Building a Nutty Business

When I first got to know Jessica Taige, I knew we would get along for several reasons. First, she is an ambitious food entrepreneur. Second, she makes delicious peanut butter cups.  Jessie made her first batch of homemade peanut butter cups in 2013. Now, she makes them full time as the CEO and Founder of Jessie’s Nutty Cups.

Jessie's Nutty Cups-20
Courtesy of Jessie’s Nutty Cups, photo by Susan Palmer.

Her journey with handcrafted peanut butter cups started when she found a recipe online and decided to make a batch for a friend’s farewell party. Although they were a hit… she thought the recipe could be better. So she started experimenting with different ingredients and flavors, sharing her creations with friends and coworkers along the way. Then, people offered to buy them. So in 2014, she launched Jessie’s Nutty Cups. 

Jessie moved to New York to pursue an acting career, and when others indicated that they would pay for her nutty creations, she thought that making handcrafted peanut butter cups would be a great source of side income. She quickly learned that this was a bad idea.

Between the time, ingredients, and licensing, food businesses are expensive to run as a side-gig. Margins are notoriously slim and your product has an expiration date. Even through these obstacles, Jessie got great feedback from her initial customers and decided to press on — and try working on the business full time. She found a local restaurant who was willing to let her use their off-hours to produce her nutty cups, filed the paperwork to form a business, and left her job.

Initially, it was a struggle. She wasn’t getting any new customers, and her confidence wavered. She went to an industry trade show and was overwhelmed. She started feeling depressed and discouraged, and she found entrepreneurship to be very lonely. She thought, “If it’s not bringing me joy, why am I doing this?” She decided to get another job and go back to working on Jessie’s Nutty Cups part time. 

While I know that entrepreneurship is difficult and that working for yourself is not always fun, I was a little surprised to hear this from Jessie. She is so positive and she literally sings while she works.

Then, she heard about a food entrepreneurship class at HBK Incubates, and decided to enroll. (Full disclosure: I work at HBK Incubates, and it is where I met Jessie!) During the class, she realized she knew a lot more about running a business than she thought she did. As her support system grew, so did her confidence.

Jessie’s #1 piece of advice for entrepreneurs: build a good support system. There is no set of rules for running a business, so having friends, family, and other entrepreneurs in your corner will help the darkest days feel a little brighters.

Though it can be tough, Jessie loves building her business. She loves seeing the time, effort, and passion she puts in result in more sales and more satisfied customers. She loves that she brings a little joy into people’s lives – one nutty cup at a time.

Jessie’s Nutty Cups are available in a variety of flavors. (My favorite? The PB&J!) You can order her hand crafted peanut (and almond!) butter cups online on her website. You can also follow her on Instagram!

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