Interview with Stephanie Whitmoyer, Founder, Belvedere Baked Beans Company

Stephanie Whitmoyer, founder of Belvedere’s Delectables, tells PolitiChicks writer Jenny Kefauver about her new company

JK: So tell me a bit about why you started the Belvedere Baked Bean Company.

Stephanie Whitmoyer: Growing up, my family had their way of making baked beans. We used a popular baked bean brand off the shelf and added our own flair, so to say.  My dad took me into the kitchen when I was 17 years old and he’s like, all right, it’s time for you to learn how to do this! So since I was 17, I’d been preparing the holiday meals for the family. So one day, I was making these beans and I was tweaking them to how I like them; and I got to thinking, what could I do to make them my own? I started tweaking the recipe you know….Navy beans are really hard to cook, by the way! Trying to get the texture just right is very challenging. So I started tweaking with the sauce and adding ingredients that I really liked. Basically, it’s brown sugar, maple, caramelized pineapple and bacon that goes into this recipe. I start basically kind of a candied process in the beginning; I start by candying up the pineapple and the bacon together, and I make the sauce after the candi-ization process. And then one of my friends was like, ‘girl, you need to sell this, you need to get this out there?’ and I’m like, how do you do that, how does that work?

So I started some promotions on Facebook and I started sending some samples. And a complete misstep on my part – I did not include the instructions! (Laughs). I guess I was just assuming people would cook them! Honestly, the majority of people did not cook them, they opened the jar and ate them! The feedback was, ‘I like the sauce but the beans were a little hard!’ (Laughs) It was a fun learning experience and I got a big kick out of some of the responses that came back. Even when they weren’t cooked, I was told they were really good and I was proud of that moment.

I’m at a pivotal point where I’ve gotten a lot of interest; I have gotten a lot of compliments and a lot of wonderful complements. A lot of people have asked what makes these baked beans special. Why are you going crazy over them? A lot of people picture off-the-shelf items.

I’ve been asked by investors if there is more than one product, and normally they like to see more than one product. I replied that I had a few other things up my sleeve. I have a sweet mashed potato recipe, but I hadn’t officially said I was going to tackle and do this. But then I started tweaking the recipes, got wonderful feedback, and when we were doing our first opening, caterer Shelby Chandler, that does what is very similar to what I do, who with her husband catered our entire high school reunion, was extremely impressive. I also want to be diversified. Then Greg Vizier came on board and I was blown away by his catering at his own wedding! If I am able to build this brand, and build something special out of it, the more lives I can touch and the more people that I can bring in on this train ride with me will benefit me and benefit them.  I think it’s a win-win situation.

JK: I want to hear a little bit more about how you will reach out and help families affected by MS, which I know is a debilitating disease. Looking at you, I wouldn’t know you were affected. You are so beautiful and poised!

Stephanie Whitmoyer: Thank you! You wouldn’t know it but six days ago, I lost feeling in my legs. We’d been doing remodeling here – our entire staircase was taken down and redone – and we just managed through it. Stress infections can cause MS. I had a UTI and it caused me to lose feeling in my legs. But, we try not to let it get in the way of life. I try to be as positive as I can – but don’t get me wrong, I get on my soapbox about it every once in a while, some days can be hard. I live and I believe in hope, being positive, and what drives me to do everything that I do is believing all things are possible. There’s nothing in this world you can’t do.

JK: That also sounds very Biblically based.

Stephanie Whitmoyer: I have a lot of strong faith, especially where my MS is concerned. When I started this company I wanted it to have more meaning than being a bean or side dish company. If there is a way to impact the world – or impact other people, how could I do that? If I own a company, I have a platform of some sort. MS is close to my heart because this is what I deal with. It only seems natural that if I have a platform built in, that I could try to help people with MS. So we started the Belvederes Belief’s Foundation. Once we get up and we start everything manufactured and we get in stores, five percent of every single sale will be donated to the Belvedere’s Belief’s Foundation.

JK: That’s wonderful!

Stephanie Whitmoyer: It will go to help families in need in all kinds of ways. If someone needs help cleaning the house, or needs help lifting something, or the caretaker needs help, Mom needs a day off, everyone needs to maintain their health and well-being. My hope is that we can be impactful in all kinds of ways.

JK: I think that’s amazing, and you are an inspiring. I love entrepreneurship and I’m a small business owner myself. Let’s discuss how things got kicked into gear to start the company.

Stephanie Whitmoyer: My husband had been with AT&T for 23 years or so; he was almost retirement eligible and they did what they call a surplus of his position. They needed to reduce their number but gave that job to someone else, so that person is managing two jobs. It has been a challenging situation. I have an amazing husband who takes care of me in so many ways. I gush on him all the time.

The way that he handled himself during his own challenging time, he has handled it with grace and positivity and basically just said, ‘this must be God’s plan and we are going to work around it’. In a strange way, it was a mini-catapult to what I am doing. I might not have pushed forward or pushed so hard if things were just status quo. So hopefully we are going to use it in a positive way; turning the negative which I’m all about – into a positive. Negativity doesn’t get you anywhere.

Visit Stephanie’s website HERE:

Jenny Kefauver

Virginia PolitiChick Jenny Kefauver is a longtime public relations professional who owns JK Public Relations. She works with a variety of clients including New York Times best-selling author Scott McEwen, author and investigative reporter Richard Miniter, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman/Killology Research Group, Southeastern Legal Foundation, Center for America, the American Media Institute, and others. She has been writing for since November, 2013 and has covered a wide variety of topics including parenting, politics, and a variety of others. She tweets @prmommydc.

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