“People would want this. They would buy this!” was the recommendation from Jennifer Knox’s friend when she tried Jen’s spice blends for the first time. Little did Jen know just how true her friend’s statement was. In 2011, Jennifer debuted her herb blends as holiday gifts, which eventually were sold in farmers’ markets in Brooklyn, New York. In 2014 she moved to Nevada, Iowa and officially opened Saltlickers, LLC.
Saltlickers is an innovative business that offers a variety of herb and spice blends made from locally-sourced ingredients. Quality is key, as all their products are made without preservatives, gluten, soy, or dairy.
The relationship between Saltlickers and their customers distinguishes them from other businesses, as the avenues they sell their products in allow them to interact with their consumers in a more personal way. Through farmers’ markets, workshops, and even online photo contests, Jen and her co-owner, Collin Switzer, excel in making their business enjoyable, community-oriented, and all about their biggest fans. Saltlickers’ very loyal customers play a huge role in the company’s success.
Since opening, Jennifer and Collin have seen considerable growth in their business and attribute that growth to Ted Bair at the Iowa State University Small Business Development Center (ISU SBDC).
“I was so glad that we contacted Ted,” said Jen. “He made a huge difference and gave good insight for our business, especially because Collin and I have never owned a business before.”
As a result of the assistance received from the SBDC, Jen and Collin rethought their product packaging. Ted’s advice also gave them a better handle on their finances so they could produce their products more cost effectively.
Collin’s parents are huge supporters of the business. Collin’s dad helps price out the ingredients and his mom coined the “CySalt” spice name, plus both assist Jen and Collin with transportation, dog-sitting, and set-up for their farmers’ markets and other events.
Although business is doing well—with record online sales in March 2015—Jennifer shared that producing their high-quality products can be labor intensive and time-consuming. The next phase for the business is to look into more efficient ways to produce more products, in order to meet demands.
In the future, Jen and Collin plan on producing more interesting flavors and devoting time to doing limited runs of their products by offering strange, bold, quirky flavors for the most adventurous cooks. A long-term goal for their business is to expand into larger, local stores like HyVee.
Saltlickers’ products can be found at local farmers’ markets, Wheatsfield Co-op Grocery in Ames, Gateway Market in Des Moines, and online at http://www.salt-lickers.com. For more information on this unique and fun Nevada, Iowa business, check out Saltlickers’ website above or its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/saltlickers.