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South Hadley friends kick out the jams, aim for the stores

  • DJ mix co-owners Jane Janovsky, left, and Donna Poli get a first taste of a special order pineapple jam they were cooking early Wednesday morning using the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    DJ mix co-owners Jane Janovsky, left, and Donna Poli get a first taste of a special order pineapple jam they were cooking early Wednesday morning using the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • DJ Mix co-owner Donna Poli tops off a jar of raspberry jam, called White Chocolate Razz Jazz, during a making session Wednesday morning in the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    DJ Mix co-owner Donna Poli tops off a jar of raspberry jam, called White Chocolate Razz Jazz, during a making session Wednesday morning in the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jane Janovsky, left, and Donna Poli use the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley on an early weekday morning to cook jams for their new business, DJ Mix. On this day the pair was making a white chocolate raspberry jam, they call White Chocolate Razz Jazz, and a special order pineapple jam they dubbed Pineapple Solo.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jane Janovsky, left, and Donna Poli use the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley on an early weekday morning to cook jams for their new business, DJ Mix. On this day the pair was making a white chocolate raspberry jam, they call White Chocolate Razz Jazz, and a special order pineapple jam they dubbed Pineapple Solo.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • DJ Mix co-owners Donna Poli, right, and Jane Janovsky, off camera, remove a batch of white chocolate raspberry jam after a final boil in the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    DJ Mix co-owners Donna Poli, right, and Jane Janovsky, off camera, remove a batch of white chocolate raspberry jam after a final boil in the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Donna Poli, left, and Jane Janovsky use the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley to cook jams for their new business, DJ Mix. On this day the pair was making a white chocolate raspberry jam they call White Chocolate Razz Jazz and a special order of pineapple jam they dubbed Pineapple Solo.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING<br/>

    Donna Poli, left, and Jane Janovsky use the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley to cook jams for their new business, DJ Mix. On this day the pair was making a white chocolate raspberry jam they call White Chocolate Razz Jazz and a special order of pineapple jam they dubbed Pineapple Solo.
    KEVIN GUTTING
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • A batch of DJ Mix's White Chocolate Razz Jazz jam is given a final boil.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    A batch of DJ Mix's White Chocolate Razz Jazz jam is given a final boil.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jane Janovsky prepares a batch of white chocolate raspberry jam for a final boil.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jane Janovsky prepares a batch of white chocolate raspberry jam for a final boil.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Donna Poli, left, and Jane Janovsky use the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley to cook jams for their new business, DJ Mix. On this day the pair was making a white chocolate raspberry jam they call White Chocolate Razz Jazz and a special order of pineapple jam they dubbed Pineapple Solo.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Donna Poli, left, and Jane Janovsky use the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley to cook jams for their new business, DJ Mix. On this day the pair was making a white chocolate raspberry jam they call White Chocolate Razz Jazz and a special order of pineapple jam they dubbed Pineapple Solo.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • DJ mix co-owners Jane Janovsky, left, and Donna Poli prepare a special order of pineapple jam Wednesday morning using the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    DJ mix co-owners Jane Janovsky, left, and Donna Poli prepare a special order of pineapple jam Wednesday morning using the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • DJ mix co-owners Jane Janovsky, left, and Donna Poli get a first taste of a special order pineapple jam they were cooking early Wednesday morning using the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • DJ Mix co-owner Donna Poli tops off a jar of raspberry jam, called White Chocolate Razz Jazz, during a making session Wednesday morning in the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Jane Janovsky, left, and Donna Poli use the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley on an early weekday morning to cook jams for their new business, DJ Mix. On this day the pair was making a white chocolate raspberry jam, they call White Chocolate Razz Jazz, and a special order pineapple jam they dubbed Pineapple Solo.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • DJ Mix co-owners Donna Poli, right, and Jane Janovsky, off camera, remove a batch of white chocolate raspberry jam after a final boil in the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Donna Poli, left, and Jane Janovsky use the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley to cook jams for their new business, DJ Mix. On this day the pair was making a white chocolate raspberry jam they call White Chocolate Razz Jazz and a special order of pineapple jam they dubbed Pineapple Solo.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING<br/>
  • A batch of DJ Mix's White Chocolate Razz Jazz jam is given a final boil.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Jane Janovsky prepares a batch of white chocolate raspberry jam for a final boil.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Donna Poli, left, and Jane Janovsky use the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley to cook jams for their new business, DJ Mix. On this day the pair was making a white chocolate raspberry jam they call White Chocolate Razz Jazz and a special order of pineapple jam they dubbed Pineapple Solo.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • DJ mix co-owners Jane Janovsky, left, and Donna Poli prepare a special order of pineapple jam Wednesday morning using the kitchen of Ebenezer's in South Hadley.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

Now, after making and selling jams for two years, the duo is looking to take their business to the next level: get their jams, marketed as DJ Mix Jams, into stores.

“We just want people to enjoy our jam as much as we do,” Poli said.

What began as a childhood pastime for both is now a business venture. Janovsky, 45, originally from Longmeadow, said her mother was always baking when she was growing up, and her father, who grew up on a farm, loved to pick berries. He’d often pick much more than needed.

“We’d always have way more than a pie’s worth — or two pies worth — of berries, so we’d make jam,” Janovsky said.

Poli, 55, originally from Granby, said her family also liked berry-picking, and her grandmother taught her to make jam out of their harvest.

During the heat wave this July, Janovsky and Poli put on their straw hats and picked 55 pounds of blueberries over four hours at Monadnock Farm in Troy, N.H. What they didn’t use immediately they froze. They said they are grateful for friends who grow fruit — such as blackberries and rhubarb — and contribute from their harvests. “We do pride ourselves in the fresh fruit,” Poli said. “We look at every berry before it goes into that pot to cook.”

Neighbor Jan Klump, a private voice teacher in South Hadley, became one of DJ Mix’s earliest clients. She has purchased almost all of their flavors and shared jars with family and friends — all of whom, she said, have given a positive response.

When Janovsky and Poli started making jam, they realized they shared a love not only of cooking, but of experimenting with ingredients. The pair created their business name using their first initials and playing on the musical connotation of the words “mix” and “jam.” They now have around 20 flavors, which they call their “playlist,” and take requests for new ones. “We would like our family of jam lovers to get what they want,” Poli said. “We want to keep it personal.”

The playlist

Among their most popular flavors are White Chocolate Razz Jazz, made with white chocolate and raspberry; Blueberry Pear Fusion, made with blueberries and pears; Mango Tango, made with mango, pineapple and strawberry; and Philharmonic Pear, made with pears and cinnamon.

Pat Menard, of Holyoke, another early client and friend of Poli’s, said her children are normally partial to grape jelly, but are so drawn to the label’s flavors that she has to hide new jars to keep them from being opened. “We just keep trying and trying different ones,” Menard said.

To help with costs of the licensing process for the jams to be sold in stores statewide, the duo, has started a campaign on IndieGogo, a crowd-funding website. “We’re on a roll, and we don’t want to stop,” Poli said. “All the positive feedback — (it) makes you want to keep going.”

They say they have nearly exhausted their savings in bringing the business to this point.

Janovsky and Poli realized their jams might have commercial appeal when Poli’s friend Denis Lafleur, owner of Happy Days Family Fun Spot and Cruisin’ Café in Granby, expressed interest in using their jams in the café, which opened in April.

Lafleur, of Granby, said he wanted their jams to put on toast, and also as toppings on ice cream. “There’s a lot of potential for use of that product,” Lafleur said.

When they decided to start a business, Poli, a retired assistant bank manager, and Janovsky, a graphic arts and photography teacher at South Hadley High School, brought their skills to the venture. While Poli is experienced in management and customer service-related tasks, Janovsky said she prefers the “quiet, marketing side” of business. She designed all of the DJ Mix’s marketing materials.

DJ Mix first gained wide community exposure at FallsFest in July, where they ran a booth selling jams. While there, they were approached by Nora Murphy, manager of the South Hadley Farmers’ Market, who asked if they would be interested in joining the market. They accepted, and now, DJ Mix has a weekly presence in town.

Murphy said she approached them because the market did not have a jam vendor, and preserved fruit seemed like an appropriate addition. “If you’re trying to eat locally … there’s certain food you can’t eat all year round,” she said, noting that most berries are only available in summer. “Having a vendor who has picked those berries by hand and found a way to preserve them in the winter time is a really nice addition to the market.”

The pair uses Ebenezer’s Bar & Grill, owned by Poli’s friend, South Hadley resident David Isakson, as a commercial kitchen. They arrive to make jams at 6 a.m., bringing all of their own pots, pans and utensils, and have to be out by 10 a.m. “We have to make it spotless again like they never even knew we were there,” Janovsky said.

In the kitchen, the two friends, who have known each other for seven years, liken themselves to Lucy and Ethel, of the TV show “I Love Lucy.” Sometimes, they get so anxious to try a new flavor of jam, they taste it while it’s still too hot and burn their tongues.

“We know better, but we’re so excited to try it we don’t wait,” Poli said, laughing. “It’s crazy. Crazy fun.” Janovsky said that while she would like to reach a point where they can make a living from selling jams, they do not know what to expect. “We’re excited to see where it’s going to go,” Janovsky said. “It’s an adventure.” Poli can be contacted at (413) 533-9866 and Janovsky at (413) 322-8370.

To learn more about DJ Mix, visit their website at djmixjams.com. To donate to their IndieGogo campaign, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/dj-mix-jams.

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