Sophia Cohen Discusses Finding Balance and Building her Business One Flavor at a Time

urban pops

A wife and a mother of four with 15 years of experience in sales would be formidable in any business, but put her in the catering industry, and you can really watch her shine. Then let her loose in her own kitchen, and just watch the fireworks!

Although Sophia didn’t have a formal background in the culinary trade, she began working for a catering company after her third child. Soon afterwards, her love for healthy ingredients led her to develop her own business, and it is booming…Urban Pops. “I didn’t like the idea of feeding my children products that had food coloring and corn syrup (just to name a few ingredients); I also try to stay away from processed foods. One day I began to make ices with natural ingredients for my children and believe it or not, they loved them.”

Then she attended a street fair and tried a lemonade drink. Her brain began to work double time, thinking to herself: “I could make ices in flavors like these.” With a successful experiment on her hands, she got into the kitchen. Her sister Alexis tasted her creations and pushed her to take it to the next level. Urban Pops was born and Sophia now had her own business.  “Although it’s a lot of work, I loved the idea of creating pops,” commented Sophia.

Through Sophia’s journey of Urban Pops, there has been a lot of experimentation. She credits finding fresh food and ingredients to giving her a competitive edge. “This is so much fun for me and has given me the opportunity to discover ingredients and foods that I had no knowledge of…Have you ever heard of lychee nuts? I hadn’t!  I’ve also learned from my failures, I’ve made plenty of mistakes that I’ll be wary of for next time. In terms of flavors, I’m very particular, and I won’t sell anything that I don’t like.”

Sophia was introduced to Exceed Network by its executive director, Irwin Dayan, who is also a good friend of her father’s.  She explains, “Irwin Dayan has been an instrumental part of my life for a very long time. He’s been involved in helping me find different career paths and opportunities over the years and has always pushed me in the right direction and made sure that all my goals were realistic.”

There’s no organization like Exceed Network, no matter what, they always want to help you and keep you encouraged throughout the development of your business. I don’t make a business decision without consulting Irwin Dayan and others at Exceed Network. Their help has been invaluable.”

Sophia has big ideas, and a tremendous desire to grow her business but sometimes growing too quickly can hinder more than it helps. “Irwin helped me to see the bigger picture and realize that growing too quickly would not be in the best interest of my business. For now, it’s more important for me to keep track of what I’m selling, watch my profit margins and ensure that I am making enough to cover labor costs. This is a reality check for me but putting everything was into perspective keeps my business in the black. They’ll be plenty of time for me to initiate my new ideas, and when I do, I’ll be ready.”

Making these pops is not an easy task; Sophia describes it as a ‘labor intense’ process. Without the help of Exceed Network, Sophia isn’t sure if she would have taken into consideration the time and effort it takes, and how it should always be factored into the profitability of the business.

Finding balance in life is very important and can be hard when you’re running your own business. As we stated before, Sophia works for a catering company, she is a wife, a mother of four and runs her own business, Urban Pops. Some may say that this sounds overwhelming and may think that it seems impossible, but not for Sophia! She credits her success to a wonderful support system. Sophia explains, “Sometimes it’s very hard to find balance, I try to set aside time to catch up when I’m not working, but I need help in my house at all times. I also have really good neighbors who help my children with their homework, but when my children come home from school, I go strictly into ‘mommy mode’. My husband is also very supportive with our children and with my business.”

Sophia is still very involved with Exceed Network. She attends monthly seminars through the Women’s Excellerator Program. “Sometimes things get tough and I feel like giving up, but when I go to these monthly meetings, I meet other amazing women who are running their own businesses and getting it done, and I get inspired to find a reason to continue my business.”

Sophia has been looking in different directions when it comes to growth and the future of Urban Pops. She states, “I love the fact that I created a kosher product in a niche market and I also love interacting with my customers. You can’t know how much you learn just by talking with your clients and hearing their feedback.” With that being said, she has also considered going into the catering aspect of the business. This would give her the option of being able to meet each client’s needs with a personalized touch. “I’m very happy with my business and the opportunities it presents; it truly leads me to something new every day. Stay tuned for what’s to come with Urban Pops!”

By Lolita A. Alford

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