Ava's Caramel Popcorn

What gave you the push to branch out and start Ava's Caramel Popcorn?

I used to be a personal chef selling homemade goodies at the Belmont Summer Farmers Market. On a whim one day I started including small bags of handmade caramel popcorn. When I saw how popular they were, the question immediately became "why didn't I think of this before!?"  It all flowed from there. 

What Boston-area maker(s) do you admire?
I love what Heather and Allison are doing at Atlantic Saltworks with their hand-harvested sea salt. To revive a tradition that is linked to a definitive time and place and to do so with such quality and integrity is endlessly inspiring to me. Plus, their salt is absolutely amazing.  It's the finishing touch on my caramel popcorn!

Any advice for someone looking to start their own business?
Befriend other small business owners to build up a community of people who can help you and provide insight because they know exactly what you're going through.  I'm always amazed when I consider how much of my time isn't spent producing popcorn but instead on marketing, accounting, networking, IT, inventory, fulfillment, communications, and the list goes on and on and on. You may start a business based on something you love to do/make but actually running the business entails a much broader skill-set, skills that you may never before have considered acquiring.  Having that community of friends with shared experiences is indispensable for answering the myriad questions facing a small business owner. 

What is something most people don't know about Ava's Caramel Popcorn?
It's a multi-day process to make just one bag of popcorn!  Both the caramel and the chocolate need ample time to set before they can be packaged and devoured. It's the best exercise in restraint I know. :)

What makes your caramel popcorn special?  

I make a spectacularly buttery, deeply caramel-ly caramel sauce that I toss with freshly popped popcorn (and, where appropriate, hand-chopped nuts and incredible chocolate), all made-to-order for best flavor and texture.  The stuff in the tins just doesn't compare....fresh, handmade caramel popcorn is a completely different experience! 

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Photo credit: Ava's Caramel Popcorn