BUSINESS PERSON OF THE MONTH: Shay Joseph of Twist’d Popkorn
Although Shay Joseph officially started Twist’d Popkorn in 2021, this was far from her first foray into entrepreneurship. Joseph has explored many business ventures in her quest to find her niche. In 2018 she started making popcorn as an add-on to her existing custom party favor and t-shirt business. She learned about infusing popcorn from a crafting group on Facebook and took a class on how to make it. For those not familiar with this particular confection, infusing popcorn is similar to making caramel corn or candy apples. Popcorn is covered with a mixture of sugar and corn syrup (and alcohol for the adult varities), then baked.
In May 2019, Joseph held her first pop-up sale at End Zone in Baton Rouge. From there the popcorn business was off and running. She created an LLC and in 2020, introduced kid-friendly popcorn. Soon her house was “swamped with popcorn containers” and Joseph knew that she needed more space for her growing business. While she wanted a dedicated space for her business, she also wanted to be close to home for her two daughters. As a compromise, Joseph bought a building for her backyard where she could set up her popcorn business without having to travel or be away from her kids. Impressively, she reached out to Gold Medal (a company that specializes in popcorn), did a walkthrough of their facility, and purchased commercial equipment to put in her building. With all these pieces in place, Joseph was ready to take the Baton Rouge business community by storm with Twist’d Popkorn.
Joseph recalls having an entrepreneurial spirit even as a kid and after working a lot of different jobs, she realized she “was never satisfied unless I was working for myself.” So, when discussing the pros of running her own business, she doesn’t hesitate to reveal that she loves “being the owner, making the rules and not having to answer to anyone but myself.”
Conversely, Joseph admits that she’s a procrastinator and that “the ins and out of running a business” including things like doing taxes can be challenging. She also had to “realize the difference between a hustle and a business.” At first popcorn was just a hustle, meaning she wasn’t keeping track of how much money she made and generally wasn’t taking it seriously. But when she recognized “what I had on my hands; that I could really do this and it could be a profitable business,” it went from a hustle to an actual business.
Joseph’s years of experience have taught her a lot of lessons that she is happy to pass on to others. A top priority should be “getting your LLC and being registered so your work won’t be in vain.” She regrets not creating a website sooner. Doing so gives customers a single point of contact for the business, rather than the hassle of receiving phone calls and messages via social media. She urges folks to not give up and stresses that “Consistency is key. If you’re not consistent, you won’t see results.” Joseph has learned that social media can be misleading for new entrepreneurs because “People only post the good, never the bad. They post that they are making good money, but not that it took five years to get there.”
While social media has its pitfalls, it has also been an invaluable tool for Joseph’s business. In particular, she says “Instagram has been an amazing outlet” allowing her to meet people and make connections that she would not have encountered otherwise. Offline, she networks while selling popcorn at pop-ups, The Grind (a sports bar and gastropub in Baton Rouge), farmers’ markets in Hammond and she jokes “anywhere that will have me.” While, Joseph eventually wants to have a storefront, she’s not in a rush. She notes that costly overhead is one of the reasons popcorn businesses in Baton Rouge don’t tend to last for long. So, for now she is working on getting Twist’d Popkorn into stores.
Joseph’s busy schedule includes working a fulltime job, running Twist’d Popkorn, and raising a teen and a toddler, which doesn’t leave her with much spare time. She laments that she is not as involved in the local community as she would like to be, but hopes to change that, including making more visits to the library (she and her daughters love to read!).
With Twist’d Popkorn, Joseph puts “different twists on popcorn” with both the adult and kid-friendly flavors. Her goal is “to make it fun, not just fun for kids but also for adults to bring them back to the fun popcorn of their childhood.”
Order Twist’d Popkorn for your summer gatherings today!
Article by Karla Stewart