It's already January 30th and the first month of 2018 is almost gone. I'm sitting on the terrace of a very nice hotel in Medellin, Colombia contemplating its beautiful view after spending New Year's Eve surrounded by family and friends in Costa Rica.
A few months ago I was turning over several business ideas in my head. However one made its way out to become real. “Vookies” is the brand my boyfriend and I created a couple of months ago while we were spending the holidays in Huntington, New York. I'm Mariana from Caracas, Venezuela and my boyfriend is Matt from Long Island, New York.
I used to make a traditional Latin American dessert called "alfajores" back in Caracas, Venezuela; my home city. I started making them for baby showers, bachelorette parties, and birthday celebrations. Everyone who tried them loved them. They would always suggest to me to sell them and turn them into a business. People's feedback about the alfajores never really pushed me to do that because every time I went food shopping to make them, I would have trouble finding the ingredients for the recipe. This was due to the food shortages in supermarkets in Caracas and in the country in general. Going food shopping to make the alfajores became an odyssey. So when my friends begged me to make them for them, it was a not enjoyable process. Anyhow, I later went to Costa Rica last September to throw a baby shower for my sister who was living there, and I made the alfajores as part of the catering. Finding the ingredients was not an odyssey there. I simply went to the supermarket and found everything I needed. People loved the alfajores at the baby shower and again suggested that I should turn that into a business.
My boyfriend is celiac, meaning he has to be on a gluten-free diet (no wheat, rye, or barley).
With the original recipe of alfajores, he couldn't try them because they were not gluten-free. The fact that he couldn't eat them kind of stayed in my mind. In November we flew to New York to spend the holidays there, and the idea of making the alfajores with gluten-free ingredients came to my mind. I made them for him and his family (who aren’t gluten-free or celiac) on Thanksgiving. He tried them and he loved them along with the rest of his family. He felt good about the idea of eating something that was homemade, fresh, and safe.
By then, Matt and I were both looking for a business idea together that would be profitable and fun to grow. While watching marathons of Shark Tank and The Profit, we began to brainstorm. We started talking about an idea that we really liked, but then, sort of by accident, another idea came up. One day we were sitting at a local coffee shop in NY and Matt decided to speak to the owner. He asked how they sourced food products to sell. Matt had in mind the first business idea we had thought about, but then I suggested another idea: to sell my alfajores in that coffee shop since they were Latin and so was the owner. I figured he might have tried something similar in the past. The owner liked the idea and offered to help us promote and sell the alfajores at the counter. With that kind of support, we instantly decided to put our energies in this new project. Fast forward a few weeks, when the co-owner of the Book Revue Cafe in Huntington Village offered to help us, the alfajores seemed like the perfect idea. This is especially true because a lot of people are health conscious in Huntington, as well as gluten-free or celiac. Without even expecting it, our business was about to begin.
Mariana graduated from Communications & Journalism in Caracas, Venezuela, and has over 10 years of experience as a writer. She has worked on Digital Marketing, and for over 10 prestigious Cable Television Channels aired in Latin America. Matt graduated from Cornell University in New York. He started his own company in 2010, and has been running it by himself since then. Matt is an expert in Marketing, Sales, and creating 6-Figure Funnels for online businesses.
Over the past year we decided to start a company together and created "Vookies", that later expanded and became "Be Breader". We have been helping celiacs around the world to optimize and improve their health by incorporating safe and delicious meals into their daily menus.