WomenVenture client, Jessica Amel, is the co-owner of Janet’s Finest Compotes.
In celebration of Women’s History Month this March, WomenVenture is looking at the businesses built on the strength of women—past, present and future. The sisters at Janet’s Finest Compotes inherited the business from their mom, the eponymous Janet. After a lifetime of inspiration, they are proudly continuing their family legacy.
Jessica Amel owns Janet’s Finest Compotes with her sister Angela. “When we were in high school my mom started messing around with preserves and things in her kitchen. When you’re young you don’t really appreciate what you’ve grown up around but looking back I feel really blessed to have grown up alongside her as an entrepreneur. She put herself out there and we watched her go from cooking up little batches on her stove to opening her own commercial kitchen and hiring cooks. By the time she retired, Janet’s Finest Compotes was carried by over 500 stores. We are so proud of her.”
Jessica and Angela took over the business four years ago when Janet was ready to retire. At the time, Jessica had been working as a marketing contractor and Angela was in HR when, “all of a sudden, we had a business and we had to do everything. There’s no specializing, you’re in charge of operations and finance and cooking! You have to know a little bit about everything.”
That’s where WomenVenture came in: Jessica is halfway through WomenVenture’s Accelerating Success course, an in-depth class designed to set businesses up for sustainable growth. “I’ve lived in the Twin Cities for a long time, and I knew of WomenVenture. When it came time for us to seek some further education it was one of the first places that popped into my mind. It’s been so helpful, I’m only halfway through the class at this point and the tools and knowledge I’ve gained are things that I’ll use for years to come.”
For Janet’s Finest Compotes, history—and the legacy passed down by the women in the family—is essential. The tasting of good (and sometimes not so good) compotes and the business savvy is part of their brand and family. Both Jessica and Angela are already sharing some of these skills with their children. Jessica says that her advice to other entrepreneurs is to find that community wherever you can.
“Even if you don’t grow up around a family business, you can augment your skills and your entrepreneurial spirit with organizations like WomenVenture. The course that I’m taking provides such a great foundation for centering a business and the networking is fantastic, and all those things in combination can give you that leg up. It’s hard to run a business and it’s hard to know everything. To have a resource like WomenVenture is just fantastic and such a blessing to the community.”
Janet’s Finest Compotes just recently moved their commercial kitchen from Kansas City to Minneapolis, allowing them to produce more in a shorter amount of time. Next, they’re hitting gourmet grocery stores (think Kowalski’s and Lunds & Byerlys). Right now you can find them in many specialty food shops throughout the Twin Cities or shop online to pair with your favorite charcuterie combination!