There’s always that nostalgic dish that brings us back to our childhood and as we taste the flavors, we’re able to relive moments that we hold close to the heart. That’s what happened to Jen Prado and what inspired her to open KLADO – House of Brigadeiros. Alongside her husband Jesse Klee, Jen uses her mother’s recipe to make the sought-after brigadeiros, Brazilan truffles, at her shop at 232.5 Pavonia Avenue in Jersey City. Jen found a way to do something that she loves and is passionate about, all while paying homage to her Brazilian roots. Read on to learn more about this Hamilton Park sweet shop.
Jen is a first-generation American who grew up in upstate New York. “I first crossed the Hudson River to Jersey about 10 years ago, and lived in Jersey City for four years in the Exchange Place neighborhood, then moved to Hamilton Park, and landed in Hoboken about seven years ago,” Jen told Hoboken Girl.
When asked how she would describe herself, she answered, “I’m a bit eccentric, love to travel, and all things dessert, especially brigadeiros. This is why I wanted to create a company that embodied all of my favorite things.”
When she isn’t working on recipes with Jesse, Jen can be found working out at Hoboken Barbell Club. “I love the casual, calm, and lift-heavy atmosphere in the club. There’s something so powerful about lifting a heavy barbell and hitting a PR lift. It makes me feel unstoppable and I love it!”
She also loves the Hoboken community for several reasons, “I love how friendly people are and how we’ve been able to build a little community, from our weightlifting friends, patrons, and other local business owners. Every time I leave the apartment, I always run into a familiar face which is so nice.”
Jen and Jesse are frequent customers at Greektown in Hoboken and Rumba Cubana and O’Kafe in Jersey City, as well as Love Locked in Jersey City. “Love Locked has super fun custom jewelry and quirky gifts.”
For some peace and quiet, Jen loves to escape to Hamilton Park. “My favorite outdoor place is Hamilton Park,” she said. “After we moved to Hoboken, Jesse and I would always walk to the park on the weekends. It’s a nice reprieve to go there and there’s something refreshing and relaxing being surrounded by nature in the middle of a city.”
(Photo credit: @_photosbyv_ )
Like many of us who are inspired by our parents, Jen’s mother and father were her inspiration to start her own business. “My mom would always make these delicately delicious Brazilian chocolate truffles, known as brigadeiros. When I founded KLADO with my husband, I knew that I wanted to pay homage to my roots by elevating the traditional brigadeiro, with our own rendition, and voila, our House of Brigadeiros was born.”
She continues to be inspired by her parents and uses them as motivation to push forward and expand her already-successful business. “They both sacrificed so much to give me the life I have today. They left their country and family in Brazil in search of a better life 30+ years ago. If it weren’t for them giving me the opportunities that are available in the US, I doubt I would be where I am today,” she said.
If you’re wondering what the name “KLADO” means and where it came from, it’s a lot more personal to Jen and her husband than you might think. “A fun fact about KLADO is that it’s an amalgamation of both mine and Jesse’s last names (Klee + Prado) and it’s also the acronym for our motto “Keep Loving Adventure through Dessert and Originality”.
Brigadeiros are Brazilian bite-sized chocolate sweets in the form of little balls. They are traditionally made of sweet condensed milk, chocolate powder, eggs, and butter, but the recipe can get creative depending on the person making them. Brigadeiros are hand-rolled individually and then covered in chocolate sprinkles.
“We’ve transformed the original brigadeiro by making them more decadent and infusing them with the spirit of travel. We want every KLADO experience to be unique and memorable, where every bite is an adventure. While we were crafting our brigadeiros we also removed unnecessary fillers, making them low in calories and free of nuts and gluten,” Jen told us.
Owning and operating a business is no easy feat and requires a lot of time and effort invested, something Jen knows all too well. “During the first half of the week, I usually spend the bulk of my time at the KLADO Lab, where the magic happens, the brigadeiro magic! We stood up a dedicated facility in Southwest Hoboken, where we handcraft all our brigadeiros and fulfill our e-commerce orders.”
“I have my hands in all aspects of the business, from our social media planning, inventory management to last-minute errand runs to the post office and local stores. Every day is completely different and that’s something I love. There’s never a dull moment in entrepreneurship,” she explained.
Being Featured on The Discovery Channel
(Photo credit: Discovery Channel)
That’s right, Jen and Jesse were featured on the Discovery Channel’s new series “I QUIT” which premiered on August 18th, 2020. “This may sound crazy, but it seemed as though the universe led me to docuseries. I was venting to my husband, Jesse, about work one night and I said: “I wish I could quit my job, follow my passion, and have it documented!” I kid you not, the next day, Jesse sends me a Facebook post that he stumbled upon for a casting call for a new docuseries. I applied and the rest is history.”
“I QUIT” features Jen’s journey from quitting her 9-5, going all in to grow Klado with the help of her husband Jesse.
“Being featured on the docuseries still seems surreal, but I’m excited to share my story with the world. For a long time, we had to keep the docuseries a secret. We told a close group of family and friends about the show, but we had no idea where it would go. It’s exciting, nerve-wracking, and humbling all at the same time. The docuseries has helped expand our company’s reach and grow our brand awareness, which has been fantastic,” says Jen.
A Highlight in Jen’s Life
Even with all of the success with her newly started business, love trumps all. “Not to sound corny, but the highlight of my personal life was meeting my husband, Jesse, on J-Date 12 years ago. I never thought I’d meet someone on a dating site, especially since I’m not Jewish, but we’ve been best friends ever since we first met. As for career, I’d say finally growing the courage to quit my job to pursue my passion and create something that I truly believe in,” she shared.
The Future of KLADO
Look out world, Jen Prado is coming in hot! The first shop opened in Jersey City, but Jen and Jesse plan to take KLADO global. “My goals are to continue to grow KLADO both locally here in Hoboken and Jersey City, but also expand nationally. I want to make KLADO synonymous with brigadeiros and become a major global player in the dessert industry.”