From a family recipe to a thriving business - Emmy Barr built a business around her passion and is now selling her products across western Canada.
Emmy Barr’s Grandma was the original Queen of Caramel. The family recipe was developed over many years, adding a little of this and taking a way a little of that, until it was perfected and a perennial crowd-pleaser.
The evolution of her grandma’s caramel recipe follows the same path as that of the entrepreneur from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and owner of the business Queen of Caramel, Emmy Barr.
The company that started small now has a big impact, as Emmy regularly attends markets and sells her products to groups, including dozens of weddings annually.
Community Futures and the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program caught up with the Saskatchewan entrepreneur to learn about what has happened to Emmy and her business, since participating in the Just Watch ME! Video Contest in 2015.
The Early Days:
Emmy’s story begins much like many entrepreneurs in rural communities. Queen of Caramel started as a hobby. Emmy was encouraged and given positive feedback by friends and family until the day they decided to begin the business in earnest. Running her own business was a good fit for Emmy, because she needed to have a flexible schedule, based on her health and wellness.
With support from the Saskatchewan Association of Community Living, Emmy created a business plan and started to sell her grandma’s storied caramels and candied apples to businesses, events and families in the Moose Jaw region.
Some of her key learning moments included creating a formalized recipe that worked with large batches to ensure consistency each and every time. Emmy also polished her public speaking skills, which has allowed her to tell her story to people across Saskatchewan.
The Just Watch Me! Video Contest:
The Queen of Caramel heard about the Just Watch ME! Video Contest from the parent of another rural entrepreneur, Taylor Layton. Taylor’s mom contacted Emmy and her family, to tell them about an online contest where entrepreneurs with disabilities submitted a video to be reviewed by a panel of judges, and then the finalists were voted on by the public.
Emmy submitted her video on the last evening of submissions, but her story was so touching, she easily made it to the finals.
Media got ahold of the story and the public in Saskatchewan rallied behind Emmy casting many votes. In the end, Sydney Deneka from Manitoba was crowned the winner and Emmy won the $750 second prize.
The community of Moose Jaw was so proud of Emmy, they collected funds, so she would receive the same cash prize as first place, which was $1,000.
The money was great, but the awareness in the community catapulted her business into the forefront of the Saskatchewan business community and was a significant factor in the growth Queen of Caramel.
When asked about the Just Watch ME! Video Contest, Emmy responded, “the contest was crazy, I wouldn’t still be in business if not for the contest. It was a definite turning point for me and my family.”
How Has the Business Grown Since the Contest?
Emmy’s business has grown significantly since its inception. She now does all her production in a commercial kitchen she rents from a local church. Emmy regularly gets invited to attend weddings, fund-raisers and speak to other entrepreneurs.
The growth of her business allows her to give back to the community, which helps build relationships that, in turn, helped to grow her business and even added an employee to assist with the day-to-day execution of the business plan. “Developing relationships is critical. So many times, I get to know someone and then a few month later they put in a large order,” Emmy added.
Goals for The Future?
Emmy’s future goals include continuing to grow the business. “We plan on working with Community Futures to develop other products and minimize our production bottlenecks,” she said.
Emmy intends to continue to increase her sales at Queen of Caramel, adding employees and production capability as the market will bear.
Advice for Other Entrepreneurs from Emmy:
● Build relationships. You never know what impact the person you just met could have on the future of your business.
● Keep trying. Do not give up on your dream.
● Find people in your community that can help you with the things you are not great at. Community Futures has been a great resource to help us grow my business.
Emmy would like to thank the entire province of Saskatchewan, former Premier Brad Wall and the media for bringing attention to her and her business.
To stay up to date with Emmy, connect her at:
What Is Community Futures?
At Community Futures our goal is to:
- Develop long term community economic development strategies and plans
- Coordinate resources to implement development plans
- Promote the region and its economic opportunities.
CFs further support the local economic development process by assisting area entrepreneurs with:
- Preparing and assessing business plans.
- Providing business and market information.
- Providing business loans.
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