Semi-Finalist Spotlight on Jenna White, Jenna’s Nut-Free Dessertery
Meet Jenna White, Owner of Jenna’s Nut-Free Dessertery from the Metis Nation of Ontario, living in New Brunswick. Jenna is a Pow Wow Pitch Atlantic Canada Semi-Finalist. We sat down with Jenna to learn more about her, her business and her reflections on entrepreneurship.
PWP: Jenna, can you share with us your entrepreneurial journey?
JW: A few years ago, I had two life-altering experiences close together that changed the course of my life.
I developed a severe nut allergy and lost most of my eyesight, leaving me legally blind.
I figured, ‘there is no time like the present’ to follow my dreams. So I decided to start my own business because I wanted more for myself and my family. I wanted to show my children that there is always a way to figure it out no matter what obstacles come.
So, Jenna’s Nut-Free Dessertery started in 2019 at the Boyce Farmers Market. I started slow and small to test viability.
When the pandemic hit, I decided to step it up and take control.
On June 1st this year, I opened our location featuring a restaurant and desserty.
PWP: What an incredible journey and example you are setting, Jenna. Can you tell us a bit about what you sell?
As an Indigenous entrepreneur, I carry with me the value of community. That’s why we feed and treat everyone like they are family. But, of course, we also source as much as we can from other Indigenous entrepreneurs.
We sell delicious food and desserts that are nut-free and are free from other allergens and artificial flavours and chemicals.
I am proud of our space itself, which features a beautiful mural that honours our Indigenous roots.
We are currently working on establishing product lines for our customers, including all-natural baking mixes, like bannock, vanilla and chocolate cake mixes, gourmet hot cocoa and fresh ground flours.
I am building a fund to support other Indigenous entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs with sight loss, and students to further their dreams with these products.
I want to shake up the industry with transparency in ingredients and production. I want to provide ‘real’ food to everyone and encourage people to rethink how they eat by promising fewer ingredients with all the flavour.
PWP: I’m both inspired and drooling. What has been the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur?
I have been meeting so many amazing people along the way who enrich my life, and it’s so rewarding to watch my business grow into something I can use to help others.
PWP: What has been the most challenging part about being an entrepreneur?
Simply put, financing and bureaucracy. But, I am proud of myself for having the courage to always be moving forward.
PWP: Why did you choose to apply for Pow Wow Pitch?
I applied because I thought it would be a great way to fast-track my expansion to new markets.
Just making the Semi-Finals feels like a huge accomplishment, and I have loved every moment of this experience, especially being matched with two encouraging mentors, Bahaar Luhar from RBC and Sarah Fischer from Shopify.
PWP: What advice do you have for Indigenous people thinking of starting up a business?
Start small and test your viability.
Also, no matter how much you think building your business will cost, it will cost at least three times as much.
Things will always pop up unexpectedly, so think outside of the box to overcome obstacles that come your way.
PWP: Thank you for chatting with us, Jenna! Good luck with the Semi-Finals.
You can support Jenna to reach the Pow Wow Pitch Finals by voting for her for the People’s Choice Prize. Click here to vote for Jenna. You can also watch Jenna pitch at the Atlantic Sem-Finals Live on September 20, 2021, at 6 PM ET / 7 PM ET. Click here to register to watch.