Story and photos by Daniel Friedman
Jennifer Van Inwegen has learned a few things two years into her three-year plan for Creative Butters. Mainly, that “it takes a lot more time and a lot money than you think,” she says. And once one problem has been solved, it creates a new one. Part of her plan was to be in Whole Foods and AJ’s. So once she had a contract to supply her flavored butter to 13 AJ’s stores, the new problem was how to make enough flavored butter for 13 AJ’s.
She had to find a commercial kitchen, get the requisite permits for labeling and containers and of course find the time to make the butter. With Luke (6) and Paige (4), that takes some juggling. When Paige is in kindergarten next year there will be more large chunks of time for the business from 9am to 3pm.
So far, Van Inwegen is on track. She isn’t making a living from Creative Butters yet, but it’s paying for itself and she hopes to move forward. She has not always been in the food business; she was a corporate buyer in the automotive industry and didn’t cook at all when she got married. Her husband, Mark, did all the cooking.
She got a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine and cooked her way through it. She would see people on the food shows on television who had taken their recipes to the national level and realized she wanted that, too. “Actually I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur at the age of 14. I didn’t know what it was, but I always wanted to have a business of my own. I always just knew it was something I would do.”
Having been in the corporate world with a business degree, she might not have predicted that she’d be physically making the product she would distribute and market, but she likes “the quiet and solitude of the kitchen after being with the kids all day.” Part of the allure of being her own boss is that she hopes the business will get to a point where she can get the work done while the kids are in school and still be an attentive mom.
Van Inwegen first test-marketed her butters at the farmers market at Roadrunner Park. Her two first flavors were Honey Cinnamon and Garlic Herb because people have a “flavor reference” for them, she says. She also sells sun-dried tomato, orange pecan, maple brown sugar, honey jalapeno and strawberry. The biggest hurdle is to get people to think outside the bread-and-butter box and use the butters to flavor vegetables and other dishes. She suggests people try the maple brown sugar on butternut squash. Her website has a few recipes people can try. Her son likes the honey cinnamon on his pancakes, and won’t even consider using syrup.
Learn more about Creative Butters.
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