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Recognition N'at

Recognition N'at

It has been SOME TIME since I last wrote a blog post!

This seemed to be the best way for my intended message to reach everyone, so here goes:

Last year, my first year of establishing Yummyholic, was a roller coaster of emotions and a whirlwind of amazing. Especially for being a one-woman operation, I think I truly made significant strides toward building my brand and getting my artful, addictive treats into as many hands (and tummies) as I possibly could. There's a quote I read once about entrepreneurs being people who jump off a cliff and building an airplane on the way down, and that's pretty much the story of my first year as a full-time business owner.

Top 9 on Instagram in 2016

Some top moments from 2016 via Instagram (@helloyummyholic)

 

I'm into my second year now, and my biggest focus is to make sure Yummyholic can survive and thrive.

As I continue refining and growing Yummyholic, I'm tossing my hat into the ring for two specific recognitions that I hope will garner your support:

1) Pittsburgh Magazine's Best of the 'Burgh - Cookies

2) The Incline's Who's Next in Food under 40

If you feel that I (Yummyholic) qualifies for either, I would be immensely grateful for your votes. Read on for further details if you're still with me...

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First, Pittsburgh Magazine holds an annual Best of the 'Burgh competition which culminates not only in published recognition, but a huge, gluttonous feast featuring deliciousness from the city's favorite eats. Currently, there is no category for "Cookies" under their Food/Restaurants section. Since Yummyholic has steadily earned a reputation among several crowds and fans specifically for artful, tasty sugar cookies, I'm hoping to make the category happen.

Pittsburgh Magazine's Best of the Burgh 2017 Logo

If you're on board, please go here, and at the very end of the "Food/Restaurants" category, please enter: "Cookies: Yummyholic" as a Write-In field. I know some of you are actually crazy for both my cupcakes and cookies, so if you feel the urge to write me into the "Bakery" or "Pastries" field too, I won't decline! :) Biggest reminder is that you need to complete at least 10 fields throughout the categories in order for your vote to count! Since Yummyholic currently doesn't have a brick and mortar space, you can either indicate "Squirrel Hill" or "Sharpsburg" as a location if desired.

DEADLINE TO VOTE: 12pm, Friday, March 31st

ONCE AGAIN, THE LINK TO VOTE IS HERE.

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Second, The Incline is seeking nominees under 40 for their "Who's Next: Food" recognition.

Who's Next: Food

Although there's still so much I hope to achieve through Yummyholic, it would be a tremendously invigorating honor to receive this recognition that would keep great momentum going for my business!

If you're on board to vote for me for The Incline's Who's Next: Food under 40 as well, please read on below for info that might help you complete your nomination form:

DEADLINE TO VOTE: 5pm, Thursday, March 16th, 2017

LINK TO VOTE HERE

I've completed one year in my business, and so far, the following all happened thanks to some serious love, support, and magic:

- Formed official charitable partnerships with two local nonprofits: Beverly's Birthdays & The Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. Yummyholic regularly donates baked goods to celebrate the birthdays and baby showers of the communities they serve, which are children and families experiencing homelessness and women and child victims of domestic abuse

- Donated over 3,000 cookies and cupcakes to date (baked all single-handedly by yours truly!), which included a charitable tour around all of Pittsburgh's fire stations

- Featured on a WQED holiday documentary called "A Christmas Cookie Story"

- Featured in a Post-Gazette article titled, "Diversifying the pool of entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh"

- One of 10 grant winners in the Urban Innovation21 & La Dorita Cooks Food Incubation and Commercial Kitchen Competition, which currently provides free commercial kitchen usage and business coaching for Yummyholic

- One of 6 finalists in the Invest in Her Pitch Competition

- Created a Cookie Portrait Gallery featuring Asian Pacific American movers and shakers from the Pittsburgh region that ended up being featured in the largest circulating Chinese-language newspaper in the U.S.

Cookie Portrait Gallery Featuring Pittsburgh's APA Movers and Shakers

- Featured in a 4 the 412 segment for WTAE

- Commissioned by the Office of Mayor Bill Peduto to construct a gingerbread replica of Pittsburgh's City County Building

- Won 1st place in the Professionals/Business category for the 2015 PPG Gingerbread House Display Competition and 2nd place in the following year

- Worked with Row House Cinema for The Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival (among various other events!), The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for Jazz Fest (and Multiple Choice: Underground Hip Hop), ModCloth for their Pittsburgh Pop Up, and even got to meet Hines Ward and personally gift him his portrait cookie thanks to Ten Four Social!

- Personally started serving as a Friends of the Board Member for Sisters Place, Board Member for PUMP, volunteer for 412 Food Rescue, and graduated from the Fall 2016 Class of Pittsburgh's Civic Leadership Academy

Honestly, I think I might even be forgetting some things....it was a full, full year...reflecting back, it was more than full. My adventure with Yummyholic so far has been an overflow of blessings.

Looking ahead, I'm hoping to expand Yummyholic's audience and community impact. My big picture goal is to create a bake therapy program that can possibly transition into a workforce development program as well. Using my gifts and passions in pastry, I hope to bring both healing and inspiration to the communities my charitable partners currently serve as well as members of our immigrant and refugee communities.

Authoring a book (or series of books) to present Asian Pacific American history and stories through my edible artwork is also in the plans. Ultimately, I'm sticking to my mission of maximizing the number of happy hearts and happy tummies around the world!

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Contact Info:

Jasmine Cho, Founder & Creative Ninja of Yummyholic

Email: jasmine@yummyholic.com

http://www.instagram.com/helloyummyholic

http://www.facebook.com/helloyummyholic

http://www.twitter.com/helloyummyholic

Yummyholic Receives Generous Donation from Duquesne Club

Yummyholic Receives Generous Donation from Duquesne Club

I have incredible news to share!

Many of you know that Yummyholic recently celebrated its official first year since launching this website last October. In retrospect, it has grown remarkably over a short amount of time, but the amount of sleepless nights, sweat, and tears I've invested so far has made it feel like a long time coming. Other than all the personal growth you go through by putting yourself out there on all levels of vulnerability as an entrepreneur, the two main logistical hurdles I had to overcome in order to really start growing my business were 1) space and 2) equipment.

Earlier in September, I overcame the first hurdle when I was named one of six winners of the Urban Innovation21 & La Dorita Cooks Food Incubation Grant Competition and acquired about 4-6 months of free commercial kitchen space to solidify and grow my operations. I'll be operating out of La Dorita Cooks' shared commercial kitchen space in Sharpsburg, PA.

Urban Innovation21 & La Dorita Cooks Pitch Competition

Pitching to judges for the Urban Innovation21 & La Dorita Cooks Food Business Incubation Grant Competition

 

Shortly afterward, I became one of six finalists who presented at the Invest in Her Pitch Competition for a chance to win up to $5000. I hoped to win prize money that I could use to purchase equipment and be on my way toward overcoming the second hurdle to growth in my business.

Unfortunately, I didn't place in the competition. I had an incredible experience and know that making it as a finalist was a huge feat in itself - we were initially chosen out of 40 applicants and then made it through to the pitch out of 12 interviewees. I stood alongside amazing female entrepreneurs who are making waves in the fields of medicine, technology, retail, and recreation and proudly represented my niche in the food industry.

Standing alongside the other Invest in Her Pitch Competition finalists

From left to right: Adhiti Aji of Adrich, LLC, Courtney Williamson of AbiliLife, Marissa Vogel of Caligramme, yours truly (!), Monica Yope of PopCraft, and Tamiah Bridgett of Diversame, Inc.

 

Since I didn't place in the Invest in Her competition, my immediate next step was to launch an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to do what I could to lessen the financial impact of investing in the critical equipment needed to meet new wholesale demand in my business. What I needed was a dough sheeter - a piece of commercial equipment that would enable me to produce eight times what I can do now rolling out my cookie dough by hand. Commercial kitchen equipment tends to be very costly, averaging in the thousands of dollars. A table top dough sheeter on its lowest end runs $5-$6K. I hoped to raise at least half of the cost through crowdfunding.

Table Top Dough Sheeter

My campaign was a little slow-going in its first week, so I created a Facebook event to try for one more push five days before it ended. In less than 24 hours, I not only met my campaign goal but exceeded it thanks to the incredible surge of support from so many friends and fans!!

But then comes the amazing cherry-on-top announcement!!!

During the same time I was hopping and skipping celebrating the fact that I had just reached my campaign goal, I received an unexpected call from Executive Pastry Chef William Racin of the Duquesne Club who spoke words that started making me cry while I was stuck in the middle of traffic:

"On behalf of the Duquesne Club, we would like to donate a dough sheeter to you. We're more than happy to support a local pastry chef who's working hard to get their business going. If you're available, I'd like to deliver it to you tonight!"

Chef Racin and my boyfriend nearly threw out their backs carrying the machine up the steps into our house last night.

I received their 20-year-old dough sheeter originally purchased by Chef Thaddeus DuBois - former Executive Pastry Chef of the Duquesne Club who went on to become The White House Executive Pastry Chef and named one of the Ten Best Pastry Chefs in America in 1999! So not only am I still reeling from the generosity of the donation itself, I am also geeking out about the history of the machine and having the juju of such a highly-esteemed pastry chef passed onto me!! :D

The machine is in great shape and looks promising to fulfill my exact needs for production, but it unfortunately requires three-phase power that both my home and La Dorita's commercial space currently can't accommodate. (So many sad tears) Good news is that La Dorita has major plans to renovate and expand their shared commercial kitchen space, so I'll hopefully be able to use and test it out by early Spring next year!

In the meantime, the total net funds of $2,926.50 that fans, friends, and family helped me raise through Indiegogo will either be put toward a single-phase dough sheeter that I can use more immediately or toward investing in other needed kitchen equipment and materials. I will keep everyone, especially my donors, promptly updated!

For now, I wanted to share the amazing news and express my deep, deep gratitude again to the Duquesne Club, their Executive Pastry Chef William Racin, and their Executive Chef Keith Coughenour who all recognized my hard work and decided to award it so generously with their support!

Duquesne Club Logo