After surviving an against all odds brush with death as a toddler, I grew up expecting to make a mark on the world. My uncles Doug and Jack told me I could, that I would. Given my medical history, biting off such a huge chunk of life might have been the furthest thing from my mind. Instead, the words of these wonderful men echoed in me like a clarion call!
Mom was sensitive and creative and Dad was a handsome and often brilliant man’s man. He worked on new product development teams creating cutting-edge technology at Bell Labs and taking on many other jobs to make ends meet. Out of the blue, he sought a transfer and moved us from New York City to an old Ohio farm. With five siblings, I figured out early on if I ever wanted to get my dad’s attention, I’d have to come up with a very cool new product.
Fast-forward through three Aha! Moments; on my 21st and then my son Matt’s 3rd birthdays to when I finally managed to sketch-up a winner. Sadly, my husband Mario passed away suddenly shortly thereafter and, faced with raising Matt alone, I took a leap of faith. I eventually earned two utility patents and a trademark for my Cūlinique® Surprise Inside™ Food Molds and even created a whole new category in specialty bakeware.
After failing for the umpteenth time to land a licensing deal, I had to reach in a sudden panic for the advice my son Matt had given me that morning in 1998: If they turn you down, ask if they’ll make it for you for a price! My friend, Claude Mandeville, offered to invest so we incorporated and pitched our contract-manufactured products, wholesale and direct, at trade shows, state fairs, on infomercials and live on QVC and Shop At Home. We’ve made a huge impact in specialty bakeware, in fact, innovative bakeware is our specialty!
Jackie Díaz, Founder