Alumni Spotlight- Jackie’s Jams (SB17-EMBC)

Jackie’s Jams shoot, for Risa and David Baron, 20110522, Normal Heights Farmer’s Market, Ted Walton Photography

Selling Sweet Spreads to Healthy Lifestyles

Jackie’s Jams, a California-based manufacturer of artisanal jams and jellies is blazing the trail in the food industry for producing local products that are all natural, with little to no sugars and no preservatives added.  The company is scaling to provide healthy yet delicious fruit spreads, as an outcome of the co-owner’s graduation from LIFT DE’s Elevate My Business Challenge, Fall 2017 cohort.

In 2010, husband-wife duo David & Risa Baron purchased Jackie’s Jams from the founder after David had a desire to make a career change from public relations and government affairs to being involved with the food industry.  After Jackie’s Jams retained The Barons as loyal customers, primarily influenced by their son’s sole demand to eat her handcrafted jams and jellies, David came on board as an employee.  When the time came for Jackie to retire, the couple made a joint decision to buy the business and operate a family-run company.

Since becoming a co-owner of Jackie’s Jams, Risa is a member of the pre-established community of the company, such as local farmers markets, and continue to maintain all of the recipes and its handcrafted process.  In addition to keeping true to the existing company, Risa and her team have made great efforts to elevate the business through rebranding, creating a prominent presence in San Diego County, and acquiring more partnerships.  The current climate includes an ever-growing trend by consumers to eat healthy and support local businesses, and Jackie’s Jams does exactly just that with its scrumptious jams and jellies.
Learn To Work ON Your Business, Not Just IN Your Business

Prior to attending the Southbay 2017 Elevate My Business Challenge (EMB Challenge), Jackie’s Jams had been in business for about 8 years. Although their business gained an increase in clientele and interest for all natural and local foods, the company faced one major challenge: not knowing how to reach the “next level” of business without adequate tools.  Similar to a hamster on its running wheel, Jackie’s Jams was a business driven by the demand and orders, a small but committed group of customers, but struggled to keep up with it, especially operating in a shared kitchen with restricted operating hours and making every jar of jam by hand.

Initially, Risa joined the EMB Challenge to learn how to run a business from experts since neither her nor David have prior knowledge nor business experience. However, the time spent with her mentors and the LIFT DE team taught her that there was more to growing their company than working in the business.

Under the guidance of EMB Challenge, Jackie’s Jams gained insights on how to tell their story to win new stakeholders, customers, partners, talent and/or funders. The Baron’s know if they are to grow the business they will need to operate their own commercial kitchen facility.  This will allow them to grow the business and to secure customer orders without stressing about time restraints and lack of storage space.  The program allowed them to obtain the tools for making a successful pitch to request funding from investors, which was a great lesson for Risa and David.  Knowing specifically what potential funders are looking for is a key strategy in creating more partnerships and expanding, and for Jackie’s Jams, the short term goal is to expand in California and with the long-term goal to reach a national level.  A key part of the program for Risa was learning how to use new strategic tool Small Business Model Improvement Canvas to evaluate and implement improvements to address her company’s deficiencies and strengths.  This will enable them to get to that next level by creating solutions to such deficiencies by leveraging the strengths quickly and efficiently, which may lead to an automated form of operations to feed the masses sooner rather than later.

“The program was very helpful and provided me with a clear understanding of how to present my company in front of people to gain interest to attract new relationships. I have never pitched my company to anyone before and the process was invaluable.”

-Risa Baron

After completing the program, implementing new processes, and learning to work on the business rather than just in it, Jackie’s Jams has seen tremendous company growth,  they recently have attracted the largest customer in the history of the company, feels comfortable on serving them as well as formations of more key partnerships, retaining loyal customer relations, and gaining public recognition.

From Hamster to Zebra
The company’s ultimate goal is to become the “zebra” business”.  Jackie’s Jams has discovered its niche market of customers who are pre-diabetic, diabetic, or have chosen a diet without artificial sugars or sweetners.  It is currently on the journey to reach at least $1-3 million in sales and dominating the market.  Risa sees this goal being achieved in the near future with the focus to build a strong online presence, allowing more accessibility and visibility to consumers on a national platform.

“Ask for help. Go get the resources that are needed.  I need help, and I know there are things that I don’t know about, so I would rather go to the experts and that’s why I came to the Elevate My Business Challenge”.
-Risa Baron