In the Market: An Interview with Janelle Doyle of It’s Poppin! Gourmet Kettle KornApril 6, 2018 10:22 am
Spend a few minutes with Janelle Doyle, owner of It’s Poppin! Gourmet Kettle Korn, and it’s clear why she was recently able to celebrate her first anniversary in the popcorn business. Simply put, she listens to her customers.
Janelle took the time to sit down with me, on a busy Thursday afternoon at the 7th St. Public Market, to talk about her path from Pittsburgh banker to local popcorn proprietor.
You were in the banking world for 20 years. Why did you take the risk of starting a new career?
It was the fact that I worked so hard for somebody else..I was in Pittsburgh for a while..I moved down here two years ago in June..I wanted something different..Applied for a job, got the job but I did not like it at all. It was so stressful to me that I always had deadlines..I would be up to..1 o’clock in the morning. It got to the point I said, ‘if I’m going to work this hard, I’m going to work for myself. And I’m still up to twelve, sometimes one o’clock in the morning, but I’m doing what I need to do for my business, not somebody else’s.
Where do you get the inspiration for new flavors?
We take inspiration from the flavors we already have, or suggestions from customers. The powdered donut actually came from a child who came in one day and said, ‘you know what? You should have a powdered donut flavor.’ And I said, ‘you know what? You’re right!’
What is your newest flavor and how did that come about?
My newest flavor, we just launched yesterday, is jelly donut. I was talking to my husband yesterday and said, ‘We need another flavor.’ How about if we took our powdered donut flavor and mixed in one of our sweeter flavors? So we already have a strawberry, we have a blueberry.. And I said, ‘well, then there we go…jelly donut!’
Who is your customer?
Everybody. Anybody and everybody. I get a lot of older people who, when they come, they want caramel or the classics-something they’ve always had..But I’ll say, ‘would you also like to try my’..and I lead them to fried chicken, or..chili cheese..just to open their minds a little bit..Sometimes they’ll put that caramel back and get that fried chicken.
You mentioned in the Q City Metro article that a space right by the door was perfect for you. Why is that? What is it about your popcorn that is welcoming to Market goers?
I love the 7th Street Public Market. I didn’t know how well we would do, if we would do well at all, if people would receive me well, if I was a good fit for The Market. I’ve been here in this space since June of last year. I’ve gained a regular customer base who come and see me daily..This is a friendly family place..The food is amazing..I want people to feel it is welcoming when they walk in.
On her reliance on customer feedback for fine-tuning new flavors:
I still want people to at least try it, see if they like it, give me some feedback on it, any improvements or suggestions they have..So I’ve asked people, ‘how do you like it? Is it too sweet? What do you think?’ I take a lot of feedback from customers and then I run with that.
Keep running with it, Janelle. And please pass the fried chicken. —Ben Jarrell
The recurring ‘In the Market’ section will focus on a new vendor or event from 7th St. Public Market.