Julie Deck has always been passionate about making jam. For a number of years she ran a jam business with a friend, using local products and creating flavors they were really proud of. When her business partner passed away unexpectedly, Deck decided to step back for a few years. But the kitchen was still calling her name. In 2019, Julie Deck began again with Coo Moo Jams. Deck sells sweet and spicy jams with untraditional but delicious flavors like Triple Berry Moogarita, made with tequila, triple sec, lime juice and chili peppers, and an Apricot and Habanero flavor. Today the Brentwood, California-based entrepreneur is navigating the ins-and-outs of social media while taking pride in sourcing ingredients for her jams from other women-owned companies.
Deck’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
I owned a jam business years ago. We used local products and made lots of wonderful jam. Unfortunately, my partner in that business passed away unexpectedly three years ago. After a couple of years and two knee replacements I decided I wanted to start making jams again. I wanted to specialize in sweet and spicy jams. They are fun and not all that easy to find…at least not good ones. So I started Coo Moo Jams and I am loving every minute of making jams and getting them out to the world. It is my passion.
How do you define success?
If I can help women, as I am making and selling jams that is my definition of success. I have owned businesses for the last 25 years and if I help just one other woman along the way I call that success.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
When I developed a spicy Worcestershire sauce (Wooster Sauce) I discovered a wonderful ingredient called Yacon syrup. It comes from Nepal and the company that supplies it helps widowed women in Nepal by providing them with jobs making Yacon syrup. I love the syrup but most of all I love what the company is doing for these women. In Nepal if you are widowed you are marginalized. I am a widow and fortunately I live in country where I can own my own business and become successful. So using this product in my Wooster Sauce is my biggest success to date.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My biggest challenge has been keeping up with all the social media. This is the hardest part for me in developing my brand. I have hired my friend’s teenage daughter who seems to be an expert at social media. I wanted her to help me learn the tricks of the trade and also give her a peek into being an entrepreneur and what it means to start your own business. We are both learning on a daily basis.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
Yes. As I mentioned in a prior answer, I lost my business partner four years ago and when I started this new jam business I wanted to start fresh and do something new. So I have been extremely careful to build a new business with a completely new look and feel. It was difficult because I had to leave the old business in the past and start anew. Not everyone that had been involved in the old business was happy about that decision.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Ask a lot of questions. Surround yourself with like minded people. I learn something new every single day and look forward to all that I have left to learn.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
Who is your most important role model?
My Mom. Her name was Annalee Langnau. She passed away a year ago. I knew she was my role model before she passed away but I realize even more since she has been gone. She raised four children by herself at a time when that wasn’t the norm. She was strong. She was smart. She was the nicest person I have ever known. She volunteered her time and was the most selfless woman. She was strong in her faith and persevered through some extremely difficult times. She was just amazing. ◼