We are here to introduce Lisa and her company, Black Bow Sweets. She's based in Auburn, and she's been making her secret family recipe for candied pecans, also known by her family and friends as "the nuts", since 2015. She started off small, sampling at wine festivals and in-store demos...and now she sells her product line directly to 1,000+ retailers around the US. So impressive!
We hope you enjoy our interview with Lisa, and that you get the chance to try her amazing candied nuts!
How did you get started? What were your first steps and how did it evolve from there?
I grew up surrounded by a family of wonderful cooks and bakers. No homemade treat was ever more requested from friends and coworkers than my mother's candied pecans and batches upon batches were made every winter as the most sought-after gift. As I grew older and moved out on my own, I continued my family's baking tradition for the holidays. "The Nuts" continued to be the favorite among my friends and soon I was baking candied pecans for every occasion year 'round.
In 2015, struggling with the direction of my corporate career, I started to toy with the idea of starting a business selling The Nuts. I had no idea where to start, but took one step at a time and within 5 months I had launched Black Bow Sweets. I started sampling and selling at wine festivals and in-store demos in my local area and soon grew into wholesaling to gifting companies. We now drop ship to 1,000+ retailers and gift makers in the US and Canada.
How did you come up with your name?
Originally, I started with another name. I went through many iterations of my packaging and NOTHING worked. Prints came out the wrong color, items arrived damaged and I couldn’t find solutions to fit all of my needs. I finally settled on a small packaging bundle, called it “good enough” and went to register my trademark. Turns out, someone had registered a very similar name in the same category, so I had to scrap everything and start again!
I was discouraged to go back to the drawing board after 3 months of hard work, but I had no other option. I started to flip through a book from Kate Spade, one of my favorite clothing brands, and came to a chapter all about bows. The name hit me right away. It had everything I was looking for – a clean and classic aesthetic, an elegant sound and a signature packaging style. Within 3 weeks I had a logo, packaging in print, and a trademark filed. Everything went smoothly and I knew it was meant to be.
Tell us about your workspace!
I love my workspace. I have a spacious office with a window that overlooks our 3,500 square foot production floor. I have plenty of surface area to gather materials for my various in-progress projects, white boards and calendars on the walls for planning and a seating area for guests or when I need a change from my desk. All of it in black and white décor, of course!
Do you have a favorite review or comment about your products?
I have been blessed with so many wonderful reviews and compliments over the years – but my favorites are when people say our candied nuts remind them of “home” or like something their grandmother used to make. It’s the same feeling I get when I bake them and I know they are connecting with our products on a deeper level.
What’s your favorite product you sell?
The pecans are still my favorite product to sell – they are the “OG” of Black Bow Sweets, the reason why the company came to be. I love to tell the story to new customers at trade shows because it is a special memory of baking with my mom, and I think it triggers a sense of nostalgia that most people can relate to in their own lives.
Are there any great local artisans or small businesses that you’re into right now?
I recently met the owner of Sugar + Spoon Caramels (Paso Robles, CA) at a local craft fair. I was blown away by the softness, texture and flavor of her caramels. Local to me, I love Casque Winery and The Flower Farm Café. Their tasting room has picturesque outdoor seating and a delicious selection of wines. Just adjacent is a farm-to-fork style café serving some of the best salads and casual gourmet eats in the area.
Do you have a favorite local restaurant?
I am fortunate to have so many favorites to choose from, but I will narrow it down to these two for now - Farmhaus in Granite Bay is an exquisite food and wine experience in a small farmhouse-style setting and Chef’s Table in Rocklin is a lively neighborhood restaurant serving creative dishes and excellent craft cocktails.
You live and work in Rocklin and Auburn, CA: do you have any favorite place to enjoy the beauty of your area?
I live in Rocklin and work in Auburn and there are hiking and walking trails woven throughout both cities. This is what I love most about where I live and work – the ability to step out my front door and enjoy the outdoors. It is how I clear my mind after a long day and get daily doses of much needed exercise. Boulder Ridge Park in Rocklin is particularly breathtaking at sunset because it sits high above the city with a spectacular western view.
What's your favorite thing about California?
It is a state that has everything – bountiful farmland, mountains, ocean and desert. I source all my nuts from family farms throughout California and enjoy the freshest ingredients from farmer’s markets for my own cooking enjoyment. It’s a fresh, bright and vibrant state that I love to call home.
If you enjoyed this blog, check out some of the other artisan profiles we've done in the past: