Kelly, much like Keeley and I, began her company after she received lots of praise for her delicious homemade jellies. She decided to listen to her friends and family and now she is selling her products very successfully here in the Pacific Northwest!
I hope you enjoy learning more about her and her company!
1) How long have you been in business now? Can you explain when and how your company began?
We have been in business for 2 years. About 10 years ago, we found a Habanero Pepper Jelly recipe from my Great Aunt Danny and we decided to make it for Christmas gifts. Getting together to prepare gifts from the kitchen is a special Holiday tradition in our family.
Everyone raved about the jelly and looked forward to it every year, often people would ask us to make it year round and we kept hearing “you should sell this stuff”. We casually discussed a business plan over the course of about two years. In June of 2010 we wrote the business plan and officially launched on October 10, 2010.
2) Can you explain your jelly and what makes it so unique?
The habanero jelly is the perfect combination of flavors. The flavor profile starts sweet, then boasts a true pepper flavor and ends with heat. Habanero peppers have an amazing flavor, but it’s often hard to capture because of the overwhelming heat. Fresh Habaneros are dangerous and difficult to work with, a lot pepper jellies will use dry peppers. We use all fresh peppers. Same philosophy with our other jellies, we use Oregon Seasonal berries to create flavor combinations that are simple but unique.
3) Did you ever imagine you would run a business?
Yes, I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I didn’t however, have any idea that I would get into food manufacturing. All of my prior experience was in service and marketing so producing a tangible product was very rewarding. Adam and I always wanted to start a family business, much of that 2 years of planning and brainstorming was done on date nights, it was a dream of ours and it was fun to piece together. We actually work really well together, our strengths and weaknesses complement each other. As with any partnership, there are challenges, but we do pretty well considering.
4) What is the best/and most challenging part of being an entrepreneur?
The best AND the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur is the unknown. You never know what lies ahead, which is exciting and scary all at the same time. The Entrepreneurial Community in Portland is amazing, being a part of that community is one of my favorite benefits of having my own business. I love to network, hear about what others are doing and share ideas. I can’t count the number of people that have taken time to share their experiences with me and now I’m able to turn around and help others needing the same.
5) What has been the most exciting thing that has happened in the 2 years of owning your business?
I’d say the most exciting thing that happened was winning the 2012 Scovie Award. The Scovie Award competition is the largest spicy food competition in the world. It takes place annually in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s a blind tasting competition with almost 800 entries. Our Habanero Pepper jelly won 1st place in the sweet heat division.
6) If I were interested in buying some of your jellies, where would I go?!
-Farmers Markets:Lake Oswego, West Moreland & Farm Craft
-You can try a “Kelly’s Jelly” Doughnut at both Voodoo Doughnut Locations in Portland every Thursday.
-The Olive & The Grape, Tucci, Brooklyn Park Pub & Cannon Beach Hardware & Public House also feature our jelly
-Retail; Zupan’s Markets, Market of Choice, Fred Meyer’s (Burlingame, Hawthorne, Wilsonville), Lambs Markets, The Oilerie, Red Hills Market (Dundee), Pat’s Pantry (Astoria)
-Coming soon: All New Seasons Markets
7) So are you in charge of the recipe development? What is the process like for launching a new flavor? How many did you start with and how many do you have now?
Adam and I both come up with ideas for flavors but he is in charge of the flavor development. We started with one flavor (habanero) and we now have 3 pepper jellies and about 7 seasonal preserves. We have also developed a beer jelly and margarita jelly for Voodoo doughnut. We love our partnership with them because they allow us to be as creative as we want. It’s been a great way to get a lot of people to try a new flavor in a short amount of time, with instant feedback. I think we’ve launched every new flavor through voodoo first, (in the Kelly’s Jelly Doughnut)
8) Most people are familiar with sweet jams and jellies. Have you had to "educate" people about savory jellies or are most people open to the idea?
Yes, some people that haven’t tried pepper jellies before look at us like we’re crazy...until they try it. It’s honestly really hard not to like, so if we can get them to take a chance and try it, we have a new customer.
9) What's your favorite flavor and suggestions for ways to enjoy it?
The Habanero Pepper Jelly is my personal favorite. I use it as spread on an egg sandwich with cheese and ham. It’s also fantastic when spread on a panko crusted dover sole. The most popular way to enjoy it is as an appetizer with cream cheese and crackers or with goat cheese or brie. The possibilities are endless when incorporating it into recipes.
10) What are your future plans for your company?
We want everyone in Oregon to have our jelly in their Pantry, right next to their Wild Squirrel Nut Butter :). After that, we’ll focus on West Coast distribution and go from there.
We also want to our kids to continue to be involved as they grow up. We want the family business to provide a unique experience that will help achieve their own dreams.
It was so fun to learn more about Kelly and her company! It's always interesting to "compare notes" with other family start up food companies, especially ones right here in the Portland area!
I have to admit that before meeting Kelly I was always a bit wary about trying savory jelly. But I tried hers and it is tasty! I sampled it on a gluten free cracker but I can only imagine how good it would be on some sort of pork or chicken dish!
For more information about Kelly's Jelly please visit her website: http://kellysjelly.com/.