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AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH EILEEN MIZRAHI

By: Ellen Kamaras

Meet Eileen Mizrahi, the vibrant creator of Treats by Eileen®Gourmet Granola.

Thirty years ago, Eileen started making her natural gourmet granola with love and a burning desire to give her family a healthy yet delicious treat.  Not only did she wake up early to make ten pounds of granola for her family, she shared her granola with friends, the dentist, customers at the bank, and even her mailman!  Eileen radiates generosity, warmth, passion, kindness, and strength!

Eileen’s big heart propels her to pull people she meets into her health conscious sphere and bring a smile to their faces.  She can honestly say that her gourmet granola “makes people happy.”  To know Eileen is to know that making people happy by sharing her treats is her mantra and gives her tremendous joy!  As her sister, Sharon, says, “with Eileen, all roads lead to granola.”  Her children and friends tease her about carrying granola sample bags in her pocketbook.  These same friends supported Eileen on the magical journey that led to her sharing her gourmet granola.  She distributes samples on the go and delights in the reactions from people who become instant customers.

Eileen continued to make her granola, receiving encouragement from her friends to market it.  It was not until 2005, on a cold snowy January morning, that Eileen decided to take the next step and sell her gourmet granola.  While preparing her granola in her New Jersey kitchen, Eileen took out a small food scale, measured a half-pound portion and put it into a plastic bag.  She received a phone call from a friend, asking her, “What’s new, Eileen?” It was in that moment that Eileen replied, “I’m in business!”

Today, twelve years later, Eileen works out of a certified commercial kosher kitchen in New Jersey and distributes large quantities of her gourmet granola every week.  Her granola comes in five flavors (all-natural, cashew craisin, chunky chocolate, pecan passion, and vanilla almond). It can be purchased in stores in four states (NY, NJ, PA and FL) and online countrywide (www.treatsbyeileen.com).  In addition to 8-ounce bags that come in five flavors, Eileen sells a popular Gourmet Granola Round GiftTray with four flavors included – a fabulous gift for any occasion – and a Grab and Go Granola 6-Pack, always in demand.

How It Began

The story behind Eileen’s gourmet granola recipe is a unique one.  Being a positive person, sheturned a personal challenge into a wonderful opportunity and gift to others.  At age 23, Eileen developed hypoglycemia and had to give up her sugar addiction.  She decided to get educated about nutrition and started taking cooking classes, learning how to make and eat healthy meals.  Fast forward years later and Eileen created her very own granola recipe.  

Eileen describes her clientele as health-conscious consumers who appreciate a high-quality and delicious product.  Her gourmet granola contains no trans-fat, no cholesterol, no refined sugar, and no additives or preservatives.  It is a purely vegan product, pareve and a “HEALTHY addiction!” It has endless uses.  Try it in cakes and pies and as an accompaniment to smoothies, pancakes, yogurt, fresh fruit and ice cream.  Take it along wherever you go - the park, school, office, or home.

As a people person who loves connecting with clients, customers, friends and family, Eileen thrives on cultivating and maintaining relationships with all her vendors.   While she possesses a growth mindset, looking to improve her product and take her business to the next step, Eileen is very strategic and careful about growth and maintaining the quality control she has in place now.  She conducts her business and life with “integrity,”another key guidepost for Eileen.  Eileen has been approached by large chain stores and is considering ways she can distribute her gourmet granola on a larger scale without sacrificing its natural ingredients, delicious taste and high nutritional and preparation standards.

When Eileen first started marketing her granola, she enlisted her family’s help.  Her brother, Eddie, took bags of granola to his job in Manhattan and returned with feedback for Eileen - people dug for the biggest chunks of granola.  Eileen returned to the kitchen and developed the perfect consistency of granola to please her customers.  Eddie was her rock, persuading Eileen to hang in there, insisting her extraordinary granola treats would sell! 

Eileen successfully markets her granola by conducting demonstrations (“demos”). She believes, “when they try it, they buy it.” Eileen’s first demo was at Dean’s Natural Food Market (“Deans”) in Ocean, New Jersey in 2005.  The response to her granola was overwhelming!  At another demo, a woman said she would never touch granola, but after being coaxed to try it, she was amazed by its fabulous taste and immediately bought a bag.

In the beginning, Eileen’s husband, Marty, her two daughters and their spouses and her grandchildren played a vital part in creating and distributing her gourmet granola with love and TLC.  Eileen’s mother, Kay, A”H, was right by Eileen’s side when she started the business and roasted almonds, one of the key ingredients, to perfection!

Eileen is so proud of her daughters. Cindy owns Sylvia’s Sweet & Stationery Shoppe in Oakhurst, N.J. and Kay Robyn is a Morah at Barkai Yeshivain Brooklyn.

Eileen’s husband is her “second pair of eyes” for Treats by Eileen and her “backbone” in every adventure, business project and hesed activity she undertakes. 

She believes in her granola and receives outstanding live feedback and emails from her customers.  Eileen’s products have also been written up in popular publications such as Food andWine Magazine.

EILEEN’S ROOTS

Eileen was born in Brooklyn and spent summers in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where her father, Jack E. Rishty, A”H, owned souvenir stores.  She speaks lovingly of her father, who allowed her at the age of 10, to work in his store, organizing T-shirts and selling merchandise.  Her father, recognizing that Eileen was a natural at sales, promoted her to run the linen section at his department store.  And she loved it!

Eileen’s childhood set the foundation for her success in business and for whatever venture she initiates or participates in.  Eileen flourished in her father’s stores, demonstrating drive, creativity, purposefulness and a flair for business.  Her warmth and love of people and what Eileen calls her “gift of gab” drove her triumphs in business.  Eileen credits her people skills to her parents, who cared about and loved people from all walks of life.

Before Eileen entered the gourmet granola market, she had formed other thriving businesses including unique hair accessories and women’s clothing.

Her passion, purpose, and positivity shine through in her relationships, both personal and business. They show, too, in her love for her family, in her demonstrations of her products, as founder of her business and in her hesed work. 

Eileen is grateful that her business allows her to “give back to people in need” and to interact with diverse and caring people.

Eileen’s husband fell in love when he spotted her in Bradley Beach.  Marty saw Eileen again in Brooklyn when she was 17 and asked his best friend to introduce them.  When asked about the key to her successful marriage of 48 years, Eileen proudly states that her husband has always emotionally and physically supported her dreams, businesses, and other projects.  Even though Marty is an integral player and troubleshooter in her granola business, he always says, “it is your business Eileen.”  How fortunate for Eileen, since men who grew up in the sixties were not often raised to be as progressive thinking as Marty.

Faith in Hashem plays a strong part in Eileen’s life.  She shared several stories about business crises where she saw the hand of Hashem.  One instance occurred when she was running low on a brand of high-quality bags that were being discontinued.  She feverishly searched for comparable bags to no avail.  A man in shul told her husband he might be able to help and found the almost identical bags that she needed. Who but Hashem would have brought that man to her husband in shul?

Eileen’s Vision

Eileen is in the process of creating new flavors of gourmet granola and is as impassioned about her products as she was thirty years ago.  Her vision is to take her business to the next level with “her ears and eyes always open to suggestions and improvements.”

A resilient, positive and purposeful woman, Eileen advises aspiring entrepreneurs:   “Believe in what you do; stay passionate and focused on your plan and goals.  No matter how many times you get knocked down, don’t get discouraged … keep going!”

Ellen Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career and dating coaching.  Ellen helps people find their passion, purpose and positivity in life and love.  Ellen can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com(www.lifecoachellen.com).