Finding strength in brittle
Rain Holloway turned her focus to a fragile confection when her life seemed to be crumbling.
Holloway, a Baltimore native who now lives in Caldwell in northern Orange County, used to work as a scientist for a firm in the Research Triangle Park.
“I got started doing this when I lost my job,” she said. For the past two years, she’s been making and selling peanut brittle, known as Brittle Bits by Rain.
She’s got four kids, ages 34, 16 and twin 10-year-olds. Her sister encouraged her to pursue brittle brewing as a business.
“I had been baking, mostly at Christmas, and she and others really liked the peanut brittle, and so I took a chance that this would work,” she said.
So far, she estimates, she has made, packaged and sold about 40,000 bags of brittle.
“It’s crazy to think how much I have sold already,” Holloway said. “My dad actually records every bag he sells.”
She handles baking the brittle, packing the brittle, marketing the brittle and selling the brittle. But she lets her kids help and, of course, her father sells to everyone he can.
Ingredients in Holloway’s peanut brittle include peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, honey, vanilla, butter and baking soda.
“I started out with buying cans of peanuts from wholesale grocery stores,” she said. “Now, my peanuts come through Whole Foods; I am buying large quantities of these ingredients now. “
She considers it a compliment when someone tells her that Brittle Bits taste like what their mother or grandmother used to make.
Currently, Holloway sells her product to individuals, at local convenience stores in the area and Brittle Bits are on the shelf at Whole Foods.
“I am busy getting my product out to as many vendors as I can,” said Holloway.
She has enjoyed the luxury of time with the family while running her small business.
“I am getting to spend precious time with my kids,” Holloways said. “If this doesn’t work out then I will do something else. But right now, I am seeing my kids grow up and getting a chance to be part of their life and they are seeing me at home every day and I am just really so lucky.”
She’s focusing as much as she can on product quality. Last year, she added a spicy flavor. In the future, she might experiment with chocolate, she said.
Holloway wants to stay connected with customers who support her home-grown business. It’s as important to her, it seems, as the adhesion of ingredients within a bag of brittle.
For information, contact Rain Holloway through Facebook or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brittle Bits is available at all Weaver Street Market, Foster’s Market, A Southern Season, Whole Foods and the Hillsborough Depot.
Send feature ideas to Jason Hawkins at email@example.com.