WHY YOU WANT TO LISTEN:
In four years of business, Jessie Taige has built a cult following for her gourmet peanut butter cup company. With distribution listings in Whole Foods and Murray’s Cheese Shop, a booming Cup-of-the-Month Club, and a growing list of corporate and institutional clients, Jessie’s ready to take her business to the next level.
Food entrepreneur Hillary Graves started Little Dish in 2005 to make heathy meals for toddlers. Little Dish is now the leading food brand for children in the UK and recently launched in the US. Hillary joins us for a Confab Mentor Session to share her story and help Jessie figure out the right move to get her where she wants to go.
ABOUT OUR GUESTS:
Hillary Graves founded Little Dish back in 2006 when she had her first child and found out that you couldn’t find healthy, delicious meals for toddlers in the shops. She wanted to make a range of meals, like families cook at home, with the best natural ingredients. Chicken and beef sourced from local farms, fresh meals that you would keep in the fridge, not the cupboard.
What children eat from a very early age has a huge impact on their long-term health, so Little Dish works with a nutritionist to make sure that every meal is perfectly nutritionally balanced. All of the Little Dish meals are taste tested by kids — in the early days, tasting was conducted by Hillary’s boys Monty and Ridley, and now there are hundreds of Tiny Tasters.
Twelve years later, Little Dish has become the leading brand for fresh toddler meals in the UK by providing parents with not just a practical solution, but an emotional relief as well. Recently, Profile Capital Management took a £17m ($21.8m) stake in the business to enter the US market. Little Dish meals are now listed at Fresh Direct, Walmart, and Target.
Beginning in the third grade, Jessie Taige knew what she wanted to be when she grew up, a star in musicals. She got a BFA in Musical Theater, did regional theater after college and then decided it was time to head to New York City to see if she could make it on Broadway. Six years of auditioning non-stop and landing some small gigs, it looked like her dream wasn’t panning out.
And then…she made some peanut butter cups to bring to a friend’s farewell party. “The reaction,” says Jessie, “was overwhelming and more importantly undeniable.” That was the start of her business, Jessie’s Nutty Cups. Although officially started in 2014, she still wasn’t ready to step away completely from acting so it was more like a hobby the first year or two. Then she took some business classes and it’s when she joined a culinary incubator for food entrepreneurs, Hot Bread Kitchen, that she committed to make it a thriving business.
Now Jessie has fun (her words!) coming up with new flavor combos. She has seven different stock flavors, including Dark Sea Salt Cup and the PBJ Cup. And every month she creates a new flavor, such as the Nutty S’More Cup and the Nutty Love Cup, inspired by her grandmother’s Black Forest Cake. Neatest of all, Jessie says, “I always wanted to do something that will have an impact on people’s lives and with Jessie’s Nutty Cups I get to. Every bite is like a little escape, an added smile to your day.”
OTHER GOOD THINGS TO DO, HEAR & READ:
- GET or GIVE (!) peanut butter cups every month. Yes, even the most penny-pinching among us deserve a treat.
- BUY The Little Dish Family Cookbook on Amazon for 101 nutritious and delicious recipes to make and enjoy with your kids.
- WATCH a clip from Nancy’s conversation with Hillary at a Marketing startup seminar Nancy hosted for women entrepreneurs: