Life support. Many think of that phrase as something that is hanging on by a thread or is really struggling. For me, these three are my life support but in the opposite meaning of the prior. They are my life support in terms of keeping me on my toes, my support team, my cheerleaders, my business associates. I can't live without these three goobers. When Justin and I discussed in great length making our hobby of making confections for friends into a business it was our family we thought about. What future did we want for our kids? What did we want for our family? Business ownership isn't always a piece of cake...however, when you have a great life support team it makes all of the blood, sweat and tears (okay, we've not had tears...yet) worth it. As parents we feel it's our duty to show our kids an example of what hard work can do for your way of life and make them understand at a young age that things will not be handed to you and even if they are you better know what you're doing or your chances of losing what you have are high. Although our kiddos are young, we're already asking their input and valuing their opinions and talking to them about options in life and business at just 4 & 6 years old. Since this is a family business I'd love to take a minute and share with you what role each play within our company. Jack, our 4.5 year old (far left) is our little spark plug and we lovingly refer to him as our "Bulldog"-- Jack LOVES our caramels and has since he was old enough to enjoy them. Jack is our Chief Executive Taste Tester (AKA Quality Control Manager) and takes his role very seriously. Justin (middle) is the king of our castle and serves as our Head Sugar Daddy (AKA C.F.O.). Justin's primary role is to reel my creative and marketing mind in when it goes off shore...he truly keeps my mind grounded and enables me to see the other side of things...he IS the heartbeat of my life support. Madilynn, is our 6 year old (far right) and is our go-getter in every sense of what a red-head should be. Madi's official title has yet to be named as she serves many purposes within our company. She's honestly not too fond of our confections (she's a chocolate girl and trust me she's pushing for mom to add artisan chocolate to our line) and because of that she's is an asset as we reflect on her side of things. Our MadiFran is showing her natural marketing mind already and together she and I often chat about how we can market our products and new flavor options. As I reflect on the last 5 months of our official operation I realize just how crucial my life support is. My first priority is our children; picking them up from school, aiding in homework and being there at bedtime. As a business owner, it's often hard to be there 24/7 but I am blessed with kids who see the big picture and are supportive of our growing business. I'm more blessed by our Head Sugar Daddy as he balances his full time career, aids greatly with 'mom duty' at times during the week and playing his vital role within our company. There is a great balancing act in our household right now as we grow but without my life support I would never have been able to get this venture off the ground and have a vision and goals for where we'd like to see our business grow for years to come.
While we launched our confectionery in mid September 2016 and began production in late October--today is the start of something BIG! As you may already know...we were fortunate to be able to kick off within an incubator kitchen program in Tulsa, OK (Kitchen 66; www.kitchen66tulsa.com) during the fall of 2016 but our hearts were focused on manufacturing in Fort Gibson--where we are raising our family and a town with so much history, character and charm. So, at the end of December 2016 we ended manufacturing in Tulsa and began the process of purchasing our own equipment and getting settled into our new space so we could license in Fort Gibson. This was a scary move. Scary because we had just launched our company and knew that the potential of not having enough inventory built between moves could hurt our new business.
As anyone in the food business (or any business for that matter) knows...there can be many 'pauses' or hiccups you aren't always prepared for when launching and scaling your business. THEN, with a flip of a switch there are even more blessings and surprises that make you feel like you are headed in the right direction. This week we finally got 'Molly' (our gorgeous new beast of a gas range) installed into our kitchen at the Wise Owl Coffee Roaster & Shop and felt like we could finally submit our plan review for our manufacturing license so we could begin production again. We feared that the licensing process would take a few weeks as there aren't many inspectors across the state. THEN, this morning I got a call from our inspector asking if she could come license us TODAY--LITERALLY THE DAY AFTER THE PLAN REVIEW WAS SUBMITTED! I was nearly in shock! Continuing to produce our confections in Tulsa was preventing us from launching our fundraising program and wholesale accounts for specialty retail stores simply due to the time that was invested in the drive from Fort Gibson to Tulsa each way. So, when I say WHEW! It's OFFICIAL! I mean it... a load has been lifted! We're ready to cook on all 6 burners! WHEW! We're ready to launch our fundraising program for ball teams, schools, organizations, clubs and other entities. WHEW! We're ready to open wholesale accounts for specialty retail stores! WHEW! On to the next phase of growth! THANK YOU to everyone who has provided encouragement, to those who have purchased our confections already and to those who have helped spread the word about our confectionery! We are beyond blessed!
We are so blessed to have been able to be apart of Kitchen 66's Launch 1.0 program this fall in Tulsa, OK (a great incubator program for all types of food business). Although we both have experience in business, food business is an entirely different ball game. This program helped launch us successfully as a confectionery after cooking our Salted Whiskey Caramels for 4 years for friends and family from our home. We were fortunate enough while launching in the height of the holidays to be able to manufacture our confections in Kitchen 66's (9,000 sq ft) commericial kitchen space. This allowed us to grow our business to the point of moving on to our permanent manufacturing facility in Oklahoma's oldest town where we reside (we are still flabergasted at the fact we shipped out nearly 600 boxes of our Salted Whiskey Caramels in our first 1.5 months in operation this fall--for that, we THANK YOU).
We're thrilled to be right in the middle of moving our production to Fort Gibson, Oklahoma! If you're like us, before we moved here 6 years ago we'd really not heard much about Fort Gibson other than in relation to the lake north of town. We moved here blindly for Justin's career as a managing partner in a local business and have truly fallen in love with this community. There is so much history & charm here from the National Cemetery, to the Fort which was established in 1824 and has served as military base which was occupied during most of the Indian removal period but then abandonded in 1857 until it was reactivated during the Civil War.
Stay tuned for official news of when we are in full operation in our new location in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma and we'd love for you to stop by and say hi! You'll find us in a shared space with the most charming coffee roastery in Oklahoma---Wise Owl Coffee Company (trust me when I say this--they KNOW coffee from the inside out--this isn't your typical coffee shop)! The Hathcoat's will welcome you into their coffee shop with a smile and serve the freshest coffee as they roast micro-lot single origin coffee varieties weekly. Really, how can you go wrong with coffee & confections in one stop? Together, our businesses focus on exceptional customer service and artisan quality products. It's really recomended to travel to our community to spend the day at the landmarks inside Oklahoma's oldest town, shopping at our many unique boutiques, graze on a delish meal at our eateries and relax with a warm cup of coffee in hand.