Around these parts, we like to learn about and from people who are running their own businesses – business we love and admire, and the ladies who are running shit behind the scenes. And you already know about my obsession with anything peanut butter/chocolate related, so I am beyond excited about this edition of mind your business, where we talk to Jessie from Jessie’s Nutty Cups, a gourmet peanut butter cup company based in New York. This interview is equal parts mouth-watering and inspiring – here we go!
milieu: Tell us a bit about your background. What inspired you to start your own company?
Jessie: I actually studied and graduated with a BFA in musical theater. I have always had a love for food and sweets, probably due to my grandma being an unbelievable baker and cook. But had you asked me even five years ago if I thought I’d start my own peanut butter cup business, I would have thought you were crazy. I originally came to the city to continue pursuing my career in acting. About two years ago, my former roommate was throwing a going away party before heading out of town for a theater contract, and I wanted to contribute. I happened upon a peanut butter cup recipe online and thought, “well this could be good.” Suddenly friends and coworkers kept asking for them, and thus, Jessie’s Nutty Cups were born, and it has has become my artistic and creative outlet while I am not on stage. I love coming up with new flavors and watching people try them for the first time… It’s my way of making the world a happier place, one nutty cup at a time.
milieu: What kind of research did you do before going into business for yourself?
Jessie: I don’t necessarily recommend this plan of attack, but I just went for it, and have been doing the research as I go. I have definitely made some mistakes due to lack of knowledge or experience, but I’ve learned many valuable lessons, met amazing people who have shared their knowledge and experiences and now my business is slowly, but steadily, growing.
milieu: What makes your products unique/different?
Jessie: Jessie’s Nutty Cups are handcrafted with a lot of love and they come in a variety of flavors. Sure, everyone has heard of Reese’s, and you’ve probably seen Justin’s and the occasional peanut butter cup in a chocolate or confectionary shop, but they all seem to be a lot of the same to me. I have come up with seven stock flavors that are available at all times such as the Nutty PBJ, the Nutty Nutella and the Nutty Pretzel Cups. Additionally, I come up with a different flavor for each month. August’s Cup of the Month was the Nutty S’More Cup, and the CocoNutty Cup is September’s flavor. All Nutty Cups are made to order, by hand, using quality ingredients.
milieu: Which cup is your favorite? Which one is the most popular?
Jessie: This is a hard question. I can honestly say they are all really good! I personally prefer dark chocolate, so I’d have to say maybe the Dark Sea Salt… Though the PBJ is also up there. As for the most popular, among customers, most people order assorted boxes to try several flavors, which usually include either the Dark Sea Salt, Nutty Nutella and/or the Nutty PBJ, as well as the cup of the month.
milieu: What is the most challenging part of running your own business?
Jessie: Right now, the most challenging part is finding a balance in my business and my personal life. In addition to Jessie’s Nutty Cups, I am also still pursuing my acting career, as well as working in a restaurant to help support myself and my company while it’s growing. Some days I wake up, make some nutty cups, head to an audition, work on more nutty cup stuff, and then go to work the dinner shift. My days can often turn into 12 hour work days or longer.
milieu: What’s the best part?
Jessie: Creating something that is all yours, being able to share it, and knowing that each cup puts a smile on another person’s face. One of the main reasons I initially got into acting was because it was a way I knew I could have an impact on people’s lives. I feel I am able to do that with Jessie’s Nutty Cups as well. Every bite is like a little escape. As I continue to grow and once I’m a bit more established I also hope to make a greater impact by donating a percentage of profits to a nonprofit organization or charity.
milieu: Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would change if you had to start all over again?
Jessie: I don’t think so. It’s all been a process and I’ve learned so much along the way. Sometimes I wish I would have started focusing on the business side sooner, but then again, I don’t know that I would have been ready for it then.
milieu: Are there any new products/flavors or exciting news on the horizon for Jessie’s Nutty Cups you can tell us about?
Jessie: Well, I have a new flavor of the month every month, so that’s always exciting. You can find out about those through social media outlets as well as my monthly newsletter. I am looking into starting a subscription program in the new year, where you can sign up to get a box of Nutty Cups sent your way automatically on a monthly basis. Then there’s also the idea of selling my homemade peanut butter and jam at some point down the line… But at this point that’s still just an idea!
milieu: What advice would you give someone who is looking to go into a similar business for themselves? Or, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Jessie: If you have a dream or a goal, then go for it and don’t be afraid to dream big.
And then there’s one of my favorite song lyrics is from the song “Everybody says Don’t” by Stephen Sondheim:
“Make just a ripple, come on be brave
This time a ripple, next time a wave
Sometimes you have to start small
Climbing the tiniest wall
Maybe you’re going to fall
But it’s better than not starting at all.”
You never know where life will lead and what might potentially happen. After all, who wants to live with a “what if” for the rest of their life?