PB&Jams is a Black-owned company in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania whose founder, Megan Gibson, took an American favorite -- peanut butter -- and grew the idea into a successful business. Her business specializes in producing many different kinds of nut butters that are inspired by her favorite music jams.
Health teacher turned entrepreneur
Megan was a high school health teacher when she got the entrepreneur spirit. It started when she once tried a spiced Haitian peanut butter. She loved it and decided there were far more options for nut butters than she thought. Research reveals that Americans love peanut butter and 290 million Americans eat peanut butter regularly. Peanut butter sales in the U.S., as of 2015, was also a $1.82 billion industry.
So, the potential was there, but Megan still needed a plan to create her own business. She experimented with recipes at home, creating her own specialties like “Hot or Not” Haitian-inspired peanut butter, maple-walnut butter and dark-chocolate almond butter, and other specialty nut butters. They were a hit at local farmers markets and events. Then she started a food cart. Now her products can be purchased online.
What about the jams?
After first hearing the name of her company, many people assume that Megan also sells various types of jams. But "jams" actually refers to the music that has inspired her nut butters.
Also, as a former DJ, whenever Megan is selling her nut butters as a vendor at events, she jams, with funk, soul, feel-good 80’s music and golden-age hip-hop on heavy rotation. Sometimes, along with the food, Megan will even sell used classic records to customers!
How she was financed
The first $15,000 into her business was out of her own pocket. She then received another $5,000 via a Kiva Zip loan, a crowd-sourced loan that carries zero percent interest and gives customers up to two years to repay the loan.
Megan's goals are to expand her business and sell her products in stores around the country. She also plans to continue teaching, something she also has enjoyed doing since 2000. It's a challenge doing both -- running a business and being a teacher.
But she is up for the task, stating, "I've learned to prioritize tasks and ideas along with having great people join the PB&Jams team. Also, I had to learn (and am still learning) a lot about running a business on the fly and in the midst of working."