Something delicious is cooking at this business
Jessica dePontbriand ’03 grew up in a family where something delicious was always cooking on the stove or baking in the oven–whether she was home, at her yiayia’s, or with one of her great aunts’ who ran a Greek bakery out of their home in Nashua, N.H., called Makreena’s.
Nowadays, there’s still always something delicious in the oven. And oftentimes it’s cooking at her business, jajabelles.
jajabelles first breathed life as a project for an entrepreneurship class. Students with the best projects were encouraged to enter the Holloway competition. After months of endless rewrites and hours of practicing her presentation, Jess’s entry won her first place (and $4,000!) in the lifestyles category. Winning Holloway cemented the notion that not only friends and family believed in her vision, but complete strangers did as well. It gave her the confidence needed to turn jajabelles into a reality.
After graduating with a degree from UNH in hospitality management, life took Jessica across the country to Colorado, where she began selling Greek pastries using generational family recipes. To this day, she still has a kitchen in Vail. In March 2014, she returned to her hometown, and the idea for a café offering Greek pastries and coffee – plus breakfast, lunch, and smoothies – finally came to life.
In March 2020, Jessica moved the shop across the street to a much larger space, only to have to close two weeks later (and reopen three months after that!) Many of the reasons she expanded became moot due to COVID, forcing her to pivot and reconstruct.
“As a business owner, you wake up every day to a new journeys. COVID hitting just as we were opening was no different — just another obstacle,” she said. As she looks back at this unique year, she can’t help but feel gratitude for her staff and the support of the community. It’s been difficult, but she knew she had the skills and business know-how to make it through.