Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Fayling.
Chris, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I started MI Jerky Co. for a few reasons. When I snack, I reach for meat or cheese, I’m not a sweets kind of guy. The jerky you typically find at the stores really isn’t all that good, is filled with nitrates, liquid smoke (a carcinogen), and MSG. So, I wouldn’t eat jerky as a daily snack, it was a once-in-a-while treat. My family and I eat pretty healthily so we are conscious of what we put in our bodies.
While I was still working a full-time job and managing my rental house, my vision began, and my take on the best jerky was created.
The best jerky has to start with a good piece of meat; you can only do so much with a marinade and a smoker. MI Jerky Co. jerky is made from 100% free-range beef brisket. It’s not certified “organic” beef, but let’s put it this way the cows eat grass.
Next to the flavors, there are 3 staple flavors beef jerky, teriyaki, cracked pepper, and of course original. Once I had those protected, with the original and cracked pepper, coming out slightly drier and the teriyaki a bit moister and more packed with flavor, I decided I needed to create some more exotic flavors to set my brand apart from the rest. So that’s when the smoky Sriracha, smoky barb, and dill pickle jerky flavors were born. Finally, I like heat, and I know fellow connoisseurs do as well, so I went to work and perfected our volcanic Jalapeño, just the right amount of heat but still enjoyable. Then there are the people that like to torture themselves or others, so I grabbed the hottest pepper on the planet, the Carolina Reaper, and combined it with our gourmet beef brisket jerky. Our Carolina Reaper flavor is extremely hot; eat with caution. Then tone it down a bit, something for anyone, one of our best sellers was created, spicy-sweet.
Now that I had what I think is the world’s best jerky perfected, I needed to launch. It was late 2019, and the world went crazy. By early 2020 my physical full-time job went from 4 10’s to 7 12’s, and when I was home, if I wasn’t sleeping, I was tired and grumpy. After months of no days off, I decided to see my family was more important, and I left my position of almost 8 years and put the accelerator down on my entrepreneurial journey.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I wouldn’t say it was a smooth road; of course, there have been challenges. So, I launched in December of 2020, right before Christmas, and my business was supposed to be mainly online sales; and it was for the first few weeks, I was consistently getting orders, my wife and I thought it was too good to be true. Guess what, it was, for some reason, they stopped. Breaking through the noise on social media is very difficult. So, after a week without a single order, I was sitting on a large inventory, so Westyn (my son, he is head of sales) and I started cold calling and knocking on doors. By the middle of January 2021, I had created a display, wholesale pricing, and taught my (at the time) 2-and-a-half-year-old son all the flavors just by looking at the bags. We are a great sales team; Westyn is by far a better closer. Over the rest of the year, we were able to land over 20 local retail locations, and counting.
We are still struggling to grow our following and post consistently entertaining content; like I said, breaking through the noise is not as easy as it used to be. Also, we would really like to get in with a distributor. Growth at the current stage is something we are focused on. If we could get consistent online orders, we would have a lot more working capital for marketing.
Since the world went crazy, shutdowns and supply chain issues have caused beef to go up 20%, tightening my already margins. I don’t wanna raise my prices, I would rather increase sales. A large volume of consistent online orders would help that.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about MI Jerky Co.?
I covered most of this in previous sections, but what I would like readers to know about my brand, we are proud patriotic Michiganders who craft not only a healthy snack but the best jerky possible. We are a father and son team that started with nothing and hustled for everything we have accomplished. Our social media is cute and entertaining. It’s a glimpse of why I founded MI Jerky Co. to spend time with my son. My father is a salesman, and when I was a kid, he would take me along to some of his favorite accounts, and now I take my son to our accounts. Westyn will be the first to tell you that it’s “mine and my dad’s jerky company.” As he gets older, he is naturally going to take on more responsibility within the business. But for now, shaking hands, helping stock displays, and being cute in videos is enough responsibility for a 3-year-old.
I am most proud of the fact that I took the leap into entrepreneurship, and I am showing my son at a very early age how to do and own a business. He doesn’t know any different. I was raised with the “go to school, get a good job, work until your 65, then enjoy life” mentality, and it never made sense to me. I want my cake, and I wanted to eat it too. It took me a long time to change my mindset to where can have it all. Having the time with my son is priceless.
Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. Like I said we started with nothing and just keep going. Success is not an accident. Shifting from mainly online business to the bread and butter of the operation being small grocery stores, we learned to pivot like any good entrepreneur would do.
I would like to get “lucky” with consistent online orders Haha.
- 3 oz bag
- Free shipping
- Website: https://mijerkyco.com/
- Instagram: @mijerkyco
- Facebook: MI Jerky Co. @mijerkyco
- Youtube: https://youtube.com/channel/UCFw6KnPJ_8q8ssfYNhnkR8g
- Other: TikTok @mijerkyco