A Community of Entrepreneurs

When I left the corporate world 20 years ago, I didn’t know what to expect.  After successfully launching and running my own marketing firm (first client: American Express), I wanted my next career step  to combine my passion for baking challah with the business acumen I had acquired.   Because I grew up with the aromas of my own mother’s wonderful baking (usually old world Jewish recipes, for the Jewish holidays), it was only natural that I would come to love baking myself, and my family knew they could always count on the smell of home-baked challah every Friday afternoon.

In 2002, I saw the opportunity to marry my interests by purchasing Challah Connection, then a small challah delivery service. The decision to expand and revitalize Challah Connection was a big commitment, both professional and personal.  Knowing my almost obsessive need to give 150 % to any work venture, I wondered: would I ever allow myself to relax?

Seven fun, sometimes difficult, but always interesting years later, I know the answer to that question: no!  There’s no time to relax.

But I have the genuine satisfaction of knowing that each and every gift that Challah Connection ships out is of the highest quality.  It may sound corny, but it’s like that credit card commercial.  Offering a truly thoughtful shiva basket or Hanukkah gift to a very-missed college student on behalf of his loving parents is priceless…to me.

But enough about me!

One of the great things about launching my own business was discovering a community of like-minded entrepreneurs in Westport and the surrounding towns.  Through networking and through daily life, I’ve come across a truly amazing group of people who have also had the courage to go out on their own and launch serious, profitable  businesses. Once a month, I meet with these women to discuss each others business issues, always with the goal of business growth. The community of these fellow women entrepreneurs has been so helpful and satisfying.  We are proof that it is possible to do what you love and be successful.

Jessica Bram, Author, Happily Ever Divorced

Jessica Bram, Author, Happily Ever After Divorce

Jessica Bram is the author of Happily Ever After Divorce. It’s funny and hopeful a book as you would ever want to read –reading her essays on her divorce is like eating potato chips…you get the point).  She also runs the Westport Writers’ Workshop and offers all kinds of classes on writing, from memoir writing to short story writing  (I’ve heard they fill up fast).

Barbara Ross, Evocateur

Barbara Ross, Evocateur

Barbara Ross is the owner of Evocateur. After a long career in corporate finance, she is fulfilling her dream of gorgeous jewelry and accessories. Handcrafted in Connecticut, her pieces are droolworthy.  I especially love her 22 K gold cuffs.  Although I wouldn’t say no to the sterling silver leaf pieces either…  Her line also includes  bangles, pendants, earrings and belts.

Donna Jackson launched  Saraswati’s Yoga Joint in Norwalk–a yoga studio that must be seen and experienced to be believed. Think walls painted the color of sorbet and a yoga practice that is challenging without being demoralizing and spiritual without being sappy. I must admit to be totally addicted to twice and sometimes thrice weekly doses of Donna’s down dogs.

Lyn Girdler, Not Another Guide

Lyn Girdler, Not Another Guide

Lyn Girdler’s website Not Another Guide offers travel guides written by locals. Even though I grew up in the New York environs, I have actually used her guide to New York City because its loaded with tidbits about food and shopping that make me feel like a native…again.   And quite honestly, without her eclectic guides, I never would have discovered Alphabet City’s amazing array of vintage shops.

nancycollamer

Nancy Collamer, Collamer Career Consulting, Jobs & Moms

Last but certainly not least, Nancy Collamer’s very helpful website Jobs and Moms.  Nancy is a career coach who founded The Jobs and Moms Career Center.  She advised women online as the “Jobs and Mom Pro” for Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen Media. Nancy has the knowledge and compassion to guide women in careers that work for their families, often outside the rigid 9 to 5 parameters.  I highly recommend checking out her website if you are thinking about making some kind of a career move. Nancy and I had lunch yesterday and I found out that she counsels clients nationwide–thanks to Skype!

Kudos to those of you out there who had the courage to go for it!  Good luck to those of you about to try something new.

And may today we all take a risk…a leap of faith in ourselves,

Jane Moritz, Challah Connection Owner

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Ask Jane: Sitting Shiva

Q. Dear Jane: The mother of a very dear Jewish friend has passed away. What is the best way that I can offer comfort to my friend during this time? Is there a specific way I should honor the memory of her mother? I am not Jewish and am not familiar with the traditions.

A. Visiting your friend and bringing food is an ideal way to pay your condolences and show her your support. When a Jewish family experiences the loss of a loved one, the tradition is for the family to sit Shiva [pronounced SHI-vah. ]

Sitting Shiva is the tradition of mourning in the Jewish religion. During the shiva period, typically a 7-day period (the Hebrew word shiva means 7) friends, family and neighbors pay a home visit (“shiva call”) to the mourners. The company of others during Shiva plays a key role in helping the bereaved in this time of mourning.

Jewish custom discourages sending flowers when people are sitting Shiva. However, food is almost always welcome. Some people make donations to a favorite charity in the name of the deceased. For those who are unable to make a personal visit, sending a kosher gift basket such as a Shiva Gift Basket or Jewish Sympathy Basket, with a thoughtful card is an appropriate and thoughtful gesture. Kosher baskets are recommended so that no one is excluded from sharing in the basket contents.

Your gift should have a gift card signed by you (many people often forget to sign their gifts cards). And when you are thinking of what to write, a simple message is best. Consider a message such as “With our heartfelt sympathy,” or “We are so sorry for your loss. May (insert name of deceased)’s memory be a blessing to all who knew him/her.” Another popular option is the more traditional message: “May G-D Comfort You Among All The Mourners Of Zion And Jerusalem.” Click for more help with writing gift cards.

If there is a chance to be helpful, make an offer, or just complete the task, when appropriate. Run errands, pick-up at the airport, host someone coming in from out of town, cook or clean-up, or take care of children. Whatever can be done to remove daily chores from those sitting Shiva becomes an immense help.

If you have a question for Jane about Jewish Traditions, holiday menus, Jewish recipes, gift giving or more, please fill in the comment box below and we will answer it in an upcoming post of Ask Jane.

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