Taste of Butte County
Randy Shinn is the owner and founder of White Swan Creative Confections, an online food business he conceptualized back in 2008 while cycling around the Chico area’s almond and olive orchards and rice fields. Products currently offered by White Swan include extra-virgin olive oils, nuts, organic rice, stuffed olives, olive spreads and infused balsamic vinegars. The name of the business came from the time Shinn spent watching “elegant, beautiful and graceful” swans at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Go to www.whiteswanconfections.blogspot.com to learn more.
What made you want to start this business?
After retiring from teaching [in the Bay Area] I wanted a project that would keep me active and one that I could use my creative abilities and thoughts and put them into action.
What makes your products different?
I believe two things make our products different. First, all of our products are from Butte County farms that practice sustainable farming and organic farming methods. Second, presentation and packaging. Our products are creatively packaged [so they] can be purchased by the consumer or given as a gift.
Do you think you’ll set up a storefront?
At this time I have no plans for a retail storefront. It’s too much fun traveling around California, meeting retailers and selling our products to them. Maybe as our product line expands I will consider opening an olive-oil-tasting storefront in Chico and/or San Francisco.
How has the Chico community responded?
The response from the Chico community has been great! People are always looking for unique gifts and products, and White Swan steps outside the box in our gift sets. We use many Chico landmarks on our packaging. On our nuts and rice we use Honey Run Covered Bridge on the label and proudly display on our gifts ‘Fresh from the Earth, Chico, California.’ We have had people from as far away as Palm Springs contact us and tell us they bought our product because they went to Chico State and went tubing down the creek where the covered bridge is located. Also, in response to helping to keep Bidwell Mansion open, we designed a label for one of our olive oils with the picture of Bidwell Mansion on it, and White Swan donated directly to the mansion the proceeds from the sales.
Have you always been an entrepreneur?
I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit in me. Back in the 1980s I started Chico Box and Postal Center located on Walnut Avenue and am glad to see it is still in business after having sold it.