Today we’d like to introduce you to Frances Juru.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
For many years I simply made Mac & Cheese for family gatherings like Thanksgiving. Many of my family members said it was the best Mac & Cheese they’ve ever tasted and they’d try to convince me to sell it. I thought to myself who would buy Mac & Cheese and often brushed it off. As time went by, I was working at the same job for four years which involved corporate catering and event planning. That’s when I started to think about starting my own food business. Once I got married, I was pregnant with my second child and I thought it would be impossible to run a business with a newborn.
However, when my son was a few months old, I suddenly said enough is enough, I have to jump out and try my business concept. Ideas started to flow and I came up with the name Smackin Mac; along with unique names for my Mac & Cheese like the Bacon “Good” Gouda Mac. From there, I decided to do a sample tasting and survey at an event in my community with three different types of Mac & Cheese. It went so well I decided to officially launch Smackin Mac along with being inspired by my 8-year-old son who has a life-threatening food allergy to nuts. I began to sign up as a food vendor at local events around Fort Worth and Aledo. Shortly after my first few events my customer base began to expand and long lines would form fast. Now every event I’ve done sells out!
Has it been a smooth road?
It’s been a bumpy road for sure because I’m trying to balance being a wife and soon to be mother of three! I have to make time for business and spending time with my family but it’s not easy. My youngest son Ben just turned 1-year-old and I’m expecting another baby June 2020. With two under 2, I know business will be challenging but when there’s a will there’s a way! My oldest son Aiden who’s 8-years-old is my big helper so I’m slowly teaching him about running a business. Starting off, I had to learn about setting up and breaking down for outdoor events and festivals. It’s hard work; we often have to setup our tent and booth space several hours before an event starts because it’s just me and my husband Sylvester working most events. We load up two trucks unload and then I make a second trip to prepare and bring the food from the commercial kitchen closer to the event start time. Setting up and breaking down involves lots of heavy lifting but we plan to hire more help in the future. With each event we’re learning how to make the setup a little easier for both of us.
Since I prepare everything from scratch at a commercial kitchen it’s been hard to keep up with the demand at large events. I often sell out fast which is great but I also want to be more efficient to ensure every customer gets a bowl of Smackin Mac! Another challenge is only having two people working when we have large crowds! My husband usually takes the orders and I serve the Smackin Mac bowls. This doesn’t allow much time for either one of us to take a break which resulted in me being hospitalized for dehydration after one event during a hot summer day. Of course, I learned my lesson and always have a third person helping. This also helps us serve our customers faster. However, as I book larger festivals and fairs, I plan to hire at least five people per event especially once I’m further along in my pregnancy. All the struggles along the way are well worth when I see a happy Smackin Mac customer!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Smackin Mac (Gourmet Mac & Cheese) story. Tell us more about the business.
I’m the owner of Smackin Mac but I’m also the cook and server! Smackin Mac sells a variety of Macaroni and Cheese made from scratch with a blend of different cheeses and each batch has the special Smackin Mac seasoning added to it. All of my Mac & Cheeses have unique names. The “Original” Smackin Mac is a blend of cheddar cheeses, peppercorn, and Smackin Mac seasoning. The “Original” Smackin Mac is a favorite amongst kids! The Bacon “Good” Gouda Mac (applewood smoked bacon, gouda cheese, topped with parmesan cheese) and the Bangin BBQ Chicken Mac are also very popular! I serve my Mac & Cheese in bowls at festivals and some have toppings! I also have Smackin Mac Dog; it’s a jumbo all beef hot dog topped with the “Original” Smackin Mac served on a buttered bun! I do pop up events around town and many festivals in DFW. I’m most proud of being a Mompreneur who’s able to inspire and encourage other moms to follow their passion and open the business they’ve always dreamed of! I’m proud of the struggles we’ve faced and the Smackin Mac customers who continue to support us! Many things set me apart from others; Smackin Mac offers a less typical Mac & Cheese blending unique ingredients to create the best taste experience for customers! Everything is made fresh! We’re also family-owned and I’m at every single event to serve my customers and get to know them better!
Although I don’t have any family here other than my my husband and children I’m so grateful for my family who often come in town to help support my business. My mother flies here from Florida to help with my events. Recently my father and cousin flew in from Arizona and California just to help me with a big event. My husband who works full time as a Corporate Analyst also helps me at every single event. I couldn’t run Smackin Mac without my family’s support it means so much to me.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I certainly see the popularity in pop up events and I plan to have a food truck in the future to better serve customers who attend pop ups. I also see the shift in dining selections; most customers want more options to accommodate dietary restrictions and allergies. As a mom with two children with food allergies my youngest being allergic to eggs and wheat, I can understand personally how important it is to have more food choices. I plan to offer a Vegan and Gluten-free Mac & Cheese in the future! The “create your own” concept is also becoming increasingly popular. The future Smackin Mac Bar will be a unique experience for customers because they’ll have the option to customize their own bowl of Mac & Cheese by choosing their pasta, sauce, cheese (varieties or vegan), toppings, and level of crispness (just melted, crispy edges, crispy cheese top).
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smackinmac_dfw/, https://www.instagram.com/frannyvb/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smackinmac/
Frances Juru & Sylvester Juru