Ginny Simon’s girlhood dream was to have a house full of kids gathered around the kitchen table, the heart of the home. After her four sons were born, she lived out her dream by serving them organic, nutritious meals, and baking delicious, but health-conscious desserts.
Simon loved being a full-time mother, but as her sons grew older, she began to wonder what she would do when she “grew up.” So the Miami Beach mom began tinkering around with baking mixes, then baked cookies and bars. Today Simon is CEO of ginnybakes, a line of all-natural baking mixes and sweets.
Here is how she did it.
The Big Idea
ginnybakes is a line of organic, kosher and gluten-free baking mixes, cookies, biscotti, bars and brownies with names like “peace, love and crumble muffin,” “sunshine biscotti bliss” and “naked love butter crisp.” The products do not contain genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs, and come in vegan varieties. Treats are sold in two-packs, by the dozen, and in mini sizes. Bags of a dozen treats range from $5.99 to $7.99, and can be bought at Whole Foods, Epicure, natural food stores and online.
A self-proclaimed “health nut,” Simon did a short stint as an interior decorator before immersing herself in her role as a full-time mom to sons Scott, 24; Michael, 22; Mark, 19; and Kevin, 18. She thrived in that role, but felt herself becoming lost as the boys grew older. Simon took online courses from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and became certified as a holistic nutritionist and drugless practitioner. She also taught whole-food and gluten-free cooking.
Husband, Steve, practiced law for 26 years before joining ginnybakes full-time in 2011 to handle operations. Son, Michael, earned a degree in chemical engineering and will join the company this summer.
After Simon’s cooking students started asking her to recommend healthy baking mixes, she began looking online. Not finding any to her liking, Simon saw a business opportunity and decided to develop her own. Always a home baker, she looked online to learn what goes into a commercial mix and in what proportions.
She deconstructed her grandmother’s biscotti recipe to analyze ingredients. Simon also went into grocery stores to review products, price points and flavors. “I was almost afraid to move forward, because I didn’t think I knew enough,” she said.
Simon began tinkering with recipes she liked to use for her family, choosing organic ingredients like coconut, dark chocolate, nuts, fruits and gluten-free flours.
“I thought, ‘What would I want to serve to my kids?’” she said.
For packaging, she started with a round tube for her baking mixes, but realized they were expensive and cumbersome. She settled on a paper bag that was more economical and easier to handle. She consulted with attorneys to learn proper wording for the packaging. She learned about vacuum sealing and how to keep the bag from leaking.
In 2010, Simon began selling four different baking mixes on her website. She worked out of a small space in a commercial kitchen, and when she entered Epicure in Miami Beach in early 2011, began baking two packs of cookies called “go packs” that retailers could keep on countertops. Simon researched how to extend shelf life in preservative-free baked goods, and started packaging treats by the dozen.