Fall In Love With Chef Simone Bridges, A Young Mogul’s Inspiration & the story behind her Passion for Baking
Simone Bridges is a popular Kid Chef and the owner of Goddess Food Factory, located on 9951 Atlantic Boulevard, Suite 402 in Jacksonville, Florida. Her pastries have received raving reviews by celebrity chefs, radio hosts, athletes, and several local residents in the Jacksonville area and beyond. Girls, Tea, Politics had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Simone Bridges as she shares her wonderful story.
Alvina: Tell me briefly about what or who ignited your passion for cooking?
Simone Bridges: It all started when I was three years old watching my grandmother, Phyllis Williams bake in the kitchen. I always knew that baking was for me. It’s my calling. Observing her daily, ignited my passion even more. I remember asking my grandmother to allow me to assist her with baking a red velvet cake. She quickly replied, “You’re not about to burn up my house!” This didn’t stop me. It only made me more fascinated with baking. Eventually, she saw my passion and began to teach me how to bake. At the age of five, my parents bought me an Easy Bake oven, and since that moment, I never stopped making tasty treats. My love for baking never changed since day one.
Alvina: You currently attend Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts. How has Darnell Cookman inspired your love for Stem education?
Simone Bridges: As a student at Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts, my love for Science and Mathematics coined me the nickname of the “STEM Chef.” Along with academics, my teachers encouraged me to live out my passion and to be a leader in my community and beyond. I often share my gift with other students at my school and other organizations. As my popularity grew, there was an overwhelming number of requests for my educational baking classes and recipes. Thus, I combined with my love for STEM with baking and created the ExS.T.R.E.A.M. Baking Program. Shortly after the program, I added ExS.T.R.E.A.M. Baking Subscription Boxes which are monthly baking subscription boxes that infuse baking and cooking with Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. Today, my subscription baking boxes have reached homes in 46 states and 3 countries. They’re sold on my website and in my store. Plus, my program has been taught all over the United States. The lesson that I learned was to be a continuous learner and to be creative with my business. This allowed my company to endure much success and expand. Along with the baking boxes, I also have ExS.T.R.E.A.M. FUN Boxes for girls and boys. They are theme based subscription boxes that still teaches STEM/STREAM concepts. Some of the themes include doctor, space, glamour, unicorn and more.
Alvina: You teach kids the art of cooking and I’m sure many children look up to you for inspiration, what advice could you provide to those who would like to learn the art of cooking?
Simone Bridges: Based on my experience, the three things that I would recommend to a future young mogul before starting their business is to first, identify their passion or their gift. They definitely want to make sure it’s something that they love doing and want to do very often. Making sure it’s something that they are willing to share with others and something that they know a lot about is a must. They will have to pitch their business to multiple people continuously, so making sure that they’re prepared is vital. Learning as many aspects of their business as possible is also a huge plus. They must remember that’s this is their business and if they don’t know what’s going on, then others may not see the full value and potential of their business.
Secondly, they must secure a good support team of motivators and at least one mentor. Having mentors to go to for advice is valuable. My mentors are Arica Bridges (my mom), Phyllis Williams (my grandma), Casey Kelly (owner of Blended Designs) and Chef Kenna (chef from Hell’s Kitchen Season 15). They love me and truly care about the success of my business. Moreover, I love positive energy around me. It keeps me going and I think better that way. I love when my family and I have power meetings. We generate great ideas and the mood is always right for brainstorming. When things get really hectic for me, having people who can help me create solutions makes everything better. Additionally, everybody loves praise. It makes me feel good when my work is acknowledged and my team celebrates my successes all the time. It makes me feel good on the inside. So, having a great group of people whose opinion they value and who will uplift them when times get tough, will save them from stressful moments and help them make great business decisions.
Lastly, watch a lot of growth mindset. They will help them learn to think positive thoughts. I love listening to Mr. Mario Armstrong’s Wake Up & Level Up podcast. He’s also the host of the Never Settle Show. He’s my personal favorite because he motivates me while teaching me business strategies. He’s a 2x Emmy winner and very knowledgeable. What I like most about mindset podcast and videos is that the messages have not only changed my way of thinking towards my business, but I don’t let other things bother me as much. I try to learn from my mistakes and focus on the positive portion of the situation. There is a bright side to everything. Think glass half full versus half empty.
Alvina: You’ve been able to travel to many food festivals and shows, are there any upcoming festivals you’re excited to attend?
Simone Bridges: Yes, I’m actually the keynote speaker at Girls Will Be Women in STEAM Conference on May 23, 2019, in Macon, Georgia. STEM/STREAM is very important to me, so I’m pumped about the event. Additionally, I’ll be in New York City, New York speaking at Sister to Sister: One in the Spirit 18th Annual Empowerment & Health Conference for Women on April 27, 2019. I absolutely love cooking, so I’m super excited about an upcoming cooking demonstration for the young queens of YMCA and Girlz Rock of Fort Wayne in Fort Wayne, Indiana on May 4, 2019.
Alvina: Cooking is your passion and you have built an incredible business, what have been some of the hurdles you’ve had to overcome?
Simone Bridges: “Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful,” quoted by Joshua J. Marine. Therefore, I like to think of hurdles as something that’s going to help make my life and the lives of others more meaningful than it was before.
One challenge that I faced as a young mogul was being able to speak in front of large crowds. I used to be very nervous. I would get the sniffles, my palms would get sweaty, and my stomach would be in knots. It took prayer and words of encouragement just to get me on the stage. I overcame it with tons of preparation and practice. I watched several videos of other speakers. I learned how to develop three to four speaking points with one overall message. Learning how to get my point across through sharing my life stories allowed for me to be honest and connect with the audience. I became a storyteller, sharing my real reality. Additionally, I learned to create an acronym to remember my talking points. I still get a little nervous before my speaking engagements, but that’s natural. Being prepared empowers me to go and deliver super awesome motivational speeches. Plus, the crowd’s energy empowers me to do my very best.
Having “BIG” dreams can also cause you to want things when the timing is not right. I always come up with new idea for products and ways to brand my business. Like many other small businesses, another challenge that I faced is funding. Although, I ‘ve learned a lot over time, I’m still learning about the financial portion of my business. When I have an idea, my mom tells me that if I can get the money to fund it, we can try it out and if it’s successful she’ll balance the budget to have money for future purchases. When I wanted to write a new book, I needed money for an illustrator, photographer, editor and more. So, I started asking for donations. I wrote down 100 names of people who I can ask to donate $100. It didn’t work as plan, but it was a good thought. Most gave donations of various amounts and I was able to raise over $3,000 to fund it. I never give up on my dreams and I’ve learned to be patient and to never give up. I try to focus on one thing at a time. Mr. Mario Armstrong says, “Start small, learn quick, and scale big.” I’m learning not to want everything so fast. Patience may be a virtue, but it’s extremely hard as a kid.
Another challenge of being a young baker is not being able to register for certain baking classes. There are courses that I want to take in order to increase my skills, but most of the time I’m not old enough to register for them. Thank Heaven for YouTube, but I really love hands-on
Alvina: How do you balance all your activities, school, running a business, and having time to be with friends?
Simone Bridges: The ability to balance being a business owner and a student can be difficult at times. I’m still a kid who wants to enjoy their life and friends. Scheduling has been the key for me. In regards to school, I have really awesome teachers who post assignments online, therefore I can complete some assignments ahead of time. I don’t want to fall behind in my studies because I want to get full scholarships to attend really great colleges like Florida A & M University, Spelman College, or Howard University. Also, I’m a cheerleader and we have practice for two hours every weekday. My parents hired a life coach who helps me with coping and relaxation strategies. I’ve learned about scheduling, compromising, and having built-in breaks throughout my day to help me de-stress. I’ve learned that I don’t have to do everything. Sometimes, if I have a lot of items on my calendar, I don’t even have to do my chores. How cool is that? Not only do I have two business, Goddess Food Factory and ExS.T.R.E.A.M. Baking, but I also travel as a motivational speaker to various cities, which I really enjoy a whole lot. It takes prep and we have to map out sessions with my speech coach. She makes the sessions fun though. Lastly, during my company meetings I have learned to be very vocal about how much I can handle. After all, it is my business. LOL! So, it’s very important that I approve everything before it goes onto my calendar. With all of those things in place, I’m able to balance everything.
Alvina: You have accomplished so many great things at a young age, from books, appearing on national television, podcasting, what’s next for Goddess Food Factory?
Simone Bridges: My upcoming dessert cookbook is a combination of my passion for baking and STEM/STREAM. It will be the first and best educational cookbook ever. It will have really cool and unique recipes, baking tips, and STREAM strategies inside. I actually finished writing it about seven months ago, but I haven’t been able to sit still long enough to schedule another photo shoot to capture other treats that I added. So far, I’ve had two cookbook photo shoots, but I’ve created more amazing desserts since then and I want to include them into the cookbook. So, stay tuned and follow my social media accounts to be informed on the release date.
Thank you Chef Simone Bridges and Ms. Arica Bridges for taking this time to share your amazing story , I’m sure your story will inspire other kids to find their gifts.
Please visit Chef Simone Bridges at the following:
Social Media page: @goddessfoodjax