Jennifer Bisceglia is a problem solving entrepreneur. Instead of settling for generic, tasteless, low-nutrition snacks for her sons, she created Southern Jerky Co.—maker of jerky, protein bars, and dehydrated fruit using premium ingredients. She took a moment from her busy life to answer a few questions about her business, family, and life in Nashville.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I established Southern Jerky Co. in May 2015. I have three sons, ages 14,12 and 9. I have been on sports fileds since the oldest was 4. Of course, everyone knows snacks are the most important to celebrate or console yourself with after the game. Boys love to eat and mine simply grew tired of traditional "cracker snacks." This gave birth to the idea of coming up with something healthy, no unnatural preservatives, not a lot of sodium and something my guys would like to eat, JERKY. I looked on the market shelves and was shocked with ingredients and how long this packaged meat product said it last.
I thought I could do better and decided to give a shot. I came up with a few recipes. Some recipes were a complete miss and a couple were pretty good. My boys became very reluctant taste testers after quite a few bombs. However, I hit a couple of "homeruns", lol. Now, with a couple of kid approved recipes I decided to share these with the team and coaches of my sons baseball team. I got a few, "this is great", "it could use some _____", and "you should ____". After awhile folks started really asking me for more, even my neighbor started paying me for ziplock bags. She loved it and her kids loved it too. It was a simple way for her to add a healthy protein into her kids day especially with the Mighty Good Bar.
At this point, my husband Jeremy said that he thought I should do a local street festival and just see how it would go. We rented a commercial kitchen had an inspection and 2 months later were downtown selling jerky at our first festival. We sold more than we ever thought we would and then Jeremy looked at me and said, "we've got something"! We opened our brick and mortar in April of 2016.
Tell us about your collaboration with Yazoo. How does it add to the flavor of the jerky?
Before opening the store I started playing with recipes again and trying to come up with some "Nashville" flavors. I thought of introducing a beer into my marinade. Jeremy and I thought Yazoo would be a great fit. The flavor turned out amazing! We started to introduce Yazoo Jalapeno at some of our festivals. It quickly became our best seller. Jeremy thought we should take it down to the Yazoo guys and let them try it. We wanted to show them how great it was and see if they wouldnt mind becoming one of our core flavors and letting us use their brand and beer. They LOVED it! So together with their permission we set out to making this unique flavor.
Yazoo Jalapeno is and has been our #1 best seller since its introduction. We use the Yazoo Pale Ale to soak our jerky in while it tones down the heat of the jalapeno it lets its flavor shine through with a smooth kick of heat on the back end. We are so happy to have flavors that are affiliated with Nashville. I grew up in East Tennessee and Jeremy is from Nashville. We love Nashville, southern traditions and the South.
What local products do you use at home?
Local support means a lot to us and we like to support other local businesses, too. Jeremy and I love Nashville Jam Company. My favorite is the peach habanero with some cream cheese on crackers, YUM! I also like to give local gifts to friends and family so I mix & match with Southern City Flavors. He has a wide variety of goodies and southern comforts. Supporting local buisnesses keeps Nashville fun and unique.
Where are places in and around Nashville y'all go to enjoy the outdoors?
Being a mom of three means we get out and enjoy the outdoors, too. If we're not hiking through Percy Warner Park, we're hiking at Radnor Lake and of course, we are always at friday night football games supporting our team. We have an exciting list to choose from professional sports teams, music festivals and everything downtown, there's so much to do in Nashville.
Ready to try Southern Jerky Co. Yazoo Jalapeno Jerky? It's part of our best selling Everything Nice in Nashville Gift Batch, the office-pleasing Office Snack Gift Batch, and the Sweet and Savory Gift Batch.