking a more entrepreneurial path.
We stayed in touch and even though the name Garden State Food Tours was already in the works with a third partner who eventually didn’t work out, we knew there was synergy to build something together. (We will spare those gory details!) A few months later Jersey Girls Food Tours was born, creating a brand that we feel represented us as female entrepreneurs in New Jersey!
One piece of advice you have for other food entrepreneurs:
Alessia: Adapt and change while standing true to your core. There will be good times and bad times but don’t let it shake you. As cliche as it sounds, just keep going. There is no magic answer for success. Hard work is really the only way…or lots of money :) But even with financial backing, hard work!
Janis: That starting your own business is an ever-evolving journey. You may think you have a clear-cut plan, a vision, a goal…but all these things will change as you learn, grow, network, take risks and evolve as a person and as a company, a brand, and a team. The journey is almost never what it started as, and that is even better!
What do you wish you had known before you started your business:
Alessia: How to “taste” food at a food tasting and not eat like it’s my last day on earth. Would have definitely avoided some unnecessary weight gain. But hey, there are worse problems to have, right?
Janis: That there is SO much that goes into running a business, you become a business owner first, and chasing your actual passion becomes the driving force to why you do it. You actually spend the bulk of your time developing strategies, marketing, selling, and doing administrative tasks, with the ‘fun’ stuff sprinkled here and there. The beauty of it all, is that whatever brings you most passion, will be the overlying reason and motivation behind doing it all!
What’s your greatest challenge in your business and how are you overcoming it: Our greatest challenge is not having the tourist market that other markets like NYC, Seattle, DC or other major cities may have. We overcome this by getting creative! Not only do we run weekly and monthly tours, but we also collaborate with other local businesses to host special events such as Chef’s Table at Hudson Table, Fall Chef Showcase at Art House Productions, and a host of themed tours throughout the year. Collaboration is key, and therefore allows us to attract a lot of New Jersey locals, making up for the lack of tourists in our area. Highlighting the local scene, nurturing community, and promoting business within our tour cities is what we aim to do.
What are you most proud of about your business:
Alessia: At the end of the day, it’s really all about relationships and I’m most proud of the relationships we’ve built; from restaurant owners, managers, chefs, and bakers to local bloggers and third party event planners, they’ve all played a crucial role in our 3.5 years of business.
Janis: Aside from the relationships, which are number one for me as well, I’m most proud of our growth and adaptability in a tough market. We have educated communities about food tours, collaboration, and brought our chefs and artisans to the forefront of their businesses. We’ve expanded from 1 city to 4 in 3 years, and are putting these New Jersey cities on the map in an extremely competitive food scene.
What do you love most about being a food entrepreneur?:
Alessia: Meeting so many amazing people who love food! I’ve made so many amazing friends through JGFT and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. Now I’m just waiting for one of them to introduce me to my future boyfriend and we’ll be golden ;)
Janis: The ability to explore my passion around food, collaboration, and support for local businesses through such a dynamic outlet. Knowing that I can make a difference in my community and home state, to help shed light on all of the amazing talent that exists here. Just being a part of it all is a real honor.
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