We are so honoured to chat with our Swish Listers and dear friends, Southridge Jam Company on the blog today! The Southridge Jam Co. is a social enterprise in Niagara that provides individuals who have recently experienced homelessness the opportunity to develop job training and life skills.
A short description of what you do: Good jam, great story. The Southridge Jam Company is a social enterprise that is on a mission to interrupt the cycle of homelessness in Niagara. How? Through the making and selling of local, small batch jams and jelly. Our jam is a unique option for wedding favours, corporate gifts and your family’s breakfast table.
How long have you been working in the wedding industry? We have been making and selling jam as wedding favours since our first season in 2016.
What makes your business unique? Not only do customers receive delicious, locally-sourced jam in strawberry, peach or grape flavours, but they are contributing to our social goal of “Spreading Hope.” Through our partnership with the Southridge Shelter in St. Catharines, our small batch jam and jelly has a social goal: to provide job skills and life training to individuals transitioning out of homeless. Each individual at The Southridge Jam Company completes six jam-making sessions; they gain confidence while being a part of the jam production process, every step of the way. The sense of purpose gained during these weeks, along with the friendships created with volunteers and leaders, provides a stable environment in which they can create continued positive momentum in their journey.
Favourite part of your business? As a team, each person has a favourite part of the business, depending on their individual skills and passions. For some, it is the precise science of making the jam. For others, it's getting to talk to people when we share our story at wedding shows or local markets. However, the thing that motivates us all to bring excellence into every stage of the process is the synergy that is felt when we're all together – there’s no place like hope.
What inspires you? Story. The stories of hope, transformation, and healing that are shared while we work hard in the Southridge Jam Co. kitchen. They might be life stories or stories of the day we had, but each one reveals that all of us are on a journey to discover all that life holds for us. These stories have the power to make us believe that there is always hope. These are the stories that we strive to share with our customers, every opportunity we get.
Who is your mentor/hero in the industry? (your own industry or the Niagara wedding industry) The Vineyard Bride community has been an incredible source of inspiration for us at Southridge Jam Co. We love seeing the collaboration and support between each of these wedding vendors. The outstanding creativity we see from vendors at events like First Look Wedding Show not only inspires us to create a unique experience for our customers across every platform, but also reminds us that it's all about the feeling – we want people to feel the hope, love and transformation that is possible and happening in the Southridge Jam Co. kitchen.
On your day off...where would we find you? It depends who you ask, but we all love being part of a community and spending time with the people we love. For many of us, that might look like:
- Playing euchre with residents at the Southridge Shelter
- Serving meals to Niagara’s Caribbean workers
- Enjoying Toronto Blue Jays games with our friends and family
- Finding new ways to incorporate Southridge Jam Co. into family meals
- Discovering the incredible stores and restaurants of downtown St. Catharines
- Enjoying plays at The Shaw Festival in Niagara-On-The-Lake
If you weren't a wedding vendor, what would be your dream job? If we weren’t making jam, we would still be running a social enterprise. It’s a concept that has resonated with us from the beginning. During the original brainstorming for our venture, there were lots of ideas that came up of ways we could empower former residents of the Southridge Shelter. However, we decided that jam would be the best fit because of the existing partnerships we had with farms across Niagara through the Southridge Caribbean Workers program. All the fruit for our jam is sourced locally and generously donated to us through these “fruitful” partnerships.
What great wedding trends are you seeing this year? There is certainly a trend of incorporating social goals into their weddings. From bringing awareness to social causes to making donations, people want to celebrate their special day in meaningful ways, in the small details and the big decisions.
Do you have any practical advice for couples planning a wedding? Think local. No matter where you get married, incorporate local talent and culture into your wedding. If you’re getting married here in Niagara, you’ve chosen a spot that is flourishing with talented experts in the industry, creativity and stunning natural scenery. Take advantage of everything our community has to offer, from photography, to venues to food options.
Images #1 + 3: Reed Photography