Side Hustle: Entrepreneurial Mom Cooks Up Project

Jasmine Simms is one relatable mom. First, there’s the story she tells about the time she tried to take a bubble bath all by herself, and her intrepid 2 ½ –year-old daughter broke into the bathroom using only the straw from a Capri Sun.

Then there is the title of Simms’ new interactive cookbook, “I’m Not a Chef, I Just Cook A Lot.” It’s a wink to Big Pun’s line “I’m not a playa.” And it’s fitting because it embodies the home cook’s approach to the kitchen and also to music.

mom cooks up project

The cookbook features eight recipes with links to social media videos of Simms making the dishes as well as Spotify and iTunes playlists to jam with as readers stir up their suppers. The lists are eclectic with everyone from Queen to Bennie Green to Biggie.

“I always play music because, I swear, food doesn’t taste the same without it,” Simms says. “When you’re whipping eggs, you’re not going to flick your wrist the same without a playlist going.”

For the past seven years, the Woodlawn mom of two has run a small and popular business, Scrub Nail Boutique in Fells Point. Three months ago, she and a friend also opened a natural hair salon around the corner, ToBo, which stands for “twist out blow out.”

Simms temporarily closed both businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic; then the state ordered non-essential businesses, such as salons, to close. “Our jobs are all hands-on, so we can’t work,” she says.

Simms, who studied hospitality management, also co-founded the nonprofit Moms as Entrepreneurs, which provides advice and mentoring to small business owners. Now more than ever, she realized, it was a time to be entrepreneurial. First, she offered to mail at-home nail kits to customers who wanted them. Then she decided to focus on cooking since she had the time.

mom cooks up project
Jasmine Simms

About a year ago, Simms made an Instagram video explaining how to cook a steak perfectly. The idea was to provide her followers—friends, family and clients all busy like her—with quick-cooking tips.

“I like good food and I like my own food,” Simms says. “But I want it to be quick and easy.”

Friends tested her advice on cooking steak and started posting about it, so Simms made more videos.

Want some more inspiration? Read this essay from our columnist Kerrie Brooks.

How did they become an interactive cookbook? Simple: With her businesses closed, Simms gave herself a two-day deadline to pull together her recipes, playlists and videos. She worked for 24 hours straight and then released the book via social media.

“I thought if I don’t do it now, ‘When will I have the time,’” she says.

Her next step: Simms plans to look into more ways to grow an online revenue stream for her nail boutique. And if the cookbook sells well, Simms would like to have a post-social-distancing dinner party or brunch with a DJ to spin the songs on her playlists.

“This is fun for me” she says. “It was so much fun to put this cookbook together.”

Readers can find the “Quarantine Edition” of Simms’ cookbook here. The first 1,000 downloads cost only $2.

This post originally appeared on Baltimore’s Child, our sister publication.