About the Speaker
Jenny Ingram Fulton
Jenny Ingram Fulton’s personality is as robust as her Miss Jenny’s Pickles line. From a humble beginning full of hardships coupled with a lot of love, Miss Jenny’s success is a tribute to both her character and her zest for life.
After Jenny Fulton’s father died when she was two years old, times were tough. At the age of 12, her grandmother “Mamie” took Jenny in and raised her, never predicting that the field next to Mamie’s house would one day grow cucumbers for a pickle brand that has gone global soon after since its inception. Jenny qualified and received free lunch at school. As soon as she could get a job in high school, Jenny dropped out of the free lunch program and paid for her own lunch along with her own clothes.
When Jenny turned 18, she graduated from a mostly minority population high school where she was named “Miss Carver High.” Jenny knew it was time to move out of Mamie’s house. She started paying her own Duke Power bill at 18 and looking for a way to fund her education, which she did with a minority scholarship to the historically African-American Winston-Salem State University. Attending night school while working 40 hours per week (including a stint as a bill collector on mobile homes) did not faze Jenny’s workhorse mentality.
She continued to invest in her education and herself, such as paying for her own braces at the age of 21. A secretarial position at First Union National Bank eventually led to a transfer to the investment department and earning her full stock brokers license. She was named a branch manager/vice president. Her career path took her to Scott & Stringfellow as a financial advisor/vice president and to Morgan Keegan in the same position. In 2010 the recession took Jenny’s job, a situation Jenny Fulton saw brewing and anticipated. Jenny used the opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade, or more specifically, cucumbers into pickles. In 2009 she and business partner and former investment assistant Ashlee Furr attended Pickle School at North Carolina State University, one of its kind in the United States. Jenny reinvented her career, capitalizing on her roots, Mamie’s old-fashioned pickle recipes and a penchant for hard work.
The women started their company in Jenny’s church kitchen, soon outgrowing the space and moving to the Winston-Salem YMCA. Jenny used the opportunity to both make pickles and an impact, often bringing impoverished children enrolled in the afterschool program into the kitchen to learn about making pickles and starting a business. Jenny even stopped her car for panhandling, homeless teens to say, “You want money? Then get in and I’ll give you a job for the day.”
Jenny’s commitment to her pickle commerce is immeasurable. At the end of 2010, Miss Jenny’s Pickles were in 50 stores. By 2011, she had increased to 250 stores and had started exporting to China. By 2012, 900 stores were carrying Miss Jenny’s Pickles, and the awards started rolling in, both professionally in the food industry and personally for her work in the community.
By 2013, her success had attracted political attention. Jenny was invited to testify in front of a Congressional Subcommittee on behalf of the United States Chamber for exporting and small businesses. In April, she was invited back to Washington D.C. to introduce Vice President Joe Biden at the Ex-Im Bank Conference. Jenny has peddled her pickles on the cable shopping network giant QVC eight times. She has participated in the International Food Show in Hong Kong and been a guest speaker at over 50 functions in two years. By mid-2013, Miss Jenny’s Pickles could be found in 1700 stores.
Jenny Fulton’s passion for pickles is surpassed only by her love of family and friends. She married Bo Fulton in 2007. Her two daughters, Madison and Kennedy, are as active as their mother and enjoy sports, people and their community of Kernersville, North Carolina.
While some may view Jenny Fulton’s story as one of success, in actuality, her story is one of seizing life’s opportunities boldly and joyfully even when those opportunities first look like disappointment.