FERRYSBURG — Lisa Ramsey grew up in America’s South, “which means we love to cook and bake,” she said.
It was Ramsey’s grandmother, Betty Jane, who inspired her recent business endeavor, Betty Jane’s Sweets in Ferrysburg.
“All throughout my life she was always in the food industry,” Ramsey said of Betty Jane. “She ran a couple of restaurants and she and my mom owned a catering company. My grandmother would also pick us kids up and take us to the specialty candy stores and give us special candy for the holidays.”
Ramsey was born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina, but three decades ago moved to Grand Rapids, where she was a surgical assistant for an oral surgeon for more than 20 years.
“But there was no place to advance,” she said. “So I kept thinking, ‘What’s next? What am I going to do now?’”
She opened her own insurance agency for a year, but it didn’t have the positive energy she wanted, so she closed that and decided to look into the candy business as she was moving to the Lakeshore.
“I was looking for an apartment to rent and saw picture of a suite that looked like a business, so I asked to see it,” she said. “And as soon as I walked in, I thought, ‘This is the place.’ I just knew it.”
In addition to the location for her store at 518 Pine St., she also found an apartment and got to work on the business’ cosmetic pieces by herself.
“The COVID thing has been really hard to hire help as far as contractors,” Ramsey said. “I ended up doing everything myself. I painted and I got on YouTube and learned how to put the flooring down. It was hard, but like chocolate-making, I knew I could do it.”
That’s the other fun fact about Ramsey’s business endeavor: She also had to learn how to make all of the sweets she was going to sell.
“I knew how to make some of the things from over the years, but I had never worked with tempered chocolate before – chocolate is not easy to deal with,” she said. “I’m still learning every day.”
Ramsey watches videos online, talks to other bakers and chocolate store owners, and experiments with some trial and error.
All of her hard work began Oct. 1, 2020, and she opened the store for business on Feb. 1.
So far, it’s been a dream, she says.
“Spring Lake by Keenan Marina reminds me of my hometown,” Ramsey said. “And the people are so awesome here. They are warm and welcoming, and want me to be successful and build my business.”
Ramsey and her two employees, Sherry and Christina, help her make the treats, interact with customers and continue her social media presence. Betty Jane’s Sweets offers a variety of homemade treats including several kinds of popcorn (caramel corn, kettle corn, cheesy popcorn and more), turtles, bark, coconut clusters, berry mix clusters and frosted almonds.
Ramsey also gets a few treats from other vendors, including the cream chocolates and sugar-free chocolates, as well as gummy candies and taffy. She sells gift baskets for all occasions and customers can choose what goes in each basket.
Ramsey doesn’t plan to stop there. She is already looking toward the future.
“I want to make everything in the store eventually as well as get my products into other stores,” she said. “I’m going to start working with The Corner Market and Ace Communications in Spring Lake soon to offer my treats in their stores.”
Ramsey’s grandmother and mother are no longer alive, but she says the rest of her family members down South are excited for her.
“Especially my uncle,” she said. “We’re very close and, when I post things on Facebook, he always comments and solicits more customers for me from down South. It’s a great tribute to my grandmother, and I feel like my mother and grandmother were guiding me through this.”