By Tara Massouleh Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Two longtime besties have launched a kettlecorn business in Birmingham. They've had some help getting their business off the ground with the assistance of "REV Birmingham", an economic development organization that is focused on stimulating business growth in the region.
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
Naughty But Nice owners Tanesha Sims-Summers and Tiffany Turner are no strangers to doing business together.
The women took on their first venture as girls growing up in Birmingham, where they did what all good entrepreneurs do--they saw a demand and provided the supply.
Twenty years later, the pair is at it again, only this time it's another nostalgic treat they're pedaling.
Birmingham Magazine: Tell us a little about how you got the business started and what inspired you to make kettlecorn.
Tanesha Sims-Summer: We've always had a passion and a drive for entrepreneurship. We used to sell popsicles as kids on 10th Avenue West near Legion Field where they played the Alabama and Auburn games. So from there we always knew we wanted to do some type of business. We graduated high school, went to college, worked in corporate America, and then we were presented with the idea [for kettlecorn] from someone who does something similar in Virginia. So me and Tiffany discussed it and we were like "Wow that would be cool. There's nothing like that here. Let's capitalize on that opportunity."
BM: So once you decided to do the business, what were your next steps?
TSS: Our first step was to test the market. We did a lot of research online trying to figure out who was our local competition and who was our statewide competition. From there, we did a lot of taste testing. We went to a lot of physical locations whenever we traveled throughout the Southeast, as well as to our local Wal-Marts and Targets, looking at the product of kettlecorn itself, and trying to find out ways that we could enter the market and offer something with a slight twist to it.
Tiffany Turner: Initially, we also conducted our business plan to give us a baseline of where we wanted to start. We knew we wanted to focus on being very local. Fortunately, we were introduced to REV Birmingham at the time. We took the initial co-starters class, then we decided to take the actual course and it kind of catapulted the idea even more and kick started us to go in the right direction.
BM: What challenges have you faced while growing your business and how did you overcome them?
TSS: We are still working to overcome some of our challenges. One is just our style of working. We've known each other forever, but the reality is everyone has a different approach when it comes to business about how you want to implement an idea, even when you have the same goal. So we work through our styles in our partnership.
BM: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
TSS: I would first of all say, take the [REV co-starters] class. It's a wonderful investment in yourself and your business, whether you have a concept or idea, or if you have something already started and need more direction. It's a very close-knit community of very educated, experienced entrepreneurs. Also, just understand your product and your customer. Making sure you have high-level customer service and you're okay to learn and get feedback from people because you're constantly growing as a business and you never have it 100 percent figured out.
BM: We heard about your "Make Your Local Pop" project. Can you tell us a little about that?
TSS: We want other local businesses to make their companies pop out to the community, and we like to show the versatility of our product. A lot of times people make popcorn at home and add their own spices, so this is a way for us to show the versatility of NBN and a way to cross promote other restaurants in the city by featuring their signature spices. Our first featured company was Eugene's Hot Chicken and that really went over well. We used a lot of his signature spices to create a spicy flavor. It's a way for us to use partnerships to leverage each other, co-market, and celebrate the entrepreneurial community.
BM: What are your goals for the future?
TT: Currently, we definitely want to be a local brand in Birmingham, and then I think we would love to be known regionally and then hopefully hit other markets around the country. We're looking at some locations to see if a brick and mortar location would be the route for us for the immediate future. We do want a place that has a lot of walkability, a lot of foot traffic and traffic in general in the downtown area, Southside, or even in Avondale.
Details Naughty But Nice kettlecorn comes in four signature flavors: Original Blend Naughty & Nice, Cheddar Makes It Better, French Toast, and Birmingham Mix. Order at nbnkettlecorn.com or by calling 205.616.4086. Follow them on social media for updates.