Greensboro woman’s peanuts and craft beer business thrives

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Melissa Wallace started her entrepreneurial resume very early.

“I did have a lemonade stand,” Melissa points out.  “But I did really well selling Girl Scout cookies.”

That business acumen was still there when she became a craft beer fan, as an adult.

She found that munching on a nice peanut, while she sipped the beer, was great and there was one made in Greensboro that she and her friends and family loved.

“Then, suddenly, it wasn't there, anymore,” she told us.  “We looked online and ordered every redskin peanut we could find and opened them with great delight, tasted them, close them with great disgust and put them in the closet.  So, finally, I called the owner of the company and said, 'Look, if you're not going to make these anymore, can you tell me where so I can make my own batch?  She said, 'I can't tell you where, but I can tell you generally where the farm was.'”

And that is the genesis of her new company, Hops and Nuts – peanuts made for drinking with beer and often make with beer, itself (or beer ingredients, like hops).

One of their secrets is combining with North Carolina’s many craft breweries to make unique products.

And, as a woman running a business, she picked the right place since the website, Wallet Hub, recently named Greensboro one of the ten best cities for female-owned businesses in America.

“You can throw all day long at the wall, gender equity and equal pay and things along that line,” says Melissa.  “I think what we're seeing here in Greensboro and the Triad area is access and a great opportunity and culture and these are not things that happen overnight.”

“It's a great place for any entrepreneur,” says Lou Anne Flanders-Stec, with the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.

And as good as an atmosphere as Greensboro is for female entrepreneurs, Flanders-Stec says there is one big thing most communities can improve on that Greensboro is certainly working to do.

“I think that's one of the things that we, as an ecosystem and an entrepreneurial drivers within our region have to figure out how to do:  How to connect with the people who aren't waving their hands saying, 'I'm starting a business, come help me.'  How do we find those folks who are working by themselves?” She says.

The theory that women are driven, by nature to be collaborative and men to be more competitive is, says Flanders-Stec … not true, anymore.

“Having been in the classroom, the last six years teaching 20-somethings entrepreneurship, I see that less and less,” she says.