Jill Blashack Strahan used to put together gift baskets and sell them in her Minnesota town as an active rural entrepreneur. She started small and it got bigger and bigger, but it wasn’t working as she’d hoped and she decided to close the business. She was asked if she would still like to host a booth at a local event selling individually some of the spices, mixes, and sauces she had put in her baskets. The event was a roaring success.
Strahan was a busy mom who didn’t love to cook and liked anything that would make it easier. She knew of other moms just like her. Even for moms who did love to cook, time was of the essence and you couldn’t buy more time, but if you can buy products that make cooking take less time and you can still love it.
She wasn’t a fan of home party sales, but she knew she would be a fan if the party involved demonstrating and eating food and at the same time solving a problem that many moms have and she believed it would work. That to her sounded like a home party she’d love to attend.
With $36,000 of her own money and an SBA loan, she created a home party plan business called Tastefully Simple from a shed that had no running water and no bathrooms. She created a business plan and set out to sell a curated list of delicious easy to use mixes, sauces, spices, and an amazing easy beer bread mix. She was absolutely right! People loved it. Within 6 years the company was bringing in over $113 million a year.
She credits the devastating loss of her brother from a house fire when she was 26 for inspiring her to start this business. Just three years into starting the business, tragedy struck again and again. She was devastated multiple times and yet she found the strength to carry on and shine through it all. The company kept growing and growing.
Things got rough for several years and money was pouring out the door with year after year losses. She was told to let it go and close the doors. She kept fighting and has brought the company back to profits again. How she fought back the naysayers who told her to quit and was more than ready when COVID hit and her business was needed more than ever.
I love this story and I loved getting to know Jill as a person and as an amazing rural entrepreneur. I sincerely hope you do too. I feel like I’ve gained a sister and a wonderful friend in doing this interview. Thank you, Jill.
If you’d like more information about the delicious Tastefully Simple products or their entrepreneurial development program go to the Tastefully Simple website.
Krysti Mikkonen is the owner of Rural Gold, a business located in rural South Dakota offering website development and small to medium-sized rural businesses. She also offers coaching services focusing on women in the encore of life to make their
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