Fairfield County Business Journal
Baking business, June 20, 2005
Ex-New Yorker builds kosher bakery in Westport
By Joan Stableford
She and her husband, Josh, had owned DMTG, (Direct Marketing Training Group) for two decades and sold the business to start anew. While her husband chose to stay in the field, she decided to find a business that she was passionate about and that would allow her to live and work in the same community because they had three children. She didn't want to commute long hours and was seeking a flexible work schedule to work around her children's busy school schedules.
Moritz loved baking, especially for the Jewish holidays, so she took some baking courses. "Luckily, I discovered very early on that I was a much better marketer than a baker," Moritz said.
Through some research, she located David Ackert, a local baker who delivered Challah and other kosher baked goods to homes in Westport and Weston on a ChallahConnection.com subscription basis every Friday morning. Moritz purchased his existing Challah baking business and was born.
With Internet commerce booming, Moritz decided to set up an easy-to-use Web site displaying her products and where her customers could order their goods and have them shipped. She used her direct-marketing background to get the word out to large, wealthy synagogues, temples, schools, nursing homes and offices nationwide.
"The first year was the big learning curve - finding just the right baker, making sure the baked goods were of high quality, locating a delivery warehouse for shipping, making sure we could deliver on time. My products are kosher certified, very high end and definitely not the cheapest in town because my standards are very high, but they are the best around," she said.
Today, her gourmet Challah bread, Rugelach, Babka and other specialty-baked items, are shipped to customers across the United States via United Parcel Service from the 39 Franklin St. office and fulfillment location.
In addition to herself, Moritz employs four part-time workers in her Franklin Street office and at a separate fulfillment center. The Challah and other goods are shipped to her from the contracted specialty bakers. Her company workers pick up the goods from a local bakery distributor and handle all of the shipping and delivery from the company's fulfillment site. They also assemble and make custom gift baskets and cookie tins at this location.
Just before holidays or with big orders, activity at the fulfillment center is greater than at other times of the year, especially with customized orders, Moritz said.
Moritz said 75 percent of all of the orders for her gourmet baked goods come from customers ordering online. The other 25 percent of her customers order by phone. The subscribers who have standing weekly orders for Challah only call or e-mail her when there is a change in their standard order.
While she declined to give sales figures, Moritz said that each year her business has grown. In the first year, her sales figures were slightly better than the previous owner's. By the second year, sales had grown 25 percent from the year before. By her third year, sales were up an additional 15 percent.
Toward the end of the first year, Moritz took a chance by calling a New York Times food critic directly, explained her business concept and sent her some samples of her Challah bread and Russian coffeecake. The food writer was intrigued and after receiving the product samples, she wrote about Moritz's very specialized subscription bakery service.
"After that great write-up in the (N.Y.) Times, we were flooded with inquiries about our bakery products. The calls continued to come in from readers of that article for about a year," Moritz said.
In fact, Moritz like the graphic used to go along with the article so much that she bought the Challah bread symbol from the newspaper and it has now become the company's licensed logo.
Another byproduct of that article is that 80 percent of those New York Times readers were specifically requesting Challah and other baked goods as gifts for their loved ones.
"This is a classic business lesson for everyone. When you start out, you never really know where a business and events will take you. This was a major opportunity to grow," she said.