Soft pretzels spark a lot of memories for people: vacations, treating themselves at a big event, and spending time with family and friends. The warmth of the pretzel with the dipping sauce was the memory that inspired UW-Green Bay freshman Victoria Stock to start her own soft pretzel business.
Called “The Twist-Gourmet Soft Pretzel Food Stand,” Stock’s soft pretzel story showcases the entrepreneurial genius of a high school student who refused to give up on her dream to go to college.
During Stock’s senior year of high school, she filled out the FAFSA in hopes of receiving some financial aid to attend UW-Green Bay.
“When I found out I wasn’t getting as much money as I thought I would get, I felt stuck. How does a student get $16,000 to put towards college?” Inspired by her father, an entrepreneur with his own custom-furniture making business, she turned her dilemma into an idea—start her own business and raise the money on her own,
“I grew up in my dad’s workshop and that partially influenced me, seeing my dad being a creator himself,” Stock said.
Stock’s choice of soft pretzel sales, inspired by childhood memories of eating them with her dad in Florida, ended up being both a sound and tasty choice for starting a business. Choosing soft pretzels allowed for less hassle when it came to starting the foundations of the business: licensing, equipment, and marketing.
“I chose to sell the pretzels out of a tent instead of a trailer because it was cheaper, I needed to keep it cost-effective.” Stock’s biggest challenge to the founding of her business wasn’t the paperwork, but the pandemic. “I had to communicate over email or phone when I was first getting all the paperwork done to start ‘The Twist.’” But the pandemic also ended up being a blessing in disguise because the mobility of her business meant she could sell outside, where people were more comfortable.
The Twist has six unique flavors all named after Stock’s family members.
“There’s the Old Man, the Momma, the Little Bro, and so on. I am really grateful for them because if I was ever stressed out, they were the first people to help me out.” Stock also credits Amy Jo Stevenson, owner of The Cookie Crate and Mama Za, as her mentor and inspiration to continue during the hard times. “I’ve gotten a lot of good advice from her and she’s a super generous person.”
Stock also nods to the people from her small community of New Holstein who helped her company take off. “I live in a small community where word-of-mouth is king.” Being younger, she is also a master at Instagram and Facebook, so creating social media pages for the Twist was second nature. Stock has taken The Twist throughout the Sheboygan area and to Fond Du Lac, Manitowoc and even Milwaukee. “I could have worked endless hours for someone else, but I wanted an opportunity to not only make money, but to make a name for myself,” she says. A strong support team that included her mom, “who provided the greatest advice when I doubted myself,” along with her sister and boyfriend, Grady, are keys to her success, she says.
Almost a year after the opening of The Twist, Stock is now at UW-Green Bay and majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship. She hopes that her degree will help provide proper knowledge of the business world and connections that could aid in the future.
“The way I started The Twist was simply from the people I talked to in my own community, connections are essential in business.” Stock has plans to someday bring The Twist to UW-Green Bay and expand from tent to trailer by Fall 2022.
Like her peers at UW-Green Bay, Stock is demonstrating the vision and work ethic to rise above and make her mark in the community.
Story by Soundarya Ritzman