The “Overnight Success” 20 Years in the Making
A retired professional athlete, long-time entrepreneur, and business owner, James “Boo” Jackson is an inventive culinary creator that can now add food truck operator to his long list of accomplishments. This family business that James and his mom, Kim, run together grew out of James’ original product K-Town Krack seasonings. James’ enthusiasm is contagious, so Everything Knoxville was eager to learn more about how their business has grown over the years, his successes along the way, and his most recent achievements.
EK: Tell us about the beginnings and background of your business.
James: I’ve always had a passion for cooking. As a young kid, I would sell hotdogs, hamburgers, and chicken in my neighborhood in Pittsburgh. When I got to college at Eastern Michigan University, I sold food made with my signature seasoning out of my dorm room to make some extra pocket change. Everyone loved the taste and often asked me for my seasoning recipe. After college in 2010, my father had a job relocation to Knoxville. I joined him here and opened up Studio X, a club and restaurant near UT campus. As part of my menu, I incorporated chicken wings seasoned with my special blend that quickly became a customer favorite. I’ve been told from thousands of people that these wings are the best they ever tasted!
EK: Many restaurants were not able to weather the recent pandemic. How did yours carry on?
James: I took the restaurant slow down as an opportunity to bottle up my special blend – a long-time dream – with the hopes of sharing this seasoning experience throughout Tennessee and surroundings areas. To be able to retain and pay my restaurant employees, they helped with the spice mixing, bottling, adding labels, and shipping.
At first, I sold predominantly online and through personal deliveries. It was an instant hit, and I had my first store placements in just a short few months at Oak Ridge Pharmacy and Gam’s Barbershop. I then got a great opportunity to have my products sold in local Elder’s Ace Hardware stores. The first day out on shelves, K-Town Krack sold out! This led to landing more stores in their chain and picking up a Publix deal shortly thereafter.
EK: Why do you think K-Town Krack seasoning has taken off like it has?
James: First, my friends and family have been such a good support. And with all the added local support, K-Town Krack has taken off faster than expected, and I am so grateful and thankful for that.
Secondly, because of its unique flavor and honest ingredients, I believe our brand has a tremendous upside in today’s market.
I’m just proud that I stuck with an idea I created out of my college dorm room and never gave up on myself. I am a strong believer in putting your faith in God and counting your blessings every single day. The work you put in will be evident in your ending results.
EK: How has having your mom as a business partner worked to your advantage?
James: My mother has a part in everything I do – helping me to become the best businessman possible. She has my best interest at heart but also isn’t afraid to speak her mind! She helps with a lot of stuff behind the scenes. She knows how to be a mother when it’s time to be a mom, and she knows how to be a business partner when it’s about the business. I have the best of both worlds and am so grateful for that.
We have similar goals of creating a culture of inclusiveness and belonging where all are welcome. We embrace change and innovation and are always looking for new ways to grow our organization and ourselves. We continue to hold ourselves accountable at every step.
In the end, our customers are at the heart of every decision we make. We strive to exceed their expectations at every turn and create a culture of giving.
EK: What is next for you and your growing business?
James: We will be rolling out some new seasoning flavors to accompany the four we already have out: Original, Hot, Ranch, and Lemon Pepper.
I am also in the process of launching my food truck concept called Chick-N-Sack. We will serve our signature wings and waffles along with other specialty foods using all flavors of K-Town Krack. Each truck will have a mobile app that can be downloaded to locate and place an order right on your smartphone.
EK: How can interested customers learn more about K-Town Krack, and where they can get your signature wings?
James: K-Town Krack seasoning spices are available at all Elder’s Ace Hardware and Publix locations throughout Tennessee, as well as Oak Ridge Pharmacy, Chicken City, and online at www.KTownKrack.com.
EK: Is there anything else you want our Everything Knoxville readers to know?
James: I want to personally thank everyone who believed in me and my vision. None of this would be possible without all the support from my friends, family, and customers. And remember: “Always keep your faith and never give up on yourself, nothing worth having comes easy.”
K-Town Krack LLC