I’m giddy about today’s post, friends. Words from one of the FUNNIEST people I know + a SCRUMPTIOUS prize. Let’s dive IN!
Me: Kelly Lee, tell us about you.
Kelly Lee: I’m your cousin, which is the most important thing about me. I’m female, 5’8”, adorbs, and I hate long walks on the beach (unless it’s below 74 degrees outside). I live just outside of Miami, Florida, and after a 10-year career in the radio industry, I am now a part time legal assistant who moonlights as a food truck owner/operator and Potoffee Chips CEO.
Me: When/why did you start making your Potoffee Chips?
About 18 months ago. I was in a place in my life where I had to make some big changes. The rotten economy had kicked my tail a few years back when I was laid off from my fun gig as a radio producer and morning show host due to a lack of funds. God provided me with some great office jobs to help make ends meet while I figured out what to do next, but radio openings were scarce. I started praying for something I could do with my life that I would LOVE, that would bless others, and that would help me pay off my ridiculous college loans. I’m talking on-my-face, snot running everywhere, desperate crying out to God for provision. One day, out of the blue, He answered and blessed me with an awesome idea for a business. One I never, ever could have come up with on my own.
It started as a creative urge. One day I just decided that I wanted to create a new, gourmet potato chip treat because I am obsessed with the salty/sweet combo– especially chocolate-covered potato chips. Mmmm. I tested a few recipes, and then one afternoon during a phone call with my sister Kyla, she asked a question that inspired the idea for Potoffee. (She wants royalties for that, but I’m waiting for a court order. Obviously inspiration isn’t something that can be copyrighted, or all the members of Coldplay would be in prison). I tested a recipe for the toffee-coated potato chip idea, and after one bite, I thought, “I would totally pay money for these. Lots of money.” The next step was sharing them with relatives and friends, and people went kind of completely nuts over them.
Me: Tell us about your awesome business and what goals/dreams you have.
Kelly Lee: Well, Potoffee Chips are crisp, salty potato chips coated in handmade butter toffee. We also have a version that is drizzled with milk and dark chocolate. They sound weird to some people, but they’re oh-so-yummy and very addictive. They are a delicious combo of sweet and salty! I sell them in cute window bags online at potoffee.com, and in an Etsy store, as well as at local food truck events.
At first, I figured I could sell Potoffee Chips just to friends and family, but then as more people tried them, I realized I might be on to something bigger than that. I had people calling from Pennsylvania begging to order bags because they had tried Potoffee Chips while visiting Miami. A South Beach restaurant owner contacted me and wanted to add Potoffee to his menu, because someone had shared a sample with him at a gym (REALLY weird place for Potoffee to end up). Some convenience stores and a college bookstore wanted wholesale pricing so they could sell the chips to their customers. I got order inquiries from Europe. I didn’t know what to do!
My good friend Craig, who has an awesome business mind, is the one who pushed me to move forward with Potoffee as a real business. Craig has been a huge blessing from the Lord, and he’s provided a great balance for my personality. He would encourage me when I hit wall after wall, and law after law that seemed designed to keep people from starting a business in Florida, ever. He took on a lot of responsibilities that weren’t my forte. He was also the one who presented the idea of a Potoffee food truck. In order to sell food online and in stores, I needed a licensed commercial kitchen. Those are incredibly expensive to rent in Miami, so building a kitchen in a truck was a great alternative. After a year of hard work, I picked up my beautiful truck on August 30th. Potoffee is “official!”
As for my goals and dreams, I have SO many! We are presently donating a percentage of our gross sales to Mission to Haiti and their program that provides nutritious meals to people in need. I met the founders of MTH through the radio station I worked for, and did a lot of interviews with them following recent natural disasters. They are wonderful people who are sharing the gospel of Jesus in Haiti, and serving the people there through orphanages, schools, medical clinics and much more. My dream is to partner with MTH and other non-profits for more ministry projects as Potoffee grows.
One of my more frivolous dreams is to see Potoffee Chips sold in Marlins Park. They’re “gourmet game food,” sort of a modern twist on Cracker Jack, and I would die of happiness if we could supply baseball lovers with a kiosk of salty-sweetness while they watch my favorite baseball team. David Samson, if you’re reading this, call me. Your season ticket holders will thank you.
Me: You’ve had some, er, adventures in your new truck. Care to share one or two?
Kelly Lee: I broke the lock on the back door of my truck the first day I got it, and when the health inspector came to inspect the kitchen, he had to crawl through a window to get inside. We ran over an entire tree in my neighbor’s yard one of the first times we backed up at night. I got in the truck to head to my first event, and it wouldn’t start. I had killed the battery running some fan overnight, so we ended up missing the first event. I felt terrible because I kept getting texts from people who had gone there to support me! When I drove to put gas in the truck later, my brand new microwave slid off the counter and crashed to the floor. I now need duct tape to hold it together and make the door stay closed.
At our official first event Saturday night, the generator wouldn’t work, so we had no power to run the truck. Then an awesome guy from another food truck came over and fixed it. When it died a few hours later, he fixed it again and told me not to run the air conditioner at events, ever. That was a joy to hear since it’s always 400 degrees here.
Me: Last thing. Any words of inspiration for others dreaming big?
Kelly Lee: Yes! Pray, and then call Craig. No, seriously. if God has put a dream in your heart, it’s there for a reason. Go for it! If I can start a business, absolutely anyone in the world can. If you aren’t sure you have the personality or resources to accomplish whatever you’re dreaming about, ask God to make a way. He did for me. I do NOT fit the typical business person mold. I’m normally pretty easily discouraged, and view obstacles as dead ends more often than not.
The thing that kept me going was the fact that I kept coming back to the Potoffee idea over and over again, and just couldn’t stop thinking about it, and couldn’t stop pursuing it. Normally I get very excited about things—playing guitar, making jewelry, writing—and then the excitement fizzles after a few weeks. But with Potoffee I would feel giddy with excitement talking about boring things such as food packaging, heat sealers and the wholesale price of butter. Even when I was extremely discouraged, and totally overworked, I just didn’t want to give up. That’s when I knew God himself had planted the idea and desire for Potoffee in my heart. So I broke down the business to-do list and viewed each step of the process individually, and suddenly it was doable. With a lot of prayer and a lot of wisdom from my business partner, step by step, things got done.
Now, I’ve done things that I never would have thought I’d do in a million years—like drive a 16-foot truck (think UPS/FedEx) down the Florida turnpike in Miami rush hour traffic, by myself, without so much as a training session in advance. And filling propane tanks and starting generators and cooking for hundreds. It has been so awesome to see Potoffee come together, and I can’t wait to see where God is going to take us from here.
p.s. Please like our Facebook page!
TODAY’S GIVE-AWAY = 1 bag of original Potoffee Chips + 1 bag of chocolate Potoffee Chips. DOUBLE YUM!!!
I love you, Kelly, and I LOVE POTOFFEE CHIPS!!