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How Jenna White Built a Business Empire on a Foundation of Food, Community, and Culture

By Sponsored Jun 29, 2023 | 12:00 PM

This is the third in a series of stories from the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce highlighting the success and innovation of its members. The Atlantic Chamber of Commerce represents more than 16,000 businesses, of all sizes and in all sectors, through its network of 90 chambers of commerce across the four Atlantic provinces.

In 2019, Jenna White was a humble vendor at Boyce Farmers Market in Fredericton, where she sold her special brand of nut-free desserts to hungry marketgoers.
She was inspired to start her business after an allergic reaction left her legally blind. Back then, her goal was simply to make nut-free sweets more accessible in her community.

But today when White talks about community she’s more likely to mean the country-wide network of customers, supporters, and Indigenous collaborators she’s connected with as her business has ballooned.

Jenna’s Nut-Free Dessertery started as a market stall but has quickly grown into multiple permanent locations, a catering business, a wholesale supplier of Bannock, a pan-fried Indigenous flatbread, to a major grocery chain, and a launching pad for White’s many cross-country appearances where she uses food to teach and share Indigenous culture.

“Without the community I have, I wouldn’t have been able to grow my business,” White says matter-of-factly. “I’ve never had an advertising budget or marketing budget, so I have solely relied on community and word of mouth, and it’s worked.”

Krista Ross is the CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce. Early on, White went through a business accelerator program at Fredericton’s Planet Hatch. One of the perks of that program was a six-month membership to the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.

Ross says she’s been consistently impressed by White’s entrepreneurial drive.

“Jenna is an amazing entrepreneur, and her business is the very definition of bootstrapping,” Ross says.

“It takes a real focus and commitment to achieve what Jenna has. It’s hard to grow a micro business, it’s hard to be in the food service industry, and it’s hard to do that while raising a family. To be where she is after four years is truly remarkable.”

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White says her chamber membership was a key ingredient in the dish that would eventually become the community that has propped up her business.

“The chamber has been fantastic at helping bring awareness to my business and to my brand,” she says. “They’ve facilitated some very incredible introductions that have already turned into fruitful endeavors for both sides. It’s been great.”

White recalls a “very incredible meeting” she was brought into thanks to the wider network of Chambers of Commerce in Atlantic Canada. In Saint John, she met with the U.S. Ambassador to Canada. That introduction gave her key insights into the American export market and even led to “multiple invitations to events in Ottawa.”

Sheri Somerville, the CEO of the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce, says those kinds of connections are what makes the larger Chamber network so valuable.

“Your pool of potential connections expands almost exponentially when you join the vast network of the Chambers of Commerce in Atlantic Canada. Not only can you draw on the political power of thousands of like-minded business owners, you tap into the experiences of and gain opportunities from business owners from every corner of the region.”

That scope has been a big boon for White. She says she’s grateful her continued success has allowed her a larger platform to do what she loves most: connect with others through sharing food.

“Food’s just always been a part of my life,” she says. “A lot of my good memories revolve around food, whether it’s sitting at a table as a family or friends or cooking together. I get my joy from feeding people.”

“Food is something that can take you back in time and bring back things that you couldn’t remember without that little bit of taste. Food is magic to me; I’m not a very affectionate person but food is my love language.”

This story is sponsored by the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce.

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