On this episode of The Foodpreneur, we’re talking sweet and savory fruit spreads with Jan Hogrewe, founder of Just Jan’s. How an LA major film producer turned her backyard over-yielding fig tree into a highly sought-after gourmet brand producing spreads for some of the biggest high-end kitchen retail stores.
Episode 11: Just Jan’s with Jan Hogrewe
Time Stamped Show Notes
- [1:25] — As a little girl, Jan enjoyed baking and making candy. Her favorite childhood food was a grilled cheese.
- [2:24] — Jan’s babysitters daughter introduced her to canning jams and jellies.
- [3:57] — Jan had previously worked in the filmmaking industry for 25 years before starting her business.
- [6:10] — Jan tells us about how a friend of hers got her involved in the food industry after trying a sample of her fig jam; it was her “ah-ha moment.”
- [10:17] — “It’s not just grabbing fruit and putting it in jars, there are many other things involved. I wanted to learn it all.”
- [12:25] — Jan’s products are called fruit spreads as opposed to jelly because she uses less sugar, therefore her product is less sweet.
- [15:00] — Jan’s father passed away when her mother was 7 months pregnant. As per her Father’s request, Jan’s mother names her Jan; not Janice or Janet, but just Jan. Hence the name of the company.
- [15:59] — Jan was able to finance her business herself through savings and with the help of her mentor to show her the “tricks of the trade,” so to speak.
- [17:21] — Jan’s first customer was the national retail chain, Home Goods.
- [19:47] — Jan’s push into Home Goods stores gave her the confidence she needed to fully invest into scaling her small business. Briefly after, after reaching out to William Sonoma, Jan was asked to send in samples of her product. The William Sonoma team loved it and before she knew it, she was in stores nation wide. “It was purely luck that they needed my product at the time… I’m shaking my head right now.”
- [21:29] — Jan’s biggest learning lesson is that she needed to work on her business smarts; to pace the growth of her company by balancing it with the shelf life and sales of the product. “You can’t have an ego in this business and say ‘whatever I like everybody will like.’ The biggest challenge is the pacing, the growth, and the shelf life.”
- [22:40] — The future of Just Jan’s is to continue to expand the fruit spread line.
- [24:34] — Jan shares her thoughts regarding food labeling and sustainability.
- [29:33] — Jan’s favorite aspect of running her business is meeting new, like-minded, interesting people.
- [33:29] — Jan’s role model is Ina Garten.