Hello Rochester: Nat's Nuts
Nat Harrington is the owner of Nat's Nuts, a gourmet nut roasting business based out of Rochester, NY. Nat has been in business since 2015 and this past year he changed his focus from festivals and farmers markets to wholesale with local small businesses. They roast all of their nuts by hand and in small batches to ensure a consistently delicious product. These are the best nuts you'll ever have.
1. Explain how Nat's Nuts started as a fundraiser and transformed into a business.
The idea of Nat's Nuts was conceived from a joke with a college friend. We were talking about the Oswego farmers market and I mentioned how unfortunate it was that no one there sold roasted nuts. My friend joked that I should start a nut roasting business and call it Nat's Nuts, which as immature sophomores in college, we both found the idea, and especially the name, hilarious. A year later I was gearing up to fundraise for a mission trip and thought that roasted nuts would be a perfect thing to sell and raise money for the trip. It was around Christmas time, so the nuts were a huge hit with everyone at church and at school. That following summer, I saw an opportunity to sell nuts at the public market here in Rochester, and I turned the fundraiser into a legitimate business.
2. What is unique about slow roasting your nuts by hand? Explain.
Most nut roasting companies use commercial roasting equipment that is actually intended to burn the sugars in the recipe. I personally am not a huge fan of the rock hard roasted nuts that are almost capable of breaking your teeth. Roasting nuts by hand in small batches offers the opportunity to control exactly how I want the nuts to come out. I take them out before the sugars burn, but after it properly melts, which gives the nuts a much more pleasant crunch that won't destroy your teeth. One of my fondest memories selling nuts was offering them to an elderly woman who was afraid of the tooth breaking potential. I assured her that the pecans would be soft enough, but still have a crunch, and she was absolutely delighted to experience such nostalgic flavors without the worry of tooth damage.
3. When you graduated from college in 2017 and pursued Nat's Nuts full-time the same year, did you have any doubts as a young business owner? If so, how did you overcome any uncertainty to start your company?
I had plenty of doubts! I had impending student loans, bills to pay, and food to put on the table. Nat's Nuts has been an on-again, off-again full-time gig for me. During previous summers before wholesale, all I did was farmers markets and festivals. I would sell nuts full-time working 60+ hours/week. When it was the off season, I would change pace and find another job to fill the monetary void. As I have shifted to primarily wholesale, I have time to operate Nat's Nuts as a side job. My career and calling to full-time ministry with an organization called Young Life.
4. To what do you attribute your success?
There are so many reasons for the success of Nat's Nuts. My wife, Giselle, is the number one reason. All of the selfless people who have helped over the years have been invaluable. And personally, being dedicated and hard-working has certainly helped.
5. If you had one piece of advice to someone starting a business, what would it be?
Put down social media, put away distractions, and commit your spare time to building the business, but don't sacrifice relationships. In the words of Nike, just do it.
6. Anything else you would like to add?
Stacey from Stacey's Pita Chips said this on a podcast and it gave me some incredibly valuable insight that I think everyone dipping their toes in entrepreneurship should have. She said, "If I am willing to work this hard for someone else, why don't I just work for myself." If you are giving everything you've got to someone else, why couldn't do the same for yourself?