What could be cozier than curling up beside a roaring fire and munching on seasonal, homemade caramels? Eight years ago, Ali Clark Yahnke was given the opportunity to make the world a sweeter place when her grandfather passed down their family’s caramel recipe to her. As a long time farmer’s market vendor, Ali decided to bring the caramels along with her usual haul and discovered they were an instant hit. Customers continued to request her caramels during the holiday season and Ali realized it was a business opportunity. In 2013 she opened Snowshoe Candy Company and decided to pursue a career in seasonal candy making.
Ali came to the SBDC to gain an understanding of financial projections and explore different options for upscaling. With the help of SBDC’s Regional Directors, Sue Pitts and Michael Mitilier, Ali was able to create a five-year financial plan, explore co-packing options as well as make connections with local producers. “The SBDC was really helpful for me to be able to have someone to bounce ideas off of as well as answer questions. I had a very good experience.” Since working with the SBDC Ali has seen a “significant increase in corporate gift sales and production.” “My experience in general with the SBDC was really great in terms of motivating me to understand my business on a deeper level, it’s certainly a great starting point.”
Ali has continued to see a boom in business this past year and received funding for a full scale cooker and wrapping machine. She partially attributes her success to her commitment to sourcing local ingredients “a unique advantage of being a farmer is that I have knowledge of local ingredients that other people might not have and unique access to a diverse customer base of people that really care about where my food is coming from.” Ali says the most surprising part of starting her business is that “I never anticipated I would be a candy maker; but I love food and sharing it with people, so it’s wonderful that I get to do that going full time. I never anticipated that this hobby of mine would grow into something with such a great response.” In the next few years, Ali hopes to expand Snowshoe Candy Co.’s offerings in the corporate gift arena and have her business be her sole source of income.
To learn more about Snowshoe Candy Company please visit their website at:
Written by: Jolene Schaefer