During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have chosen to quit their jobs or change the course of their career completely. Rayann White, owner and founder of Rayann’s Popcorn, is one of these individuals.
Before opening her gourmet popcorn business full-time, White worked for two years in development for the Salvation Army, three years in sales and marketing for the Lexington Herald-Leader and three years in public relations for the Christian Appalachian Project.
White initially began making popcorn to give as gifts, but it wasn’t until she had some encouragement from a friend that she began marketing and selling her popcorn. At first, she was just doing it part-time and selling to local grocers. However, in November 2020, she made her popcorn business her full-time job.
“It felt like God was saying to me, ‘It’s time to move on,’” White said.
After going full-time, White moved her business into Julietta Market on West Loudon Avenue.
“I think the market is a great place for entrepreneurs that are just starting to really showcase their products and their services. It also gives us the opportunity to build a customer base,” White said. “I do like it here, but I think my next step is a brick-and-mortar [location].”
White said she loves serving people her products. She said she can make popcorn all day, but seeing customers’ reactions to tasting a product she works hard to create is one of the reasons she loves her job.
“They will come up with slogans for me, or they’ll text and call me,” White said. “To me, that [connection] is more important than anything.”
All of White’s popcorn is GMO-free and gluten-free, and she handmakes it from scratch every day. The company’s Instagram account, @rayannspopcorn, displays the wide range of flavors White offers, from spicy cheese to sea salted caramel.
“When people come to Rayann’s Popcorn, they know it will be fresh every time; that’s a guarantee,” she said.
White left a job that she knew to do what she loves: deliver a gourmet, fresh product to customers.
“What really fuels me is knowing that my customers appreciate the time and effort that I put into it,” White said. “It means a lot to me to produce not just a good product, but one that is quality that I know people will enjoy.”