Samantha Jezak ’22 on creating a healthy food enterprise

Since high school, Samantha Jezak ’22 has been interested in nutrition and food studies. Always an athlete, she did her best to be aware of how she was fueling her body to get through her practices and training. She transitioned from eating snacks like Oreos after practice to searching for healthier options: “An important thing to note is that the decision came from me. No one told me to change my diet. I think that’s a huge aspect of eating healthy.”

Samantha is currently pursuing a Nutrition Science major at the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics as well as an Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises minor at the Whitman School of Management. Within nutrition, she is most interested in research. She is currently involved in studying the varying diets of college athletes and the effects of vegetarian diets. Beyond research, she is also the president of Syracuse University’s chapter of Slow Food USA, an organization that encourages good, clean, and fair food practices.

Over the dragging months of quarantine, Samantha decided to fill her time by baking healthy, whole food treats in her hometown of Windham, New Hampshire. Making energy and protein balls for her friends and family on special occasions soon blossomed into fromsamsplate, a locally-sourced, locally-sold start up providing healthy snacks to its customers. Samantha sees her products as a healthy alternative to grabbing a couple Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins in the morning. She finds that knowing what is in the food you are eating as well as choosing natural, whole foods is really important for a healthy diet.

healthy snack photo

Her products quickly gained traction in her community. In response to her success, Samantha added a protein bar and granola to her menu and expanded the flavors of her other treats. At first, Samantha primarily sold her product in batches to individual customers. However, a local café-owner showed interest and began selling her treats. This formalized Samantha’s venture in a few ways, including a consistent stream of demand and profit as well as necessitating the use of an official commercial kitchen. 

Throughout this process, Samantha ensured that she was practicing and encouraging sustainable production processes: “I didn’t know much about sustainability until I came to SU. That’s something that I’m trying to bring back to my hometown.” She uses compostable packaging for all of her healthy treats and sources everything she can from local farmers. Not only was this important to her from a moral perspective, Samantha realized that her customers are willing to pay a few extra dollars for a socially and environmentally responsible product.

It took her only about two weeks to begin to turn a profit. Since this summer, demand as well as her profit margins have only increased. She was even able to increase her prices halfway through the summer to accommodate more variety in her products, all while maintaining her sales.

healthy food bar

At this point, fromsamsplate remains a local business in her hometown. As it is currently a one-person operation, it would be difficult for Samantha to produce a high enough product volume to make shipping profitable. Additionally, she is, of course, a full-time student. This means that in order to keep selling to the café at home, she had to pre-make an extremely large number of products to hold her customers over until she returns for the holidays. In the long term, she would love to open a small storefront in a nearby city such as Boston. In her mind, it would be a shop where customers can put together a box out of dozens of fun flavors. For now, she hopes to expand her flavors and get into more local cafés now that she has her foot in the door. She is also considering hiring some hands to help her bake, especially while she’s away at school.

No matter where or how far fromsamsplate goes, Samantha is making sure that, when it comes down to it, her company is doing good by sourcing local and providing natural, whole foods to her customers.

Story by Ellen Jorgensen ’23, LaunchPad Orange Ambassador; photos supplied