Summer 2024
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Business is Poppin’

MBA alumna Hannah Jodoin has taken her gourmet popcorn business to new heights By Tomas Weber

For Hannah Jodoin (M20), the smell of popcorn always brings her back to her childhood.

As a little girl, Jodoin crisscrossed the country with her parents, who made kettle corn and sold the gourmet snack at art festivals. Those entrepreneurial parents, Linda and Mike, named the business Miss Hannah’s Gourmet Popcorn Company, after their daughter. It was a fateful decision: Jodoin is now CEO.

Jodoin grew up homeschooled and relished the freedom of a childhood on the road. “My brother and I loved it,” she says. “We would run around and make friends with all of our vendor neighbors, trading kettle corn for elephant ears.”

But it wasn’t all fun and games. “We didn’t do Saturday cartoons. We were up early making the popcorn for the festivals. It made us tight-knit as a family, because we did school together, and then we would work together too.”

But Jodoin never imagined she would take over the family business. When she went off to college in 2011, she imagined a more traditional career. After studying human development and family sciences at Oregon State University, she pursued a career with Young Life. But then, in 2017, she got the call.

Hannah Jodoin standing in front of her gourmet popcorn shopHer parents had just opened a full-time, year-round store in Bridgeport Village in Tualatin, Oregon, and they needed some help. Jodoin returned from Arizona, where she had been working at a Young Life camp, to help them manage the store.

It was just supposed to be a temporary gig. She was to train up some new hires so her parents could finally enjoy a few days off. “But after a year and a half, I began to realize, ‘Oh, I actually have a vision and some goals for this company,’” she says.

Thanks to her parents, Miss Hannah’s already had a powerful brand identity.

Customers trusted that the popcorn would always be homecrafted in small batches. They knew it was made with love, and that the business valued their customers above all else. Plus, Jodoin says, “Everybody knew we wouldn’t put out a flavor unless we were obsessed with it too.”

Jodoin realized this strong foundation was an opportunity to grow the business.

“Maybe we’ll open more shops,” Jodoin thought. “Or perhaps we’ll jump into wholesale, or grow our online presence with a booming e-commerce store.”

There were a lot of possibilities, but Jodoin wasn’t sure which path to take – and that’s when she heard about the MBA program at George Fox.

“I’d never really thought about getting my master’s degree,” she says. “But I felt like I needed to be better equipped. Being raised by entrepreneurial parents taught me a lot, but I wanted to make sure I really measured up.”

In 2018, Jodoin began the university’s part-time online MBA program. She learned practical skills she hadn’t studied before but are key to successful business leadership, such as managerial finance. “It made me business literate,” she says.

Jodoin also benefited from the real-life business experience of her professors and peers in the cohort. “It’s one thing reading business books and learning from other people’s mistakes and successes,” she says. “But it’s a whole other thing to be able to talk that through with people who have had a completely different experience.”

Central to Jodoin’s time at George Fox was integrating her faith with business acumen. “Faith permeates my business all the time,” she says. “I love Jesus, and I was raised in a Christian home, so going to a school that is aligned with that was just a huge relief.”

Ultimately, the MBA gave Jodoin the knowledge, skills and confidence to embrace every part of her business.

“I dabble in everything now,” she says. “From making sure deliveries are on track, to ensuring we’re making enough popcorn, to marketing, to planning for the next three years – I have to be good at all the different parts of it.”

And Jodoin is good at it.

In 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, she was driving down Highway 99W outside of Newberg when she noticed a “For Lease” banner hanging on the side of an old, ugly autobody shop.

“It was just staring me in the face,” she says. “And I thought, ‘That’s it. That’s going to be our kitchen.’ So we tracked down the landlord, and he said, ‘You want to do what with it?’”

The building was full of tractors and oil, with auto grease everywhere. And it was overgrown, with blackberries growing in the back. “We cleaned it out and turned it into an FDA-certified kitchen and retail space in just four months,” she says.

Today, the building, painted black, is beautiful. It is the company’s primary kitchen and its secondary retail space. With flavors from snickerdoodle to sea-salted caramel chocolate drizzle, Miss Hannah’s popcorn is more popular than ever. The company employs about 20 people now – up from just three when Jodoin came on board.

She knows these relationships are the key to success. Miss Hannah’s is still a family business, she says, “It’s just a little larger now.”

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