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Oh Fudge is More Than Just a Hobby

Situation

Bridget Marshall never intended to own a confectionary business. She graduated from Fairfield University with a degree in Marketing and Economics and landed a marketing job. When she had her oldest son, she decided to leave her corporate gig to care for him. Her family continued to grow. As the mother of three, she became very involved in helping at functions for her kids’ schools and activities. Still, she felt she was missing something for herself.

She began to think about her strengths, and the types of jobs she could have while still having the flexibility to care for her family and continue to be involved in the school community.

Bridget had always enjoyed making a particular fudge recipe, and typically gifted her fabulous fudge to neighbors, teachers, and friends at the holidays. She began to make plans to turn this fudge-making hobby into a side hustle. She quickly dove in to coming up with a name, logo and creating labels for her fudge. Bridget received the necessary business licensing to prepare and sell food, and in 2018, Oh Fudge and More, LLC was established. All food preparations and packaging happened in a rental kitchen, and sales were occurring at local markets and pop-up events. By the end of 2018 she was booked for weekends at fairs, home shows, and festivals around the state. She also began selling her fudge online through Etsy.

In early 2020, the business had expanded so much that Bridget and her husband decided to build a commercial kitchen in their residence to keep up with production and demand. When the Covid pandemic began, in-person sales dropped but Oh Fudge’s online sales soared. In fact, there were multiple holiday seasons where Bridget had to stop taking online orders to ensure she could keep up with demand and have all orders shipped in a timely manner.

Funding Plan

“During the first three years of owning the business, I never took a loan,” explained Bridget. “I was of the mindset that I needed to make money first, and then I could use my earnings toward the things needed to help the business grow. When I wanted the commercial kitchen put into our home, I saved money for a year in order to pay for the kitchen in cash.”

While the in-home commercial kitchen was a great upgrade, there became a point where Bridget and the Oh Fudge business had outgrown that space too.

“Chocolate was everywhere in our house! I knew I needed to move into a larger commercial space, that ideally would have a kitchen, storage, and a storefront,” shared Bridget.

“Last fall, there was a building I was interested in purchasing that had environmental issues. The first bank that was recommended to me wasn’t interested in getting involved when they knew of the issues. My realtor encouraged me to keep trying other lenders. I called several others who weren’t interested. And then my realtor asked if I had checked with Chelsea Groton. I got connected with one of Chelsea Groton’s lenders, Dawn Sandvoss, who was nothing short of amazing from the start.”

“Dawn listened to me, believed in my business plan, and understood my needs right away. Ultimately, the initial building I was interested in didn’t work out, but Dawn stuck with me as I found a different building that fit my needs, and I was able to close on our current space in May,” said Bridget.

“When I first heard from Bridget, I thought she really had a good thing going. I was determined to stick with her as she found the right commercial space and to help her secure a loan to make it all work,” shared Dawn. “She had already built this business from the ground up and had so much of her savings invested in it. I saw her passion, and reviewed her plans and numbers with our senior underwriter Elizabeth Owen, and we had no doubt she would be a success.”

The new space included enough square footage to build a commercial kitchen (in addition to the one at home) for the business, and already offered storefront space. Chelsea Groton provided a commercial mortgage on the property. Dawn also recommended a line of credit to be used toward some equipment and to support ongoing cash flow.

Dawn connected Bridget with Alexis Kahn, who leads Chelsea Groton’s cash management team. Since Oh Fudge isn’t in Chelsea Groton’s traditional branch footprint, the business needed a remote banking solution.

“After chatting with Bridget about her needs, I recommended she consider using the highest tier of our mobile check deposit service,” explained Alexis. “This service is an optimal solution for a business that is not located close to a Chelsea Groton branch and needs to make a small volume of higher dollar amount check deposits each month.”

Oh Fudge And More Today

Less than six months in the new space, and Oh Fudge is thriving. As planned, they offered ice cream in their storefront space, in addition to fudge, beginning this summer. Throughout the summer months, ice cream sales were higher than chocolate sales. As predicted, once fall hit, the chocolate sales began to surpass the ice cream sales once again.

Oh Fudge currently offers over 15 flavors of fudge as well as chocolate-dipped cookies and pretzels, toffee, and caramel chocolate covered apples. The top items they sell on Etsy are in the wedding and customized favor space. Amongst the most popular favors currently are brides and grooms made of Oreos and pretzel rods. The company ships nationwide and to Canada, and continues to sell in-person at the storefront and events throughout Connecticut.

To supplement their direct-to-consumer business model, Oh Fudge also produces private label chocolate for two additional companies, using the respective companies’ own recipes.  

The business has brought on an additional full-time team member, as well as two part-time team members who work in the kitchen and at weekend events, and six additional team members in the shop who help with chocolate and ice cream sales, packaging, and fulfillment.

“I’m really proud of how far this business idea has come,” shared Bridget. “There are days where it’s so much work and I don’t know how I’ll get it all done, and other days where I take a deep breath and am just really grateful that it’s grown into this.”

“For the remainder of my first year, I’m going to keep my focus on managing and monitoring the pattern of sales – including anticipated spikes on chocolate sales around the holidays and wedding months, and ice cream sales going up each summer. I have so many ideas for all we could do in the future, and now I just need to find the time!”

Chelsea Groton Bank is proud to be a lending partner for Oh Fudge And More, and looks forward to continuing to support Bridget in her current business model and with expansion plans in the future.

Interested in purchasing delicious local confections? Visit Oh Fudge and More’s website or Etsy page. Check out Chelsea Groton’s website to hear from others on how the Bank has helped their businesses grow.

4,000+ sales on Etsy

871 5-star reviews

1000+ in-person events since opening!

 

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