Picture this: fudge brownie, chocolate mousse, whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles, and chocolate chips. Now pictures all those together. Yes, a dessert like that actually exists and it comes in the cutest freaking mason jars of all time.
Unless you’re not into #foodporn (liar), you’ve probably seen these decadent layered mason jar desserts floating around on the interwebs. Not surprisingly, they’re called JARS and were created by the oh-so-brilliant Dani Beckerman, who I somehow managed to interview in the midst of her crazy schedule thanks to the Wild Ophelia Women Entrepreneur Series. I know, I’m pinching myself too.
In case you don’t follow her drool-worthy Instagram page, let me give you a brief description of Dani, aka the mastermind behind JARS by Dani, aka the answer to all our prayers, aka my spirit animal (and probably yours too). At only 26, Dani has managed to graduate college (pre-med — hot damn) and culinary school, start her own bakery business, take the culinary world by storm, and cater to some of the biggest pop culture icons. Even more impressive, she’s managed to stay totally down-to-earth and hasn’t imploded from the stress of getting a business of the ground.
Spoon: You first made your JARS for a dinner with friends, and it all spiraled from there. What gave you the guts to start your own business?
Dani Beckerman: It kind of decided for itself. I didn’t make them and think, “Oh, I’m going to make a business from this.” I posted some pictures onto social media and saw that there was a demand for them, so I kept making my JARS.
Spoon: How has social media played a role in your business?
DB: Social media has 100% helped me create my business. My friends first started posting pictures of my JARS on Instagram, and then their friends saw them and ordered some. I actually hand-delivered my JARS for the first seven months or so, and I’d always ask people to post pictures to their social media accounts. I’d also send photos to major social media influencers asking them to repost my desserts if they liked what they saw. My first major client was Diane von Furstenberg, and I got that gig because someone had seen my JARS on social media.
Spoon: Why JARS? Why not cupcakes or another popular dessert?
DB: When I came up with my idea for JARS, I was in culinary school, and I knew I didn’t want to be a regular line chef. I wanted to do something innovative. I was very into experimental baking and would come home and bake a million different things. I was in a very creative period of my life and would go into arts and craft stores. One day, I saw some mason jars and thought I’d give them a try, and it worked.
Spoon: What goes on behind the scenes of starting your own bakery that people don’t realize?
DB: It’s so stressful and crazy. Anyone in the culinary world knows that baking takes a lot of work. It’s exhausting. There are a million things you have to do in starting a business. Not only making the JARS, but delivering them, answering emails, doing interviews — it’s crazy. But I’m at a different stage now where I’m not in the kitchen every day and can focus more on the business side of things.
Spoon: Do you miss the hands-on baking you used to do each day?
DB: Not really. It was such exhausting work, and now I can focus more on creating new flavors and growing the business. My JARS are created in a very specific way — it’s a science, really. Once my bakers learn my method, I don’t feel like I need to be in the kitchen with them all the time.
Spoon: What has been the single hardest moment for you in your journey to grow JARS?
DB: It’s always so hard when we’re trying to create a ton of product. Sometimes I’ve been unsure if we’d be able to finish all the orders, but we always get the job done. Christmas is especially insane. We actually had bakers in the kitchen 24/7 to meet the demand, which was sort of scary because I never want to disappoint my customers.
Spoon: What has been your biggest jar failure?
DB: I haven’t had any, really. Usually, the biggest problem is if the ingredients don’t fit well in a jar or if the end product doesn’t look pretty.
Spoon: What was your baking life like in college? Were you a big baker then?
DB: Oh yeah, I was the baker in college. People would come over to my place after hitting up the bars, and I’d always make these chocolate molten lava cakes. When I was in the dorm, I’d make ice cream sandwiches from whatever I could squish together from the convenience store. I mean, if it’s yummy, you can pair anything together.
Spoon: What advice do you have for college students struggling to get their own ideas off the ground?
DB: If you genuinely think you have a good product, go for it. Expect it to be a shit ton of work, and know that you’ll be your hardest boss. Just go out there and do it, don’t be scared to get your name out there. Send emails asking for connections, even from people you find on random websites. One day, I walked into Teen Vogue with my JARS, and people were interested in them.
Spoon: Where do you see JARS by Dani going?
DB: My goal is to be everywhere. I want to compete with the Ben & Jerry’s of the world. These first few weeks of 2016 are all about brainstorming our next move and introducing new products.
Spoon: If you got into a bar fight, which JAR would you want as your wingman and why?
DB: I was actually thinking about this the other day, like if I was walking down the street and felt unsafe, what would I do? I’d use any JAR I had on hand because they’re all so heavy and I could throw them at someone’s head.
Spoon: Which JAR would you recommend for the late-night drunchies?
DB: Cookie dough or peanut butter for sure. I still come home late at night and crack one open since I always have some in my fridge.
Spoon: Do you pair your JARS with certain drinks?
DB: Wine and JARS go well together. After a long day, I’ll have a jar of wine and a jar of JARS.