What is your name? Jamie L. Knoll

What is your business name? JAVA & Co.

What is your website URL? www.javaandco.com

When did you start your business? January 2008

Why did you decide to start your business & why did you choose the type of business you chose? I have combined experience from NYC and Las Vegas in the food, beverage, restaurant and hospitality industry.  Moving to Illinois, I began to desperately miss the business, the challenges, the food and the people.  JAVA & Co. allows me to bring past work, life experiences, talents and passion for food and blend all of this into a new specialty food venture – JAVA & Co.

What is your favorite thing about being in business for yourself? Flexibility and the freedom of creativity.  The freedom to be creative is priceless – pairing that with good business is so rewarding.

Business is slowly building right now.  I like that I can forward my calls to voicemail, have a cup of coffee, take my boxers for a walk, garden and then return to the day of work.  At the end of the day, my customers are my priority, but with effective time management, it’s a win-win for everyone.

And yet, always remembering – if it happens or doesn’t happen it’s because of the person looking back at you in the mirror.

What turned out to be harder than you thought? The Time Factor.  Taking it slow, keeping up with the details and finding the time to DO everything that needs to be done.

Looking back, what is one thing you know now, but wish you knew back then? I wish I knew how willingly fellow colleagues and entrepreneurs were at the ‘ready’ to help.  I would have utilized them more in the beginning vs. trying to research and do everything on my own.

Do you participate in any business groups (mentoring, networking, etc)? (1) As a new start-up specialty food business, JAVA & Co. has been accepted into NASFT’s (National Association Specialty Food Trade) member candidate program.  This is a well-rounded, prestigious program to be a part of.  NASFT and many of its’ members are leaders in the specialty food industry.

(2) I have an open-door policy for colleagues and new business owners and I’m always open to sharing, networking with and mentoring specialty food start-ups.  For example, locally, there is a small batch fudge company that was transitioning from retail into wholesale production.  I was able to offer assistance in packaging suppliers, labeling, market suggestions, etc.  JAVA & Co. has been there and done that.  Why re-create the wheel?  I’ll share with companies the course JAVA & Co. took through start-up.  If there is anything they can take away or apply to their business – wonderful!  Entrepreneurial networking has been truly invaluable for me and I hope to extend the same courtesy and shared information to others.

As a business owner, it can be easy to work all the time – do you have any tips for balancing your business and your personal life? Good question.  I do work a lot.   We have a home office and some of my best work comes at 10:30 p.m. at night.  My husband helps keep me balanced.  It’s a daily battle to master the business to personal life balance and as business increases, I imagine it to become only more challenging.  Some days it is necessary to remind myself of the purpose and my personal measure of success, ”I’m in business to have a better personal life”, vs. “I’m in business to be in business.”

What have been some of your best business successes? (1) Making a specialty food product that my guests love as much as I do and that I am proud of – to this day.  I love it.  I really love it.  (2) The invaluable new relationships that have developed with fellow entrepreneurs.

What are you planning to do with your business in the future? Controlled growth.  As sales increase, our goal is to build a ‘satellite’ wholesale kitchen on the west coast.  This will allow us to oversee and monitor quality control while being true to our vision (handmade and hand bottled) and expanding our client base.

Consumer markets have been a wonderful launching pad for JAVA & Co.  A kitchen based on the west coast will increase our west coast consumer market branding, allow for convenient west coast distributorship and give us the ability to add hand-picked customer service and hospitality driven staff to JAVA & Co on the west coast.  RECAP:  Increased bottle production.  Increased consumer exposure.  West Coast distributorship.  Staying true to the foundation and vision of JAVA & Co. specialty food – handmade, hand packaged – one product at a time.

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