Darrell Tindal had always held onto dreams of owning a small business.

Darrell Tindal had always held onto dreams of owning a small business.

It didn’t necessarily matter what product or industry that business revolved around, Tindal said, which included the possibility of creating a food-related company.

But jam, Tindal continued, “would have probably been about the last section of food that I would have said.”

Even as Tindal and his good friend, Andrea Schnetzler, started their “tastes like Grandma’s kitchen”-inspired business The Berry Nutty Farm, Tindal hung his head and muttered, “I make jam,” when those close to him asked about his product.

That attitude is now a thing of the past. Since Thanksgiving, Tindal and Schnetzler have held their heads high at Independence Center with their kiosk, prominently located on the upper level near guest services.

Armed with several family recipes and a passion for cooking, Schnetzler, 30, and Tindal, 31, both left their full-time jobs to pursue their small business dream. Schnetzler was in banking and had a background in landscape architecture. Tindal had worked for Hewlett-Packard.

Planning for The Berry Nutty Farm began in December 2010, and the business officially started in May. It’s one of about 35 kitchen tenants at the Independence Regional Ennovation Center, where entrepreneurs rent kitchen space by the hour.

Tom Lesnak, president of Independence Economic Development, said he recognized Tindal’s and Schnetzler’s dedication upon first meeting them. The EDC oversees the Ennovation Center, inside the former Independence Regional Health Center.  

“They worked 38 hours straight on their very first shift, getting familiar with the commercial kitchen and understanding the larger quantities,” Lesnak said. “They were very focused on setting out to accomplish what they wanted to. Being an entrepreneur isn’t always an 8-to-5 job. It’s whatever it takes to get the job done, and they definitely get that.”

As a gourmet product, Schnetzler said, The Berry Nutty Farm line includes classic jams and fruit butter based on both co-owners’ family recipes.

But then, in keeping with the business’ emphasis on American-only production, the four signature jams – American Picnic, Bottom of the Barrel, The Dueling Berries and Road Trip – each have a story behind the name and respective ingredients.

The products contain no preservatives, dyes or high fructose corn syrup, and Schnetzler described them as “a healthier alternative to what you can typically find at the store.” Some of the ingredients come from Schnetzler’s family farm outside of Boonville, Mo., while others come from Tindal’s family farm in Kansas City.

The Berry Nutty Farm name was seen throughout this year at farmers markets, fairs, holiday bazaars and in 10 different businesses, including Independence’s Scandinavia Place on the Square.

The Independence Center space, where The Berry Nutty Farm will remain through Saturday, presents a different venue than previous ones. Instead of approaching potential customers and inviting them over like they did at fairs, Schnetzler and Tindal say they have to wait for people to come to them first inside the mall.

But creating awareness of The Berry Nutty Farm and exposing people to the business’ logo and name is well worth the space at the mall, they said.

Lesnak said he recognizes The Berry Nutty Farm’s owners’ ability to aggressively market their product and said it’s the first time an Ennovation Center client has had a kiosk at Independence Center.

“That’s a real risky thing for a client to do because it’s very expensive thing to do without knowing if you’re going to have any return,” Lesnak said of the mall space. “It’s a very scary leap, but the entrepreneurs who make that leap are usually the ones who make it.”

While being a small-business owner also means thinking realistically, the time to feel nervous doesn’t exist, Schnetzler said.

“It’s kind of a leap of faith,” Tindal said.

“Both of us are big on challenges, and we want to strive – it’s not 100 percent. It’s 110 percent,” Schnetzler added. “You just keep pushing forward.”

Over the next several months, both owners will work toward earning their federal food processing certification, which will allow them to legally and safely produce jams with certain ingredients.

Looking ahead five years, the duo want to want more employees and see their product break through the regional – and possibly national – markets, all while protecting the integrity, flavor and consistency of their product in small-batch production.

And like most entrepreneurs and first-time business owners, Schnetzler and Tindal said they heard the skepticism when The Berry Nutty Farm began – but they pressed on, and they encourage others who are aspiring small-business owners to do just the same – and be prepared to work plenty of long hours.

“There is a definition of entrepreneurship that I saw in high school that every day, it just rings true,” Tindal said. “An entrepreneur is a person who is willing to work a 16-hour day for themselves versus eight hours for someone else.”