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Jammin on the One: Preserving Cultural Heritage and Soulful Culinary Experiences

Incredible Spreadables 

In the world of culinary delights, few things evoke a sense of nostalgia and comfort quite like a jar of homemade jam. From its humble origins, passed down through generations, to becoming a canvas for innovative flavors and creative expressions. Jam has journeyed through time, bridging cultures and communities. Aisha Newchurch, the visionary owner of Jammin on the One, has transformed the art of jam-making into a powerful symbol of empowerment and cultural pride. Through her sweet and savory artisanal jams, Aisha challenges traditional norms, breaking barriers in an industry that has long overlooked black entrepreneurs. Jammin on the One is a testament to Aisha’s resilience, resourcefulness, and determination to reclaim her heritage and carve a space for herself and her community in the world of entrepreneurship.  

That’s My Jam 

Jammin on the One is a purveyor of mouthwatering jams and jellies for foodies who prioritize quality over convenience. According to Aisha, each spoonful inspires a soulful culinary experience and serves as a catalyst for creative expression and nostalgic trips down memory lane. As a black entrepreneur, Aisha aims to break stereotypes and make black jam makers more visible in the culinary world. In fact, canning has a rich and often overlooked history as a culinary craft within the black community. For generations, black families have engaged in the preservation and canning of food as a means of sustenance, ingenuity, and cultural heritage. Despite its significance, this tradition has not always received the visibility it deserves, making it all the more important to celebrate and honor the legacy. 

"I want to be in spaces where you wouldn't normally expect to see brown faces. Of course, I want my name out there. I want my business out there. I want my products out there and on tables. But I'm also trying to enter into spaces where you traditionally would not expect to see people like me. That's definitely the goal for me." 

The name "Jammin on the One" is a musical reference that resonates deeply with the Black community and immediately captures attention, arousing curiosity about its connection to music. Inspired by the jazz and funk genres, "Jammin on the One" refers to the act of emphasizing the first beat of a measure, setting the rhythm for the entire piece. Similarly, Aisha ensures each jam provides a distinct and unforgettable flavor profile from the very first taste. She also invites customers to savor not just the flavors but also the emotions of nostalgia and cherished memories of family gatherings and shared meals that each jar invokes. 

Seeds of Compassion 

Aisha's dedication to community well-being has been evident throughout her career. Her career path didn’t start in the food industry, but entrepreneurship had been a dream of hers once.  After earning a BA in Liberal Arts and an MA in Counseling, Aisha spent more than 23 years in social services. She even considered launching her own private therapy practice. She worked as a Youth Case Manager and a Child and Family Therapist at Kent Youth & Family Services. Additionally, she worked as a Social Worker at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services and a Quality Assurance Program Manager in Adult Protective Services.

At the start of the pandemic, Aisha took a leap and left the social services sector, funneling her dedication and drive into real estate. “I'm still in the social services field, if you think about the real estate world. I’m still helping people find themselves and reach their dreams. Just in a little indirect way.” 

In a Jam 

Jammin on the One began as a pandemic hobby. Just as Aisha was mastering the ropes of real estate, the industry fundamentally changed. With more time on her hands during lockdown, Aisha tried her hand at bread baking. While attending a friend’s wedding, Aisha was gifted a jar of homemade jam. She says was a revelation that sparked a new passion. Despite having limited experience in jam-making, Aisha explored this newfound passion, and her jams became a hit among friends, family, and real estate clients. When a friend requested to actually buy a jar, Aisha saw the potential to grow something special out of her pandemic-inspired culinary pursuits. 

 “My real estate clients were getting it during the holidays because I wasn't selling it, I was just giving it to people. What happened was I had a friend that wanted to buy it. She didn't want me to give it to her. That was the light bulb.” 

Aisha's path into the world of jam-making was a year-long adventure of digging into details, figuring things out, and putting plans into action. As a practical and resourceful entrepreneur, Aisha says she wasn't about to waste time or money. She spent countless hours researching permits, licenses, and what it takes to run a jam business. Aisha attended vending markets, checked out the competition, and learned the ins and outs of the industry. By May, she had her business officially set up. By September, she was already producing and selling her delicious jams.  

Fruits of Labor 

What sets Jammin on the One apart from your average store-bought jam is a commitment to quality over convenience. Each jam is a small batch, handcrafted labor of love. Aisha recalls a time when she scrapped a large batch of strawberry jam when it didn’t pass her flavor test. This dedication to delivering the best product possible showcases the heart and soul that she pours into each jar of jam. As a black entrepreneur, Aisha sees Jammin on the One as a platform to promote and celebrate the tradition of preserving and canning within the black community. She prides herself on stepping outside sweets and experimenting with creative flavors more suited for savory foods like pork, lamb, and veggie dishes. 

Aisha's commitment to quality and authenticity resonates with customers who seek the personalized and locally crafted experience she provides. Initially found through word-of-mouth, Aisha is becoming a fixture at local vendor markets, primarily in Tacoma and Puyallup. She is also active on Instagram, driven to foster connections with customers seeking authentic, local products. Her market presence has gained momentum with people eager to find her products, and she is currently focused on pursuing collaborations with local stores to achieve her goal of becoming a staple on every table.  

“I think that number one, people are surprised that I'm a black woman making this and doing this all by myself. I am making and pouring every single jar myself. I'm labeling. I haven't seen anybody else like me selling jam at the markets I go to. I'm the only one. The impact is great because there's this black chick doing something people don't see. It's different. People recognize that it's time-consuming, it tastes good, and the flavor combinations are unique. 

Under Pressure 

As Jammin on the One has gained a following, Aisha's journey has also highlighted the need to address systemic issues. The survival rates of black businesses within the first five years remain dishearteningly low. In addition to difficulty accessing capital, Aisha has seen firsthand the scarcity of culturally relevant agencies attuned to the distinct needs of black entrepreneurs. While jam-making isn't inherently complex, the investment of time and patience required can deter potential black jam makers. The intricacies of the food industry, coupled with licensing fees and regulations, create additional hurdles.  

Compounding these challenges is the fact that many culturally relevant agencies are still under the control of white individuals. Who, Aisha says, lack a comprehensive understanding of the issues faced by black entrepreneurs. This reality underscores the importance of tailored services for fostering success in underrepresented business ecosystems.  

You can locate services, but I think that it's very different when you're working with someone who doesn't understand that there is a difference between entrepreneurs. The fact is that most black businesses don't survive five years. There are very real reasons why that happens, you know? Culturally relevant agencies exist, but most of them are still under this whole umbrella of buttons that are still being pushed by people who don't actually understand." 

Branching Out 

With an eye on expansion, Aisha was looking to secure a permanent kitchen space in the Tacoma area. She was interested in working with an organization that shared her vision for inclusivity and equity. A community of individuals who believed in her mission and provided her with the tools to thrive. While attending a networking event, Aisha discovered Business Impact NW. While her initial hope of securing a permanent kitchen space did not materialize, her encounter with Business Impact NW was impactful. Their commitment to equitability and providing opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs resonated with her. She recognized the immense value of their services. She also realized that entrepreneurship is not just about finding physical space, but also about building a strong foundation and network of support.  

On future plans for Jammin on the One, Aisha envisions wholesaling as the primary revenue stream for her business. She aims to expand her online presence, allowing customers to order her products for nationwide. In the future, international shipping, providing wider accessibility to her jams. She’ll continue participating in markets as a way to provide valuable opportunities to expand her customer base. As well as receive direct feedback from customers, and build brand recognition within the local community. Additionally, she is actively pursuing collaborations with other businesses, such as catering companies. Aisha is also applying for food showcases and festivals around Washington. She hopes to introduce her jams to new audiences and expand the reach of her products beyond traditional markets.  

Preserving the Legacy 

Aisha's commitment to quality has fostered a loyal customer base, and she advises others to always prioritize quality. To her fellow black entrepreneurs looking to enter the food industry, Aisha stresses the importance of thorough research and strategic preparation to establish a strong foundation. She emphasizes the importance of resourcefulness and resilience and encourages perseverance in the face of challenges. “I'm never going back to a traditional job. I don't ever see that for myself. What drives me is I want this to work. If I was to just stop because one thing didn't work out, I would get nowhere. I've always been resourceful. I've always had to figure out how to do the same thing a different way.  

Jammin on the One has become more than a soulful culinary experience. It is a symbol of cultural celebration, empowerment, and the pursuit of dreams. Aisha's impact on her community and the culinary industry goes beyond the jars of jam she sells. It extends to breaking down barriers and fostering a more inclusive and diverse landscape for future entrepreneurs. Her story is a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of black entrepreneurs. The path to success may not always be sweet, but to savor each step of the journey. 

"I think that's the thing that I've learned the most about myself is that I really am this creative being, more so than I ever imagined. I've always known I was resourceful and resilient, but I'm definitely coming into this space where I'm recognizing my creativity. I mean, people think about creatives, they think about artists, painters, musicians, and stuff like that. But I'm like, Nah, girl, you are actually right in there with them." 

About the author

Janelle is a storyteller through and through. She was raised in a family of entrepreneurs who owned and managed a series of small businesses, including a Hawaiian restaurant, a video store, and several real estate properties. Growing up in a low-income community but attending schools as a minority in affluent areas, she struggled with the inequities she faced each day.

Janelle graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, specializing in screenwriting and playwriting. She has worked for a number of nonprofits and has remained steadfast in her commitment to using her craft to support the missions of each organization, and uplift underserved communities throughout the Bay Area.

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