Name: Nelchael Antoine
Business/Location: Dairy No/Jersey City and Newark, NJ
Specialty: Dairy-free baked goods
What problem does your business solve?: We provide folks who have dairy allergies the opportunity to enjoy eating gourmet desserts without sacrificing their wellness or desire for high-quality flavor.
What makes your business unique?: Besides the obvious dairy-free aspect, I believe what makes our line of products unique is truly the taste. Not only are our flavors fun, but we've also incorporated spices from our native country, Haiti. We are able to blend our cultural ingredients into our recipes, and that definitely gives a unique spin on the average cupcake.
What’s your story?: I developed a dairy allergy in 2014 so my family and I began looking for dairy-free alternatives to our favorite foods and sweets. Unfortunately, the few products that we found were overpriced, tasteless, or cheaply-made with poor ingredients. So I teamed up with my mother (Marie) and sister (Maxine), who are lactose intolerant, to create our own dairy-free spin on traditional baked goods.
One piece of advice you have for other food entrepreneurs: Really focus on your story and branding because at the end of the day, food is something that we all relate to. Being able to make your audience feel a certain way about your food and your brand is the greatest marketing tool you can have and will give you an advantage. Don't just sell your food, tell your story.
What do you wish you had known before you started your business?: I wish I had more guidance on the legal end of it. Although I had a general idea about some of the requirements, I had no idea about the mountain of applications, permits and fees that would lie ahead.
What’s your greatest challenge in your business and how are you overcoming it?: Like most entrepreneurs, financing is the most critical and most difficult aspect of running a business. To combat that, we have two key strategies to bridge that gap: more events and crowdfunding on Pieshell. So definitely stay tuned for that!
What are you most proud of about your business?: The rapid development of our website. My web designer and I have spent so many hours trying to create a seamless web experience for our clients. I'm also proud that we've created a robust operations strategy behind the scenes which has allowed us to focus on expanding our product offerings.
What do you love most about being a food entrepreneur?: I love the flexibility and autonomy. Half of our flavors were a result of experimenting in the kitchen, and I love that we can implement our creative ideas almost immediately. I also love seeing the delight in customers’ faces when they realize our products can accommodate their dietary restrictions. We're so excited to continue expanding beyond the dairy-free capabilities. We've begun offering gluten-free options and are experimenting with our recipes to provide vegan options by the end of 2018.
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