Alec has always been a fan of pretzels. This was largely in part due to the great taste of his family’s recipe. Alec’s family would always use the recipe, which includes the infamous “kick” of Cayenne pepper, to bake up a batch of pretzels for holidays and events. As a result, Alec began to put his family’s recipe to use by bringing pretzels to Williston Central School for fellow students. From that point on, it was all history.
As Alec’s pretzels were becoming popular among his classmates, Williston Central School introduced all 8th graders, including Alec, to the 8th grade challenge. Alec, with a passion for entrepreneurship, decided to put this recipe to the test. He started producing pretzels and selling them at the local Williston farmer’s market. Things would quickly start to grow for Alec and his small venture to the point where it is today.
You can now find Alec’s pretzels on sale at many local stores and markets in Chittenden County. It’s nearly impossible to miss the flashy red 9 ounce. bag when browsing the snack aisles in most stores. Many of Vermont’s high school students (including Alec’s high school, Champlain Valley Union) will also notice his 3 ounce bags on sale in their cafeterias.
Alec’s business has found success and publicity beyond his local communities. Alec’s pretzels have appeared on the Rachael Ray Show and have been sold in Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium. It’s no coincidence that his pretzels have been so successful and that his choice to combine entrepreneurship and his family recipe would pay off.
Alec, now a junior at CVU, was kind enough to give us insight into his background, his take on young entrepreneurship, and where his business is headed down the road:
Tell us about your background and a brief history of your business:I was born and raised in Vermont, and have lived in Williston my whole life. I went to Williston Central School, and while at Williston you need to do an 8th grade challenge. We used to make them all the time for holidays and special events. I had already brought them into school and I thought it would be cool to sell them at the local farmers’ market to make some money for a charity.
People started noticing, and then the pretzels were ordered by Champlain Valley Union (CVU). From then, it sort of just took off from there. Now there are 700-1,000 ordered every week from that school alone.
At what point did you choose to fully commit yourself to the business?
We started to get into more stores locally. People started to buy them and their popularity rose. Then I realized we could probably make something out of this.
What kind of advice would you give young adults who wish to pursue entrepreneurship like you?
If you really want to pursue entrepreneurship, don’t give up. Even if you aren’t making a lot of profit right away. It will take a few years to really start making some type of profit. If it gets harder, just keep going and don’t give up.
Also, I think that young adults who decide to start a business should approach it as something they love first, and a way to make money second because not many people are going to be able to make lots of money right away. So if you are doing something you enjoy, then the money won't matter as much.
Your pretzels were presented on the Rachael Ray Show. What was that like?
The show has the Snack of the Day section. So we decided to send them some pretzels. They liked the product, but they also loved the story. On the show, she read the whole back of our package.
This gave us credibility, which is big. And now that’s what we do when we go to food shows. We display the “as seen on the Rachael Ray Show” sign.
Do you have any long-term goals?
A long-term goal is to pay for a chunk of college. Also, to branch out from Vermont further into New England, and maybe even abroad.
Did you benefit from the community here in Vermont?
The community gave us a lot of support. We started off selling the pretzels at the Williston farmer’s market, which takes place every Saturday. So that’s how the community started knowing us because people started to come back week after week to get more pretzels. And then it spread from there, where people began to tell their friends about it.
We have also tested all of our original flavors at the market to see if everyone liked them. It was a great place to start and a great place for any business to take off.
1. Potential College study?
Haven't decided yet
2. Favorite songs on iPod?
3. Favorite class at school?
4. Any extracurricular activities?
Football and lacrosse
For more information on Alec’s Spicy Pretzels, visit his website at www.alecsspicypretzels.com.
by Matt Sulva