There’s nothing better than shining a light on a new local business that is making yummy creations. I not only love her delicious challah, but I love her grassroots story and how she found help and inspiration from others on social media.
What gave you the idea to start Challah at Meg?
Challah at Meg came about after a month of making challah. I am a self-taught challah baker! I had been taking orders and I started following other challah bakers around the world on Instagram and felt that I wanted to make a name for myself and I started toying with the idea of a business. Something out of my field of expertise. I reached out to some friends who had business in the past for advice. The name came from friends and family who call me Meg’s and it had a nice ring to it. Then I was talking with a friend from high school, Sheree Klausner and she had some great ideas and she said, hey what about Challah at Meg and I fell in love with it. There are so many puns you can make with it!
I honestly had no idea what this would turn into! I was home from work and babysitting and I like to keep myself busy so I started learning and looking at other challah bakers. On IG 6 months ago I started following Whitney Fisch @jewhungry , @Mandylicious The Challah Guru. Actually, early on I was messaging her a lot with questions about challah and stuffing them with deliciousness! That is one thing she is known for! She had been so helpful! Also a good friend from NFTY Youth group who is a chef in Canada, Rachel Corber. She noticed a lot just from my pictures and gave me fantastic pointers to make it better and what tools I should get to be successful! I also follow Jane Rubin on IG, she is also a Toronto Based challah maker! I had also been asking questions to @theblessedbread and everyone has been super sweet and kind!
Tell me about how your business first started and how it’s grown since then.
My business started I would say between 2 – 3 weeks after I started making them for families in my toddler class. This started because when we were told school was closed, we had our first class Shabbat on Zoom and I made them for families in my class as a way to show togetherness from afar because we couldn’t do it in person. I figured they would have a piece of us as Morah’s (Teacher in Hebrew). From that on, I had weekly orders. I didn’t come from a home that made challah, ever, and the process felt natural and instinctively. It’s really my therapy, and a time for me to turn inward while making it. It has come at a perfect time because me and my husband are trying to conceive and I feel like my challah is like my child. I started reading a cookbook called Rising The Book of Challah by Rochie Pinson. Reading her book is helping me find “the deepest part of ourselves.” Or I should say myself to be exact.
To me it is important to be the most authentic, and natural in my artistic and creative process. Pinson says “We are looking to create something that comes from us and is unique to who we are.” My challah business is unique because first off they are gigantic! And I love filling them with goodness! When I bake my “emotional energy and intention” is what drives me to make it.
After a month of making challah, I started better quality pictures and getting likes and comments. Orders started off coming in that way and word to mouth.
Since then I have done a few collaborations. One was with @theycallmecarmelbrownie, and my most recent with @a_doggie_bag . My Instagram grew about 25% percent higher! I am super grateful for collaborations! To put things into perspective I was making 25 challahs a week, but now that I am back to work full time I cut them in half to 10 a week. I also spread orders out. I am booked till October!
How has the pandemic affected your business?
My business started as a result of the pandemic. The pandemic has helped my business by providing the best challah to Jewish and non Jewish customers. It continues to thrive. I was recently told by someone I had just met, they told me, “I heard you make a mean challah!” And I think it’s wonderful people are spreading the wealth of my tasty challah to their friends and family.
I’ve also been shipping my challahs! That’s been a wonderful experience as well!
Tell me some of your favorite local businesses to work with and why local partnership is so important.
I’ve done about 3 local collaborations with influencers on Instagram. It’s so exciting to spread the word of my business that was literally a thought, a quick one to be exact while driving down Van Aken. Like why not? What’s there to lose? I am known for being a go-getter and a risk taker. It’s actually kinda funny because I can’t really cook, but I can bake. My husband is amazed about this and how well it’s being received.
I haven’t had a lot of experience working with local businesses. I mostly sell to individuals. It could become more possible for that down the road. I am definitely open to it! However, I am excited to have one upcoming local partnership with Shira Tor who is a partner at Weiss and Tor Orthodontics. I am so grateful that she asked me to help create a package for her clients and other offices she has. She is a returning customer of my challahs. It has really pushed me to make my business more official and professional. I have my MFA from Parsons The New School for Design in Painting and Performance art, and it was so nice to be able to put my skills to use. I created a logo, packaging and a card for her company. She told me what she wanted and I created some drafts of things and everything now is getting printed! Working with her is an honor. She is talented and does amazing work in the community. This partnership is important to me because it can possibly lead to more opportunities. I’m really learning a lot through everything. Each opportunity has pushed further and further, and a bit outside my comfort zone because I don’t know where this is leading. I’m allowing this collaboration to happen organically. Well see where I am challahed next!
How do you give back to the community, either personally or professionally?
I try to give back as much as I can. In the beginning of the pandemic, I made challah for my toddler class families. I have also donated challahs to families that needed them for shabbat. I also have had and heard from friends who have gone through hardship and have sent them challah. Challah is a gift, and known for being a mitzvah. It is in my duty to help support those who need it. Challah brings people together. That’s why it’s braided. It’s supposed to represent togetherness. I have also given back by helping those who are interested in learning how to make challah and have come to me with questions on how to make it.
What are your personal favorite products you carry?
My personal favorite products are the Raspberry Spread, and Lemon Curd, and Everything Bagel seasoning from Trader Joes. I also love using the King Arthur All purpose flour and bread flour. I absolutely have fallen in love with the sprinkles from a company called Junk – Free Kitchen Supply, made by Carmel Hagen, who is the Founder. You can pick it up at Whole Foods. I love them because the colors are vibrant and they are plant based company.
I can vouch for the deliciousness of the raspberry/lemon curd and everything bagel challahs, which I loved and took into work to share. They were quickly devoured! If you’re looking for something delicious that means togetherness, hit up @challah_at_meg!
***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Challah at Meg and received two complimentary challah of my choice. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***