In the Kitchen With Gotta Have S’More Owner Annalisa Johnson
byRachel WarrickJun 02, 2017
Annalisa Johnson, mother to a 10-year-old son and three
stepsons and owner of Gotta Have S’more, discovered a new twist on the classic
campfire s'more while leasing out some of her commercial kitchen space. She
often tries her tenants’ creations, and this time it was a delicately dipped
graham cracker crust topped with toasted marshmallow and a square of chocolate.
Johnson saw potential in the treat and bought Gotta Have S’More in 2014. Over the
next two years, she rebranded the treats into convenient packaging and added
more seasonal flavors and designs. Today, you can pick them up by the dozen from
their store in Los Angeles, or order them for delivery through their website.
This is not Johnson’s first foray into the food industry. In addition to owning a commercial kitchen space, Johnson runs Annie’s Edibles, a healthy
gourmet meal delivery and catering service. Johnson’s cooking is a hit—just ask
some of her celebrity clients like Robert De Niro, Matthew McConaughey or Stevie
Nicks (to name a few). “I love the food industry. There is so much freedom in
cooking—a certain freedom that I don’t think you can find in the corporate
world,” Johnson says.
As if running three successful businesses is not enough,
Johnson is also involved with Foster Nation, a charity that offers opportunity
for career growth to individuals who grew up in the foster system. There, Johnson
trains foster kids who have aged out of the system and teaches them how to cook
and use that skill to gain employment. According to Johnson, “if you can cook,
you have a job for a lifetime.”
Johnson tells Mom.me how she balances business and parenthood.
Describe the moment when you
were inspired to buy Gotta Have S’More.
The first time I ate one! The
original owner rented space from me, and I loved her product. Every time I
sampled a s'more, I wanted to be a part of the company.
What made you want to buy Gotta
Have S’More in addition to running Annie’s Edibles?
Desserts are more fun. With Annie's Edibles, we cook based on people's health preferences, so we are always watching
calories and portion size. With Gotta Have S'more, people aren't worried about
that. They just want to enjoy a special treat.
When did you first
The first time I felt successful
was when my dad said he was proud of me. He is my biggest inspiration and
mentor, and when he says that I’m doing something right I know that I am.
As a mother and the
owner of Gotta Have S’More, how do you make it all work?
I have an amazing support system
between my staff, family and friends. They all chip in to allow me to make it
to my son's school and sporting events. I could not do this without them.
Has there been anything
about owning Gotta Have S’More that surprised you or inspired
you in a way you didn't expect?
There’s something about the food
service industry, especially deserts and specialty treats, that is very
fulfilling for me on a personal level. Making people happy does a lot for my
soul. Being a happy part of people's lives is an inspiration to keep doing
what I do.
What sacrifices have you made as
a mom and business owner to keep everything in balance?
Sleep! Once my son goes to bed, I
finish my work and I wake up with ideas around 5 a.m. So I get started, and
then when he wakes up, I get started again. Once
upon a time people shut down at a certain time, but to be a viable business today
you have to be able and willing to work around the clock.
What made you want to get involved
with Foster Nation?
I met Maggie Lin (co-chair) through
a friend, and we just hit it off. After I heard her story and found out
more about the Foster Nation organization, you can't help but want to contribute
to their cause.
As a successful female
entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your kids about
Girl power is unlimited! Women are
so amazing, and sometimes they have no idea until they are inspired. Right now
my team is all women and each one is strong, fierce and independent. They
inspire me to be better every day, and I think my kids pick up on that. They
have a lot of great examples of girl power in their everyday lives.
If you could have lunch with any
business person/entrepreneur/nonprofit founder living or dead, who would it be
My dad—he is my toughest critic
and biggest fan. He is an amazing business man with nothing but my best
interest at heart. He shoots straight with me and lets me know when I am not on
top of my game. He never allows me to accept mediocrity and pushes me to be better
than I was yesterday.
What's your advice for moms who are
looking to start their own business?
Do it. You can and will figure
out the when and where later. Get your game plan together, and get
focused. It’s a lot like having a baby—it requires a lot of patience and
nurturing, but it’s well worth it and very rewarding to watch it blossom.