Excerpt: 'Made From Scratch'

I started working at an import-export company, and one afternoon my boss asked if I wanted to attend trade shows for him as a way to earn extra money and as a new outlet for his products, which were personal protection devices such as home security systems. Kimmy flew to California to help, and together we worked sixteen-hour days every day for three weeks. Our hard work and perseverance paid off and we made enough money to take space at three other fairs and pay off my student loans. Eventually I was exhibiting and selling product at various home shows and county fairs full time.

At these home shows I loved walking around checking out the beautiful decorating products, and I began to rethink what Uncle Bill had said. What if other people liked my invention as much as he did? I devoted myself to my project and less than one year later Kurtain Kraft -- the name of my new company and product—was on its way to becoming a million-dollar enterprise. It was then followed by Euro Kraft, a do-it-yourself system for creating half-moon canopy beds at home, which previously could only be achieved through a professional home installation.

Starting a business is like climbing Mt. Everest. You either prepare and train for the journey or you fail. There were months of heavy cash flow and months of being completely strapped waiting for customers to pay. I always rolled my profits back into the company so it would continue to grow.

Still, by the end of 1995 Kurtain Kraft was struggling. Swallowing my pride wasn't hard compared to finding the courage to ask people I once had a nice and lucrative relationship with for a leg up when the chips were down. Business is always personal. Success is predicated on the quality of your relationships. Those relationships can break you or build you.

By age 27 I had to start over. I decided to create a total lifestyle company. I diversified the product line, creating everything from crafts to gardening products, floral preserving and flower arranging kits along with a new generation of Kurtain Kraft products. I wanted to design solution-based products that would make women heroes in their home.

I noticed that one group not being served in the marketplace was women who didn't have enough time to whip up tasty meals from scratch. My grandma's hard-learned lessons could serve many who were trying to figure out ways to save time and money while still making every meal special. I decided to refocus my energies by closing down the lifestyle company and writing my first cookbook, which would include easy-to-follow recipes using specific brand-name products combined with fresh ingredients. Every recipe had to taste as if it were made from scratch. In creating the recipes, I strolled the aisles of the local grocery store to educate myself on brand names and the ingredients of each. I made lists of pantry staples as well as the ones that are purchased for simple pleasure. I decided to name my cookbook and approach to cooking Semi-Homemade.

I was so passionate about the idea that I risked my savings and self-published my book. I primarily sold Semi-Homemade Cooking through television shopping channels and small booksellers. It was an instant hit. I then began writing Semi-Homemade Desserts, as a tribute to Grandma Lorraine, who had recently passed away.

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