Something else was cooking in that oven: a booming business. Jessica's Wonders—the line of baked goodies that Nam officially started after graduating in June 2000—is expected to ring up $400,000 in sales this year, mostly in New England markets; a deal with a national outlet is on the horizon.
Nam, whose parents are Korean immigrants, first experimented with cooking in her sixth-grade home economics class in Warren, N.J. "I would develop these recipes," she says, "and then surprise my family with something I knew they would like." She's still inspired by others. Her mother's love of nuts led to a banana bread called Nutty Momma, and Pumpin' Peter Protein Power Bar was created for Kim, a gym rat. But some of these concoctions have to be put on the back burner. "Everyone is like, 'Stop inventing. We still have to launch the other 20 you invented,'" says Nam, who lives in Cranston, R.I. "But I have to keep going back to my kitchen. That's what keeps me alive."