featured image via Bill Horan
When she first moved to Montclair, our NJMOMpreneur Kacy Erdelyi discovered that the healthy, high standard snacks she was looking for were not easy to come by for her family. So, she decided to bring them to her community herself, tapping into her marketing background and taking the leap to open her own restaurant, Joyist. This organic functional foods cafe strives to make eating nutritious fuel for your body fun and delicious, offering a variety of bowls, toasts, smoothies, juices and lattes (the Golden Turmeric Latte is a fave). The goal is that every bite helps you feel your best. This mom of two is inspiring us with her commitment to balance (you can have that slice of pizza mamas!) and working on her goal to give back to those who need help feeding their families. She gave us the dish on her aspirations for expansion, her favorite part about being a mom (hint: #thesnuggleisreal), and how she and her family embrace the outdoors and take advantage of local spots like South Mountain Reservation.
NJMOMpreneur & Founder of Joyist Kacy Erdelyi
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Kacy: Joyist offers organic food and drinks that are loaded with vegetables, fruits, and other plants. We don’t believe healthy eating should include deprivation; rather, we want everyone to focus on what good things they are choosing to put into their bodies every day. Fruits and vegetables are delicious! Eating them shouldn’t feel like homework.
What I’ve learned about owning my own business is that success doesn’t come from making a really good plan and then executing it. It comes from being willing to stick with and believe in your business while you adapt it, change it, and find the success in it. It will come, but it takes time, flexibility, and persistence.” – NJMOMpreneur, Kacy Erdelyi
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Kacy: After my son was born, I went back to working as a marketing strategy consultant in NYC part-time. I loved being both a stay at home mom and a working mom, but after my daughter was born, being so far away even part of the time was just a little too much. At the same time, I had become increasingly frustrated by the lack of healthy food available in Montclair. When I moved there from Brooklyn, I thought that the excellent restaurants and cultural events the town is famous for would naturally extend to the type of premium health food businesses that are on every block in the city. But when I would walk into town with my kids, there was nowhere to get a snack for them (or for me!) that lived up to the standards I kept at home. So I left my marketing job and taught myself how to open a restaurant, which became Joyist.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Kacy: There are definitely two answers to that question. First, I love eating our food! In my darkest days, when I think I’m not going to make it and I should shut the whole thing down, I know I can’t because I’ll never be able to feed myself this well without everyday access to our menu. Second, I just love that every day boxes and crates of organic fruits and vegetables come into our kitchen and we turn them into delicious food that even people who wouldn’t consider themselves “healthy” love eating. I know that if we could look at the average produce consumption per head in Montclair from before we opened and then now, it would have increased. And that makes me feel really happy.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Kacy: My background is in marketing strategy and branding consulting. It would have definitely been helpful to have some food service experience as well, but I’m also really glad to have the knowledge I do. It makes decisions about who my customers are and how I want to appeal to them an integral part of our business, rather than an afterthought.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Kacy: With both my current job and the part-time work I did in the city, I’ve been really proud of how much I’ve been able to achieve a work-life balance. I really do feel like I haven’t missed my children growing up, and I’ve been able to find ways to feel fulfilled from a career perspective as well.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Kacy: I don’t always eat healthy food. I eat Cadbury eggs and Chinese take out and hot dogs and I LOVE brownie sundaes. Sometimes I’ll go to someone’s house and they’ll start apologizing that they’re serving pizza or that it’s not organic, but I’m not even thinking about it. There is so much magical and delicious food in the world, and I think all of it should be enjoyed. Just make sure you eat your vegetables too.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Kacy: By the end of 2020 I would love to have three locations of Joyist open and profitable so that we can start to have some serious conversations with investors about broader expansion.
Personally, I’d like to freeze time. My kids are old enough that I sleep at night and vacations are feasible, but still young enough that they’re happiest when they are hanging out with me and my husband. I want to just enjoy this time!
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Kacy: My dream is to someday have a large and successful enough company that I can influence access to healthy food for underprivileged communities, especially in schools. Right now, Joyist will offer a lifetime 50% discount for anyone that is a member of the Families First program (formerly food stamps). One day I’d like to make that a nationwide offering.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Kacy: It’s hard to give just one answer! I look up to Michelle Obama for her work with the school lunch programs, I look up to Gwyneth Paltrow because she doesn’t give a hoot what anyone says and does her own thing (and knows how to build a lifestyle brand like no one else), I look up to Bobbi Brown because she arranged her life to not miss out on her kids growing up and still became wildly successful, I look up to my mom for her unending kindness, I look up to my dad for making something of his life from nothing, I look up to my husband for knowing how to have fun like a child, I look up to my network of female business owners for everything they’ve taught me … the list goes on. There are so many incredible people in the world and so much to learn from them all.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom (or parent/role model) ever gave to you?
Kacy: The best piece of advice I received from my mom is when you look at someone else and wish you had what they do, make sure you’re looking at the whole thing. You can’t pick and choose and want one person’s house, another one’s hair, and another’s career. You have to take the whole thing, their whole life and compare it to yours. And she’s right. I always choose mine.
This advice has been particularly helpful as I’ve been entering the world of female entrepreneurs. There are so many women out there doing so many amazing things, and they’re all super intelligent, beautiful, successful, with gorgeous families and amazing businesses. It’s easy to feel like I’m just faking it and will never achieve what they have. My mom’s advice helps remind me to focus on who I am, not on who they are.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
Kacy: I have a tote bag from De La Vega (NYC graffiti artist) that says,
This moment is more precious than you think.” – De La Vega
He’s right! It is.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Kacy: My family has always had a place at the Jersey shore. I loved being there as a kid and now love taking my kids. It’s so nice to be able to get into vacation mode so close to home. When it’s not summer, we love the Liberty Science Center and South Mountain Reservation – we’re always trying to get out of the house to do something, preferably something active. Our kids have a lot of energy!
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Kacy: We buy our shop’s coffee and all of the coffee in our home from Java Love Coffee Roasting Company, an amazing shop around the corner from us that taught me everything I know about building a community-based business in Montclair. For the highest-quality fish you can get anywhere, Little Bear Poke has incredibly exacting standards, and you can taste it. The most incredible flower arrangements around come from Studio Nectar, and for those who are looking to invest in something, Clerestory is the best gallery for miles. For my kids, I love Earth and Sky school, run by Angelique Kenney – basically, it lets kids explore the woods in a way that all kids should – and Dream Martial Arts, a fantastic studio with awesome instructors. Oh! And Clary Anderson and Floyd Hall rinks for my ice hockey-obsessed son!
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Kacy: We live in Montclair, and I love everything about it. The people are so open, kind, and interesting, there is so much to do, and the schools are incredible. I mean, we have an art museum and a film festival! You can’t beat that.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Kacy: What I’ve learned about owning my own business is that success doesn’t come from making a really good plan and then executing it. It comes from being willing to stick with and believe in your business while you adapt it, change it, and find the success in it. It will come, but it takes time, flexibility, and persistence.