Dec. 1, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi
Seems as if the holiday season is coming upon us quicker than ever! And if you’re running out of thoughtful ideas for gifts and stocking stuffers, here are some tempting offerings, courtesy of those innovative Made in Queens (MiQ) folks.
“Our Made in Queens program is so rewarding because it showcases all the great things that our borough has to offer. Whether you want clothing or chocolate, it’s all made in Queens,” said MiQ Director Michael Gillen. “In addition to our website, you can shop for MiQ products at Stand Alone Cheese in Jackson Heights, as well as upcoming markets at Bulova Corporate Center and JFK Airport.”
Need some gifting inspiration? Make sure to check out madeinqueens.org for special Queens-made creations and more places where you can find them. And remember, there are no rules when it comes to giving from the heart.
MiQ members are passionate about what they do, which is reflected in the quality of their unique products. And local makers truly understand the needs and wants of the communities that continue to support them. Get to know some of the hardworking people who create what you buy and discover the stories behind their businesses and products.
Bake Me Healthy baking mixes: an unexpected holiday gift!
Asian-American mom Kimberle Lau created Bake Me Healthy because she believes in healthy, plant-based baking. Her small business, which launched in May, is based in Syosset, Long Island, and her product is manufactured in Long Island City.
Bake Me Healthy is on a mission to help others bake better for themselves, their families and the planet. Lau, a former beauty executive, developed lactose and egg intolerances from pregnancy and then had to eliminate soy from her diet due to becoming high-risk for breast cancer.
“First and foremost, these mixes are inclusive. They’re gluten-free, vegan and free of the top nine allergens, making it a great choice for those with dietary restrictions or allergies. Everyone can savor the homemade goodness without worry,” Lau noted.
“But that’s not all. We’re thrilled to share that our delicious baking mixes are not just kind to your taste buds but to the planet, too,” she added. “It’s crafted with sustainable, upcycled ingredients, appealing to eco-conscious consumers who prioritize sustainability without compromising on flavor.”
And the best part? These mixes are “incredibly easy” to prepare. With just a few simple steps — simply add milk and oil/water — anyone can whip up these delicious treats in no time. It makes a great gift for kids, foodies and anyone looking for a guilt-free indulgence. Visit bakemehealthy.co to place your order.
Tembo NYC: where cause, culture and fashion unite.
Founder Deb Chusid has been making and selling fabulous totes and more for fashion savvy New Yorkers since 2019.
“We sell online (tembonyc.com) and at various museums, craft markets and at fine travel retailers at JFK Airport. Our cotton goods are hand sewn in Queens by an immigrant women’s sewing cooperative,” Chusid said.
A native New Yorker, Chusid has spent over a decade volunteering around the globe for elephants and wildlife conservation (tembo means “elephant” in Swahili). When she wasn’t in the wild “enjoying nature’s beauty and saving God’s creatures,” she was creating campaigns for Fortune 500 companies at large New York ad agencies.
Living two very different lives, Chusid spent years wondering how she could bring these opposite sides of her life together. The answer came to her in a supermarket checkout line.
“Frustrated that I forgot to BYO [bring your own] bag, I thought if I could create a bag that was fashionable and functional – a bag you would want to carry – you would be less inclined to forget it,” she said. “Tembo NYC is a gift that gives back to the things your giftee may care about most, like music, food, women’s empowerment, travel/environment and New York City,” Chusid said. “Our products are created with sustainability in mind, using original and artfully designed prints created to send a positive message and make a positive impact on the world around you.”
Check out their beautifully designed, artful scarves, wine totes and home goods, as well. Get 15% off all products with promo code HOLIDAY23 through Dec. 26.
Cotton goods are printed in the U.S. and are hand sewn in Queens by women seamstresses earning New York City Fair Wages. Chusid said 5 percent of her company’s profits go to the non-profit organizations that work to serve the causes highlighted in their designs.
Jane Parker Baked Goods, LLC: bringing back an iconic product for the holidays.
Alex Ronacher was eager to talk about his tasty products and share his company’s unique background with readers. His small business is based in Flushing, where they pack and ship their cakes to customers.
“Our fruitcakes make great holiday gifts because they’re specifically made for this time of year,” he said. “Made with a delicious combination of raisins, cherries, pineapple and pecans, they’re baked true to the original recipe, with over two-thirds fruits and nuts.”
These nostalgic cakes come in a large variety of sizes and styles, and you can get them nestled in beautiful collectible tins, as well.
The backstory, according to Ronacher
The Jane Parker brand is an iconic American brand, which was once baked exclusively for A&P supermarkets. In the mid 1800s in Brooklyn, a store called the A&P would put all their products under one roof (bakery, fruit store, butcher, etc.), and called it the ‘super’ market. They were the inventors of what we know today as the ‘supermarket.’ At the height of their business, they had over 16,000 supermarkets around the U.S. and Canada.
The rest of the story goes all the way back to the 1930s.
“The Jane Parker brand was baked for and was sold exclusively at A&P. There were over 100 different baked good items under the brand, and the demand was so great that there were seven Jane Parker bakeries located across the U.S. to keep up with all the demand and supply all the stores,” Ronacher noted.
The most remembered and recognized item was the iconic fruitcake, baked for the holiday season.
“The footprint of the Jane Parker brand, with a presence in over 16,000 stores, was incredible! Every year, beginning in the 1930s, families across the U.S. and Canada had a Jane Parker fruitcake on their table for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Ronacher added.
“Fast forward to 2014, and after over 150 years of being in business, the A&P filed for bankruptcy, and the Jane Parker fruitcakes were thought to be gone forever,” he continued. “There were many articles written about the beloved fruitcake no longer being in production, and Jane Parker fans across the country were really disappointed.”
In early 2016, Ronacher and his brother Chris found out about a bankruptcy liquidation sale that was being held for all the properties of A&P and the Jane Parker brand. Ronacher said they put a bid in and won the rights to the brand… “including all of the copyrights, trademarks, logos, website domain and, most importantly, the original recipes for the fruitcakes!”
Several months later, using the services of a contract bakery, the new entrepreneurs were able to bring the iconic fruitcake back into production, prepared faithfully to the original recipe, and relaunched the brand in 2017. This year will be their seventh season back in production, and they continue to grow the brand year after year.
You can place your order at JaneParker.com. They offer free shipping throughout the U.S. for all their fruitcakes and handle orders from one cake to hundreds of cakes. Many corporate customers use them for their holiday gifting, as well.
Last year, the brothers first got in touch with QEDC’s Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City, while looking for co-packers, so they could bake their fruitcakes closer to home.
“We met Kathrine Gregory, and she was very knowledgeable in helping us understand the process of going from a brand owner to a baker,” Ronacher said. “As new clients, we are excited to start making some of our new recipes, as well as bringing back another iconic cake from the Jane Parker vault: the Spanish Bar spice cake. We have the original recipe, which dates to the 1940s–1950s era.”
The truly unique Spanish Bar is a delicious blend of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove and allspice, combined with a sweet icing. A test batch has already been prepared in the kitchen and an inspection is underway, so they can start producing the cake again. Meanwhile, they’re booking hundreds of pre-orders for this product and will begin production/order fulfillment within the next two weeks, according to Ronacher.
“We are looking forward to working with Katherine and her knowledgeable staff to help us learn how to improve production, work on packaging design, and marketing our newer cakes through local farmers markets and stores,” he said.
“Entrepreneurs are extremely important to our economy. They innovate, create jobs and even serve as role models,” said Queens Tourism Council Director Rob MacKay. “I’m really proud of the MiQ entrepreneurs because of their dedication and talent, but mostly for the high-quality products they produce. They create everything from hot sauces to tee shirts to jewelry. Plus, it’s meaningful to give Queens-made gifts on birthdays and holidays.”
Stay tuned for more MiQ stories and products.