A couple of women with creative energy to burn, a common goal and a friendship that has spanned over two decades are proving to be a force for good in the fundraising and retail community.
Serendipity-Doo-Dah began mixing up small batch gourmet caramel corn in the fall of 2017 and quickly added scone mixes and spice rubs to their product menu. Made from all natural ingredients, the caramel corn features real butter, real vanilla and is non-GMO.
Longtime friends Kristi Kotrous and Chris Fried knew they wanted to start a small business. Kicking around ideas, they landed on a concept familiar to most parents and set out to improve upon it.
“We’re two moms and new grandmas who were always doing fundraisers for kids and it was always something we didn’t want to buy because it was mass produced, not good quality and full of stuff that’s not good for you,” Kotrous said.
Their plan was to focus on quality ingredients, set a competitive price point and work toward a loyal base of repeat customers.
Union Ridge Elementary School students and their PTO was the first school to offer Serendipity-Doo-Dah products for a fundraising project. According to Kotrous, the kids sold about 1,400 items in a 10-day period. This successful kick-off motivated the ladies to launch the retail and wholesale arms of Serendipity.
Serendipity then attended Portland’s Holiday Food and Gift Festival, held annually at the Oregon Convention Center, and four Portland Night markets. The latter was a huge coo for the ladies since vendors must reapply each month for this recurring event that draws an estimated 13,000 people over two nights.
Gourmet caramel corn comes in three flavors — classic; sweet and salty featuring black Hawaiian-style sea salt from SaltWorks in Seattle; and sweet with heat, which is a spicy caramel that Kotrous says goes well with beer and wine. As the co-owner of a La Center vineyard that supplies Pinot Noir grapes to two area wineries, she has the expertise to speak to this pairing.
Scone mixes include chocolatey chippers, cinna-chippers, very very cranberry and lemon poppy seed. Spice rubs complete their product line and consist of smoky mountain barbecue — a smoked paprika and brown sugar combination that elevates brisket; and Mexican fiesta, a taco seasoning-inspired rub.
In line with Kotrous’ desire to find strategic placement in every area of the county, Serendipity products can be found at Emmy + Bo in the Old Town area of Battle Ground. She’s also hoping to work with local breweries or tap rooms, who have a limited food menu, to offer their sweet with heat caramel corn as an affordable happy hour snack. Due to their approachable price point of $7.50 for every item, they’re also enjoying strong online sales.
As the word of Serendipity spreads, the ladies are encouraged by the strong support but have not lost sight of the reason they delved into a joint venture.
“Sports teams, PTA, PTO, bands, cheerleaders, church groups, anyone who is a nonprofit and can raise funds in the state of Washington can benefit from this as a fundraiser. Groups retain 40 percent of the proceeds, so they’re getting a good margin. We charge no shipping and require no minimums within the states of Washington and Oregon. It’s a good number for everyone involved. That part is probably the one I’m most excited about. When you have 500 kids out there selling stuff, the potential revenue for nonprofits is substantial,” Kotrous said.
For more information on Serendipity-Doo-Dah, go to serendipitydoodah.com.