She gave local produce a new life through her products.
I am Kim, the founder of Jams by Kim. I have been making jams for my family and friends ever since I was 12 years old, but never thought of selling them. However, when I was laid off from my corporate HR position, my family encouraged me to start a business.
I make jams by hand in small batches using local produce, and that’s what sets them apart from other products. Being based in New Jersey, the garden state, gives me access to an abundance of locally grown produce. When I started out, the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) helped me craft my first business plan. Their counselors and free classes were of great help. I also joined the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), where I met amazing women business owners who were eager to share their experiences.
A professional setback helped her dive into the world of entrepreneurship.
In the beginning, a huge challenge for me was finding a commercial kitchen because it’s illegal to sell a product made at home in NJ. I started out at a firehouse kitchen, but it was very difficult carrying all my equipment and supplies up to their second-floor kitchen, sanitizing it, creating jams, cleaning up, and carrying everything back out again. After searching for a few months, I found another commercial kitchen at a small church through a classmate at the SBDC. The new kitchen was a big win because I was able to leave my equipment and supplies, and the price was reasonable.
She advises other entrepreneurs to never shy away from making mistakes.
I was also fortunate that my website attracted the attention of a farmers’ market manager who was starting a new market. He saw my website and invited me to sell my jams there. This was a good opportunity to network with the farmers and vendors, and that enabled me to add more markets to my schedule and increase my exposure and sales.
She focused on networking to grow her business.
As I start my 13th year in business, I reflect on things I learned along the way and the people who helped me. When you ask good questions, people are willing to help you. That’s why I am always eager to help other people. You are constantly learning while in business. If you stop learning, you stop growing. I went on to graduate from the Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative program at Rutgers Business School, which was another great learning experience. Last year, I entered my Peach and Ginger Jam in a national competition with the Good Food Foundation, and when judges selected it as the 2022 winner based on a blind taste test, I was thrilled! A strong focus can take you places and my journey is proof.