Butchers, Bakers, & Candy Makers

Locals aim for a slice of the food industry pie


(page 8 of 10)

Shannon Byrne

Company: Slow Jams

Products: Michigan-sourced jams, jellies, and preserves

Distribution: At farmers market and grocers such as Westborn Markets, Plum Markets, local Whole Foods, Rocky’s, and Zingerman’s Creamery. 313-318-0916, email slowjamsjam@gmail.com

Back story: What Shannon Byrne and a group of friends started out of a community garden has sort of “spread” (pun intended).

Slow Jams began with a group who wanted to learn the art of traditional jam making, then share it with family and friends. By 2011, they decided to try selling face to face to consumers at Eastern Market.

They were soon approached by retailers and restaurant owners, leading to the next step: a commercial kitchen in Grosse Pointe Woods.

As Slow Jams’ popularity grew, so did their number of suppliers. When they exhausted the community garden’s raw materials, they started purchasing from Eastern Market wholesalers. The main goal was the same: Use only Michigan products.

Another goal is to help support the local economy. They’ve developed relationships with farmers throughout the state — from Ruhlig Farms & Gardens in southeast Michigan and a strawberry grower in Armada to getting cherries from the northwest and hitting up the blueberry belt on the southwest.

The Slow Jams team has expanded. Some are more part time than others, but “My mom’s in the kitchen [and] my mother-in-law’s in the kitchen,” Byrne says.

Byrne is also helping others get started in the food community, in part by sitting on the steering committee of FoodLab Detroit. “We were blown away by the amount of support,” from others, she says. “Folks are so eager to help grow good, viable jobs. So we want to give back.”

Another part of giving back is working with the Detroit Food Academy. Slow Jams mentors high school students who learn everything from sourcing to balancing books.

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