As part of our inaugural American Made Awards and Workshop, we held the first-ever American Made Challenge, in which five young creatives each pitched an entrepreneurial idea to a panel of business experts, including Martha. Polish born and bred Joanna Kuczek won a year-long mentorship with our CEO, Lisa Gersh, and $5,000 to put toward her small business venture: Krasula Pierogi Bar, a pop-up pierogi shop that puts a fresh, artful spin on the classic Polish treat.
Kuczek recently debuted Krasula at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, a bustling artisan market open on weekend nights from late-November to late-December. We caught up with her at the Bazaar, where a long line of customers waited patiently for pierogis.
How has business been since winning the Martha Stewart Elevator Pitch?
Krasula Pierogi Bar has officially launched! We’ve grown from small pierogi parties to large catering event inquiries. Winning has given me reassurance that what we are trying to create is indeed a solid concept. Having Martha’s “blessing” is extra awesome and very motivating to push forward.
Since the competition, our email signups increased significantly, and we have been featured in the The New York Post. The Bazaar has been a fantastic experience so far. We have been selling out every single night! People are excited about Krasula, and our audience keeps growing. My meetings with Lisa will kick off in 2013, which is very exciting.
How do you prepare for the weekly Bazaar, and what kind of response have you gotten?
My preparation for the weekend starts on Monday with menu-planning. I try to always include some classics but also sprinkle in a couple of surprises with at least four different options to choose from each night. Tuesday is my grocery-shopping day, and on Wednesday my team and I start making the fillings. That leaves Thursday for the actual pierogi-making, a 12-hour process that usually takes about 10 people.
Pierogies are not easy to make. It takes hard work and focus to produce the kind of quantities our customers demand. On our first day at the Bazaar, we only brought 1,000 pierogies, and we sold out in just two hours! Last weekend, we brought 4,000 and sold all of them, and we even made some potato pancakes when we were left with nothing to sell. The most popular pierogi is our whole-wheat spicy sausage and kale, which is also my favorite. I cannot express how happy it makes me feel to know that our customers like our product and that they come back wanting more. Last Saturday, one customer came back eight times!
What’s your favorite thing about running the pierogi bar?
The most fun part is coming up with different filling ideas. Yesterday I tested marshmallow with Belgium chocolate. I didn’t know how it would react in boiling water or if it would taste great, but when it does you get this “aha” moment and it goes on the menu. To me, this is a true art form, and a complicated one at that. Everyone has different taste buds, but when you create something most people love, you just want to keep going.
What’s next for Krasula?
We’re now raising funds for a mobile home, one that would capture a larger audience and allow us to be more flexible and experimental with our menu.