Alya Shafik is a vendor at the Maple Grove Farmers Market. She sells her homemade jams, salsa and olive tapenade to customers that stroll through the market every Thursday evening. She also entered 20 different jams in the state fair and took home a second place ribbon for her plum jam. Maple Grove Patch caught up with the award winning jam maker at the Farmers Market to learn more about her.
Maple Grove Patch: Why do you enter the state fair each year?
Alya Shafik: I enter for the fun of it and because I enjoy the competition. I never thought I would win against a large group of people, but I won the first year I entered in 2007. In all I have 11 ribbons since I started entering four years ago.
Maple Grove Patch: Of the 64 different jams you make, you entered 20 in the state fair. How much time goes into making these?
Alya Shafik: A lot. I am now using a commercial kitchen to keep up with demand. About 50 different vendors in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinios carry my products so I’m at the kitchen all the time. On average I churn out about 200 jars a week.
Maple Grove Patch: What do you like about selling your products at the Maple Grove Farmers Market?
Alya Shafik: I love this market. A lot of people come here to shop and I really love interacting with my customers. When I have repeat customers come back and say they loved the jelly and they want more, it’s the best feeling.
Maple Grove Patch: How did you get started?
Alya Shafik: Nine years ago I started making crafts and things with my two young children. I was teaching them how to work a budget. We would take money out of our savings account, buy a few items to make some crafts and then figure out a price that turn a small profit. The kids got tired of the project but I continued and the one thing that really sold well was my pepper jelly.
Maple Grove Patch: What’s your background?
Alya Shafik: I was born and raised in Egypt, but moved to Minnesota decades ago. Once the sales of my jam started taking off I started my own business, Cooked with Pride, and have been making jam ever since.
Maple Grove Patch: Besides the Maple Grove Farmers Market, where can people get your products?
Alya Shafik: I’m always at the Maple Grove, Shoreview and Eagan Farmers Markets, and I do go to New Hope and Golden Valley markets occasionally too. My website is another good place for people to visit.