Why-not-go-straight-to-dessert seems to be Dani Beckerman’s calling card.
After a few months interning in the medical world, the Jars by Dani founder scrapped that plan to study pastry at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education.
This story first appeared in the July 28, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
On a whim one afternoon last year, she bought a bunch of glass jars in a craft store to whip up colorful individual-sized desserts for a friend’s dinner party and unknowingly unleashed her entrepreneurial spirit. The parfaitlike indulgences were such a triumph that she started doing special orders for friends from the kitchen of her fifth-floor walk-up. Layered up with customized cake, chocolate mousse, whipped cream, chocolate chips and other calorie-spiking combos, each of her recipes — cookie dough and white chocolate being the current favorites — require crowdsourcing.
“I have made a million different things,” Beckerman said. “I ask everyone, all the time ‘What do you like? What’s your favorite thing?’”
When demand picked up to the point where she spied a viable business, she bailed on ICE last year to launch Jars by Dani. The Instagram-friendly treats have since spurred demand from the fashion industry with Diane von Furstenberg, Barneys New York, Helmut Lang, Tiffany & Co., Milly, Elle and Glamour ordering her treats for various events. So much so that all of the jars are now made in a Union Square commercial kitchen where the occasional jarhead has been known to knock on the door pleading to buy one instead of preordering four or more. “In the beginning, I was doing all the deliveries by myself. I was constantly carrying all these jars up and down stairs [in my apartment building] and on the subway — it was ridiculous,” she said.
Heart rate-rising as that was, Beckerman always made a point of “dressing really cute,” opting for rompers, fedoras, ankle boots and other styles she found at Intermix, Rag & Bone, Helmut Lang and other stores. She explained, “I don’t love any one brand,” which no doubt serves her well in catering to the fashion crowd.
Now that Traub Partners has taken equity in Jars by Dani, Beckerman is picturing concept shops in a major retailer and her own SoHo or West Village store. On track to sell 10,000 jars this year, the Washington, D.C. native credits Instagram for getting her company in high gear. “Instagram really got it off the ground. When I was delivering the jars, I would always ask, ‘Can you Instagram it?’”