Khadijah “Kay” Polly, owner of Kay’s Kettle Corn and author of “POPCOINS: How to Make a $500 A Month With a Home Based Popcorn Business,” has been in the business for five years but always had an entrepreneurial spirit. 

The beginning of Kay’s business savvy started young when she made and sold bracelets as a child. As an adult, she had a side hustle in graduate school as a candle maker and she grew up watching her father running a newsstand, then a restaurant while her mother was a music teacher. It is safe to say that Kay, was always destined to be an entrepreneur.

On Nicaila Matthews Okome’s Side Hustle Pro podcast,Kay explained her rise in the popcorn industry. Her journey started when she was young. She and her sister would make popcorn for their father and uncles for Father’s Day, and as she got older, she made popcorn as a treat for friends. 

After getting laid off from her corporate job at the time, Kay decided to get into the party planning scene once she moved to Houston. Using the wedding planning skills gained working at Michaels in graduate school, she developed a wedding resale shop.

One day she closed her shop and wanted popcorn and decided to Google how to make it indoors and came across a kettle corn version typically found at fairs. After changing the popcorn, salt and oils to something she would like, she gave it to people she knew, and they loved it as much as she did. The enjoyment she saw from people eating her popcorn stayed with her as a profitable business opportunity, but she didn’t become a full-time entrepreneur immediately.

Kay didn’t leave full-time work behind until she had enough of working two jobs, one as a corporate recruiter and the other, her then side hustle, making gourmet popcorn. This changed one day when she was on her lunch break rushing her popcorn over to Sweet Dreams Gourmetwhere her product was sold and realized she would return to work late. Deciding she had enough, she called her mother to tell her she wanted to go all in on her popcorn business and take Kay’s Kettle Corn to the next level. 

Made only with four ingredients: popcorn, canola oil, cane sugar and sea salt, her business was successful. Her corporate recruitment and marketing background served as a key to her success. Kay branded her company by assessing the competition and what set her apart was kettle corn. 

There were interactive photo booths using slogans like “My twist-outs are poppin” and “My melanin is poppin” as a play on words to attract customers and word-of-mouth helped as well. Another marketing event, “Popcorn & poetry” had its seventh volume March 16, and was created to stimulate creativity in spoken word, rap, and performances all with the goal of selling popcorn and drinks to benefit Popcorn Children’s Economic Opportunities program (CEO), Kay’s program to teach students about entrepreneurship based on supply chain management. 

Saying Kay is successful is an understatement. She created a Black-owned business from hard work and skills she built over time and took the leap to create not only her business but also avenues for creatives and future entrepreneurs. 

Sometime soon, Kay will take Popcorn & Poetry on the road to New Orleans, Dallas and St. Louis. In the meantime, you can purchase Kay’s Kettle Corn on her website kayskettlecorn.com.

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