This 17-year-old wanted a healthy alternative to peanut butter, and now she's a nut butter tycoon

The INSIDER Summary:

  • When 16-year-old Abby Kircher couldn’t find a healthier alternative to peanut butter, she created her own.
  • Now, Abby’s Better Nut Butter is available in five flavours, and sold in grocery stores across North Carolina and Tennessee.
  • Abby hopes to expand her business and stay involved throughout her college years.

Abby Kircher has always loved peanut butter.

But at age 16, when she started making an effort to eat healthier, she realised that many peanut butter brands are loaded with sugar and oils.

She didn’t like the plain almond butters on the market, so she decided to create her own nut butter, something that was healthy, naturally-sweetened, and tasted good.

Two years later, Abby’s Better Nut Butter is being sold in grocery stores across North Carolina and Tennessee, and Kircher is hoping to make her nut butters available nationwide soon.

Here’s how she did it:

It all started with some nuts and a food processor.

Besides watching her mum cook, Kircher had no experience in the kitchen before creating her nut butters.

After researching how to make nut butters at home, she got hold of a food processor and started experimenting with just nuts — almonds, pecans, cashews.

Kircher quickly realised that she was going to need oil in order to create a product that was buttery, and not dry. She knew from research that coconut oil was one of the healthiest oils out there, so she used that, and then added different sweeteners like fruit and honey.

Kircher ended up with five flavours using only natural ingredients.

The experimenting that Kircher did that first summer led to five nut butter flavours:

  • date pecan
  • coconut cashew
  • strawberry cashew
  • honey almond
  • coffee almond

And although the ingredients differ slightly for each flavour, they’re all pretty simple: nuts, coconut oil, fruit, vanilla extract, salt, and ground coffee beans.

After her nut butters got the stamp of approval from family and friends, Kircher turned to local farmers’ markets and grocery stores.

Logan Square Farmers MarketFlickr / Ageless North Shore(Not Abby or the farmers’ market she sold at.)

After her family and friends tried all the flavours and approved of them, Kircher turned to local farmers’ markets to start selling her butters to the public.

After having success at those markets, Kircher and her mum decided that her product had the potential of being sold in grocery stores. Unsure of how to approach grocery stores, Kircher and her mum simply started cold calling them, and offering managers taste tests.

Kircher said the managers loved the nut butters, but they mainly loved the story behind them. She said that her young age helped her more than hindered her; people thought it was unusual and were eager to support Kircher.

The nut butters are now available at grocery stores in both North Carolina and Tennessee. The butters are also available online, and can be shipped nationwide. Each jar is $12.99 (except for the date pecan flavour, which is $13.99).

Kircher’s goal is to continue to grow her business and stay involved, even while she’s away at college.

Kircher — who was home schooled throughout her teenage years — is now 17 and plans on taking a gap year before attending college. She plans to stay involved in her nut butter business — and even expand it — and to keep it in the family.

She plans on majoring in business and minoring in English or literature.

Being an entrepreneur has taught Kircher a lot of patience.

When asked about the challenges of starting her own business at such a young age, Kircher says waiting for things to happen and fall into place was one of the hardest parts. Her advice to those her age trying to become entrepreneurs? Take it slow.

“Just take it step by step, don’t rush it. It’s going to take time. It’s a working process. You’re going to make mistakes. But definitely go for it. Don’t ever be afraid to share something you love with other people, because most likely they will love it too,” she said.

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