NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Retail and Consumer Products
founder and president
Brand Castle, LLC
The idea of Brand Castle, LLC, came to Jimmy Zeilinger while he was in a local bookstore and came across a cookbook aimed for parents who wanted to create cooking projects with their children.
Being a devoted parent, he immediately thought of the hassle it would be to obtain all the ingredients needed to complete a cooking project in that book and how a kit that included the ingredients would make the task so much easier. After consulting about the kit idea with his wife Andrea, he quickly discovered that he had a great idea on his hands.
Since selling its first Crafty Cooking Kit in February 2005, Brand Castle has become the leader in interactive baking kits for children and adults. However, that success didn’t come without its hurdles.
Brand Castle almost closed its doors after its first six months as a result of listening to market researchers who wrongly advised Zeilinger, who is founder and president, on the type of demand for his products. Relying on this information, he spent all his personal savings and borrowed from family to launch Brand Castle by “slotting” the products via the grocery channel.
Six months later, this strategy proved to be unsuccessful when the products were not selling as anticipated and national retailers began to close out the product. Instead of closing the business, Zeilinger decided to change the market strategy to embrace seasonality and elected a low margin, high volume approach when selecting retailers.
Brand Castle is now an international company with employees in the U.S. and China. What started with six products ranging from paint-your-own-brownie to a rainbow cookies kit has grown into a portfolio of more than 300 items sold under three different brand names and numerous licenses, including Crayola, Disney and Sanrio. Each Brand Castle product aims to help families create memories.
How to reach: Brand Castle, LLC, www.brandcastle.com