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Meet Kimberly & Corey Horton of Purple Gurl’s LLC in Glendale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly & Corey Horton.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Purple Gurl’s ® was created out of love. Corey and I are college sweethearts. We met at Rust College in Holly Springs, MS. We never imagined being business owners but when the economic downturn swept through Arizona and the bubble burst on us, we knew we had to make some moves towards entrepreneurship.

Because I enjoyed cooking (and Corey loved to eat), it was natural for us to make popcorn and treats for my kids & our neighbors & friends. A good friend of ours urged us to start a popcorn business! After months of researching the AZ cottage law, we took money from our savings and Purple Gurl’s ® was born in our home kitchen and debuted at a local farmers market off the 101 & Shea Rd in Scottdale in Sep2012.

Today we have our 1st retail store at 5140 W Peoria Ave #144 Glendale, AZ offering upwards of 40 different flavors from sweet, spicy, cheesy, fruity/candied, and vegan air-popped varieties.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I PRAYED that this would be a smooth road but creating a business “from scratch” is not one without a few bumps.

Gosh, the struggles began from day one as we questioned whetherto dip intoour savings and start onthis path! We’d already taken a hit with the housing market.

Not knowing what questions to ask was also something we struggled with. It’s all been trial and error, and sometimes talking to other small business owners who shared with us their ups and downs (some folks were not ok to share their failures).

Starting a new business, especially a food business, requires a food handlers card or managers food handlers card, licensing, insurance, permits, trademarking, the list of expenses is long and costly (oh, don’t forget about websites, business cards, artwork for logo, etc.) Finding places to vend was also a struggle. For us, we chose to introduce ourselves at local farmers markets. Most marketers would tell you that they either already have a similar product, and you can’t join them, or they let you in, but they have five companies selling the same/similar products.

We started Purple Gurl’s ® out of our house, but the biz grew to where we needed a commercial kitchen space to increase our popcorn flavors. Because we wanted to offer more than just caramel popcorn and the cottage law allowing only confectionary products only, adding cheese popcorn to our menu facilitated this. The search to find a commercial kitchen space that would fit into our budget and schedules was another struggle. There are some places out there that charge you $25 an hour, plus more for refrigerator/dry good storage. This is sticker shock when you are starting small.

I could go on, but just know that after every hurdle we crossed, there was another bigger, costly one in the distance. We questioned ourselves if it’s all worth it, because of the costs & time away from the kids, working weekends, but it was worth it.

Purple Gurl’s LLC – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Purple Gurl’s handcrafts the most delicious gourmet popcorn, not only in the Valley but nationwide. We air-pop tender white butterfly kernels and coat each with homemade sauces. We hand pack (stuff to the brim) our popcorn in clear zippered bags that is perfect for everything from school snacks, local sporting events, birthdays, weddings, thank you gifts, and holiday employee appreciations.

As a minority-owned, woman-owned business, we are proud that our perseverance has paid off. We’ve been able to accomplish what many have tried and failed in doing. We are proud that our kids get to see us work hard at growing a passion into a business. We are proud that we have achieved triple small business certification: Small Business Enterprise(SBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE). We are proud to be an active community partner helping schools and non-profits valley-wide, offering a year-round popcorn fundraiser that gives 50% profit back.

What sets us apart from others is that not only is our popcorn delicious, we provide exceptional customer service. When you come in, you are greeted with a smile and offered samples so that you can “try before you buy.” We are the faces behind Purple Gurl’s.

Is there something we can do as a city to improve the outlook for businesses like yours?
We absolutely recommend Glendale. There is a lot to offer in the city. A good recommendation for improvement for the city of Glendale would be to simplify the process. It can be very frustrating for startups. There are many departments that we had to work with: City Planning/Building Safety, Licensing, Fire, Maricopa County Env Health. Each of these departments had their own checklist of what was needed; each had monetary demands, and not one system/department allowed for the sharing of data or an all-in-one submittal package.

With any city/location you choose, you have to remember that it can be a long process & you must do as much research as you can. Plan for the unexpected, but go for it, take the leap, and soar.

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