Let me start by saying this: Best. Peanut. Brittle. Ever. And I mean ever! The Brittled Nut Clusters from Durham Toffee Company are simply divine and after just one bite if you’re not addicted to them, then something is seriously wrong with you. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning and let me introduce you to the delightful Rebecca Burnett – founder, chef, and owner of Durham Toffee Company, based in Durham, N.C.
Durham Toffee will be making its debut at this year’s 2018 Southern Women’s Show, and I was lucky to interview Rebecca about the show and her business. Within the first five minutes of meeting her, I could tell that Rebecca was genuinely passionate not only about her products and business, but for her customers as well. She wants to ensure that her sweets are of the upmost quality, while at the same time displaying some artistic flair to make them feel truly special, such as decorative ribbons, holiday tags, or heart-felt messages to accompany each bag of her delicious goodies.
Here’s a peak on how Rebecca started with Durham Toffee Company, some of the challenges she has faced, and where she sees her business in the next several years.
In 2008, as a single mom, Rebecca began making Christmas confections for gifts cash in her own kitchen. It was a fun and a creative outlet for her, and the orders continued to grow in the following years.
Her family also grew in 2013, when Rebecca and her two boys married her husband David and his three girls. From the very beginning of their Burnett Bunch story, David encouraged Rebecca to take her toffee big time and the seasonal momentum and toffee demand continued to grow.
After her most successful toffee holiday season in 2015, Rebecca heeded the advice of a dear friend to open “Durham Toffee.” Durham became her vision for her company, as she loves living in the area. Not one to waste time, and with the complete and enthusiastic support of her husband, in February of 2016 she officially launched The Durham Toffee Company at Smitten Boutique in downtown Durham. Since then, her products also include her famous Brittled Nut Clusters and Durham Toffee MashUp, a trail mix that incorporates leftover bits of her other products and add pretzels, almonds and other items for yet another addictive treat.
Quality of Life
I asked Rebecca what her biggest challenges were when she first started as well as today. She replied that Durham Toffee is not your typical business in that quality of life is more important to her than expanding her sales and product lines, at least for the time. She wants to bring sweetness and richness to her customers’ lives, but not at the expense of her own family. So learning to say “No” to several opportunities then and now has been hard, but necessary to maintain her quality of life. Since four of the five kids are teenagers, she wants them to be able to enjoy family time together.
Rebecca said if she decides to expand once the kids are on their own that she will increase her direct sales as well as continue to beautify and personalize the actual presentation of her goodies. As a lover of both food art and paper art, this comes naturally to Rebecca, who designed Durham Toffee’s playful logo.
It’s a Family Affair
Durham Toffee is currently produced in Rebecca’s kitchen, where she has a great set-up, thanks in part to her contractor husband, David, who helped her design and build a great space to create her yummy goods and to store her equipment.
I just love the sliding doors that hide her business materials and cooking tools at the end of the day.
Rebecca had to get a special permit to produce her confections in her home, which was relatively easy and only entailed minor changes. I asked if her kids pitched in to help and she said they did from time to time and that their hearts are really in it. Some help with driving to make deliveries, others assist with labeling and packaging — whatever needs to be done. Rebecca recently hired a part-time assistant who comes in a couple of afternoons a week, which again helps with her quality of life.
I asked Rebecca what advice would she give others starting out, and she replied “Don’t lose heart – always let your heart drive you.” Great advice, indeed — it has certainly been the underlying mission and success of the Durham Toffee Company.
The 2018 Southern Women’s Show
Rebecca is excited to be a first time participant in this year’s Southern Women’s Show, which starts this Friday. She will have samples of her products and offering discounts on her products. She is excited about the show and the opportunity to connect with others. Drop by and see her and make sure you at least try her addictive brittle – you’ll be hooked, I promise!
- The Southern Women’s Show Raleigh takes place Friday, April 13 through Sunday, April 15 at the NC State Fairgrounds.
- This year’s celebrity guests are Vern Yip from TLC’s Trading Spaces and Savannah Chrisley from USA’s Chrisley Knows Best.
- The Southern Women’s Show is Triangle’s favorite event for women with hundreds of boutiques filled with the latest fashions, trendy jewelry, gourmet treats, health and beauty and so much more.
- Tickets start around $10, and can be purchased at the door or online at the following link: https://southernshows.com/wra/tickets/.