Posted on : October 30th, 2023
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products – a testament to three decades of nutty creativity, community involvement, and business growth. From a fledgling enterprise, Maisie Jane’s has blossomed into a beloved brand known far beyond the sunny borders of California. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to celebrate the journey of Maisie Jane’s from its humble beginnings to the flourishing entity it is today.
In the fall of 1993, a young entrepreneur, Maisie Jane Bertagna, traded her flock of registered sheep for 2,000 lbs. of almonds from her family farm. With the support of her mother and aunt, she started crafting her first flavored almonds – Tamari, Cinnamon Glazed, Coffee Glazed, and Caramel Corn & Almonds. Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products was born as a business venture and a Supervised Occupational Experience (SOE) project under the Chico FFA chapter. In December of the same year, Maisie Jane’s products found their way into local Chico stores, and the first gift set was launched, marking the start of international exposure as hundreds were shipped worldwide through a local business partner.
In the spring of 1994, Maisie Jane’s hard work was acknowledged with Regional & State FFA Awards. Between 1994 and 1997, the budding entrepreneur leased time and space at her first ‘certified kitchen,’ marking the humble start of her production journey. With nights spent baking and packaging, Maisie Jane’s dedication was as palpable as the aroma of roasted almonds.
1995 saw the launch of new products including various flavored almonds and almond butter, and the initiation of local festival sales to broaden market reach.
In 1997, expansion led to leasing a certified kitchen at 116 W. 12th Street, the location of an old-time Chico bakery, Ponce Bakery. Maisie Jane also attended the National Products Expo in Anaheim, CA, launching chocolate covered almond products, and venturing into organic almonds with her father’s certified organic produce. This year also led to Maisie’s first big corporate contract – selling her products at the grand opening of Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim, CA.
1998 brought in a partnership with the Work Training Center, who supplies her with a team of workers with disabilities to help do the roasting and packaging.
As Maisie was working on opening her first retail store, she met her future husband Isidro while shopping at True Value hardware. Their first date was painting the store sign together, marking the start of a family-operated venture and gift stop.
In 1999, Maisie Jane was honored with the North American Collegiate Entrepreneur Award. The turn of the millennium in 2000 saw a change in business status to a California Corporation – Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products, Inc. This is also the year that Maisie Jane and Isidro got married. The couple moved to Colorado, expanding the business into new markets, but it was just a couple of years before they moved back to Chico CA in 2002. Isidro joined the business, bringing his love and knowledge of management and equipment to his wife’s company.
The next five brought a new retail store location in 2004, becoming a Certified Green Energy supplier, launching products in Canada in 2007, and initiating a Direct Delivery Service (DSD) business model in 2008, reflecting Maisie Jane’s innovative and community-oriented business approach. The birth of two of their daughters during these years added joy to the journey. In 2009 Maisie Jane’s was also an advocate for local businesses through the ‘Think Local Chico’ campaign.
With the birth of their third daughter in 2010 Maisie and Isidro felt their family was complete, but the company continued to grow with a milestone partnership with Whole Foods National taking on Maisie Jane’s Almond Butters in 2012.
2013 marked a move to a new manufacturing facility at 3764 Hegan Lane in Chico, CA allowing Maisie Jane’s to start marketing their bulk added value nut products to large food manufacturers and offering co-packing and private labeling contracts. Community outreach and Ag Education programs for community schools, as well as their first pumpkin patch were also developed.
2016 saw more new product launches like cashew butter and bulk value nut bags of roasted almonds, roasted and salted pistachios and roasted salted cashews with a gift back program to the FFA.
Featured recognition in national magazines Men’s Health and Good Housekeeping named Maisie Jane’s nut butters as the “Best Tasting Nut Butters.” Maisie Jane’s got its beer and wine license allowing the company to sell local beer and wine in their popular gift baskets.
A collaboration with Sierra Nevada Brewery bottled two of its beers – Baltic Joy and Farm Trail Ale – using Maisie Jane’s roasted almonds, giving Maisie Jane’s branding recognition on the labels.
Expanding sales to Asia, new packaging designs, and a significant retail chain deal in 2023, highlight the continuous innovation and growth of Maisie Jane’s.
The acquisition of Blum Toasty Almonds product line in 2023 hints at the exciting future awaiting Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products.
The journey of Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products is a rich tale of passion, community, and entrepreneurial spirit. Over 30 years, it has grown from a small dream into a brand that brings the warmth and joy of California sunshine to people’s lives. As we celebrate this significant milestone, we look forward to many more years of nutty goodness and innovation from Maisie Jane’s.