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Check Out Marianna Reynolds’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marianna Reynolds. 

Marianna, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I fell in love with the art of plated desserts after my time at the French Pastry School. I worked for 10 years in the restaurant industry and decided it was time to do something where more people could have access to my craft. I saw a hole in the market for fancy, high-quality candy bars. We can do better than what you commonly buy at the gas station or impulse aisle at the grocery store. Using high-quality chocolate, seasonal flavors, and classic French techniques, Jitterbug reimagines American-style candy with a modern twist. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Owning, operating, and running a small business is really tough. Profit margins are small, and there is a lot more to it than simply the production side. After menu creation, all the ingredients need to be sourced and stored, and organized. Production is labor-intensive and so nuanced. One tiny degree off in temperature can make a really big difference in the components. Air temperature and humidity also affect the final product. After production is done, then you still have to actually sell the product. Although the product is approachable, nobody has heard of it. I started this business without a car, using my push shopping cart for supplies and to ferry that product from the kitchen space to the house and finally to the post office. Walking to work, standing all day, then pushing everything home takes a lot of spirit to keep going. I currently have use of a car and it is a game-changer. 

Shipping is a complete nightmare in itself. It is an ongoing struggle to get the right systems in place to ensure that each order is packed correctly and gets shipped out in a timely manner. 

All the physical and mental struggles aside, I have been so very lucky to have the support of my current employers (I still do have 2 part-time jobs to help fill in the gaps). From one I get affordable shared kitchen space, and the other I get a lot of direction about the business side. Jitterbug could not have started and grown without the physical space and the mentorship. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Using food as a canvas to create art is so satisfying. It is a tool for self-expression, to make something different, to do something nobody else is doing, and at the end, you also get to eat. And then customers can come back multiple times because there are so many reasons for a fancy treat. I cannot do a job where I cannot create something, where I cannot think about what hasn’t been done or could be done. I need that challenge of creation and the drive of self-expression to be able to stay interested in work every day. 

I am very proud when my product turns out perfectly. A perfect hand-cut triangle of layered confection dipped in perfectly tempered chocolate and decorated to be eye-catching. It is so satisfying when it gets done right. 

Jitterbug has a lot of product that changes seasonally. Some flavors are more pedestrian like the classic dark chocolate and peanut combination found in the Nebula. Some flavors are new concepts like the Movie Night- popcorn ganache, salted butter caramel, dark chocolate crunch, dipped in golden chocolate (caramelized white chocolate). I love the BFF bites- toffee praline, milk chocolate, almond. You get all the flavor of toffee but doesn’t get stuck in your teeth. The Earth Bar is super fun- violet nougat, blueberry caramel, almond, dipped in matcha white chocolate. A green candy bar! I also have a pink candy bar the Enamor- strawberry cocoa nib nougat, hibiscus caramel, dark chocolate crunch, dipped in Ruby chocolate (a new variety of chocolate that is naturally pink from the fermentation process). 

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
Our culture does seem to be increasingly interested in the high-quality, local, responsible food. Social media helps connect people with new products and more information about them. You can not only see a curated picture; one can also learn more about what makes the product special. Chocolate is still a fairly niche market, but I think that is because of limited producers. I see this changing. More people are interested in working with small farmers to create high-end chocolate treat. With e-commerce being so widely accepted and accessible, I think that small business owners have a better chance than ever of being successful. 

Pricing:

  • $9 for a 2-piece candy bar pack
  • $32 for seasonal gift boxes

Contact Info:

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