Long before anyone was talking about craft products or the maker movement, Makenzie Colt risked everything to make uncompromising specialty desserts.
But this is not where her story starts.
Colt was a teen mother who had to drop out of high school. She moved to Nashville to try and make it in the music industry.
She landed on the TV show Hee Haw. She had made it, but then after achieving something many would give anything for– she gave it up.
“Six or seven year of talking in a high voice and wiggling around in a tight dress was enough for me, I really looked at Hee Haw as a stepping stone,” Colt said.
The problem was the first steps were on some perilous stones — starting a high-end dessert business from scratch is not for the timid.
“I just thought I had come from show business and if you can sing by yourself with your guitar in front of 20,000 people you just don’t have any fears,” Colt said. “I think my ignorance was good for me. If i knew how hard it was I might not have started it.”
For instance her first product, the now wildly popular salted caramel ooey gooey bars, was once a desperate act.
“I just one day decided to do that. I took a gooey butter pie around town in pieces, I had gone through all my savings. I was hurting and then I got that order for 500 pies my first order for ingredients was all on credit,” Colt said.
Her second signature product, Colts Bolts, the Rolls Royce of peanut butter cups, won the academy award of chocolates. It caught the eye of Cracker Barrel and Colt’s chocolate company was rolling.
“I have never done business with the big giants but there are many mom and pops stores in this country and there is a lot of business,” Colt said.
Some of those clients have come and gone, like Cracker Barrell, but for every one she loses, two take their place.
She now makes more than 40 chocolates and desserts, thousands of pies and her new factory in an old Piggly Wiggly in Inglewood is whirring.
A new retail store will open this year and Colt has a brand new kiosk in the Mall of Green Hills and another one at Opry Mills. She supplies all desserts for Edley’s BBQ, she’s in Whole Foods, Fresh Market and many others.
Yet despite getting big, she has never compromised on quality. No short cuts, nothing she makes tastes mass produced, no preservatives.
“It has to be exactly the same every time and I think consistency is a big part of our success because that’s really important to me and I am really a perfectionist like that,” Colt said.
There are many reasons Colt is a success, you don’t last 35 years if there is only one, but two things stand out are wonderful products and grit.
Who knew grit would be the sweetest ingredient for success?
You can also find her desserts at coltschocolates.com