A family recipe and a dream

Jenny Fulton was a successful stockbroker in North Carolina. When the economy went downhill in 2009, the talented professional turned a family passion for pickles into a successful business.

Fulton’s former assistant, Ashlee Furr, had been let go from her job and Fulton knew it was only a matter of time before she’d be unemployed, too.

After consulting with her husband, Bo, Jenny decided to develop her grandmother’s recipe for pickles into a full business venture. So with Ashlee aboard as a her business partner, the two women started Miss Jenny’s Pickles, shopping the recipe for naturally made pickles at food shows and expos and growing cucumbers on her family’s land.

After two years in the competitive food business, Miss Jenny’s brand pickles are becoming well known in food aisles and picking up top prizes at several food shows. The pickles were featured on the QVC shopping network and are available as far away from home as Beijing and Shanghai. Despite their early successes, the entrepreneurial duo has yet to cut paychecks for themselves. Both women are working over 80 hours per week to build the company’s brand and drive their business to even more success.

“A lot of people think that we’re rich and famous because we have this food company and this product, but we haven’t paid ourselves yet.”  Fulton said noting that the work of an entrepreneur is much harder than the outsider might think.

“If you have an idea for a business, you have to push yourself and work at it 110 percent,” she said.

Both women went back to school to educate themselves about pickles and growing cucumbers. They have adjusted to the stark contrast between managing stock portfolios and making pickles.

“The stock market was fast; the food industry moves very slow in comparison,” Jenny noted. “It can take months after a food show before a decision is made.” While the stock market experiences daily volatility, Fulton and Furr note that the food industry is mostly recession-proof, as groceries are the last items that people will cut back on buying.

“Everybody’s got to eat,” Fulton said.

Where the ladies used to follow stock market trends closely, they now keep an eye on the daily weather report to ensure than all is well with the company’s crop of growing cucumbers.

The company operates from Kernersville, North Carolina, and the entrepreneurs hope that they can repeat the success of another noted pickle company, Mount Olive, which began in North Carolina during the Great Depression.  The state has ideal weather conditions for growing the best pickle cucumbers. The gourmet brand uses the only the best ingredients for its products.

“There’s no junk in Miss Jenny’s Pickles,” Fulton proudly said.

Central to the company is the close working relationship the women share. Jenny has an overall vision for developing projects while Ashlee manages the details. Both women have close-knit families who are share in the company’s vision for the future.

Despite working the double shift hours, running your own business can be its own reward as it allots freedom and flexibility. “Life is a great balancing act and we have quality time with our families,” Fulton said.

The entrepreneurs advise that all would-be business owners do extensive research on their products and markets before starting a business, and prepare for the routine rejections that will follow.

“Get used to the sound of slamming doors,” Furr said.

Jenny Fulton and Ashlee Furr are the entrepreneurial duo of Miss Jenny’s Pickles. The company can be found online at www.missjennyspickles.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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