Some people stick to their guns on the sentiment that “bigger is better.” In this industry, though, sometimes the smallest factors have the power to set a precedent. As a company where the employee roster only includes three people, Kelly’s Pepper Jellies and Preserves of Oregon embodies this idea. From a small team to new, smaller-format products, Kelly’s Jelly has managed to make its mark on the specialty food industry. I was eager to learn how this small-but-mighty team has made a name for itself, and linked up with Co-Founder Kelly Calabria to do so.
“Kelly’s is a family-owned, woman-run company from Lake Oswego, Oregon. We started in 2010 with a family recipe that we wanted to share with friends, and ended up as part of the creative wave of national tastemakers originating from Oregon,” Kelly began. “Our premium, all-natural, non-GMO, and gluten-free pepper jellies and preserves make it easy for entertainers and those who savor balanced flavor to take a leap into bold new experiences. We’ve done the work to balance sweet and heat—our products can add delightful flavor to cheese plates, sandwiches, entrees, sides, cocktails, and desserts. Our award-winning recipes effortlessly blend tradition with a modern aesthetic.”
Because a hero’s journey is never without trial, I had to ask Kelly about some of the growing pains her company has experienced. As expected, scaling up and strengthening logistics with a three-person team has been a challenge for the jelly provider. But, nonetheless, Kelly’s Jelly has maintained outstanding product quality with non-negotiable core values that drive the company’s bottom line, allowing for upcoming expansions into the southern California market and New England.
“We are all about establishing and growing long-term relationships with our customers, distributors, and associates in the food industry. We love to do collaborations and have been excited about the opportunities with companies like New Seasons, 34 Degrees, Olympia Provisions, Stoller Vineyards, and Beechers,” said Kelly. “As entrepreneurs, we think it's really important to support everyone in their growth and learn from each other. We are so grateful for all the opportunity and guidance that has been given to us by retailers, distributors, and other companies. We take every opportunity to showcase our partners via social media, creative collaborations, and personal connection.”
Kelly describes the corporate culture as a work hard, play hard, and laugh a lot mentality. Kelly’s Jelly approaches business with a growth mindset, always looking to improve processes and efficiencies. Challenges are welcomed with open arms, and the three-person team is extremely lean and efficient. It's this elevated business perspective that has allowed Kelly’s Jelly to become the charcuterie aficionado that it is today.
“In 2020, we launched two new products: Kelly’s Habanero Honey and Kelly’s Cuties, which are the same great jellies, but fun-sized! We have had great success with our 12-oz jars, but our new Cuties are 5 oz and perfect for the entertainer to put on their cheeseboard for a one-time use,” Kelly concluded. “We are also celebrating our 10 year anniversary and excited to host American Cheese Society Conference in Portland this year.”
Kudos to Kelly, her husband Adam, and her best friend Hilary who have brought their unique and complementary strengths together to become a specialty food force of nature. Keep a tab open for us at Deli Market News to hear more about the industry’s up-and-coming players.