The Mustard Girl Story
Hi! My name is Jennifer Connor, the Mustard Girl! Thank you for taking the time to learn about my Mustard Girl journey! I started Mustard Girl All American Mustards in 2007, a one-woman show, this is my story of how the entrepreneurial spirit, perseverance, and faith in the mustard seed, can really make the All American Dream come true!
I have always had a passion for life, mustards and cooking. When I was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I went to a local favorite supper club, and happened to sample Rendall’s Mustard on my hamburger. This mustard was simply the best I had ever had, just like the “Fourth of July on your tastebuds!" (Little did I know how truly divine this mustard and journey would be in the end!)
The Original Recipe
In 2006, I learned that Mr. Rendall, creator of Rendall’s Mustard, and creator of the very first original gourmet mustards starting back in 1980, had become too frail to continue making his amazing local mustards by hand in the back of his farm, and was going to retire. I could not imagine the world without his magical mustards, and also thought the world would be a happier place by having his mustards everywhere, as they truly put smiles on people's tastebuds! So, I tracked Mr. Rendall down and asked him if I could buy his recipes to grow the business. Unfortunately, to my dismay, he told me that since I was only an art history major, with limited business experience, I wouldn't be able to make it in the highly competitive condiment industry, and then said no, this would be impossible for me to do by myself.
Although disappointed, I still did not want to give up on his divine mustards, so I kindly asked Mr. Rendall to give me a week to sort this out. At that time, I decided to head to my family’s cabin in the Northwoods of Wisconsin to get some clarity on how to proceed, as well as to look for a sign if this was the right thing for me to do. I prayed to my higher power asking for a sign of either a rainbow, a shooting star, or a four leaf clover. Unfortunately, it rained all weekend up North, the sun never came out, so no rainbows, nor shooting stars, and someone mowed the lawn, so no four leaf clovers either. The outlook was not good.
Sunday rolled around, and I was still hopeful some sort of sign would be delivered. So, I had an epiphany, and decided to go to church as my last resort. I found the sweetest church in the Northwoods of Laona, Wisconsin called St. Leonards. I said to myself, "If the Father says 'yellow' during the sermon, that would be my final sign."
I got up early on Sunday, drove to St. Leonards, sat in the back pew and eagerly waited for the sermon. As serendipity would have it, the sermon for that one Sunday was about the Parable of the Mustard Seed! I couldn't believe my ears and almost fainted! "There comes a time in life when we are all in a little bit of doubt, " said Father John. "When we are in doubt, let us always remember the passage of Matthew 17:20 from the Bible. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains, and nothing will be impossible to you,” serendipitously said Father John.
I was beyond speechless, yet felt so incredibly blessed for this amazing sign. Shortly afterwards, an elderly woman kindly asked me if I was okay, I didn't have time to tell her the whole story as we were still in church, so I quietly whispered back to her that I didn't know about the mustard seed parable, and it really took me by surprise. She gently grabbed my hand, then whispered back to me, "the mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds on the planet, and hardest to crack, but once it does, it quickly grows like a weed. It is a lesson for us all to never give up whatever your mission in life may be, you too can move mountains." I couldn’t believe my ears, and never felt so inspired in my life. I hugged the elderly lady, as well as Father John after church, and gratefully thanked my higher power for giving me one of the greatest lessons ever (literally). I had a feeling it was going to be a long and tough road, (which it has been,) nevertheless I made a promise at that time to hang in there and do the best job I could spreading sunshine in the world through mustards, and to remember to give back, and help others believe in their mustard seeds along the way as well.
With a leap of faith and a tenacious spirit, I immediately called Mr. Rendall to tell him the story. There was a long silence, and then he said, "Well Jenny, although you don't have a business plan, it looks like you certainly have a good business partner upstairs looking out for you, and I don't want to get struck down by lightening if I don't sell you my recipes. I just wanted to make sure that you have enough love and enthusiasm behind the mustards, and I feel confident you do."
So with a whole lot of love, a whole lot of faith in that little Mustard Seed, and with Mr. Rendall's blessing, I used his recipes as a base, and began working on perfecting his amazing mustards into my own, and Mustard Girl All American Mustards was born. Mr. Rendall kindly passed along his business acumen to me on how to run a mustard company in 5 days before he moved to Oregon, and then he went on his way. My journey then began as Mustard Girl, and began the road to spreading some good sunshine across America!
The Rest is History!
I started Mustard Girl All American Mustards as a grass-roots company, packing my mustard in my car, and going from store to store and restaurant to restaurant to get things started. I was up against the odds, and I had to overcome amy adversities starting out. I didn’t have the contacts or financial support to get large distribution, and was competing in one of the toughest food categories as well, but I knew had a product people would love, and I felt confident that the goodness would spread organically overtime.
I've gone on to create a line of 5 World Wide Mustard Award winning mustards: American Dijon, Stoneground Deli, Sweet n' Fancy Yellow, Sweet n' Spicy Honey, and Zesty Horseradish. To date, Mustard Girl All American Mustards has blossomed in grocery stores and delis nationwide, on cruise ships, ball parks and in prominent restaurants chains. These mustards are great for the whole family, and embody everything a true mustard should be. A small portion of proceeds are also given to local women and children charities to help plant seeds for a better tomorrow.
I wanted to give my greatest gratitude to my devoted family, friends and fans for their unconditional support and love, as they are all part of Mustard Girl's journey, and I wouldn't be here today without them! The spirit of the Faith of the Mustard Seed is my greatest mission, and I hope to inspire others along this wonderful journey as well, and together we can make this world a sunnier and happier place!
Thank you for taking the time to hear my story, and helping to spread the sunshine!
Blessings and love, and remember to always have faith in your mustard seed!
"I believe everyone has a unique mustard seed to be shared with the world to make it a better place, I hope to inspire others to believe in themselves too, and to not give up, so together we can spread a whole lot of sunshine in the world." - Jennifer Connor
Mustards that are good for you and the whole family. Mustard Girl Sweet N' Fancy Yellow is rated #1 by kids across America!
Committed to Giving Back
In addition to being a successful female business owner and innovative entrepreneur, Jennifer believes passionately in community outreach and goodwill. She has dedicated her free time to raising money for women’s and children’s charities across the Midwest, including Common Threads, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Educate Rwanda, Little Sisters of the Poor, Food Bank of Illinois, Ivory Coast Mothers and Children, Make a Wish Foundation, Wounded Warriors, Honor Flight, and the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation.