Meet Usha Sathappan CEO of Junior Chef Box. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I would like to introduce you to Usha Sathappan from JuniorChefBox. I was very excited when Usha responded to my interview request via Facebook. Usha is a wife and mom from New Jersey. She runs a business teaching child and her beautiful children to cook their favourite fun & healthy food. I cannot wait for you to get to know her.
Meet Usha Sathappan CEO of Junior Chef Box
Hello Usha, it is a pleasure to interview you. Tell me about you and your business?
My name is Usha Sathappan. I live In New Jersey, and I have three kids, a 14-year-old boy and a twin ten-year-old girl. While raising my three kids, I learned to face many challenges. I got pro at Multitasking:) My husband was supportive, but he works in New York and only returns late in the evening. When my girls were 4, I decided to either go to work or start a business.
I could not work a 9-5 job, and I am a creative person, would like to meet new peoples, and notably did not want to send my kids to day-care. I like to challenge myself every day and manage my own time wisely. And I wanted to spend more time with my family as well. So, I researched a lot and finally found the industry which I loved the most. The answer was a KIDS-oriented business. I started a kid’s robotics enrichment program with my best friend seven years ago.
Each year, 3000-3500 kids join our program.
I was very accomplished in significantly impacting the community with enrichment programs.
Four years ago, I started an after-school cooking program since I loved cooking. Everyone liked our program and our kids-friendly recipe sheets. I enjoyed every process of designing my new business. Everything went smooth. When the pandemic began, everything went downhill, no schools, no afterschool activities, no camps, only virtual sessions but more work than regular. I decided to start my third business. My husband, Sathappan Lakshmanan, is a software engineer and incredibly supportive of some of the work’s initiative. We formed a small technical team from New Jersey, London, Texas and India. Everyone worked so hard, and we were very patient, and it took almost one year to build the website.
Finally, we launched a new e-commerce Kids Subscription website called JuniorChefBox, a unique way to teach cooking to the kids. It is a monthly subscription box + animated recipe videos by a cartoon character named Chefy that we designed and digitalised on our own. Our primary goal is to make kids learn cooking in a fun way. I learned animation during the pandemic period. I started loving our character Chefy and animation. We will be introducing Spatchy and Spoony character later, and they will join with Chefy in the future. Please check our website, www.JuniorChefBox.com. The JuniorChefBox became more popular when we sent the box home to those who enrolled in our virtual after school and camp programs.
What type of recipes do you teach to kids?
Our team always prefers to choose a fun and healthy recipe for kids to make, and we try to balance both. Our classes and curriculum always reflect that. We create the recipe sheets with step-by-step illustrated images, and each recipe will have videos as well. It is pretty simple for the kids to follow.
You also have an Online Cooking Class for children. Can you please share what the class is about and what do you hope to achieve from it?
Junior Chef Box: Cooking is a life skill, and Junio Chef Box helps kids learn that in a simple way. It’s a great family time as well. The interactive class is all about cooking a variety of recipes. Kids learn cooking along with some fun science experiments that are mainly based on food. We also send home a Junior Chef Box with recipe sheets, science experiments, food worksheets and some baking utensils. I love to see kids smiling and their confidence while they are cooking. After class ends, our foremost goal is to make the recipes independently using our picturised recipe sheets.
What are the challenges you have as a Mom and a Wife and running a successful business?
Mommies guilt never ends. Balancing family and business are not an easy task. I always try to satisfy everyone, and I want to give 100% to the business and 100% to the family, but it’s just not possible. I must admit. There are too many things on my plate every day- household work, cooking, homework, family time, Clients, Classes, students, etc. The biggest challenge is Time management. There are no holidays for a successful business as it is our responsibility. There are good business days and bad business days, but at some point, we need to step back and focus on what is essential.
How do you stay motivated in your business?
Smiles on kids’ faces during the class and their confidence in the kitchen is one of the biggest motivations for me. I always have a vision of doing something I love during challenging times, taking issues as a puzzle, and trying to solve them and constantly keep learning. Customer satisfaction is another main driving force and adds up when I see the same child registering for multiple sessions.
What do you do for self-care?
Honestly, I do not do anything, particularly for self-care. I usually will not get the time, and I will watch a movie with my family, take a walk. I like to chat with my friends and would like to invite them for dinner. Always trying new recipes with my kids, and I would love to play with my twin girls. Listen to music and sing along while driving, and that is one of the ways I relax – mostly while driving.
Can you advise the audience on how to support each other during the Global Pandemic?
Pandemic time is an excellent opportunity to think differently for business owners. Do not slow down. Think of new options to run the business. Once the pandemic is over, we will be stronger than ever. Support each other on their social media pages, buy services or products from small/women-owned businesses.
Last but not least, do you have any questions for me?
Your blog is amazing. How did you become a blogger?
Thank you for the compliment and the question, Usha. I started blogging back in 2018, and I discovered it when I was in college. I had a project to work on, and the lecturer told me to publish the project in any form of my choice. With my web design experience, and I enjoy writing, I decided to post my project on a website. I created a website with Wix, and I enjoyed the process. My project was a success, and I felt this was something I would love to do at home. So, I did some research and took things from there. I’m still learning, and I love the journey.
I want to say a huge thank you to Usha for this excellent interview, and I wish her all the success in her business. I think this is a great activity to get our kids involved with. Please get in touch if you are interested.
I hope you enjoyed that.
Here are Junior Chef Box social media details
Visit us at www.JuniorChefBox.com
Join our Facebook Group, Kids Cooking – JuniorChefBox Family Time, for free recipe sheets, fun tips, and tricks videos.