Mom Turns Boring, Old-Fashioned Muffins into Scrumptious and Delightful Meals. You Will Love This!
I love baking muffins with my daughters. We tend to make the same banana muffins again and again. However, everything changed when I saw Elke Quade's creation called the Muffin Meal! Who knew that muffins could be so exciting, delicious and nutritious? I had to find out more. Read Elke's story here...
Mom Invented: Please tell us about the MuffinMeal.
Elke: The MuffinMeal is a new bake-ware accessory that bakes cup-like holes into any muffin or cupcake to fill with your sweet or savory combinations. It works with any size, make or model muffin or cupcake pan and the adjustable cup slides to any height to make shallow or deeper indentations. It is FDA approved and dishwasher safe.
Mom Invented: What or Who inspired you to start your business?
Elke: One hot summer day in Chicago, I had an urge for a little taste of ice cream and a little taste of cake, but didn’t want to buy an entire ice cream cake. So, I started looking for ice cream cupcakes but couldn’t find them. I figured, “I’m a baker – I should do it myself.” After searching the Internet and kitchen stores, I couldn’t find any baking tools that made the indentations in cupcakes without wasting a bunch of the cupcake. That’s when I designed the first MuffinMeal.
Mom Invented: Tell us about your family. How do you juggle it all?
Elke: I’ve been a single Mom since 2004 and when I first started my own business my son was in high school, he's now in his 2nd year of college. I’ve always been able to multi-task and I have very specific To-Do lists for my business and for my personal life (including house work, yard work) and prioritize what needs to be done immediately and what can wait. I have a home office and religiously get up at 6:00am, put on the coffee and start my day. I try and get as much done in the morning so that if an unexpected task, meeting, etc. should come up, I can fit it into my day.
Mom Invented: What challenges or hiccups have you experienced along the way?
Elke: WOW, I had to think hard about this question. I’m one of those weird people who thrive on challenges. If someone tells me something can’t be done, I’ll figure out a way to get it done. My philosophy; challenges are just things I don’t know yet. I was in the corporate world for over 30 years and thought running my own business would not be that difficult. My experience had always been in the operations/management side, little did I know that manufacturing was an entirely different animal. I’m sort of impatient, when I want something – I want it now, I hate waiting. I think valuable time is being wasted. Guess what I learned? Manufacturing is a slow and exact process and tools don’t always work the first time and have to be tweaked. Your machine time has to be scheduled and if you are small potatoes your job gets pushed back. You can’t just pick a color for your product from a swatch and expect it to magically be perfect. There is a lot of testing and tweaking in the manufacturing process and it takes time, which frustrated me in the beginning. I've learned to be more patient and forgiving.
Mom Invented: What has been your biggest success so far?
Elke: I had an idea and I made it a reality. When I think of my first prototype that my youngest brother made for me in his unheated garage during a brutal Cleveland (Ohio) winter; and what is now my final manufactured product…I’ve come a long way! I've actually inspired a friend to take the risk and start her own business. That is success in my book.
Mom Invented: Please share some of the most valuable resources you have discovered.
Elke: FRIENDS & FAMILY. I can’t tell you how instrumental my friends and family have been in helping me along the way. Your friends may not be able to help you directly, but can put you in touch with people who may be able to help you or know of someone in their circle who can. When you are starting a business, money is always tight and you want to make sure that every dollar you spend is going to give you some kind of return. I knew nothing about manufacturing or anyone even associated with manufacturing and I was afraid of being “ripped off” if I just searched for a company on the Internet. I started calling friends, former co-workers, and people I knew through my charity work. I was introduced to my local manufacturer, polymer supplier, custom shipping box supplier, printer, graphics designer, web designer, chefs, food service experts and last but not least -Pitch Relations for PR. If anyone is interested in any of my local resources I would be happy to share their contact information with you.
Mom Invented: What has surprised you the most about launching your product(s) or running a business?
Elke: Marketing a new product is a lot harder than I thought. Just because my friends, family and I think it’s a great and innovative product doesn’t mean that every retail store is going to jump at the chance to buy it. They want to see a track record of sales before they take a risk on an unknown product. So how do you reach the masses on a shoe-string budget? I did a lot of letter writing to chefs, bakeries, retail stores that sold kitchen utensils, magazines, newspapers, and blogs-some offer giveaway contests, Facebook and Twitter. I still have a lot to learn about social media- I’m so afraid I’m going to post something stupid! I also enter every contest that could possibly promote MuffinMeal. Every day I'm trying to think of at least one new way to "get the word out".
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