Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ashley Rouse, Owner of Trade Street Jam Co., located in Brooklyn, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Trade Street Jam Co. is a chef, woman, and minority-owned and certified business that started in a tiny apartment in North Carolina on Trade Street. Our passion for all things food grew into something more: a company built on the foundation of culinary innovation. We strive to share our 15+ years of culinary knowledge in the form of a small batch jar that can be used in cocktails, salad dressings, BBQ sauces, marinades, pan sauces, and more. Cooking should be fun and reflective of the person at hand, but what it shouldn't be, is complicated. Our target customers are health-conscious individuals who want to eat clean and in good taste.

Tell us about yourself

I went to culinary school in 2005. After graduating, I worked as a chef in restaurants and hotels. I've always cooked a ton at home, as well, and even used to have a blog called "I Speak Kitchenese." Part of that was canning items - squash, green beans, jams, mustards - as I'm a big fan of home preserving and also love condiments. I started making jams and giving them to friends and family, and I just absolutely adored them and knew I wanted to sell them one day.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

So far, it's hitting a half million dollars in sales last year. It's so small in comparison to all of these rising successful CPG brands, but for me, it's something I'd never imagined. Especially while being bootstrapped. It's only up from here. Oh! And having my two daughters, Zola and Arlo, of course.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Nothing comes to mind as my biggest failure. I've failed so, so many times. I try to just keep moving forward and look at those as learning lessons. I can't look back. Ain't nobody got time for that!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

After making the transition from 9 to 5 to entrepreneurship full-time, I quickly came to realize that there is no constant in entrepreneurship. My best piece of advice to other entrepreneurs is to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learning that early on will help you to adapt quickly and change processes where needed to make sure your business is run as efficiently as possible. Also, learn to love the journey. Entrepreneurship will teach you all you need to know. You'll see success. You'll see failure. And you'll see the in-between. Love it all.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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