Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

September 22, 2014 On the record

Naturally Jammin, a homegrown business with a healthy product, sees rapid growth

Photo / Tim Greenway Geraldine “Jeddy” Nevells sells Naturally Jammin in a dozen stores, including Whole Foods, but was also recently at the United Crafts show at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook.

Geraldine “Jeddy” Nevells, the creator of a briskly selling line of honey-sweetened jams, Naturally Jammin, wasn't thinking business when she first stirred up her flavorful fruit blends, but now she's finding a sweet spot in a crowded market.

She began cooking to help her husband, Mike Nevells, wrestle with diabetes. They discovered that honey didn't affect his blood sugar, so Nevells created jams to satisfy his sweet tooth, and incorporated them into other recipes. It wasn't an easy trick to swap honey for sugar in jam. It took her close to a year to perfect a recipe. But family and friends urged her to “sell this stuff,” she says. Before long, she was selling three flavors under her new label, Naturally Jammin, at farmers' markets. A year later, Naturally Jammin has 10 varieties in a dozen stores, including Whole Foods. This summer, the company was chosen as a finalist in Martha Stewart's annual “American Made” competition.

Turns out her jams are not only palate pleasers, but also satisfy some current key factors in a successful edible product launch: local, small-batch production, an intriguing back story and, with growing consumer concern over processed sugars, good timing.

Nevells has also employed a simple but sweet marketing recipe that's helped grow her fan base. She spends time at stores, offering samples directly to consumers. Nevells claims she isn't a salesperson, but her instincts appear to be on target. By handling product introduction herself, she controls her branding and gains instant customer feedback, while increasing sales. “I always sell whatever jams I'm sampling. Once customers taste it and learn that it's made with Maine honey, not sugar, they want it. “

Mainebiz talked with Nevells about the rapid growth of Naturally Jammin. The following is an edited transcript.

Mainebiz: There are a lot of jams on the market, in the wake of Stonewall Kitchen's success. What makes customers pick your product off the shelf?

Jeddy Nevells: My jams are the only ones made with honey, not sugar. That's important to a lot of people, especially diabetics. I don't make any claims about the honey and diabetes connection, scientifically, but we know it's helped my husband, and I have many diabetic customers who can enjoy my jams. And people love the taste — my jams taste like fruit, not sugar.

MB: Do you make the jams entirely by yourself, or do you have employees?

JN: Until recently, I'd made every batch by myself, but now my daughter is helping. I want to continue to be part of every jam. Our products are made with Maine fruits when possible, sweetened with only pure Maine honey.

MB: Do you sell more wholesale or retail?

JN: About 40% of our sales are wholesale, 50% are retail — I still do farmers' markets and crafts fairs. The remaining 10% are online. We're expecting online sales to grow as more people taste our jams and become aware that they're sweetened with just honey.

MB: How are you managing your growth and is your income keeping pace?

JN: I'm shocked how much this has taken off. I do have some help now. I can only see it growing, but I want to grow with it and not be so stressed out that I don't enjoy it. I don't pay myself yet. I take the profit and flip it back into product. That's how I've done it all along. I never took a loan, just paid for what I needed from my own pocket and from income.

MB: What are your goals for Naturally Jammin?

JN: My goal in all of this was to help people who struggle with obesity and diabetes, especially children. It's been amazing to help my husband and to know that maybe I'm helping others. I want to do a cookbook with recipes using my jams and recipes I created for my husband. I think it could give people incentive. My husband eliminated sugar, started exercising and lost 165 pounds in two years. His blood sugar is now normal. It can be done.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF