LYNN — Two sisters are getting a $50,000 assist from the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation of Lynn to move their Polish pierogi business to the city.
Vanessa, 30, and Casey White, 25, own Jaju Pierogi, which manufactures and distributes pierogies. Their business started in Beverly, is currently in Gloucester and will be moving to the Lydia Pinkham building in Lynn.
Vanessa said they hope to be moved out of Gloucester and into Lynn, with construction completed on the 3,500 square-foot space in the spring. The $50,000 loan from the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation of Lynn (EDIC/Lynn) will help them build out their space.
“It’s a success story,” said James Cowdell, EDIC/Lynn executive director. “We’re investing in them based on their track record and believe that they’re going to continue to grow.”
Vanessa said the loan will go toward construction — it’s an open space, but they have to build out by putting up walls, putting in plumbing, gas for the stove and all of the sinks, to make the space food-based.
The sisters, who are half-Polish, grew up in Wilbraham in western Massachusetts and then came to Boston for school. Before starting the business about two years ago, Vanessa said they worked in operations.
Their pierogi recipe was passed down from their own Jaju, or grandfather, who owned a Polish food business in Western Massachusetts, which is now owned by their uncle, Vanessa said.
According to the sisters’ website, pierogi was a typical item on their dinner plates, but became more difficult to come by when they moved to Boston. In 2015, they dug out their grandfather’s recipe and got to work perfecting traditional, handmade pierogi for Boston.
Vanessa said they make about seven varieties of Polish dumpling pierogies, stuffed with traditional and creative flavors.
The business started out as a part-time venture, but they went full-time in January of last year. At this point, they sell to about 70 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The goal is to be in all major supermarket chains, all in New England.
She said they’re moving to Lynn to increase their production and distribution, where they’ll have a much larger space than their current one in Gloucester. Besides distribution, they also sell their product directly to customers at farmers markets and plan to open a storefront in Somerville.
“I think it’s so exciting, but it’s also a huge revelation about how much you need to work and build and spend to make money in a food business and I think that’s something that people don’t necessarily understand,” Vanessa said. “It’s not an obvious thing, that it’s so hard to make money in a food business.
“I really am optimistic about our growth moving forward. I think the sky’s the limit. The hope is to become a really prominent New England brand and then go national.”
Since last January, Vanessa said they’ve seen a lot of growth, going from making a couple thousand pierogies per week to about 6,000 to 8,000 dumplings weekly.
“We are moving to Lynn in order to increase our production,” Vanessa said. “In order to make this a successful business and earn a living wage, we have to increase and automate our production … Right now, we’ve done very well with making things by hand and we’re not really carrying an inventory right now. Lynn will allow us to really ramp up production and get our product distributed at a much wider range geographically (as we) work toward being a national brand.”