Ken of Ken’s Perfekt
Ken Patton of Ken’s Perfekt Jams, Butters, & Preserves is this month’s Business Spotlight: a series interviewing makers and designers who use and enjoy our products.
As if receiving a box of Ken’s delicious jams to sample wasn’t enough, they came with a great story! The history behind these jars of goodness is very sweet and nostalgic. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed our jam tasting party.
What inspired you to start your business and what’s behind the Perfekt name?
The business started by way of a happy accident, so to speak. When I was 9 years old, I fractured my kneecap, and was not able to accompany my family on their scheduled summer vacation. They went to the Grand Canyon, I went to spend the summer on my Grandparent’s farm. During that summer, I learned to cook, can, sew, knit, and crochet. What started off being the challenging summer ended up being probably the best summer of my life. I loved that time with my Grandparents, and I loved learning those lost arts from my Grandmother. Every year I would bake, and make jams and butters, and give them away as gifts throughout the year. It got to the point where people were making requests; making requests turned into placing orders… and those same friends repeatedly suggested that I give selling my jams a go. So I took part in some local Craft Fairs, the response was overwhelmingly positive, I did quite well, and well… here we are!
As for the Perfekt name, that also has roots with my Grandparents, my Grandmother in particular. As a child, I used to complain about my birthday being in February – cold, funky month with a weird number of days… my Grandmother would say that February only had 28 days to limit the number of perfect people walking the face of the earth. I would smile, then she would erupt in hearty laughter, and remind me that no one was perfect, but in her eyes, I was pretty damn close. It was one of her favorite things to say to me, and that always stuck with me. Then in high school, while taking German, I learned that the Germans spelled ‘perfect’ with a ‘k’; I immediately thought of my Grandmother, and liked the way that the ‘k’ in the German spelling kinda tied my name into the word perfect, and that stuck with me. So when I started my initial company [I work primarily as a Freelance Event Manager], Perfekt Productions was born. Perfekt Jams is an offshoot of that. Perfekt with a K; not quite perfect… but pretty damn close — just like me.
What do you enjoy most about making and selling jams?
I thoroughly enjoy making jams… the craft of taking ripe fruit, and preserving it in a fun, and creative way… experimenting, mixing and playing with flavors… whether baking or jam making, I find that aspect of the process to be exhilarating, engaging, and fascinating. And my favorite way to sell is at fairs; having a booth set up, with everything out to sample; I find that I can just let the product speak for itself; people taste, people buy… and I get to meet, and talk to so many wonderful people. And people always seem to be happy when they are tasting sweets. It’s a good thing!
Describe your workspace and how you organize the process.
Do you have helpers or do it all yourself?
My workspace is my kitchen at home, though I am coming close to the point where I might be outgrowing that. No helpers; it is all me, from shopping to prepping, to cooking, canning, labeling, packaging, and selling… all me; and I’m happy to do it! Though I do have help in spreading the word… my friends are my biggest champions when it comes to spreading the word about my products!
What are your most popular flavors and your personal favorites?
Though I have  flavors available currently, what is available at any given time changes as the seasons change. I can year round, and when a batch is gone, it is gone… until I make it again! So currently, the most popular would be the Strawberry Tequila Jam, followed closely by the Black Forest Jam, and the Carrot Cake Jam, two new additions this year that came from an idea, and experimentation… other flavors that sold well this year would be my Plum Preserves, my Guava Jam, and my Blackberry/Boysenberry Jam, all of which are sold out currently as they are seasonal, but they will be back. As for my favorites, I am a huge fan of my Banana Jam, and I really love the Carrot Cake Jam; those flavors play very well together in a jam. The Peach Butter is my Grandmother’s recipe; that, along with my Peach Preserves, were the very first things that I ever learned to make, so I try to make sure to make at least one of them every year in honor of my Grandmother, who was the start of it all for me.
You have a great selection already but are you experimenting with new flavors?
Yes… One thing that I love to do at fairs is to chat up people, and see if I can get a pulse on what they might be looking for, or wanting at that moment. And by far, the most frequent request I got this year was for spicy jams, or jams that had a kick of some sort. So I have been playing around in my happy place, I mean… my kitchen, and I know that my January jams will indeed foot that bill; soon to join the line up will be a Twisted Pepper Jelly [Thai and Tabasco peppers, a fusion of the tastes of two different cuisines]; and a Triple Ginger Jam.
Besides the traditional toast and jam combo, do you have any special
serving suggestions for your toppings?
Yes — Jam is good for so much more than just toast, though a good piece of toast can be heavenly… the Banana Jam does well as a filling for crepes, as does the Black Forest Jam; the Carrot Cake jam makes a great filling for sandwich cookies, in particular oatmeal, or a spice cookie… all three butters [Peach, Pear & Pumpkin] also do well as sandwich cookie fillings. The Cherry Preserves, mixed with a little dijon mustard, makes a beautiful glaze for pork chops or a pork roast… I have swirled the Blueberry Jam though a pan of pound cake batter before baking it; and speaking of cakes, both the Pineapple Jam, and the Strawberry Tequila Jam make excellent fillings between the layers of a layer cake. Pretty much all of the flavors act well as a topping on cheesecake. And Travis, from your Customer Service department there at Evermine, made a suggestion that I tried recently and loved — for a twist with your toast, try mixing the Banana Jam, the Black Forest Jam, and the Strawberry Tequila Jam, for a Banana Split on toast — that was a fun combo!
Where can all your jams, jellies, and preserves be purchased?
I am online; you can purchase my jams, and see what will be available in the coming months on my website: www.kensperfektjams.com
Why did you choose Evermine?
I searched for a company that had designs that were bold, fresh, and appealing. I wanted an interface that would be easy to work with. And I wanted a design that would give my products a uniform look, while being unique with each flavor. With Evermine, I got all of the above, and more… the design I chose is strong, and appealing, and I have the flexibility of choosing from 27 different colors for the label, so I can coordinate the label color to the jar contents… the design pulls all of the products together, but the freedom color choice allows each flavor to stand on its own. And the Customer Service can’t be beat – they go the extra mile for you, while making it seem like that is an everyday thing for them, which it is. Plus, Evermine can handle it all… currently I look to Evermine for my product labels, ingredient labels, business cards… and they do so much more. Evermine truly is a one stop solution for any small business printing needs. A design and print shop all in one; Evermine truly just can’t be beat.
A big thank you to Ken for sharing his current selection with us. The Black Forest is a fun flavor combo and we’re fond of the Strawberry Tequila too – but they’re all yummy. The butters are divinely spicy and rich; those were a big hit! We appreciate Ken taking the time for our questions and sending such beautifully-written responses. It’s a pleasure featuring his business story and we’re happy he chose us to print his labels. We wish him much continued success!
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