Q&A with Famous Baker and Entrepreneur Mya Zoracki
Mya Zoracki founded Feed Your Soul Bakery more than a decade ago from the kitchen of her apartment in Hoboken, NJ. This former lawyer and trader on the American Stock Exchange wanted to find a life of meaning and help those less fortunate. Feed Your Soul Bakery manufactures cookie dough, oven-fresh cookies, and a variety of brownies and bars made from the finest ingredients and certified kosher. For every order placed, Feed Your Soul donates a cookie to the Coalition for the Homeless, the oldest not-for-profit advocacy group focused on homelessness in the United States. Today, Feed Your Soul has a state of the art bakery manufacturing facility in Kearny NJ where they churn out pallets of cookies, cookie dough, and other innovative desserts. They also have a flagship retail location at 14 Wall Street in New York City. Mya is a proud wife and mother to two boys.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
I started Feed Your Soul out of my studio apartment 12 years ago. In my former life, I was a trader on the American stock exchange. I literally stood on a box in a crowd of 18 men and traded all day. I went to law school in the evenings on a bet. 4 hours a night, 4 nights a week, 4 years. I completed Law School and earned my Juris Doctorate Degree.
What inspired you to start your business?
While my days and nights were extremely busy, a piece of me was unfulfilled. I felt a need to find my passion, to find the things in life that would "feed my soul." For me, those things were baking with simple ingredients and helping those in need.
Where is your business based?
Feed Your Soul has a bakery manufacturing facility in Kearny NJ and an express Cafe at 14 Wall Street in NYC.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
In the early days, I literally set up an LLC, a UPS account and a website as my portal to the world.
I became a mad scientist in the kitchen and my studio apartment was transformed into a baking/packaging center. I baked 12 cookies at a time from sunrise to sunset and UPS wheeled hundreds of packages down the hall. Alongside the internet orders, I created marketing materials and sold to local coffee shops and gourmet markets. I was my own sales team, baking team, legal counsel and distribution.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Media coverage and social media have been very good outlets for raising awareness for the brand. Word of mouth has been an amazing testament to the product but has taken time to build.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced is how to scale a business pertaining to food. People have often said to me "oh, that's so cute that you bake. I love to bake." While quality control is always the highest priority, dealing with running a company, the scrutiny, audits, and logistics make it difficult to scale and grow without the means to get there.
How do you stay focused?
As the business grows, the number of moving parts has grown as well. I have learned that my biggest ideas come from a quiet place in time, where I can remove myself from the world and redirect all of my thoughts back to the core of the brand and where we are going. I find it easiest to focus in the early morning or late in the evening.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
Feed Your Soul Bakery is at the heart of what matters. Our premium cookies and bars are not only delicious, but they act as a vehicle to do good. For every order placed, we donate a cookie to the Coalition for the Homeless, the oldest not-for-profit advocacy group focused on homelessness in the United States.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
We work on building our social media, however, in all honesty, my best marketing strategy has been through word of mouth through my wonderful customers. I find that my business has grown exponentially from them telling others about Feed Your Soul, and that is the best form of marketing we could ask for!
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
- Do something you love. When you are passionate about what you do, your energy is contagious and your power is greater than you know.
- Set Expectations and be realistic about your goals. (Understand the difference between a hobby and a business.)
- Believe in yourself. Trust your instincts.
- Define your own success. Build a life you are proud to call your own.
- Don’t be afraid of the word “failure.” It’s just a word. If there is a dream inside of you, you will never be at peace until you give it a chance.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. I read this book many years ago, but it was very pertinent to me. As for an app, my calendar!
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
GOOGLE- we live in an incredible time, where we are able to find the answers we seek to virtually anything at our fingertips. The internet was a great resource for starting/growing my business.
Who is your business role model? Why?
Warren Buffet. He is brilliant, kind, and a tremendous philanthropist.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
We look forward to growing our online sales for the holidays and making Feed Your Soul a household name. We love the idea that every purchase at Feed Your Soul gives back to our community. It's an amazing feeling to know that what you do truly can help brighten the lives of other people in such a simple way.
How can our readers connect with you?
Twitter - @FYSBakery