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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Our Fabulous Challah Connection “Kids”

Each day I look forward to the close of the school day. That’s when “the kids,” our after-school workers, come through our doors, enthusiastic and ready for work.

These high school students are a sheer joy to work with. Although they spend the day in a very competitive environment, they come through our doors eager to help. They answer the phones, assist customers in their gift-giving decisions and –most important– they pack orders and prepare all of our daily shipments for our 6 p.m. pick up by UPS and FedEx.

These are fabulous, hard-working kids who are a joy to have around. It’s refreshing to me that these kids — many of whom are not Jewish — have such tremendous passion for learning about the Jewish holidays and traditions, as well the workings of a small business. They are our future entrepreneurs! We teach them how to work hard, be part of a team and have fun.

During holiday time, when we are truly bursting at the seams with orders that need to be packed and shipped, teamwork is truly defined. On these days, we have close to 20 people working together, like a well-oiled machine. There are no bad attitudes and no job that is beneath anyone. Whether it’s taking out the garbage or cutting 100 sheets of cello wrap, whoever has two free hands takes on the task at hand. I am proud of what these kids are learning here at “Challah Central,” (my own kids, included).

From left to right, Bailey, Sara, Sherry, Jane, Kate

From left to right, Bailey, Sara, Sherry, Jane, Kate


When Bailey, who is a 17-year-old high school senior, began working here about a year ago, she knew very little about the Jewish holidays. But with her thirst for knowledge and interest in helping customers she quickly rose to the challenge and has emerged as one of our best Challah Connection “kids.” She is now applying to colleges and I was so pleased to be asked to write her a recommendation (glowing, of course).

“It’s important to learn new and different things, and I’ve learned so much in the last year,” Bailey tells me. “I’ve learned about the traditions of the Jewish holidays and the restrictions on what people can and cannot eat during specific holidays. I really enjoyed learning about Purim … it reminds me of Mardi Gras! Plus, the customers are so nice. I enjoy meeting new people and I like that I can help them when they call.”

She’s also has learned to appreciate the kosher foods that we carry. “The food is delicious. My whole family really likes the food that I bring home from work,” she said.

Avery, came to us familiar with Jewish customers and with Challah Connection. His older sister, Samantha, was one of our first after-schoolers (Sam graduated from high school in ’08 and now attends Cornell University). “I’ve learned a few things since I started working here, but I’ve also been able to share my knowledge with the people I work with,” he tells me.

“I work with very nice people here, which makes the job a lot of fun,” he adds. “Plus, I have come to have way more respect for people who run small businesses, now that I see the day-to-day operation. And, the food that we put in the kosher gift baskets is great. The apple cake is definitely a winner.”

Give us a call and say “Hi” to these fabulous kids. They’ll be thrilled to speak with you!

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