One of our goals here at Breaking Boundaries is to feature businesses or people who are challenging their limits. We want to put the spotlight on those who are so passionate and driven about what they do that they start creating positive ripple effects in their community. I first heard about Brenda, one of the founders of House of Gains in Jersey City, from a mutual friend on Facebook. She posted a status about Brenda’s accomplishments and I immediately thought she would be a great example to BB’s community.
House of Gains
“Let us do the cooking, you have enough on your plate.” -H of G
House of Gains is a weekly meal delivery service in Jersey City, Bayonne, and Hoboken areas in North Jersey. It’s founded by a husband-and-wife duo: Chris Diaz, the mastermind behind the cooking aspect of the company, and Brenda Barzola-Diaz, the business genius in charge of moving the company along. House of Gains specializes in providing you with great tasting healthier meals. If you’re from the area and would like to check them out, here is their website: houseofgains.life. Fun Fact: Brenda planned their wedding in two weeks and it also only took two weeks for them to have their first event after registering the business in May 2016. Talk about a fast start!
From what I remember, the Facebook post that caught my attention mentioned that Brenda was a mom of two, holds down a full-time job, just received a business certificate AND runs a business. Running a business is a full-time effort, in and of itself, so I was intrigued by how she keeps everything rolling. I decided to comment on the post and tell her about BB’s focus. When she replied, she was very humble and truly inspired to help and contribute. Afterwards, we decided to meet for coffee to see what we can collaborate on.
Convo Over Tea and Lavender Latte
When we got to the café, I just asked her a few questions and that’s how we got started. What I liked most was that she made the conversation flow. She basically told me everything I needed to hear without me having to ask. Here are some of the conversation takeaways:
“How did House of Gains start?”
“Since I met him, Chris’ passion has always been cooking. Within the last couple of years, he began cooking healthier meals as we both were trying to exercise and eat better. The tastier and more creative his meals became, the more I would tell him, ‘I wish people can eat these healthy, delicious meals. I wish there were restaurants where we could get food
You don’t normally associate healthy food with being delicious or flavorful and savory. You’re just like, egh, boring broccoli and bland everything. At that point, other meal prep companies were up and coming and other people would tell Chris, ‘You know you should start your own meal prep company’. He didn’t jump on the idea right away because it seemed out of reach. But, it was always on his mind for the last 7 years.”
“Were you always business minded?”
“I’ve always believed in creating your own destiny, to go against the grain. I’ve always had faith in myself. If there is anything trying to stop you, you have to hurdle over these things. I started a Christian-based clothing line named Revival85 along with a friend of mine before House of Gains came about. I didn’t fully pursue it, but I don’t regret it. It made me realize that I love being immersed in something that was my own. Owning a business or several is definitely my thing. I’ve gotta do it full force.”
“How did you come up with the name ‘House of Gains’?”
“This was Chris’ idea. Chris used to always tag our home as H of G on Instagram when he posted food pics. It was something that he loved saying. I wasn’t fond of it at first. But, after having gone through so much the last two years, I realized that gains is not just about having muscles. It’s about growth. It’s about reinventing yourself. It’s more powerful to me now because I realized gaining the positive things in life is much bigger than anything else.
And, for us, we’ve gained so much as a family. We’ve gained so much knowledge, so much power to move forward in life as a family which gave us the extra push to really create this business.”
“Can you tell me a little about the challenges of being a mom while running a business?”
“Being a mom and running a business is possibly one of the hardest things I have done. I miss my simple life with my kids so much at times. When we first started last summer, we spent 99% of the weekends away from our boys. We were just starting out and we had to
be at events all the time because we wanted to get our name out there. It’s easy marketing. Nonetheless, our extended family has been very supportive and helped us with our kids as well as with the business.
The boys are as excited to be a part of this business as we are. It’s a family affair. They help us when they can and, when they can’t, they talk about it with us. We hope to not only motivate and inspire our boys, but to let them see firsthand how much effort, dedication, and hard work go into achieving your goals.”
“Is there anything in your past particularly that molded you into who you are today?”
“My dad was my biggest influence. He was also a business owner as a young adult. Growing up, he would tell me that he wanted to open up a daycare and laundromat for me. Being an entrepreneur always stuck out in my mind because of him.
I wasn’t born here; I came here when I was about 5 years old so I felt like I had to always work extra hard to fit in, especially academically. Coming home with good grades was expected so I always felt challenged. I was mostly a straight A student but I wasn’t really an overachiever. I just wanted to be the best me. I wanted to show my parents that I could do it.”
“Any struggles you faced while building up House of Gains?”
“My goal in 2016 was to start a business. In the beginning, it wasn’t part of Chris’ plan because he didn’t know where to start. His biggest concern was how we were going to afford it. To be honest with you, we had no savings, we are a family of four, we lived paycheck to paycheck. But, the worst thing you can do is have fear. I didn’t want to have fear anymore.
What do I have to lose? I didn’t think that anything on this earth could possibly stop me. It was going to happen. When you think business, you think money. But, the more I thought
about that, the more I realized that you don’t really need a lot of money. You just need a vision and dedication to make it come alive. I told Chris, ‘If you tell me yes, I can make this happen.'”
“What are your future plans for House of Gains?”
“People have told us that we can make it into a franchise, but I like the idea of keeping it local. I like the idea of having a community. We need a community to inspire one another, to create, build, and improve our community.
In 2017, we want to show what House of Gains means to us and why it was created. We want to show the other sides of House of Gains that we haven’t had a chance to fully develop and present.”
“How is House of Gains different from other meal prep companies?”
“The biggest difference is that we aren’t just a meal prep company. We cater at many different events because we want to connect with others and bring healthier foods to different social foodie scenes.
There are so many great meal prepping companies out there and we don’t think that we are better than any of them. We all bring something different to our customer base. At the end of the day, we all have the same goal– to provide healthier meals to people that don’t have time to cook or lack the skills to make their own meals.”
“I write a lot about time management and productivity, anything you want to say about those topics?”
“Time management is definitely tough especially when I feel like I have four full-time jobs: mom, wife, employee, and now a business owner. Sometimes I feel like I have to create more hours in the day than there are. There is a lot to endure and so much to do. There were a lot of times where I felt so overwhelmed that I wanted to give up but I had to learn
prioritize and just breathe.
My business coach told me that I couldn’t run a business if I wasn’t mentally and physically healthy. Learning to make lists, take breaks, and knock tasks out one by one became essential. I know this seems logical but, the reality is, when you have a small business with an even smaller team, you have to become a jack-of-all-trades which can take a toll on you. It’s a work in progress, but you have to find your strengths and weaknesses and build on them so you can create a healthy work environment while maintaining your sanity.”
“Any advice for entrepreneurs?”
“You need goals. You can’t just run a business and say ‘okay, whatever happens, happens.’ My business coach emphasized the importance of having daily goals and not just future goals. To accomplish meeting those goals, you need to take full advantage of your hours and not waste any of them. The most important part is to remember that this
business is your baby. You’re not going to let your baby down. You are going to work harder each day and evaluate your progress to see what’s working and what isn’t working. You have to do whatever it takes to see your baby grow into the amazing business you envisioned.”
“”It’s not that you can’t do it. It’s that you need to want it. You need to
really realize that you can do this and you can take it to the next level
if you really want to.”
“It just boggles my mind how many people are not going after their passion
and creating something amazing. If you just try, you can tap into things
that you didn’t know you were able to do.”
“I’ve had my breakdown moments where I literally said I want my old life
back. I was always busy with family, but at least I could breathe! That’s
when you have to ask yourself if you really want it. Do you really want
this bad enough that you’re just gonna forget all the pain you’re going
through right now?”
There you have it guys! Our very first featured Boundary Breaker. I had an inkling that I should get in touch with Brenda and I’m glad I did. She embodies what Breaking Boundaries stands for. Challenging your limits doesn’t have to be anything huge. You don’t have to climb Mt. Everest. We’re not suggesting you start doing death defying stunts. We’re merely advocating you break through the every day limits that are stopping you from moving forward in life.
“I want people to know that it’s not easy, of course, but it’s doable.” – Brenda Barzola-Diaz
Hope you found this valuable! I learned a lot and I’m sure you guys definitely learned a thing or two! If you’d like more posts like this, please subscribe to be one of the firsts to know when there’s another featured Boundary Breaker.
HOUSE OF GAINS TEAM
Phone number: (201) 416-9751
Facebook: HOUSE OF GAINS
Catch Brenda and Chris this coming Friday, 03.17.17, at Midnight Market in Jersey City!