MECHANIC FALLS — A second Central Maine mom has been called to the Emmys.
Shannon Bissonnette, founder of the Mechanic Falls-based Better Than Average LLC, Jams, Jellies and Sauces, has been asked to make 800 jars of her all-natural jam for the official gift bags of the 32nd annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards on Sept. 26.
Like Lewiston's Sarah Dube Legare, whose EllieAnna Purse Co. has been tapped to make 800 fabric-covered notepads for the Emmy gift bags, Bissonnette got an email inquiry from the New Hampshire company that’s pulling together the gift bags. And like Legare — who happens to be a friend — Bissonnette didn't believe it at first.
"I'm like, 'Yeah, OK, whatever,'" Bissonnette said.
But an Internet search by her father turned up the name of the company in charge of this year's Emmy gift bags, Off The Wall Gifts. It was the same New Hampshire company listed on Bissonnette's email. She called and the company confirmed the request was real. It wanted her.
She still didn't quite believe it.
"There's like 50 jam companies in Maine alone," Bissonnette said.
But Off The Wall Gifts wanted a small entrepreneur whose business was up and coming. Better Than Average fit.
"She has a nice product, nice branding," said Valerie Wilson, co-owner of Off The Wall. "I could see the jam being picked up by Whole Foods and other large companies."
Bissonnette started making jams and jellies three years ago for her two boys, then toddlers. The products used local produce and no preservatives, and soon, others wanted a taste. She sold jars at craft fairs, then at farm stands and in small shops. Last year, she moved production from her home kitchen to a commercial kitchen on Main Street in Mechanic Falls. She now sells her 19 jams, jellies and sauces online and in 70 retail locations, including one in Texas.
Although Bissonnette is used to making a lot of jam at once — she sold almost 300 cases at the Fryeburg Fair — she'll have to make a lot — and fast — to meet the Emmy deadline. Off The Wall needs 400 jars each, about 67 cases, of her apple maple and blueberry rhubarb jams by Sept. 22. And while friends might help in the final production, Bissonnette will be doing the cooking herself, all while she prepares product for the upcoming Fryeburg Fair.
Even though she doesn't get paid for the 800 jars of jam she's sending to the Emmys, Bissonnette believes the hard work will be worth it.
"I can always say now that I was the official jam of the 2011 Emmy Awards," she said.