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We're Everyone's Flavor
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Carlos Smith and Kendall Jackson were surprised when they met for breakfast in 2014 to discuss ideas for starting a business. Each man flipped open a notebook, listing ideas, and “gourmet popcorn” was at the top of both lists. Neither expected the other to have the same idea as top choice, even though the pair have been pals for more than three decades and love flavored popcorn. The discussion ended nearly as it started, with the friends knowing what type of business they wanted to open. That was the easy part.

The duo, who rose from teachers to school administrators before becoming entrepreneurs, went door-to-door to local popcorn shops, asking about expansion opportunities, and kept getting rejected. Each “no” motivated them further. In 2018, the pair opened PopCulture Gourmet Shops, overcoming the usual obstacles for a small business: lack of funding and inadequate support. They bootstrapped their business, exhausting savings and retirement accounts to pursue their dream.

PopCulture, a now thriving gourmet popcorn shop, makes more than 50 flavors of traditional Chicago-style popcorn, ranging from key lime pie to mesquite BBQ. New flavors are offered seasonally and as special promotions. PopCulture offers huge variety to its customers, as their motto is “We’re Everyone’s Flavor!”

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