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Kellys Jelly celebrates tasty success story

by: CLIFF NEWELL Kelly Calabria, right, and her husband, Adam, have become Lake Oswego’s first family of jelly after only one year with Kelly’s Jelly, a beautiful blend of tang and sweetness.

God bless Great Aunt Danni.

Without her recipe for habanero pepper jelly on a little piece of crumpled paper, Kelly and Adam Calabria would not have started Kelly's Jelly, a homegrown Lake Oswego company that is soaring in popularity after just one year of existence.

'It's definitely a unique recipe,' Kelly said. 'It was the catalyst for everything. I've tried other pepper jellies and a lot of them have in-your-face heat. They don't have a balanced flavor.

'Our jelly has a nice color and it has a gourmet look and feel to it. People really like the local aspect of it, too.'

The Calabrias began sharing their jelly with the world a year ago, and it has turned out to be a very happy decision.

'We always wanted to start something where we could work together,' Adam said. 'This did not have huge starting costs, and it fit exactly what we wanted to do.'

Kelly's Jelly is now being sold at the Lake Oswego Farmers Market, Lamb's Palisades Thriftway, and the Red Hills Market in Dundee.

Not only did the Calabrias have a great new jelly, they proved to be natural-born marketers. Soon the jelly was breaking beyond the horizons of Lake Oswego.

'In two months we were shipping product to Tennessee,' Kelly said. 'People try it and instantly love it.'

The young couple also benefited from a happy coincidence.

'I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in 10 years,' Kelly said, 'and he started marketing our jelly to stores in Spokane (Wash.). We sent four cases. He said, 'Kelly's Jelly has taken Spokane by storm.' '

Perhaps the most notable partnership the Calabrias have formed is with Voodoo Doughnut.

'They have so many followers,' Kelly said. 'They have opened so many doors for us. Now they have Kelly's Jelly Thursdays,' featuring pepper-jelly-filled pastries.

While they are now well on their way to becoming jelly tycoons, it took Adam and Kelly a long time to make the plunge.

'For eight years we made it for family and clients, and they kept asking: 'More,'' Kelly said.

Adam said, 'They told us, 'You could sell it.' We thought that was absurd.'

When the Calabrias finally decided selling their jelly was not absurd, things moved quickly. Their next goal is to establish an online store that can send Kelly's Jelly straight to your mailbox.

'It has really been fun,' Kelly said. 'We have a good product, we had good timing and people like it.'

'Our friends are so interested in how it's going,' Adam said.

The success of Kelly's Jelly can be summed up in one word: Yum.

For more about Kelly's Jelly go to www.kellysjelly.com. Besides the signature brand of sweet and spicy habanero pepper jelly, the company offers such flavors as strawberry habanero and seasonal preserves like marionberry, strawberry, blackberry and, soon, cranberry.