Randi and I get to talking about growing slow, intentionally and keeping with your core company values even when it doesn’t necessarily jive with your bottom line.  

Tough Cookie is a podcast that celebrates badass women in food – from product makers, to chefs, to digital food boss ladies. If you are or know someone who works in food, please send me an email at darlene (at) picklejarstudios (dot) com and tell me about it! Now booking for the 2017 podcast season. 

Listen here or on your favorite media player, and please leave a rating and review! 




Show Notes for Tough Cookie Episode 004:

Darlene Veenhuizen is Owner, Designer and Food Content Creator at Pickle Jar Studios

Randi Holm, partner at Holm Made Toffee Company in Bend, OR at Holm Made Toffee

Donna on the left and Randi on the right

Randi talked about:

Growing slow: 

I don’t think I want to be in every store… it just doesn’t fit with who we are. We started with farmer’s markets and that’s really our base customer: the person that cares about a quality product, they care about the story behind the product, and they’re not looking at just a price point.

We’re never gonna be a Snickers bar. That’s never gonna be us.

For us, it’s been about making it on our own. We don’t have investors, we haven’t taken out crazy huge loans, we’ve basically taken every year of profit and just rolled it back into the business in order to grow. We are really proud of that. There will come a point when we need that help, but right now, the slow steady growth has worked and we’re going to stick with that.


What we’re trying to work on is scaling up – scalability. How do we grow but keep a hold on our roots, and frankly how should we grow. We had to sit down and look at what’s important to us and where we want to be. There’s been a lot of growing pains. The rest of your job doesn’t stop when you’re trying to do all these new things. Time management has also been an area that we struggle with, and multitasking and also not burning ourselves out.

Feedback and not always knowing what you’re doing: 

Be honest. Honest with yourselves and who you are talking to. We’re learning, and we’ll get there, and just explaining that to the buyer, I think they appreciate that and they enjoy hearing that you are growing and having success.

I try to listen to everything, the good, the bad; everything that someone is telling me about my business.

Remembering what’s important: 

At the end of the day, it’s really about our customer. It goes back to our tagline: “Happiness plain and simple” and bringing a smile to customers faces is what we want to be remembered for.

We are committed to using the same ingredients that my mother in law has used from the beginning 30 years ago… no fillers, no corn syrup, no palm oil. We keep it simple, 4 ingredients, and a quality product that makes people happy.

Advice to new food entrepreneurs:

If you’re not afraid of hard work, and not afraid of not pulling in a lot of money right away, then go for it — but you have to fully jump in. If hard work doesn’t scare you, go for it. But don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.



Darlene talked about:

7 years might seem like a long time out there to start a food a business but it also gives you a really good foundation and allows you to create that consistent product and not make promises you can’t deliver on.

Have some fun in your business. When you can incorporate fun into what is normally a stressful business decision, the whole thing is just that much more positive and that goes back into your product.

Anything you can do to address the things you don’t like in your business, I like to work in reward systems, but whatever works for you. Most of it is fun, but it’s also work, otherwise it would be a hobby.

If I was a boss to myself, I’d be the worst boss ever. I would never treat an employee the way that I treat myself. I would never expect an employee to work past 5 or have lunch at their desk yet I put that pressure on myself.

Where to find Holm Made Toffee: 


Where to find Darlene

Pickle Jar Studios website
Pickle Jar Studios on Instagram
Tough Cookie on Instagram

Resources Mentioned:

Humm Kombucha Episode 002
Fancy Food Festival
Food innovation center at OSU
Small Business Center in Bend
Bonta Gelato
Justy’s Jelly
Inspired Leaf Teas
The Ocean Roll by Sparrow Bakery
Jackson’s Corner
Palate Coffee
Amanda Photographic
Tumalo Lavender
Oregon Chocolate Festival
Holm Made Toffee Location guide

Holm Made Toffee Flavors:
Original Oregon Hazelnut
Himalayan Pink Salt
Vanilla Cardamom Sea Salt
Spicy Red Pepper
Candy Cane – Seasonal
Ginger – Seasonal