By Ellah Foster '24
Lisa Wojcik didn’t know where she’d end up when she arrived at UCSB as a freshman in 2001. After pursuing math and science, she realized her true interests lay in English Language & Literature. In the College of Letters and Science, she learned skills pertaining to communication and analysis that she later utilized in her professional life.
After graduating, Lisa worked in visual merchandising with hopes of moving up in the company. But as she climbed the ladder, Lisa felt a calling to work on a once-shelved idea: a confectionary company. Having met success, Lisa is now eager to expand in with new products and placements.
Tell me how you discovered your passion for baking.
I grew up baking with my mom and grandma; I think a lot of people find their passions when they are young. Most notably, I remember always baking around Christmas time and making cookies with my grandparents. My mom always made these candied pecans, which was the easiest treat to make when I was out on my own – and that’s how it all began.
What is the meaning behind the name of your confectionary company, Black Bow Sweets?
I wanted a name that would attract all consumers -– I didn’t want it to be too frilly. I gained inspiration for the ‘black bow’ image and name while flipping through a Kate Spade book because I loved the combination of the black and white. The main aspect I had to consider for my business was getting a URL. When I saw that ‘Black Bow Sweets’ was available, I immediately pictured the logo in my head and everything fell into place.
What drew you to the English Language and Literature major at UCSB? How do you feel that has impacted your path post-college?
English was always my favorite subject in high school. I initially tried to do chemistry and math, but it just wasn’t for me; all of my electives were English classes! So I accepted that decision and majored in English. It really gave me the ability to analyze and communicate which has carried over into everything that I do today. College was such a turning point for me in so many ways, as I learned to be on my own and break out of my shell.
What was your go-to spot for a sweet treat on campus or in Isla Vista during your undergrad years?
My favorite spot was I.V. Market. I would get candy from the bins for study sessions, specifically Swedish Fish!
Before Black Bow Sweets, you worked for Decker Brands as a visual merchandiser. What initiated your transition into the food industry?
When working for Deckers, I had this vision for my life. Eventually, I wanted to be the VP of visual merchandising. But, when I moved to a larger office, I realized that I actually really enjoy the feel of a smaller company. I just couldn’t see myself there anymore. I had the idea for the candied nut company before, but I had always shelved it. When I was suddenly unsure of my career, I started it on the side to get my creativity going. It took off and I was able to keep going with Black Bow Sweets.
Tell me about your favorite class that you took at UCSB.
I don’t remember the actual course title, but I took it in my senior year. We would have these small round table discussions as a class and our final project was to write an essay on anything – that was the only parameter! Many students seemed to struggle with it, but I was really excited. At the time, I also suffered from debilitating anxiety, so I decided that I would try a new activity every day for 30 days and then write about it. So, I gave myself these tasks that felt outrageous, like karaoke. I started small and just had this breakthrough of releasing that anxiety.
What is in store for Black Bow Sweets in the new year?
I’m very excited for 2023. We’re going to be back at trade shows for the first time since 2020. I hope we land in department stores, as we have one large customer now and I would love to build our factory up with automated machines. We also have a whole new product line, introducing kettle corn and gummy bears. This will be the first time that we’re expanding past nuts, so I’m hoping we will make it into the next tier of gifting.