The only ingredients missing in Ms Jana’s Candy were business training, exposure and growth – that is, until Thompson Hospitality discovered these delicious, handcrafted treats and brought the owner into the extended Compass Group family. Jana Farmer officially started her company in January 2018 after many years making candy for friends and family. Everything changed when she met Olivia Dorsey, Regional Vice President of Thompson Hospitality Joint Ventures, at a Women’s Business Development Conference. Olivia first walked her through the process of getting minority-and-women-owned business certification. She then mentored Ms Jana, connecting her to chef resources in the Chicago area to review her product.
Ms Jana remembers one chef’s response clearly. “He said my candy was the best he has ever had and introduced me to a program called The Apron Exchange, a food incubator for women and minority food vendors in Chicago, IL, sponsored by Compass Group’s Foodworks sector.”
As part of Thompson Hospitality’s initiatives to mentor and grow minority-and-women-owned businesses they host “Meet and Greets” and MWBE Showcases in their Joint Venture Accounts. Ms Jana was able to feature her candy in Compass client venues throughout the greater Chicago Area including Northwestern University, Chase Bank, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and a national Compass conference held at The United Center.
Revenue tripled year-over-year in 2021. Today, Ms Jana has three full-time employees plus support staff, and expanded from producing in her home kitchen to a 1300-square-foot commercial kitchen with retail space. She is optimistic this growth path will continue throughout 2022 and launched new marketing plus a website, www.msjanascandy.com.
And while Ms Jana’s tagline still rings true, Butter is My Best Friend, Thompson Hospitality just may be a close second.