In our “5 Minutes with an Entrepreneur” series, we pass the mic to Michigan entrepreneurs we’ve supported to hear their stories, including the spark behind their business, challenges they’ve faced, and what motivates them to keep going.
Magita Barbee has been in the fun food business for 20+ years. While operating Breezin’ Concessions, LLC, a seasonal mobile ice cream truck, customers couldn’t get enough of her delicious popcorn in the off-season. To meet this growing demand, Magita founded Jetta’s Gourmet Popcorn in 2013. Today, you can find Jetta’s Gourmet Popcorn and Fun Foods online, in four retail locations, at events held in Detroit’s Huntington Place, and across town in a revamped mobile food truck.
Magita participated in our Food Finance Essentials training in 2022, a multi-week intensive designed to help food entrepreneurs tune up their business model, improve their financial know-how, and prepare for financing. In the following months, her business received a loan from Fair Food Network’s Fair Food Fund to upgrade her food truck as well as additional technical assistance to boost her marketing efforts.
Keep reading to hear what makes Jetta’s Gourmet Popcorn and Fun Foods stand out, lessons Magita has learned along the way, and the power of believing in yourself.
What was the spark behind your business?
The spark behind my business was a desire to see people having fun and enjoying fun food!
What makes your business stand out?
My business stands out because of the excellent customer service and the fresh flavorful products we offer. We are also the makers of the “D” Mixes which come in Eastside and Westside. They are both made with caramel, white cheddar, yellow cheddar but then the fourth added flavor for Eastside is hot cheddar, so the Eastside is Hot! But the fourth added flavor to Westside is Barbeque spelled Barbee “Q” (namesake) so Westside is laidback and savory. People love the friendly rivalry which makes for a great conversation.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give other entrepreneurs?
Follow your heart. You are the only one who truly knows your dreams and desires don’t let others paint the picture for you. That does not mean become an island. You should network and seek advice from others, but in the end, make the best decision for yourself.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made that other should avoid?
The biggest mistake that I have made in the past is not taking the time to really sit down and look at my financials as often as I should have. We need a good understanding of where the money is coming from, where it’s going, and we have to shop for better deals and cheaper cost.
What’s the biggest ah-ha you’ve had?
The biggest ah-ha I have had is realizing that I wanted to be able to go where the people are. I no longer desired to just be in one spot day after day waiting for people to come to me. So being mobile, along with a central location, is my desire.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten?
The best piece of advice is to always make sure I am making money. If I am not, I just have a hobby, not a business.
What key qualities should an entrepreneur possess?
An entrepreneur is a risk taker, they are willing to put in long hours and endure for a long time, knowing that they will see the rewards of their labor someday.
What advice would you give yourself as you were starting out?
As I was starting out the only advice I could give myself was to simply believe.
Anything else you’d like to share?
It’s been a long hard journey. Ups, downs, laughter, and many tears. But the desire to keep trying never left.
If you’re in the Detroit area, keep an eye out for Jetta’s Gourmet Popcorn & Fun Foods food truck around town or visit their website to order some gourmet goodies!
Interested in working with the Michigan Good Food Fund? See if your business is a good fit here.