I recently was asked to speak at a conference for women entrepreneurs. Many people asked how the Challah Connection began, and how it became a successful Jewish Gift Basket business. The main question was “What is a Jewish Gift Basket,” so here are some answers:
When I first started my business, The Challah Connection, it was focused on a single product—challah bread. In the early days, every Friday was when we delivered our fresh baked challah to the homes and mailboxes of customers in Connecticut. We soon realized this great food gift delivery concept had the potential for growth in a variety of directions.
Sure enough, some great luck came our way and our tasty treats got a wonderful write up in The New York Times. Three pivotal things came from those 200 (or so) words:
- A tremendous amount of mail order business.
- Our Challah Connection bread truck logo (NYTimes commissioned an artist to create the illustration and it later became our current logo).
- The realization that our business was in fact going to become a Jewish gift basket business.
Until then, our understanding of the business was that it was a challah subscription and delivery business, but since the vast majority of orders that came from the Times were for food gifts and Jewish gift baskets, we decided to take it up a notch! Challah, rugelach and babka (the 3 main items mentioned in the Times) are traditional Jewish foods (yes, I know they are not only Jewish however), so we started focusing our business around gifts baskets and holiday food gifts. Today our business in focused on all types of food gifts, but we still remain a primary supplier of the finest kosher baked goods and Jewish gift baskets in the mail order gift basket industry.
Then--again through feedback from customers--I realized something else that moved us even further in the Jewish Gift Basket arena. Many Jews and non-Jews started asking about Jewish traditions and protocol. For example: “what should I send for a sympathy gift?” (Answer: Food, NOT flowers) or “I’d like to send a rugelach platter to my friends for Passover.” (NO!!—Passover is the “flourless/matzo holiday”). So, you see, I realized that there is a huge need for education of Jewish traditions and that a lot of people, like you and me, really want to get it right! Of course, I’m thrilled about this—not just because it’s helped our business, but because I’m touched that so many people want to understand Jewish food and holiday tradition.
So, with that realization, we have taken another huge step in the Jewish gift basket business. Now, for every Jewish gift-giving holiday, such as Rosh Hashana, Succoth, Hanukkah, Purim, Passover or Shavuot, we create special gifts that reflect the tradition of that holiday. For example, for Rosh Hashana we have several gifts that include apples and honey; the traditional foods to promise a sweet New Year. For Hanukkah, we have chocolate coins (gelt) and latkes*. These are just a couple of examples of the food gifts that may come in one of our terrific Jewish gift baskets.
Recently, I created a book on Jewish tradition and related food called “Celebrating Jewish Holidays with The Challah Connection.” So far, as I understand it, customers and friends are really enjoying this tactful book, as it gives them information on how to enjoy the holidays along with specific traditions and recipes for each Jewish holiday celebration. So there you have it: the history of The Challah Connection from the original challah subscription service to the online retailer of Jewish gift baskets and food gifts. To sum it up the Challah Connection is your online retailer for unique gift baskets that reflect Jewish tradition.
-Jane Moritz, Owner, Challah Connection
* Latkes are potato pancakes; a yummy food fried in oil. We eat them —or any fried food—at Hanukkah, to signify the oil that lasted 8 nights instead of only 1. That’s why Hanukkah is also called the “Festival of Lights.”