Imagine receiving a set of jams as a gift.
Do you visualize a set of sweet jars topped with gingham fabric and little bows? If you do, you are not alone. However, two Anchorage entrepreneurs are out to change jam’s reputation in the world. Their handcrafted items are definitely “not your Grandma’s” jam.
“But we do love our Grandmas!” say Noelle Hardt and Kim Kovol, the owners of Anchorage-based VooDoo Jams. The two women – who are “best friends first” – started their new company in early 2016. So what sets their product apart from other jams and jellies produced in the local area? Bold flavors, daring combinations …and a generous dose of liquor.
Both Hardt and Koval had been experimenting with jam making – Hardt’s homemade items were originally a tribute to the Alaskan spirit, but Kovol started to get creative by adding bourbon to her recipes. The began experimenting with different flavor combinations and tested the recipes by sharing with family and friends. It became clear from their rave reviews that they were on to something.
As spring 2016 went on, the pair began putting labels on their jars and then applied for their business license. With an innovative and stellar product, they jumped into developing their business and branding plan which included developing “spirit partnerships” – business deals with local breweries and distilleries as the source of their special ingredients.
VooDoo Jams officially launched on October 19, 2016, at Anchorage Distillery – and sold out of their product.
It was obvious that they were growing fast, and by January 2017 they had secured a commercial kitchen and added on 49th State Brewing as an additional spirit partner. A third spirit partner – Odd Man Rush – joined this September.
Their concoctions are seasonal, making the best of local ingredients, so each recipe is considered a limited edition. Some of the spiked jams currently available include “Last Plane Out” – a blackberry jam with Anchorage Distillery Gin, “My Two Cents” – blueberry jam with 49th State Brewing stout, and “Puck Bunny” – strawberry jam with Odd Man Rush Porter.
These incredibly fun and lighthearted jams are not designed for toast. Hardt and Kovol describe their spirited products as being perfect for those who like to entertain. The collection includes both sweet and more savory flavors, which can be used with ice cream, on charcuterie trays or in marinades.
The women have set no limits on their vision for their startup. They plan to expand into the realm of e-commerce and continue to develop spirit partners within Alaska and beyond. Even with the busy lives of packed with family and day jobs, VooDoo Jams seems to be set on an ambitious upward trajectory.
“This is the fun job,” they say.
Currently, the spiked jams are available in the gift shop at 49th State Brewing and the Anchorage Distillery Tasting Room. They will be at the Alaska Chicks Vintage Holiday Market at the Palmer Fairgrounds on November 18-19, and they have planned a special event at Odd Man Rush in Eagle River, December 1, 5:30-7:00 pm. They will have their new OMR jam, along with other jams.
VooDoo Jams can be found online at VooDooJams.com and on Facebook.
Sara Kennedy is a special education teacher in the Anchorage School District. She likes to swim, bike and run around Alaska, and camp and fish with her family. To reach Sara, email: email@example.com.