Today we’d like to introduce you to Betsy Thagard.
Betsy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up watching my mom and dad cook in the kitchen. True to our Greek heritage, my Yia Yia and mom were always whipping up Greek dishes. It was then at a young age that my passion for cooking and entertaining developed and flourished.
Over time, I wanted to create something beautiful and unique to gift to family and friends during the holidays. I began making toffee, as it is not only delicious but also beautiful. I experimented with different recipes until I came up with my perfect toffee that has the ideal consistency and quality of ingredients. It’s forgiving on your teeth and doesn’t feel like it will pull out your fillings.
B. toffee started as a sweet treat for gifts and road trips with my mom and sisters and eventually evolved into a successful business. My family and friends urged me to introduce my superior, handcrafted toffee to the world. With their encouragement and support, I launched B. toffee in 2009 when our last child went away to college. We are now celebrating our ten-year anniversary!
Being a mom and having the good fortune to stay at home with my kids was very rewarding, but I was ready to get back out into the working world. I aspired to do something that I could call my own. I was a little hesitant to start something new in my late 40s but I realized it’s never too late to follow your passion and pursue your dreams. So I did!
At the time of launching B. toffee, I went to one of my favorite local specialty markets in Newport Beach, A Market, and introduced it for the first time. The executive chef loved the packaging and the product so much they wanted to share it with their customers. It still adorns their shelves 10 years later.
As we continue to grow, I’m thrilled to say we work with Williams Sonoma (we’ve even created an exclusive peppermint toffee for them during the holidays), Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach, Dean & DeLuca, Hi-Time Wine Cellars, and many other retail stores, resorts and hotels. We serve Fortune 500 companies as well. B. toffee offers custom gifting options including corporate and wedding gifts. PIMCO, Edwards Lifesciences, Goldman Sachs Group, Southwest Airlines, and Verizon Communications are among the corporate companies B. toffee serves.
Expanding our reach has been a dream come true!
Our business has continued to grow through word of mouth. Often when a client gifts our toffee, a new customer is created. Whether it comes from a corporate gift at an event or a gift favor at a wedding, the sweet spread of B. toffee continues forward.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Challenges arise but I have learned they must be looked at as opportunities.
For instance, we work hard to keep up with the growth and expansion of B. toffee. As our presence continues to grow throughout the country and beyond, we have the ongoing opportunity to take a business to the next level. To support the supply and demand for our product, manage the vast growth of the markets we are pursuing, etc.
One of our biggest challenges, however, is the inability to be able to donate to everyone’s cause or charity. Giving back is a large part of what we do at B. toffee. We have our own ‘B. Giving Initiatives’ where we work in conjunction with many charities throughout our community throughout the year. My team and I are committed to making a difference and supporting a variety of causes.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about B. toffee – what should we know?
At B. toffee we offer an award-winning toffee that is carried in high-end specialty stores, resorts, hotels, online and is also available through custom gifting options.
B. toffee is a delectable candy confection consisting of only the finest, freshest and most natural ingredients. B. toffee features savory butters, fine domestic sugars, and premium Guittard and Callebaut chocolates topped with superior quality pecans—a unique offering as most toffee makers use almonds versus pecans.
In addition to the deliciousness of our product, our packaging sets us apart. Our sleek, sophisticated clear canisters draw customers to our product and once that happens it is the taste, quality and consistency of our toffee that brings them back time and time again. We recently won the GOLD Award for ‘Top Toffee’ and ‘Best Packaging’ at the Taste Awards in San Francisco.
We like to think outside of the box with our marketing, social media and fun collaborations with other companies, too, such as a wine tasting and toffee pairing or creating delicious recipes personalized with B. toffee products featuring custom one-of-a-kind designs.
I have had many proud moments with B. toffee including seeing B. toffee on the Williams Sonoma website and landing B. toffee products on the shelves of so many great specialty stores without the help of a food broker/distributor or sales team. We have secured these amazing partnerships solely by perseverance, determination and word of mouth.
Throughout our ten years in business, companies have sought us out at B. toffee to work together, whether it is a shipping company who would like to export our product overseas or a company that would like to feature us on a TV show.
Having started this business at a later time in my life after my kids went away to college makes me proud. It has been rewarding and demanding as it continues to grow larger than I ever imagined but I make sure I create a balance between work, family/friends and personal time. By sharing my story, I hope to inspire other women to go after their dreams and ambitions.
Lastly, at B. toffee we are also very proud of our annual B. toffee “B. Giving Initiatives” in conjunction with different charities throughout our community. We strive to impact the world around us in a positive way! B. toffee has partnered with Orange County Ronald McDonald House, Orangewood Foundation, Human Options, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Orange County and many others. We are currently supporting the work of the Alzheimer’s Association which has been very near and dear to my heart. My late father suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and we are proud to support the Alzheimer’s Association’s work in finding a cure.
I love sharing my passion and story about B. toffee with others. It is such a joy to see the pleasure on people’s faces when they taste B. toffee for the first time. I plan to continue to expand the growth of B. toffee and its giving initiatives and I’m sure there are many more proud moments to come!
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My biggest role model in the kitchen is my mom. Coming from a Greek background, my mom learned from my Yia Yia who passed down her cooking and entertaining skills to my sisters and I. The most important detail I learned was that you can never have too much food when you are entertaining family and friends.
Overall, my parents, husband and two children are a very big influence in my life and provide unconditional love and support. They have always supported my drive to succeed and my strong desire to achieve anything I put my mind to including launching B. toffee.
When I first started my company, I received encouragement from so many people. It’s been rewarding experiencing this growth and knowing all my hard work and efforts have formed a company I’m deeply proud of. And, for the few that questioned my goals, my competitive side has come out to prove I could do it! I did do it!
I have also had the good fortune of meeting some incredible people who are in a variety of business fields and have a passion for mentoring startup companies. Surrounding myself with advisors and mentors to bounce ideas off of or receive advice from has been very helpful.
I am grateful to my tribe. THANK YOU.
- Signature Canisters $7.95 – $31.95
- Signature Kraft Boxes $6.95 – $29.95
- Custom Gift Favors – Corporate and Wedding $6.95 – $30.95
- Individual Pieces $3.95 – 8.95
- Website: https://btoffee.com
- Phone: 949-722-9001
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @Btoffee
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BtoffeeNewportBeach/
- Twitter: @Btoffee
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/b-toffee-irvine
- Other: http://btoffee.wpengine.com/blog/
Kait McKay, Photographer