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When people ask Lisa Rast of Chandler, Ariz., how she got into the confections business, she often begins her answer with a laugh. “My answer is so unexpected, and many people often look perplexed,” she says. And here’s why: Rast has a degree in bio-mechanical engineering, but decided to teach competitive ice skating when she graduated. While teaching ice skating, she started to tinker with candy recipes on the side and sold them at local festivals and to a few corporate clients. For 13 years, she juggled making candy part time with teaching skating and raising her family, challenging because she was never really able to give 100 percent to making candy. But today is a different story. She and her husband Jim Rast recently branded Nutwhats, a set of unique, decadently addictive confections made primarily of nuts and “scribbled” with chocolate. Now Lisa is a full-time candy maker, creating her confections in a small commercial kitchen and selling them at farmers markets, small local stores and online. She is also branching into wholesale with the hope that Nutwhats will soon be available nationwide.
Treatsie: What are the most unique ingredients you use? Do you source any of them locally?
Nutwhats: I try to source as much as I can locally. As for the unique ingredients … well, lets just say the whole line is unique in itself. You really need to try them to understand. They are somewhat familiar, yet deliriously captivating and pleasantly peculiar.
T: How did the Pecan Scribble and the Cashew Coconut Scribble featured in May’s Treatsie box come about?
NW: Let’s just say they were calculated mistakes. 🙂
T: How many different confections do you make per year?
NW: Too many, that’s for sure! Along with the Nutwhats line, I also make bean-to-bar chocolate, caramels and toffee.
T: So far, what has been your greatest day/moment in business?
NW: I would have to say being featured on Oprah.com! That was a big BOOM for me, as Oprah has been very inspirational to many women, including me.
T: What are your plans for the future? How do you see your business evolving?
NW: We are taking it one step at a time. Right now our focus is on reaching out nationally through wholesale and developing the corporate gifting side of Nutwhats.