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Hidden Gems: Meet Kendra Black of Kendra’s Gourmet Popcorn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kendra Black.

Hi Kendra, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Many people know me around town as “The Popcorn Lady”. I am the proud Owner and Chief Popcorn Artisan of Kendra’s Gourmet Popcorn. A native of Nashville, TN, my love for popcorn began when I was just a little girl in my mother’s kitchen. One of my fondest childhood memories is when my mother “Johnnie Black Jones”, would call my sister (Mary) and I in the kitchen to show us her secret to making her delicious popcorn, in a silver cast iron pot on the stovetop. While my sister and I stood in the kitchen in amazement at the magic of seeing each kernel pop, our father Harry was picking out the night’s selection for their weekly family “Movie Night”.

Fast-forward, In the Summer of 2016 while talking with one of my good friends, I found the conversation shift to the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. The timing of the conversation seemed to be divine as I had recently witnessed several of my friends and colleagues at that time follow their dreams of starting their own business. After we were simply bouncing different ideas about new startup businesses that could possibly work, I felt motivated and passionate about the love for cooking and I began experimenting with several different food creations. During that time of creating new recipes in the kitchen, I found myself reflecting back on the feelings of joy and amazement I had as a little girl, experiencing what seemed to be a special magic show, each time my mom would pull out that Silver cast iron pot. The nostalgia of seeing that silver pot, I always knew it was time for “Family Movie Night” and fresh popcorn.

I soon realized that the only “creation” that seemed to turn out right was my mother’s secret popcorn recipes. It was the passion I had inside and the love I had for her mother’s popcorn that gave me courage to set off to the races of entrepreneurship. Ready, Set, POP!. After a few sessions of trial and error, I shared my new signature spin on my mother’s popcorn with close friends and family. With their support and honest critiques about my new take on “Johnnies” Popcorn, this propelled her to finally chase after her dream of becoming a business owner.

Originally named “What’s Poppin, Kendra’s Gourmet Popcorn” when I launched the company in September 2016, I soon realized that my dream of becoming a business owner was now a reality. I now stand proud offering “delicious, fresh made to order gourmet popcorn that will have you craving for more.​

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been easy road. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. There were so many trials and tribulations that comes with having a business such as understanding how to balance your work life, family life, and social life. In the beginning of my business, I sacrificed a lot of time away from friends and family when I was trying to get my business started as well as money. Another challenge was how to run day to day business operation. Being that I do not have a business degree I had to learn first hand from trial and error. I had to do a ton of research for the type of business I am in. Understanding different food laws such as the TN Cottage Food Law Act Picking the right business license for my business. Knowing how I should label the packaging of my products to what kind of business insurance I needed.

Learning how to break down your cost (ingredients, supplies, overhead cost, and etc.) in order to my a profit was the hardest, simply because some people refuse to see the value in the product that is made by not wanting to pay the price you set for it and that part can be very discouraging.

Whenever I feel myself getting discouraged and wanting to give up I just pull up an old post of a $1500 Tiffany and Co. paperclip that was circulating on social media year ago and in the caption said “If people are willing to pay $1500 for a paper clip, then people can pay the price you charge for you products and services”.

We’ve been impressed with Kendra’s Gourmet Popcorn, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Kendra’s Gourmet Popcorn started September of 2016. Kendra’s Gourmet Popcorn is not just gourmet popcorn, it is an experience. KGP creates that nostalgia and familiarity whether you are eating the popcorn by yourself or sharing with friends or family, it’s delicious popcorn that will have you craving for more and you can taste the love in each bite. KGP prides ourselves in using the most fresh and quality ingredients available in Nashville. In addition to all of our products are preservative-free and we even uses popcorn kernels that are Non-GMO ( non-genetically modified organism). Each of our signature popcorn products are handcrafted, in small batches into a one of a kind experience for children today and a nostalgic experience for their parents who knows what it means to have “Family Movie Night” and homemade popcorn.

We specialize in classic flavors such as Cheddar Cheese, Movie Theater Butter, and Caramel popcorn, but we also make signature flavors Snickers, Strawberry Cheesecake, Nashville Hot Cheddar, Cinnabun and more. We offer party favors, KGP snack boxes, catering wedding and corporate events and more. KGP sets up at multiple Craft Fairs and Markets throughout Middle Tennessee and we are also at the Basement Marketplace 14625 Lebanon Rd. Suite F. Old Hickory, TN 37138.

KGP is a business that believe in giving back. In 2019, we created an initiative that helps to foster Hope, Healing, Faith with “Popcorn with a Purpose”. We have partnered with several local non-profit organizations and charities over the years. On our website when an customer place their order online, the customer has the option to pick a organization that they would like for KGP to donate to with no added cost to the customer a portion of proceeds will go to selected organizations. One of the local charities we partnered up with this year is Giving Back To The Community- Feed the Hungry which is lead by a mother and daughter duo (Mary Moore and Loretta Jones). These two women cook homemade meals and distribute them throughout the city of Nashville as well as care packages.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I am not going to call it luck, but I will call it being blessed. I have come across some very genuine individuals that has helped me over the 5 years of being in business. From family, friends to strangers, whether it’s words of encouragement, sowing a seed, presenting opportunities, supporting my business monetarily or sharing my information with others. It has all helped my business.

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Image Credits

Kendra Black
Ceceila Black

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