After being accepted at Urban Solutions Lab, Brickman had the opportunity to learn more about what it would take to make his idea a reality. Eventually, she changed course and chose to open a small commercial space with a walk-in counter in Tea neck which will be called The Brickery.
“Food is an important aspect of everyone’s life,” Brickman explained of why food became the center of his entrepreneurial ambitions. “Whether it’s a great burger or a great cake, the reaction it gets, the way people feel, is very rewarding,” she said.
Through the Urban Solutions Lab, she received mentorship, resources including access to experienced entrepreneurs running similar food businesses, and time to research regulations and calculate costs of startup.
Started with the Rutgers Advanced Institute for the Study of Entrepreneurship and Development, or (RAISED)the Urban Solutions Lab is hosted within the Honors Living and Learning College in Rutgers-Newark University. Its goal is to bring together students and community actors in the pursuit of prosocial entrepreneurship. Students with business ideas are selected for semester-long internships that allow them to dedicate time in their lives to researching and starting a business, according to Teacher Ted Bakerwho co-founded the Urban Solutions Lab with Jasmin Cordero Westthe associate director of RAISED.
Brickman was among the first eight interns in the lab. “(Miriam) was very determined,” said Cordero-West, who mentored Brickman. “She has this entrepreneurial drive. It won’t be her only business.”
Cordero-West said Brickman is part of a generation of young people inspired by the entrepreneurs and influencers they see all around them. “They understand that entrepreneurship is something that is possible for everyone,” she said.
The Brickman business idea was born out of a lifelong passion for baking. She started making sweet things in middle school and continued through high school. “YouTube has been my main teacher,” she said.
Brickman is pragmatic, resourceful and full of ideas. While in college, she lived at home. She held up to three jobs at once. And she cooked.
During the pandemic shutdown, she took advantage of the popularity of DIY kits and started putting together some of her own cupcake decorating kits. She provided the cupcakes, made the frosting and came up with a theme. A beach kit, for example, would include crushed graham crackers for sand and tiny umbrellas used in cocktails.
She leveraged her marketing and logistics skills, promoting her cupcakes on Instagram, setting delivery dates and establishing geographies in Essex, Passaic And Bergen counties that allowed it to create reasonable distribution routes. Birthday parties, Bat and Bar Mitzvah celebrations, and holidays have created a constant demand for her cupcakes. Her largest order was 400 cupcakes, which she made in a school kitchen. At the height of the pandemic, a local synagogue asked her to make special boxes of honey cookies and bee-themed cupcakes to deliver to its members on Rosh Hashanah. She fulfilled the order from home. “No one else was allowed in the kitchen for a few days,” she said.
Using this experience as inspiration, she decided to see if she could start a business operating a truck to sell her treats. The Urban Solutions Lab connected her with people who were already operating food truck businesses. She also had access to websites, tax information, and industry data that gave her insight into how food truck businesses were regulated, how competitive they could be to get started, and performance of other food truck companies. The process proved crucial for Brickman.
“This information helps you see if this is an industry you want to take a risk with,” she said. “What struck me was the number of licenses needed. It was different in each municipality. It’s very different from driving an ice cream truck. There are a lot more restrictions.”
Based on what she learned, Brickman decided to revise her plan. She found a commercial property in Teaneck that she describes as “pretty cozy” and “mostly a kitchen” with a walk-up counter where she can serve customers her baked goodies. In a shark tank-like process, Brickman made his pitch and managed to receive a $12,000 grant from Urban Solutions Lab to help pay the lease.
The Brickery – a name that mixes its last name with that of a bakery – is set to open this summer with ice cream, waffles and the popular treat, edible cookie dough. There are plans to add pancakes, cupcakes and other sweet creations.
During his internship, Brickman learned how to incorporate an element of social good into a business. Brandon Frame, the founder of Black Men Can, gave a conference that left its mark. “I appreciate the view that business is not just about profit,” she said. She is still thinking about some ideas for reusing food waste and giving back to the community.
“There’s a lot on my mind,” she said, “but right now I’m focused on growing the business.”
Brickman describes herself as an analytical designer. “I love math and I love the artistry involved in decorating a cake,” she said. “A lot of people think marketing is vague. I like the analytics and data behind it.”
When she was in college, most of her jobs involved working with children, but she also landed a remote job with a Pennsylvania company that provided him with experience in the data analysis aspect of marketing and public relations. She relies on her marketing knowledge to help her establish her business.
Brickman said she wasn’t sure what inspired her toward entrepreneurship. “I guess I’d rather challenge myself in different ways than take the safe route,” she said.
SOURCE Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick