About Me - Melissa White

I am Melissa White the owner of Sticky Fingers and Soup’s Up! I was born and raised in Sarnia and decided this is where I wanted to stay. My father Ken Jaecques was born and raised in Sarnia and my mother, Michelle Jaecques was born and raised in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. I have 3 sisters: Jennifer, Lisa, and Christina. I first attended Gregory A. Hogan Elementary School, and then St. Patrick’s Secondary School. Once the new schools were built I attended St. Christopher’s (now St. Patrick’s) where I graduated in 1998. I worked at Ryder Integrated Systems part-time (over 5 years, 1997-2003) which was in operations with General Motors Canada hauling car parts. While employed at Ryder I learned about time logs, invoicing and the operations of a small business. I wanted to work as much as I could in order to make enough money to go to Lambton College to start my aspirations of owning my own business. I received my Business Diploma in 2001. I tried looking for a full time job; dropping off resumes at many businesses and even at the job recruitment agencies and could only find temporary positions: Woodbridge Foam Corporation and Thyme Maternity Clothing. I decided to go back to Lambton College and this time graduated with a diploma in Human Resources Management in 2003. I still could not find a full time job, so I decided to start one myself... “my own business”. I was lucky to have parents that supported my dream and saw the determination I had. They financially supported the beginning of my journey. I completed my business plan and started Sticky Fingers in October 2003 at the age of 22.

 

In 2003, I started off with only a 500 square foot store that had just enough room for a selling table, cash register, small kitchen and cleaning area. My belief is to start off small with just the basics and grow when you know what sells. The food industry is challenging because you can’t have high profit margins, so you need to depend on high customer turnover in order to succeed.

 

In 2004, I was nominated for the “Young Entrepreneur Award” at the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards after just 1 year in business. It felt amazing, that the blood, sweat and tears of starting a business was starting to be recognized.

 

In 2005, I married my husband Justin White after 7 years of dating. I was also nominated again for the “Young Entrepreneur Award” at the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards.

 

In 2006, I gave birth to my first child Jake. Being a business owner you do not receive a maternity leave so I worked until a week before I was induced and then I went back to work 2 weeks later. I find it easier to run the business when I am there. Justin didn’t want to take a paternity leave because he was working on his apprenticeship to become a Boilermaker and it would affect his hours and school times and I agreed with that. I had to bring Jake to work with me; but he didn’t mind. It was tough, but we made it work.

 

In 2007, I expanded Sticky Fingers with another 400 square feet of unused space from the business beside mine. The store kept growing and growing, especially with school fundraising. I was so booked up I had people angry with me because they waited too late to book their fundraiser and all the spaces were full.

 

In 2008, I was eight months pregnant with my second child and a customer came into my store and said that once she had a second child it was too difficult for her to run her business and take care of two children so she sold her business; I started to panic. I put my business up for sale and had two offers but in the end it just didn’t feel right. I love to run a business. I couldn’t imagine losing everything I worked so hard for. I am glad I didn’t sell. I love what I do so much. In April, I gave birth to my daughter Emily. Once again being a business owner meant no maternity leave so I worked until two days before I was induced with her and then went back to work after two weeks. With having two children now I couldn’t be at work full time so I reduced my full time hours to part time and hired more staff. This caused a bit of a financial loss that year (since we were also in the middle of the 2008 Recession) but I wouldn’t trade that time with my children. It ended up working to my advantage because Emily suffered from colic and I wouldn’t have been able to take care of her at the store like I did with Jake.

 

In 2009, there wasn’t an expansion of my business due to my family time. I had plans on building the business but I had to be patient.

 

In 2010, my landlord came to me and asked if I was interested in taking over the unit beside mine that was now empty. After tough negotiating, tight finances and city hurdles/issues I finally completed my second business “Soup’s Up!” in September 2010. I fell ill on September 23 just before opening Soup’s Up! with viral meningitis and was hospitalized on the exact same day a lady accidentally drove her car through the newly built (and not yet opened) Soup’s Up! location; talk about a bad day. Once Soup’s Up! was rebuilt again, I opened in December 2010. 

 

In 2011, Soup’s Up! was doing amazing. It was a great addition to the Sticky Fingers name. I doubled my staff and brought on a couple of cook apprentices from Lambton College. I was nominated again for the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards but this time for the “Marketing and Promotions Award” but unfortunately had to turn it down to personal obligations and hardships.

 

In 2012, my business life and my personal life at this time is starting to have balance. My son Jake is now in school full time, Grade 1 and my daughter Emily started part time, Kindergarten.

 

In 2013, I was nominated again for the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, this time for the “Young Entrepreneur Award.” It is a great feeling when you are still able to qualify for the “Young” Entrepreneur Award after being in business for 10 years. I was ready to open my third business.

 

In 2014, I opened Kenny’s Smokehouse (I named it after my dad); a convertible business with Soup’s Up!. My plan was to temporarily close Soup’s Up! for the summer (because let’s face it, soup in the summer is not for the majority of people) and open Kenny’s Smokehouse from May until October within the same location. The menu featured different types of fresh cut salads, made from scratch smoky bacon baked beans, smoked meats for sandwiches, creamy Coleslaw and of course a delicious dessert; Sticky Fingers Hot Apple Crumble. With the opening of two Smokehouse establishments in Sarnia since I opened, I have decided to not pursue it this year and instead…

 

In 2015, I was nominated for two awards at the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards; “Young Entrepreneur of the Year  Award” and “Outstanding Small Business of the Year,” unfortunately I had to turn them both down because this was the same time that my landlord surprised me with the rent going up and he also refused to make repairs to the building that needed to be done for years. I didn’t think it was worth it any more so I called my real estate agent and the timing couldn’t have been better.  This location (1143 Confederation St.) unit was just vacated with a full kitchen, more dining area, larger parking lot and the rent was the same price. I am always wanting to grow the business and always looking for better opportunities for my patrons. Sales are up 30% from the old location. What a great feeling accomplishment.

 

In 2016, The year of renewal. I thought that moving the business over to a new location would be just the matter of moving everything over and opening for business … it was no where close to that. The business sales have tripled which brings on a lot more management, stress, work hours and trying to still fit in time to be a mom and a wife. I couldn’t take it and had a break down, took a personal leave of absence, collected my thoughts and started getting everything down on paper on how to improve everything… more management, better menu structuring, customer service, better efficiency yet quality, employee development, etc. I am back and ready to face this coming prime season. It’s going to be the best you’ve seen this far.

 

I love what I do, what a journey, I can’t wait to see what happens next…