By Francesca Cassola, Sophomore Franklin & Marshall College & KidBacker Intern
Introducing Chef Jeremiah James, long-time cooking enthusiast and well known young entrepreneur. Chef Jeremiah has been featured on WBAL-TV and ABC 2 News, awarded the Joe Mann’s Black Wall Street Award and the He Matters Award, showcased as a Smart Agent, written about in Dream Teen Magazine, and much more. Jeremiah realized he had a passion for cooking early on, and after attending culinary classes, he decided to turn his passion into a business.
Chef Jeremiah James now runs his own business catering events, selling his delicious food and working on his cookbook. Jeremiah is a graduate of the Mount Washington School as well as the Excel Youth Mentoring Institute. This fall, he is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Program at Baltimore City College. Jeremiah also enjoys playing sports and pursuing his interest in exotic cars. I spoke with Jeremiah about his journey thus far.
KidBacker: What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
Jeremiah James: Being an entrepreneur means owning and running a successful business.
KB: Are your parents entrepreneurs?
JJ: My mother is, but my father is not.
KB: What initiated the idea to start your business? What pain point do you solve?
JJ: My mother encouraged me to start my business. I did the Summer Camps at The Classic Catering, which I enjoyed so much I decided to start cooking professionally. I cater events as well as sell the food I cook. I’m also coming out with a cookbook that should be published soon.
KB: How did you fund your business?
JJ: I funded my business through my mother and father.
KB: What were the biggest challenges you faced when launching your business? How did you overcome them?
JJ: Finding a mentor to assist me was a challenge. Another major challenge I faced was getting my name out there. I overcame this by putting in hard work to get known. I did a lot of marketing and also gave back to the community in order to become more involved. Recently, my friends and I fed the homeless. I funded this, and we gave the homeless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, chips, and water. I also made dog treats and snacks for the volunteers of The Maryland SPCA’s Walkathon, their biggest event of the year. I also gave back to Body and Soul Salon and Spa’s 4th Annual Back to School Event for which I prepared trail mix.
KB: What tools do you wish were available to you when you launched your business but weren’t?
JJ: I wish I had a mentor to push me to be active in this trade, make sure I was headed in the right direction, and to help me with culinary education and goals.
KB: How did you secure your first customers?
JJ: I secured my first customers at my school. I started selling lunches every two weeks, first to teachers, then to students. They became my main client base.
KB: Do you have any mentors? If so, who? How do they help you? On what frequency?
JJ: I just connected with Chef Mashaye Mitchell-Barr, she has started helping me receive the proper culinary education and shadow some of the top chefs in Maryland. She is already exposing me to so much. We meet once or twice a month, but she has me connecting to others as well.
KB: What made you so successful?
JJ: It helped a lot when I made television appearances. People seemed to get a better sense of who I am which encouraged them to support me and use my business. It also helps when I make public appearances at events because I get the chance to talk to people one on one. Oh yeah, and my food is good! How could I forget that?
KB: What does an average day for you look like?
JJ: Everyday I check my social media channels and see if I have any inquiries on my site. I follow up with the inquiries I receive. I do this while balancing my studies. I just graduated from Mount Washington School, and will be in the International Baccalaureate Program at Baltimore City College this coming fall.
KB: If you had three tips to give other young people who want to start their own business, what would they be?
JJ: Make sure you are passionate about the business you want to start, know you have to put the work in, and be sure you are going to see your business all the way through.
KB: Why should young people consider becoming entrepreneurs?
JJ: Your passion can become a job that you will enjoy doing and be successful at.
- Entrepreneurs can create a job out of something they love, so they will enjoy the work they do.
- Young entrepreneurs will gain more traction if their audience has a sense of who they are so let your personality and authenticity shine through.
- If you are running a business, it is important to stay on top of it each and every day to remain professional.
Chef Jeremiah Jones At-A-Glance
Location: Baltimore, MD
Business: Culinary Arts
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