INWOOD — For local resident Gabriel Jimenez, his future once looked uncertain.
Having already tried several career paths, including aviation school and launching a T-shirt business, the young man wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in life.
But that changed a few months ago, when his mother, Sulma Montada, prepared her flan for a special occasion.
“She would make it for birthdays and things like that, and I thought, 'We should have this all the time,’” said Jimenez, 21.
He then approached the rest of his family with the idea to hawk the caramel-soaked sponge cake — and “Mamaflan” was born.
Jimenez started looking into ways to package, market and sell the food, which was also a great way of sharing part of his Dominican culture with others.
Earlier this month, he started selling it off tables set up on Dyckman Street and Sherman Avenue, taking turns manning the operation with friends and family every afternoon. Jimenez provided samples and handed out business cards to passersby, hoping to spread the word about "Mamaflan."
Now, he’s focusing on licensing and trademarking the product.
“I see myself creating a commercial kitchen store, so that I could provide more flans to other companies, and I want to see my product in wholesale,” Jimenez explained, adding that he also would love to employ a staff see his product expand.
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The response has been incredible, with neighbors urging him on and providing tips on how to expand the business, Jiminez said.
“People have said, 'You’re going to sell a lot,’ and 'Continue doing what you’re doing, you’re going to go far,'” he said with a laugh. “Oh, and, ‘Tell your mom she makes good flan.’”
It helps that Jimenez's mother, who is his prime business partner, is very proud of him.
“She’s so excited, because she thought my life was gonna go downhill. I was lost and just… I didn’t know what to do and how to have a career.”
Although his mother has yet to give him the secret recipe, as she doesn't want her son "to have all the power," she has been teaching his 11-year-old sister in order to include her into the business as well, Jimenez explained.
“I’m just doing mostly everything… marketing and trying to grow the business,” he said, adding that his biggest wish is to unite the family and provide them with an idea that will sell.
“Family is most important to me. I see the side of capitalism — taking that away from a lot of families — and I didn’t want that in my future," he said. "I’m young now and I have nothing to lose. I'd rather focus on putting my time on doing something that will help my family in the future."