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Podcast

Episode 140: How To Turn A Hobby Into A Viable Business with Ashley Rouse

Jun 10, 2021

In today’s episode, we meet Ashley Rouse, chef, founder, and CEO of Trade Street Jam Co, a low sugar culinary-inspired vegan jam that makes eating clean easy. After making jam for friends and family, Ashley decided to turn  her hobby into a business. Her mission is to introduce the world to a concept bigger than sugary jam on toast.

During our conversation, we talk about how Ashley shifted from making batches of jam in her Brooklyn apartment to outsourcing the manufacturing process as she scaled her business, plus what her marketing strategy looks like today versus when she started. Ashley also gives us tips on staying flexible to embrace those inevitable pivots and how to balance curating an online presence with doing the work that generates revenue. 

Listen on Apple Podcast

You’ll learn:

  • How to scale your food manufacturing process as your business grows
  • How to build an online marketing strategy
  • Why you should spend the bulk of your time on revenue-generating opportunities
  • Which lines of sales have been the most effective for her business
  • How to be good stewards of a growing business

Mentioned in this episode:

Business Website:  https://tradestjamco.com/
Business Instagram: @tradestjamco/

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Episode Transcript

Ashley Rouse

in january. Our sales were probably $1500 a month. And I was just like, what are we gonna take, like, how are we going to get these sales up? We're not doing these events. And by april our sales went up to $8000 a month. So I was like, oh great people being home is allowing them to want to cook and by specialty food online. And so it really, I was like, oh this covid thing is actually gonna work out. And then in june we did $80,000 and yeah, we probably averaged out at about $100,000 a month after that, every month.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Mhm

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Hi, Off-Scripters it's your host, Serwaa Adjei-Pellé and welcome to episode 1 40 of the She's Off Script podcast. This is a show where we hear and learn from women whose created unique blueprints for their business success. My hope is that you'll hear their stories and translate their gems into a unique path for yourself.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

In today's episode, we meet Ashley Rouse, who's the ceo of low sugar vegan jam company, Trade street Jams. Ashley went to culinary school and has been a chef for 15 years using jam flavors like smoked yellow, peach and blueberry, lemon basil. She also shares recipes that inspire us to go beyond just jam and toast.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

During our conversation, Ashley shares how she got started in the jam business, she shares how she has tripled her sales, how she went from making jams in her kitchen to using a manufacturer and so much more. Before we hear the rest of Ashley's episode, I would love it. If you could subscribe, rate and review our show on Itunes or wherever you listen to podcasts, this will help to spread the word about our show. So amazing stories like Ashley's can continue to inspire women looking to launch their own Off-Scripters journeys

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

with that. Let's go off script with the CEO of Trade Street Jams

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Ashley Rouse.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Ashley Rouse, welcome to She's Off Script Thank you for being here.

Ashley Rouse

Thank you so much for having me.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

So for any of our listeners who haven't heard of you before, could you share who you are and what you do?

Ashley Rouse

Sure I'm Ashley Rouse, I am the founder and CEO of Trade Street Jam company. We make low sugar culinary inspired

Ashley Rouse

vegan jams that are very clean label and our whole mission is to introduce the world to a concept bigger than sugary jam on toast. So we're always sharing recipes for cocktails and roasted veggies and yogurt and oatmeal and all these really fun chef-inspired applications

Ashley Rouse

a little bit different than your traditional jam uses.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

So your jams typically have 2-3, not very many ingredients. Why is it so important to you to create a clean jam?

Ashley Rouse

I mean, right, we need to eat clean. Like it's so important. I think it's just so interesting because being healthy and clean eating has always been important,

Ashley Rouse

but like for me in particular in my generation, like growing up, it wasn't something we focused on. Like I never remember my mom saying like, hey, this needs to be like vegan or you know, look sugar this like we kind of just eat what we wanted to and it's just important for us, right? We want to live long lives, we want to be healthy and have kids and you know, african americans suffer from diabetes. I think more than any other race americans in general are obese. Like

Ashley Rouse

we just got to get it together and it doesn't have to be bad for you in order for it to taste good. And I feel like as a chef, it's like my civic duty to teach people that aren't aware of that.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I love that. And you've been a chef for over 15 years, right? And also worked in hospitality marketing. So how did you go from doing that

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

to making jams for a living?

Ashley Rouse

I always used to jam out back in the day. I loved like canning and preserving and so I always did that on the side and just like

Ashley Rouse

gave it away as gifts and to friends and families for holidays and things like that. And it's just something I love doing. I had a food blog back in the day called I speak kitchen ease and I was always like

Ashley Rouse

making jams and then making things with the jam and I loved it. I had this epiphany one day, I lived in this apartment on Trade Street in north Carolina and I was like, oh, I would love to make a jam business one day and call it trade street jam company. And I think that was back in 2000 and eight. And just, I guess the idea never left my mind. And I moved to Brooklyn not that long ago around 2015 2016. And

Ashley Rouse

just got super inspired by like everything in Brooklyn, right. It's, there's nothing like Brooklyn new york in general. And so just started jamming again on the side as a hobby and started selling it to try to make some extra money and then here we are today.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

So how do you know

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

when it's time to move it from hobby status to an actual viable business? How did you know?

Ashley Rouse

Yeah, I was going to say, how does one know, I can't tell you girl. But for me, I think the moment came to me when I realized I was spending more time

Ashley Rouse

at my full time job working on my side hustle. Then I was on my actual full time job. I remember I'll never forget, I remember this day, you know, I worked 10 hour shifts and I'm pretty sure I spent six hours doing jam things and I remember feeling so guilty at the end of day, I mean I did my work, you know, I'm very good at

Ashley Rouse

Time management and well I was then now be an entrepreneur, a total different story, but I was very good at time management and you know getting my work done and being a star employee and so I knew how to manage both, but I just, I think because I was such a good employee, I felt so so bad about spending so much time and I just, I was like, Gosh, I got to figure out how I can do justice. Can you imagine how much more efficient and successful I could be if I had all 10 hours. So that was the, that was the moment for me.

Ashley Rouse

Oftentimes

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

that happens when you're a star employee, you are able to get so efficient in what you do, that you are able to balance both. So you were then making jam

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

on the side at home, are you still making the jam at home?

Ashley Rouse

Oh my God,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

no, I would

Ashley Rouse

Die, literally, I think I might die. Yeah. Then I was making the jam in my apartment and so I would come home after work and make them, we're doing like small batches of like 20-30 jars or so.

Ashley Rouse

And I think about a year into doing that, I realized that was just like, you know, like it wasn't working, you know, I'm selling out of it pretty quickly. And so I was like, okay, I gotta kind of scale up a little bit. So I started doing some research for shared kitchen spaces that you rent out by the hour. And so about a year and we moved to a shared kitchen space and then we started doing batches of, I think maybe 100 jams

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

okay.

Ashley Rouse

Which was a really nice, I guess next step. And then we were, we started selling them at markets and things like that, so that, you know, it sounded like a lot of the 100 jams and I was kind of intimidated by the idea, but we ended up selling them pretty quickly when we're doing like these summer fairs and farmers markets and things like that. And about a year after that,

Ashley Rouse

we were exhausted. We

Ashley Rouse

being my husband who has no food service experience who was absolutely miserable and he's the sweetest person I know, never complained. But I could see it on the space. I was just like, this is tough. You know, I was getting friends to help because I couldn't afford to hire help. And so about a year and we finally moved to a co packer. I didn't think I could afford it, but we did it. And so yeah, we have someone that manufacturers the jam today. I

Ashley Rouse

God, I couldn't imagine we're probably making about 1000 yards at a time. So

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

wow. Now you said you didn't think you could afford it? How much does it take to get into a co packer? And what are the minimum quantities they were asking for?

Ashley Rouse

I think that was the issue. The minimum quantities most of the manufacturers were,

Ashley Rouse

I think 100 gallons minimum quantity, which for me, 100 gowns would probably make about

Ashley Rouse

2000 jars.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

So

Ashley Rouse

Wait, is that right? Yeah, I think it would make about 2000 jars give or take. And so that I mean that's absurd when you're starting off, right. I was like, how could I afford that? Where will I sell that?

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I mean how many jars were you selling in order to do that? Wow.

Ashley Rouse

Yeah, Yeah. I mean I'm sure I was just barely selling the 100

Ashley Rouse

of each flavor that we were making and that's of each flavor, you know, and so I would probably move through that in a few months, like three months maybe. So that was kind of like a threshold to me. I didn't want, you don't want product just shelf it eats into your expiration date and things like that. So, you know, those

Ashley Rouse

minimum quantities were just ridiculous. And then we found a place that had a minimum quantity of 25 gallons, which made like 350 jars and I was like, okay, that makes sense. Right? 100 jars to 3 50. And so there's some upfront cost to that, right? You have to pay them to make it, You pay per jar basically. But I don't, we just did it. I think that's one of the funny things is there's so many things. I don't remember the specifics because it's like, you just do it. It reminds me of motherhood. Like now that I'm a new mom, It's like

Ashley Rouse

people like, how are you doing that and entrepreneurship? I don't know, you just do it right. Like that's what we're here to do. My mom's women. You just get through it. You just get it done.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I heard that you had saved almost a year's worth of runway. Did whatever you saved take you to that point of the year.

Ashley Rouse

So I want to clarify because I didn't really save a year's worth of friendly. And I think that's an important point though because a lot of people ask me like, how do you do it? How do you quit your job? And some people do have that savings, but a lot of people don't. And so I didn't have that what it was that my husband and I put down on paper

Ashley Rouse

If we went through everything we both did have in our savings account are separate savings accounts that we had just saved up over years, which was not a ton by any means. I don't want anybody thinking it was like 30, It wasn't at all. But if we went through our savings account, if we went through both of our 401 case and then maybe, you know if we got I think there was another pocket of money somewhere, but we were pulling all these little pieces together and we calculated that if we went through everything that we had we could go a year.

Ashley Rouse

So that was if Tracy brought in no money at all, if trace run $0 of revenue, we could go one year with on only one salary and we but we would use those other pockets to like pay the bills and everything. And then at the end of that year we would have nothing left. And if I wasn't profitable I would need to go back to work.

Ashley Rouse

So yeah, that makes sense. That

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

makes total sense. So it's not like you had that fund specifically for leaving, it was everything you

Ashley Rouse

had. No, that's

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

an important distinction because it just shows you that it's possible, right? You're going to have to hustle,

Ashley Rouse

but it's

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

possible. So now you're at the point where you are working all hours, you're exhausted. And

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

and

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

one of the things I loved about when I first found you is that your packaging and your overall aesthetic looks beautiful. Did you design it yourself?

Ashley Rouse

I did

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

do does that come from your food marketing background? That looks really good.

Ashley Rouse

Um You know what, I think it comes from my God, given talent and the

Ashley Rouse

and something that I love to do and that, you know, like

Ashley Rouse

you can't be good at everything. There's God, there's so many things I'm not good at. But there are some that I am in the creative piece of it. I'm not a designer by any means, but I like to design things right? I like some graphic design. I like just putting marketing together. And I was working doing some social media at my last job before I left to do this full time. And so I was getting really good at like making graphics and

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

some in Photoshop

Ashley Rouse

and some in illustrator but some in Canada really simple things. And I say that because I created are

Ashley Rouse

label in power point and people always laugh at that. But I literally built it in power point. I went through the Internet and scoured for a design that really spoke to me and inspired me and it took months. But when I found something, it kind of it was like a homemade label. It had this word bubble on it and it just spoke to me, it was like you're saying something right? I felt like it was saying something and that's what I wanted the product to be. Like, I knew like the jam I also saturated, it's just so like,

Ashley Rouse

it's not innovative and I like, I was like,

Ashley Rouse

if we're going to be in stores on shelves, like what will make people buy our product, will make them even see our product over a smokers or bonne Maman. And so the word bubble spoke to me and then, so I kind of put a bunch of different things together. Once I got it to look like what I wanted, I printed it out on paper, wrapped it around the jar to figure out if it was the right size and then went to like this different and ordered labels and then tested him and then adjusted and tweaked. I mean literally no true skill here you guys, but I say that to say like a lot of people, like I can't afford a designer now, if you have no design skills, like then that's where your money has to go. And that's the thing about entrepreneurship is like

Ashley Rouse

you can't do everything, it's impossible and you're not good at everything, you just aren't. And so where I did the design, I might have put the money

Ashley Rouse

somewhere else, so, you know, you got to kind of pick and choose what you can do and then

Ashley Rouse

you're gonna have to spend some money, but you just got to be smart about it.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Yeah, and I really appreciate that you had your eye on where you saw your product ending up, you started selling at markets, but one day you envisioned being on store shelves. So in order to do that, you have to think about how do you want to look in order to attract the right opportunities?

Ashley Rouse

Yeah, that's funny that you mentioned that because our strategy has completely changed and that actually was pre Covid and you know, I was tired of doing the markets. I knew I wanted to just be able to stop those. I want to have a baby. It was really exhausting. And so I told my husband, I think around the end of 2019, I was like,

Ashley Rouse

I don't want to do the markets anymore. And he's like, great, don't do them. And I'm like, but that's how I'm making money. How will I make money? And he's like, we gotta sell it online. And I'm like, I am doing that, but like, I'm not doing it a lot. And so we're like, okay, we got to spend the end of this year and early next year building up some type of online strategy.

Ashley Rouse

And then, so I'm praying right, I'm talking to God and I'm like, God, I don't want to do these events anymore. And he's like, cool, Covid,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Yeah, look at God with Covid.

Ashley Rouse

But I'm like, but God, I was going to do some events, like, the big ones I was going to do, like, now I can't do any events. And so I say that to say you have to be able to pivot and we kinda had to do that. And so it's funny because our strategy now is completely DtC and online and online retailers amazon

Ashley Rouse

our wholesale accounts were in a few stores were in the whole foods, but retail is not our strategy right now. So it's funny that initially I was like, oh, we're going to be on these shelves, but it still worked out right, because you still want branding that speaks to you packaging, that really kind of tells your story and it's that word bubble, you know, I just like the way it looked and people now are always deciphering what it means and saying, like, oh, your brand speaks to me like the word bubble. And it's funny because I didn't think that initially, you know, but they're always coming up with these reasons behind it, so,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

but it works and it's interesting initially you thought physical shelves, but the online space can be saturated, There's so many things vying for people's attention, so you still have to design with catching people's attention in mind. But

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

how do you balance curating your online presence with actually doing the work that generates revenue for your business? Because some business owners get caught up in, you know, the pretty graphics for social media and things of that nature,

Ashley Rouse

wow! Well, I will credit my husband to push me in the right direction because I used to always want to do just the creative fun pretty stuff. A and I would always just ask him because because I have like no one else to ask. So I would be like, hey, should I do this? And he used to always say, is it a revenue generating opportunity?

Ashley Rouse

And this was like years ago, you know? And I'm like, what's that?

Ashley Rouse

I don't want it like, you know, and it's so funny now because I'm like, I don't really think any other way now, but initially I was like, well, I know, but it looks good, right? And I would say like, you

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

never let me do the fun

Ashley Rouse

stuff and he's like, look, it's your business, you do what you want. But it was valuable advice, right? So I would definitely say

Ashley Rouse

Spending the bulk of your time, revenue generating opportunities. You know, I do spend time making graphics now and editing video and shooting content and stuff that I like to do, but it's fewer and further between and you know what it used to be. So I try to focus on, you know, you know, I would say create a percentage for yourself. I don't know, 75% of what you do should be a revenue generating activity or opportunity. So is it something that's directly going to make you money

Ashley Rouse

or are you just like

Ashley Rouse

making something pretty because you want to you know, spending time on your website is important, Like if your Adidas C brand or selling online is important to you, then making your website look good is important. It's not a waste of time making it pretty. But if you're making pretty graphic for social media, but your engagement is low and you're not gaining any traction, then,

Ashley Rouse

you know, maybe we switch up the strategy a little bit.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Yeah. And just for anyone wondering, do you see meaning direct to consumer, Right.

Ashley Rouse

Yeah.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

And so

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I'd love to know which lines of sales have been most effective for you, because now you can have products for sale directly on your social media grids. So is that more is that generating enough to be worth your focus? Or is it mainly your website driving your traffic

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

and sales

Ashley Rouse

Instagram brings 74% of our customers. It's huge. Maybe it is worth spending the time on it. But, you know, it does other things, right? It builds credibility for our brand. It's helped grow our our followers. Yes. But our

Ashley Rouse

like a real followers, not just our followers, like the number at the top, right? Are real followers. As in

Ashley Rouse

people

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

can tribe.

Ashley Rouse

Our tribe we call them are generally, you know, people that actually rock with us and who follow us because they want to see what we're doing and what successes we've had and what challenges we've had. And it's been successful in that route and then it helps with like pr to impress. Right. Other brands can come to the page and see, I mean it's almost like your resume now. It's the first thing people see. So if someone says like, oh, I heard of this jam brand and maybe I'll write about them in an article, let me go to their page. But it's not just about following. They look at the way the pages presented. How often are posting, how consistently, you know, what's our tone of voice, What are we saying? Right? All that they look at to say, oh, that okay, this is an appropriate brand that we want to write about.

Ashley Rouse

They fit our aesthetic. So, instagram is very important for us in more ways than one,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

wow. So if your product based business

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

where

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Seeing is something that really moves people, maybe you do, you know, invest more time in your social media in order to get more sales because 76%, you said

Ashley Rouse

74, that's

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

amazing,

Ashley Rouse

right? Yeah,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Yeah. So that's that's a good point to note there.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Now you said before the pandemic, the bulk of your sales were coming from in person events.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

How did you manage to not only keep going, but to pivot and then make record sales. What did that pivot look like?

Ashley Rouse

I will not take credit. I feel like sometimes you're just in the right place at the right time and it was perfect or I guess you could say an imperfect storm with the political climate last june and George Floyd's death

Ashley Rouse

murder. And so it was just a storm, right? A snowball effect of a bunch of different things. So we were already focusing more on social media to drive traffic, right? We were already setting up our products right, so that people could find our products on instagram directly and be able to purchase

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

there.

Ashley Rouse

We're just doing a bunch of different things to try to like ramping up our newsletter right to get people to purchase online. And then that happened and it just, our sales went crazy, so I can't even take credit. I mean we definitely were putting the work in, but I think we grew much quicker

Ashley Rouse

because of that and less of my efforts. But my husband would kill me for saying this because I've said this before and he's like, no, he's like, you've put in so much work over the years that have all led up, you were ready

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

to receive, you had the foundation because there are a lot of people who received the attention, but

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

the traffic just flowed right through. No one stuck around because they were not ready for it. So you definitely had done the work just like your husband said, but

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I heard that you had like $75,000 in sales while you're eight months pregnant. What was going through your mind at that time?

Ashley Rouse

So we were in January, our sales were probably Gosh, a month solo. And I was just like,

Ashley Rouse

what are we gonna take? Like we're going to get these sales up, we're not doing these events. And by april our sales went up to like $8000 a month. So I was like, oh great. Like people being home is allowing them to want to cook and like my specialty food online. And so it really, I was like, oh, this Covid thing is actually gonna work out. And then in june we did $80,000 and we probably did. Yeah, we probably averaged out at about $100,000 a month after that every month. And yeah, I was eight months pregnant in june and

Ashley Rouse

gosh, I blacked out. I don't I can't even tell you what happened because it was such a challenge. I mean, I was so swollen and so tired and so stressed but trying not to be right because I was worried about the health of myself and my baby. So trying to just like

Ashley Rouse

pretend I was okay, but like I, you know, and my emotions, I was like crying and my ankles were showing and then my mom was here staying with us. She got stuck here. And so my husband and her were just like, giving me so much shit like sit down and rest and like, right? But I'm like, but you see all these orders because we're fulfilling out of my apartment. So it was crazy honestly. But you know what I I always say like

Ashley Rouse

whatever success you want to call it, that we've had is attributed to preparing in advance for things even if you're not ready. So like when I was making gym in my apartment and my husband said, you know, you got to get a shared kitchen, you have no space. I didn't think I could afford it, but I still put together a spreadsheet and did the research and put all the information down and compared the different shared kitchens. And then one day when I was like,

Ashley Rouse

I think maybe we could afford it already did the research. So the transition was smooth, right? And then when we were exhausted and tired of the shared kitchen, I had just maybe two months before, put another spreadsheet together compared all the manufacturing prices. And so right. When we were like, okay, we need to switch to manufacturer, we were ready and which actually worked out because right, when I quit, my job was when we switched and when I quit, I got this feature in bon appetit magazine who I had worked in the building with bon appetit and been trying to get them to write about my jam for the years that I worked there, right. The last week that I was there, they wrote an article and we got like 300 sales overnight or something crazy that I had never had. But we switched to the manufacturers seamlessly, right? Because we had done the research and if I hadn't we would have

Ashley Rouse

been scrambling to get all that done. So if that makes sense, I know that's a long winded way of saying but everything that's happened we've been prepared for. So I have been preparing my supply chain and my system of getting products to customers and so when june hit it really was more so of just doing more of what we're already doing. It wasn't a scramble to

Ashley Rouse

fix things, it was a scramble to work faster and get better at what we had already built.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Mhm

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

And

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

it looks like it was a blessing for you to have your mom stuck there with you and maybe a few people who could help you with the packaging while you were about to give birth, but I did hear that you were literally writing S.E.O PS for people to help you while you were like in the labour

Ashley Rouse

ward. So

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

in retrospect, how would you have prepared differently for the birth of your daughter?

Ashley Rouse

In retrospect, it all worked out really smoothly, It always just gosh,

Ashley Rouse

it was God's timing, I don't know what, you know, I don't know what anyone believes in, but God was like right there with me, walking me through this entire thing. I mean yeah I couldn't have written some S. O PS

Ashley Rouse

sooner I had thought about it, that was my profession, I had thought about it, so it wasn't a new concept but I hadn't written them and mostly to because it was covid and so I didn't expect to have anybody

Ashley Rouse

around me that would need the S. O PS. So I had thought about them and I had wanted to write them in the past but I was like you know I'll get to that at some point when I will have a team helping me. But because it was covid I was like no one's going to be helping me. And then when this happened I had no choice. Which was another stress because you know I had two employees in here in my home

Ashley Rouse

helping me

Ashley Rouse

you know standing three ft from me and I'm pregnant and it's the height of a pandemic and I'm like don't breathe on me but also come over here and let me show you how to do this. And it was so much it was just oh my God I was so stressed about it. You know because I just like I was freaking out but I had no choice. I needed the help. So yeah I mean I guess I could have written some of those S. O. P. Sooner. But the good thing is both of the teammates that were helping me had worked with me before and they're just really great people and they picked up everything very quickly. So yeah and I needed something to distract me, I was induced and so I was in labor for at least 24 hours just like chilling. So yeah I had the laptop propped up on my belly and my husband took a picture of me and I've got like a blood pressure thing on one finger and I'm typing trying to build these S.E.O P. So my mom can show the employees at home what to do while I'm in the hospital. So.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Oh wow. So you said that your sales have been consistently at 100K. Which is impressive because I've always wondered people who got the boost in June

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

did it continue or was it a one time spike?

Ashley Rouse

So it averaged out at that in 2020. I don't want anybody to think we're over here rich or anything that was the average. But no, it's definitely leveled out. We're probably doing more like 20 or 30 a month now. But did you hear me say last january, we're doing 1500. So you know. Yeah, I always have to remind myself and I'm like, oh March is a slow month and my husband's like pull up your sales and it's like 26,000. He's like, oh slow,

Ashley Rouse

that's low now. And I'm like, thanks for their my day, he's always like putting things into perspective. So yeah, it definitely leveled out. But I think now my job and

Ashley Rouse

other businesses who are listening, it's your job now to the businesses that were able to retain some customers, right? Like you were talking about the businesses that were, the customers ran through, right? Not those businesses, but the businesses who were prepared in a sense who do have and maybe those are those businesses, but who do have a good

Ashley Rouse

foundation,

Ashley Rouse

who do have structure, who have put in the work and who are ready to maintain those kind of sales, those businesses now it's your time to say, okay, maybe I need to boost my ad, spend a little bit too in order to continue this on. Maybe I need to create a newsletter. If I don't have one, build a stronger newsletter, Higher, whatever it is,

Ashley Rouse

it's our job now, you know, God brought us all that success in the midst of chaos and some really sad and unfortunate things. So you know, he did the work and so now it's our jobs to just be good stewards over the business and be able to continue on with that.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

No, I love that, be good stewards of it. So what does that next phase of growth look like for you?

Ashley Rouse

Next phase of growth? This year's goal is to hit a million. So we're on track, we're going to this year's goal is also to get capital, so we're trying to raise just a very small, like greasy around like 500,000 and just to kind of help boost a little bit, so we're gonna, we're on track to do that and I don't know, you know, I can't really think past like tomorrow sometimes, unfortunately as a founder, I hate when people are like, what are your goals? Because that's such a common question, right? And I should just prepare a script because I honestly just want to be like, I don't know

Ashley Rouse

what are your goals? I don't know like I can't. You see,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I don't know. And then in the same breath, you kind of laid out, you laid out your plan

Ashley Rouse

well that, you know, you gotta have something right. Especially for investors. Like you can't be like, I don't know my plans, but can you give me money? So like, yeah, we laid out some goals. But like, I honestly, I can't, sometimes I can't even think past like this month or you know, like

Ashley Rouse

even like the holidays are nuts and I can't even put my mind to that right now. But soon, like by next month, yes, I will be like planning the marketing for the holidays and like worrying about the next phase there, how to really capitalize on that because last year's like black friday was crazy. It was by black friday and black on friday and all these different like monitoring sport. But yeah, I don't have a ton of plans, but my big plan is to grow quickly and grow big and sell the company and get rich and yeah, I don't want to hear shit about it. People are like, you're going to sell your company. I'm like, yeah, they're like your baby, yes, I have a baby here, I'm going to sell this one and then yeah, be able to do some other fun things. I'd love to be able to do some scholarships for other black owned businesses, other women owned businesses and do some master classes, share

Ashley Rouse

any knowledge that I have, that what I have learned and I'll just power and we're trying to create this generational wealth and so

Ashley Rouse

being able to share what I've learned is wealth

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

so so much coming on the horizon for you. How can we support you? Where can we find you? Especially since we are about creating the generational wealth within our community?

Ashley Rouse

Yeah, how you can support is by jam, if you love it, then continue to buy jam, right, repeat customers is what we need. So if you love the products, keep it going, screw Smucker's, it's crap, it's not clean, it's not healthy. We've got some way better stuff that you can put in your cocktails and all different things. So

Ashley Rouse

check out the jam, we just came out with a hot sauce, we have a mock tail mix um that you can add alcohol to where you can drink it by itself and so support. Like literally just support is how you can help us and you can head to our website tradestreetjamco.com, tradesjamco.com and @tradestjamco, that's also our instagram handle. Follow us

Ashley Rouse

follow our journey. I share a lot of stories about entrepreneurship too. So if you're a black entrepreneur, a young entrepreneur, a woman entrepreneur or just an entrepreneur, check out my stories. I'm always

Ashley Rouse

during like tips and highs and lows and everything.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Absolutely thank you so much for sharing your story. Ashleigh,

Ashley Rouse

thank you so much for having me. Okay, Hi, Off-Scripters I'm so glad you made it to the end of this episode. If you enjoy listening to our show, please pay it forward by sharing us with your network between episodes. You can find me on instagram are handle is at She's Off Script or you can catch up on past episodes at She's Off Script dot com. See you on the next one.

hey there!

I'm Serwaa, your new business strategist.

I’m a digital business strategy expert, headstrong high achiever, mom of two girls and wife to a strapping African man.

Embracing these facets of my life has been the key to breaking through my plateaus!

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