I'm Sari Kimbell and I've done just about everything in the food industry. I have helped hundreds of packaged food business entrepreneurs. And now I want to help you make your delicious dream a reality. Whether you want to be successful at farmers' markets, online, or wholesale on the store shelves, Food Business Success is your secret ingredient, I will show you how to avoid an expensive hobby, and instead run a profitable food business. Now let's jump in! Welcome to the podcast. So happy you are here. This is a very special one for me, I am talking with April and Earl of Better Than Provisions. And I love all my clients but these guys are definitely some of my favorites. And we have just been on a journey together for going on a year and a half now. And I have just watched them grow and evolve and really transform their business and you're going to hear all about it in this interview.
And I will just say, we talk about them setting some big goals for the year and we just had a call yesterday and they far and away exceeded their monthly goal, their stretch goal. And it was so amazing to celebrate with them. And we are totally on track to hit that big annual goal as well. So oh, so fun! So this is Thanksgiving week and I just thought this would be the perfect episode to put out this week because I do have so much gratitude for these two, and being a part of their business, and just being on this ride with them. I do want to throw out two offers to hear at the beginning. Because we do have some time sensitive things coming up inside Food Business Success. So I am closing the doors on November 30th for the online Food Business Success program. It is now a monthly membership rate, which is super affordable, I really wanted to help all of you out there who have that nudge, just starting out your business, just thinking about starting it in January of 2022 maybe, and you are wondering where to start. That is what Food Business Success is for. And those doors are closing here shortly. So I don't want you to miss out on a special live workshop all around goal setting and setting up your goals, your business for 2022. So you can hit the ground running in January. If you decide to wait, it's fine, but you are going to be starting late. You're going to be behind where you could be like just right out of the gate, just starting after the holidays. So we're gonna be doing some really great work inside the program, some deep work on goals. And I want people to be in that program who are excited and ready to get set up for the new year. So if that sounds like something you're interested in, just go to foodbizsuccess.com and then click on "I Want to Start a Business" and that'll take you to the short application and then you'll be able to get registered. And again those doors are closing and you will not be able to get in until later in 2022. So this is your opportunity. If you need a sign, this is it! The other thing I wanted to share with you is that I do have several openings for new business coaching clients in January so if you want to get started in January, set yourself up to go after a big goal with one-on-one coaching from me, that is definitely an option for you. So go to the website or you can go to sarikimbell.com, apply for the coaching program Sari Kimbell Coaching and you get full access to Food Business Success but you also get weekly calls with me and so much more one-on-one help. All right. The other thing is if you are wanting to watch us on video, I did go ahead and put up the full video on YouTube. This intro is not on YouTube because I tried it a number of times and something was going on with Zoom so we're just doing it this way. But here, as soon as I finished this little intro, the video will start and you'll be able to see April, Earl and I in our Better Than Provisions gear, talking all about their business. I also just want to take the opportunity to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving if you are here in the US and I hope it's a delicious one filled with lots of local and scratch made foods. This is my favorite holiday of the year. And I bet it's yours too. So I hope you have an amazing holiday week. And on with the show. I'm so excited really, really excited to be here now with April and Earl. I'm going to introduce them here but you guys have gotten to know, April, you've probably heard me talk about them before on all sorts of platforms. We share a lot of love for each other, but we finally have them on the podcast. It took a couple of rescheduling because they're so busy and crushing it. So welcome April and Earl of Better Than Provisions officially onto the podcast
Good to be here. Thanks for having us.
It is! I know it's like, when is the right time? You know, because you guys just keep hitting milestone after milestone and crushing it. It's like, well, let's wait till this, let's wait till this but at some point, we just got to do it. You guys aren't gonna stop. So we'll catch up another time down the road, and it will be even better. So April and Earl started Better Than Provisions, I'm going to have them tell their story a little bit more but they're down in Tucson, Arizona, and they have an amazing keto granola. And they started working with me about a year and three months ago now. And it has just been my honor and pleasure to work with this amazing couple and these individuals. April and I tend to make each other cry.
No crying this hour.
We need to fix the context there because like, we want to make sure that people don't think that we're making each other cry by working together.
That's true. Wow. Thank you for clarifying that. No, we generally make each other cry from all the love and all the fields and all the good appreciation. And Earl too, I don't typically cry. Anyway, so why don't you guys just take a minute and introduce yourselves and your business officially to everyone listening? And tell us a little bit about your background? And where you're at in your business?
Oh, that's a big one.
Just the the history like, who are you?
Yeah. So our history just kind of dating back to when this all started, is that I have a background in holistic nutrition and Earl has a background in massage therapy. So we were very about the healing of the body through holistic methods, right? And we may have talked about this a little bit on the coaching call, or the coaching podcast episode, is I had a long history with ups and downs in chronic illness. And so my approach to healing myself was very holistic, had a lot to do with what I ate and what I was putting into my body. And so that was really important to me. And it's been a long journey in the regard that I've had ups and downs through the past two decades. Fast forward to when we actually got introduced to the product. So I was traveling, and I was visiting home for a month, which is Wisconsin, and I was on a very particular way of eating a diet. I had certain restrictions and certain things I could eat. And so for traveling, it was really hard to find something that I could take with me and carry and always have something as a snack. And I was visiting a friend, and she at the time was exploring the ketogenic diet. And so part of my background is nutrition theory. That's what I studied, was nutrition theory. And the introduction of her, at that point I hadn't really understood anything about keto. In fact, I looked at it and I was like, are you sure about this? I don't know about this. What is this eating all this fat? Can't be good for you, right. And that was my first thought or when I around it, right. But then she had made this, you know, granola product. So it was like a trail mix. And I was at her house and I'm like, I'll try what you're making. She's like, I make these different things. I make granola, I make these things called fat bombs. And I'm like, well, it sounds good like it sounds tasty, I'll try it. And so I tried it. I tried the version that she made, and I was like, oh my god, this is so good! And so she made me a batch of my own that I carried around with me as I traveled. And it was, it was free of all the things that I was avoiding. And it was also really, you know, packed with vitamins and nutrients and good things that I really wanted to, you know, it kept me satisfied, it was filling, and it was also nutritious. So she gave me her recipe. I brought that recipe back to Tucson, and made it for Earl and Earl liked it a lot.
I did, and, you know, whatever dietary thing that April was doing at the time, pretty much meant that I was in. Something I could eat that felt like, you know, I was maybe taking a step back from the tables like, wow, this is great. Yeah, you should make some more of this. So I can take some to work or wherever. Keep it in the truck. Or, you know, if I could, I didn't know at the time, you know, if it could travel well, but it does.
Such an amazing product because it's so variable, so tropical. Yeah.
Yeah, and that was what was really appealing about it. And then I started making it here just for us and evolving it. So I played with different ingredients. And sort of developed the recipe into what I really wanted it to be, a little bit more added nutrition. I played around with different you know, non sugar sweeteners to get the right flavor, I really wanted it to taste good and not have like an aftertaste because it was a sugar-free product. So we goofed around with it for a while, and then I dialed it into like what it is today, pretty much. And we were making it for ourselves. And this whole time, I'm doing more research right on this ketogenic diet and this low carb, high fat concept and really started to wrap my head around what that could do for a person's healing process. And looking at that, integrating that concept into my nutrition work at the time. And I was working as a health coach at a natural food store at that point and making it for my co workers. Okay, so these are all people who are really into health and wellness too. And well, majority of them anyway. And they were like, can you make that again? And you know, I was giving it for gifts, and I could hear people say, have you tried April's granola? So of course that ended up being the initial like name of it, was just April's granola. And people were saying that and then folks started to say, well, have you guys thought about selling this product? And at the time, I was like, wow, that's, you know, that's an interesting, I was learning so much by working for natural food store while I was you know, while I was producing this, I was learning a lot and I had worked for a food coop in Austin when we lived in Austin, Texas, you know, six, seven years back. And I really got to know kind of like, the grocery industry as well. And so I started to think, well, maybe I could do something like that, right? Because I'm understanding how these, and I had watched several other companies, especially when I was in Austin. And so I watched these companies like Siete Foods and Epic Provisions and you know, Thunderbird Bars and like just all of these companies that were in the CPG space and still very small, only selling to the select handful of stores. I watched them grow into, you know, these big mega companies. And so I started entertaining the idea, I mentioned it to Earl a couple of times and you know, he is more of the money mind.
My concern at the time was that we were giving it away. For your viewers and listeners who don't know exactly what we do, we do a five nut grain free granola. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamias and hazelnuts, so very expensive nuts. And I asked her one time I'm like, well, how much does it cost to make a batch? And she's like, I don't know, I go to the grocery store and I just pick up all the ingredients when I do my grocery shopping. You know, so the price was kind of just rolled in to our normal weekly grocery budget, right? So that's when I kind of took over a little bit and I'm like, okay, well, let me go to the store and actually figure out, you know, what would be the initial cost.
First round of COGS?
First round of COGS. Like how much does it cost us to make it and then how much could we sell it for? Because you know, it's a premium product.
Yeah, it is. Your ingredients, the nuts are expensive. So what was the thing? Like, you know, you're kind of doubling in it. So why did you decide to go for it?
Well, I think you ran the numbers, and he was like, oh, we could make money doing this. Right? And in the beginning, you know, it was a lot of like, figuring out. What do we, what do we price it at? And I've gotten the advice from another friend who was in a product business like, do not underprice it to start. Ask for what it's worth, and be confident that you'll find a consumer that's, you know, willing to pay what you're asking for it, for something that is really quality. And so we kind of ran all of those scenarios and we had, I had worked for a farmers market prior, and so we had some like friends in a certain Farmers Market Group here in Tucson. And so we decided to just, you know, jump in and give it a try. And just start with the farmers markets. And that's what we did, we got started with one farmers market. In fact, we didn't even have our own booth in the beginning, we had a space that we shared with another vendor, so that we could try it out.
Yeah, I love that. And your cottage food too, right?
Yes. Oh, yeah.
That was a thing. You know, if we would have tried to start this business in Texas, or even in Wisconsin, where we're from. There was no such, you know, laws there. We would have had to start out in regular. Arizona's gonna let us do it. We might as well try it, you know, we don't have to pay rent or, you know, all the, you know, permitting and stuff that you, like we eventually had to do, but getting into the door was relatively easy, honestly. We realized, you know, going to the grocery store too was that, you know, in addition to like, figuring out the COGS and is it worth it for us to go through this, is that there really wasn't another product out there, and for sure one that didn't taste as good. Because through the keto thing, I had gone grain free and it made such a huge difference in my inflammation. As a massage therapist, my hands hurt all the time. So, you know, taking the grains out, like, I'm like, well, I'm already gluten free well, that's not gonna make any difference. But it did. It really did. Well, let's try some of the products that are out there. You know, let's see who we're up against, really.
Well that came later, though, I think, because initially, nobody. Well, five years ago when I started making it, there was not another product on the market like it. And then when we started in business, there was still really nothing available for purchase. And so we were like, well, that was another reason I think that we really looked at it was, there's nothing out there like it. So this is really, probably a great time to see if we can sell a product like this. But our trajectory has been a little slower. So of course, now, there are a lot of companies out there doing similar products. But you know, I think that too has sort of been a blessing in its own way, because they've paved the way for the grain-free concept, the ketogenic food concept. So there's just been, there's been a lot of groundwork that's been laid as a result, but you're right.
A lot of people are very educated and the informed questions I get daily, you know, sometimes I don't know the answers. I would go to April and asked, you know, what are they really asking? About the diet, specific nutritional questions, and how do I calculate net carbs? And I did, you know, the questions I didn't know the answer to at the farmers market, I take it back to April and then after you get asked the same question, you know, dozen times in your life, I know the answers to that. I don't even have to look at my notes.
When I think that sort of points to one of the other differentiators, right is my nutrition background and I wouldn't have thought that I would have ever developed a product. My space was in coaching and nutrition counseling and that was where I thought that I was going to be. And that's the practice I thought I was going to grow. And then this sort of just naturally evolved this, of that. And then it's interesting to look back though, because I mentioned my history with working for a food coop and then working for a natural food store. And to see how like the groundwork was being laid all along, for me to sort of step into this role and know a little bit more. I mean, our intention initially wasn't even to sell in stores, right. It was just let's do this farmers market and see what happens. And so we got ourselves some craft bags from Amazon and we got ourselves an Avery label.
I actually have an older bag. We'll talk about branding here in a minute. But yes, here's the OG, OG GPS.
Yeah, yeah. And that was actually like a second or third iteration. Initially we had a full round stickers that we would print like a pumpkin on or a heart. We had a heart, we had a flame, you know, the little emoji flame we had for sweet heat for our spicy one. We had the little bat and those were all stuck all over. And it was very cutesy and cartoonish, and
Very farmers marketing. I love it. So giddy. Yeah. But it's fun to look back at your progression. And I love that too. I think, April, you and I share that in common where we've done a lot of different things. And then you look back and you're like, oh, there was a plan. I just didn't know, at the time. I mean, because you kind of have some marketing background and some trade show. I mean, you've done a lot too. So how long were you at the farmers market? And then let's go to like, COVID and COVID hit so.
Yeah. So we started the Farmers Market in 2018. September of 2018 or the end of September. So I would say like, October 1st is kind of what we put as our anniversary date. And we were doing the the co-sharing, co-space with our friend who did like sea crackers. We were with her for what, like a month or so maybe. And then we got our own space. And then we just rolled with that one farmers market for what was maybe a year?
I think so. Yeah.
Yeah. Because the end of 2019, right. So this is just like pre-COVID. We had added farmers markets. We had added a couple of farmers markets.
We had at least three.
Tried one additional one.
We were in the coop, the coop here picked us, anyway. One of our previous supporters, they helped us figure out some of the like, licensing and insurance and...
Now we got to be the kitchen!
We were very transparent. I mean, we asked him questions about like, what are you looking for in a margin? Figured that out, like literally helped us figure that out.
Shout out to Food Conspiracy Coop in Tucson. They just a really great place and great people and really supportive and, you know, allowed us to to figure that first wholesale account out. And then when we look toward the end of our first year, we're going to you know, we're like, oh, we could grow this in other ways. We could maybe get more wholesale accounts. Starting to think about that and ship and have a website. You know, we did have a website. We did do some shipping, although, we didn't move into a commercial kitchen space until the beginning of 2020. So it was literally what was it? January or something of 2020? We moved into the kitchen space. And we started working on it.
With high, high hopes. January, we were so excited.
Yes. And then come March, right, things started to shut down. So we started to get a little concern. Fortunately, our farmers market stayed open as an essential business. So we had the...
That was really the biggest fear, you know, because at that point, 80% of the money coming in the door was from farmers markets. Big percentage. But, you know, if they were to close the markets down, and they talked about it like the city, the state everybody wanted us close. But our particular market is mostly farmers and food vendors. Whereas a lot of the other markets had like, T type people and that kind of thing. Those got closed down. A lot of them were closed for the entire time.
And you remind people that you guys are in Tucson, so your seasons are a little bit reversed. So some of the other countries. So winter is your highest season when everybody's down there for.
Yes, there's no burning here. So like, really, we're in yeah, exactly. And our farmers markets are year round. But summers, like the slow time, summers is like everybody else's winter, where all we all stay inside and avoid the 100 degree heat. But people still come out to the farmers markets, we start early. And but yeah, our farmers markets are year round and yet, January through April is really our biggest push. And so then, you know, the markets, then people of course, were afraid and they didn't come out. So they slowed down almost to a screeching halt.
But internet sales, the flip side of that, started to go up, you know, and I for work, you know, furloughed,
So all of a sudden as a massage therapist.
I'm not anymore. I got all signs of time on my hands. So, you know, we're like, go all in on this business while we have the time and at first, the money, I mean, we still were like, living high on the hog, you know, from the high season. And, you know, I mean, I had a little bit of money coming in from unemployment during that time, which everybody thought was like, oh, this will be, you know, closing three or four weeks to flatten the curve. What they told us, you know. Months and summer rolled on, and all of it. So, the deeper we got into COVID, the more we thought, well, let's just put all that squall in.
Digging in at that point and really exploring what might be possible. I had been following you for some time, you know, with your YouTube channel at that point. And I was looking at, like some of your programs, and I think what the first one we started with was really just the COGS, right. So we really started taking a little bit more seriously as a business. And started to look into that so you know, exploring what we could do with online sales. And what we realized is that the way that we wanted, we were doing okay with farmers markets, but the way we wanted to grow required us to step up and be a brand. So that's probably the point where I reached out to you and we started having the conversations about like, okay, we're going to really do this thing. We need to invest and not just invest like in stuff but invest in ourselves and invest in getting the knowledge that we needed to move forward. And we really really wanted a package partly because we had gone through a summer. Do you remember this? We went through summer where okay, so our product has been nuts and then roasted so there's oil there and then we use coconut oil so there's oil there and these craft bags that we were getting from Amazon, we've got this bad streak of batches of bags and in the summertime when it gets really hot you're out at the farmers market, the oil was starting to seep through. And we had secured this, we had secured this account at one point with this natural food store in California and they were like really excited and we even had somebody out there to do a demo for us, it was a friend of my sisters who did food demos at natural food stores, interesting connection, and so she got us into this natural foods store and she did a demo for us and then we shipped a shipment to them and all the bags, at least.
Every single bag
And the same thing happened so I think that was sort of a little like eye opening to okay if we want to really do this, we need a better package.
Yeah, level up. Become a brand. Earl needs to get away from sticking that stickers.
I can tell you without a doubt I sticker that bag. Front and back.
You have dreams still? Like nightmares of Avery labels sticking?
Well, it's funny you mentioned that because we actually use the last of our Sweet Heat bags yesterday in the kitchen. So I was like okay, well you know, let's take some of the sweetie you know, because we've been just opening bags, you know to use this samples and whatever. Let's not do that, you know, let's dig out some of the old bags because we still had those bags and we'll fill a few of those so I filled a couple of them and I brought him over to April and I held up our old bag to our new bag and I'm like, look at how far we've come?
The old bag is so huge and I was like, that can eat the little bag with almost the same amount of products in there but it was just big.
And recently I had a customer come to me at the farmers market and say well, you know, I used to be a Purely Elizabeth fan and now you know I've come over and I really love your stuff. And one of the things I really love about it is that when I open the bag, the bag is actually full. I love the size of the bag like how big should the bag be? Too big, not big enough, how many ounces, you know, all that. So that made me feel good like oh wow, because she's like I would open the Purely Elizabeth bag and it'd be like half full. It comes in the bottom of the bag.
It's all just a consumer perception thing, but I think, you know, what I remember is you guys been of course nervous. And you know, there was like, we got to build up trust, but you guys decided to go into it. We signed a contract. You went all in and we started working with Christopher, you guys on the podcast know Christopher from CPG VIP and tenfold and he has an amazing branding.
Just love Christopher!
So good. And yeah, I'll just you know, I'll hold up both bags. So you guys you know we can see the new one here. And tell us a little bit about that process for you guys. Because we had a name, it was April's granola and we were considering all options.
Yep. It was Four Kings' Kitchen. Our LLC is Four Kings' Kitchen. So we started the business as Four Kings' Kitchen. Because it was kind of like there's four of us in our family and we all had blood sugar stories. So we you know, as a family business, and even though two of the family members are cats,
Our last name is King, right? So Four Kings' Kitchen. And then we call the product April's Small Batch Better Than Granola, which is a mouthful. And so yeah, we started to think about how we wanted to brand ourselves. And we decided that there's a lot of misconceptions with Four Kings' Kitchen, a lot of people thought, oh, are they a restaurant? Are they? You know, we didn't really know what we were. So then we thought, well, we'll call it April's Granola, or we'll call it Better Than Granola. And realizing that one, you know, the trademarking process, we started that the trademarking process is complex, and you can't really brand something that's like an everyday product, right. So the word granola is not really trademarkable in theory, and think it could happen, but it's rare. And so that's when we determine that we would, we really wanted to hang on to Better Than, and Better Than means a lot of things to us, we felt like it was a better than product, right? It was better than what we were finding in the marketplace, it was better than the alternatives that were filled with, you know, cheap fillers, like oats and maybe even sunflower seeds. And then there was my history and background with nutrition and wellness. And the sort of the theory that I subscribe to is that you don't have to just make giant changes, you know, you don't have to go from, you know, eating a standard American diet to becoming like this ketogenic lifestyle person, right? Or you don't have to become, you know, be an athlete, if you are sedentary, right? It doesn't have to be like this big jump. It's just small choices and small changes that you can make that will add up. And really, what it amounts to is just being a little bit better than you were yesterday. So making one decision that was better than the choice that you made yesterday, or eating one food that was better than the food that you ate yesterday, right? So it was about small, attainable goals and choices that will add up over time. So that's where a Better Than really, that's how it was formed from all those things. And then, at some point, you know, our hope is that we'll have potentially other products and we also wanted to be something that people could count on and something that people could take with them everywhere. They could travel with, they could, like Earl said, throw in your truck. You'd always have something that is a filling snack, that isn't going to work against your health goals, you know, obviously, provided you're not allergic to nuts, because then that would be a problem.
Not be for you. Yes.
Right. And our product is that we were not free. Right. And so that's where provisions came in was just really, you know, wanting to be that staple for folks, whatever, however they see it, whether they see it as a breakfast or a snack, most people use us, I would say on yogurt or as a snack. Those are kind of the two. But there's so much versatility to, right. We have people that bake it into recipes and use it on savory things and all kinds of different uses for it. But it's really that in that way we consider it a provision.
Yeah, I love that, that we came to that. And it all kind of you know, it took some time. It wasn't an overnight process. But I feel like,
April made that story sound so like, you know, we just seeped right to the end there. But it was some serious soul searching and conversations about, well, who are we? We get our depths as a people, as a brand, and you know, like, how many customer avatar see we go through to end up, you know, Meagan or Megan. So, you know, there was, we put a lot of work and effort and thought into it. You know?
We're very proud of where it lands.
Oh my gosh, yeah. Cuz I think where we kind of gonna go with April's are some get up. And then we shifted. It's just, it's like, magic now. It's like, oh, yeah, this is exactly what it was supposed to be. And then we got with Christopher and started on the branding process. And you can see if you're watching the video, we got April roll up there cool shirts, I got my T shirt. But, I mean, that process, I mean, to your guys's credit, like, I mean, you took this process very seriously. And we spent the time, I think I realized pretty quickly that you know, this wasn't going to be one of those hurry up, let's just plow through and get it done. Like, April, you're very thoughtful. You want to come back and question both of you guys do and so it was a process. But I'm so glad we went through it. And we got exactly what you wanted out of it.
I appreciate you having that perspective. Because, yeah, I'm thorough. And definitely, you know, I mean, I can be a little bit gun shy too, when it comes to making decisions. And I think that's part of what I've learned through this process is how to better make decisions without sitting on it too long. Because time goes fast.
And we're both A Plus Plus people when you met us, which was part of the reason I think we dragged our feet on a lot of the decisions that needed to be made. And Sari, thank you for introducing us to B Minus Work. We would not be this far along without it. We joke about it all the time. As we're moving through our day and I'm in the kitchen, like cleaning up the kitchen, I'm like, you know what, babe, I'm just gonna do some B Minus Work in here. I'll do some of the dishes. But some of these are just going to have to sit in the sink until tomorrow.
I think that speaks to also, you know, talking about, just your support, like teaching us the concept of B Minus Work over always trying to be perfect. But your level of support in like, the level of accountability that we have, by working with someone who has your level of expertise and your ability to, you know, in your background with building your own business, to know like, when it's appropriate and when it's not, right. So like, you and I have been going through this whole like, we've had to make some changes to our package. And like the package is one of those things you want it to be as close to A Plus as you can get, because that's what we're facing the public with. But some of this other stuff like this Farmers Market sign that we're about to create, it doesn't need to be to that standard. It can be good enough and people aren't going to question it.
Right or your social media, your reel. You've really done a great job of like, I think perfect you know, as a recovering perfectionist myself and you know, still process but perfectionism can be good in certain areas, but then it can just slow you down and ultimately, it's a tool for procrastination, right? Because if it's not perfect, then I don't put it out there, and then nothing gets put out there. To your credit, you've gotten so good at just putting stuff out there and like making decisions and that kind of thing. But I just want to finish up with branding. So, you know, we spend a lot of effort, a lot of time, Christopher, you know, through a lot of your feedback, I guess, tell us what you were looking for in a package, because I think we got there. But you were wanting some pretty special things in this package?
Well, Earl had talked about us being a premium product. And so we wanted everything that was associated with the brand to feel that way, right? If you're gonna pay $14, for a nine ounce package of granola, it's an experience as much as it is a product, a tasty product, right? So we knew our product was premium. And we also, you know, wanted folks to feel, so there's a lot that went in the package, for those of you that have seen it now, you can see that it has sort of like a mid century vibe, right. And so some of that came just as a review of who we actually have as customers, you know, and we have some a couple of different demographics, we have a younger demographic, and we have an older demographic. So the older demographic can really resonate with that sort of mid century feel as a, you know, as a nostalgic, like, I have been there thing. And then the younger demographic sees it as something retro and cool and fun. And it's like it's made its way back in that way. So, and the mid century is a little like who we are as people, right? It's kind of the aesthetic we're into, we also wanted it to look different than anything else that was out there. We really wanted to be Purple Cow, right? So and for those who don't know what that is, it's a book by Seth Godin. And it's just the idea that you don't want to look like everybody else. I mean, if you really, really have something, then standing out is a good thing. And so we wanted that. We also really love where we are now in the southwestern United States, right, we love the vibe of the Sonoran Desert. And so you'll see in our colors, our colors represent a little bit of that warmer. It's got a mid century color palette, but it also has a color palette that works really well where we were from now.
Yeah, I hadn't even thought about that. But yeah, you're totally right on that. Yeah.
Christopher just sucked all this stuff in like a sponge and gave us what you know, we wanted but even what we didn't know we wanted because you know, like she's talking about the southwestern color palette like I missed that like you know, it was April or even him or someone else had pointed out to me and I was like oh yeah, good yeah. But you know, he really did such a great job in interpreting what it is we were looking for and the field that we wanted and you know, I mean, he gave us other choices right?
Yup, I remember
He gave us three really great concepts and we could have went anyone who goes and so but I think like the third option, which is right now what you have in your hand is a variation of the initial design that he presented as a third option to three choices. And we entertained all three of them but that one, that one felt the most Purple Cow. That one felt the most like us. And that one felt like it was, it was different enough that we could really stand out in the marketplace and on a shelf.
Yeah, for me too. You know, we went with photography, we decided not to go window. We really want to call out the premium so in the back we talked about the five nuts, why we chose them. Their works of art, like when they stand next to each other. They are all go together. And like the feel of the packaging, it's really nice to. So what do you think this packaging, this facelift gave you guys when those packages finally arrived, like tell us about that experience when you finally?
I haven't been apparent. But I've built a house. And it felt very similar to building a house where you have to decide every little nut bolt, screw, color, all of it. So when it finally came and arrived, I almost didn't believe it. And then it took a while for it to be out in the world. For the feedback to come back for me to really believe like, okay, we really did nail it, we just didn't think we did, because we thought we did. Like it really felt great and looked great. But until you hear back from, you know, not just fans that are already eating your product and loving it right, of course they loved it. But, you know, once we started to get unsolicited wholesale offers, you know, people coming up to the booth at farmers' markets saying we want you in our store. Your packaging is beautiful. And you know, your branding is on point and you know, people that are in the industry, for them to say that, that's when we knew we really had something, you know.
When you already had confidence in the product but you had this, you know, I always say like a farmers market, you can have that one on one relationship and sell it. And you know, you have a coop, and you have some loyal fans there. But it is really what I see is just I mean, the confidence that you have walking into retailers and being online in the online space. And then the ability to walk into a store and just be like, yeah, these belong here. And feeling confident that the packaging is gonna sell the product without you being there, right.
I think confidence is a real keyword for us. We definitely,
And the bag doesn't leak
And the bag doesn't leak. So that leads itself to confidence too, right? Because we go to actually ship it out not worried that somebody's gonna get a leaky bag. But I think it opened a lot of doors like Earl had alluded to like people coming up to us and asking us, in fact, we just got an email the other day, and it was an inquiry from a local hotel that is building a second hotel that is a high end boutique hotel. And they had gone to some of the local stores, the coop, and there's some other ones and they had found our product. And they had bought all of these local products. And they had brought it back to their team and their team sat around a table and sampled all kinds of local products. And they had reached out because they said that our product was the staff pick, it was the staff favorite, everyone loved it, they want to have, they want to leave a bag in every room for their guests in the new boutique hotel. So it's a small boutique hotel, but that's still a huge deal. And when I had a conversation with the marketing person for that company and she had said, you know, it was it was the staff pick, every single person thought it was the best product that out of all the products we had brought back was the best product out of all of them. And she said your branding is gorgeous. Your branding really sets it apart. And we would feel really great about having your brand associated with our brand in our rooms in this, you know,
Anybody's questioning whether like working you know a little pitch for CPG VIP with Christopher and Anna, and David, but in my mind, there's no question that this is a really good one.
Yes, absolutely great investment. You know, our first investment was just working with you, which was an excellent investment, wouldn't change a thing. In fact, you know, our contract is up and we're still continuing. Yeah, we're still going. So you know, please throw yourself in that mix. You , Anna, Christopher- who we've all worked with, you know, we just got done working on copy for our new website with Anna Bradshaw. And she's amazing as well. Yeah, so I can't say enough about that. But yeah, I think having a team of people I mean, it's obviously it's got to be the appropriate timing, right? You've got to make the decision that you're ready to make that move, you know, because everything sort of has to scale together, right? You've got to, in order to afford it, you've got to be able to make sales, although we are finding that the sales have increased dramatically since making the change, right.
Yeah, chicken or the egg? I mean.
And then you got to scale production, right? So you have to have all of these kind of pieces moving at the same time. And that's, again, another throw back to you like is to have you there to help us see it clearly. All the pieces moving together that's been really critical in our progress is to have that high level, these are all the areas that have to be moving forward. And where do we need to focus our energy and prioritize our time? Because it's still really just the two of us. But of course, then we have some contracted folks helping us.
A little mini team, for sure. And for anybody listening, they're like, I don't know, should I work with my spouse or not. But one thing is, and you have to talk about but I do love that you guys kind of wear different hats, and you've split roles to some extent. And so, April, you do marketing, email, social media, you're kind of overseeing production. And then, Earl, you're the CFO hat. And then also you do a lot of the farmers markets and a sales person. And then you help it with production as well. But how was that process for you, Earl, I know, we spent a good amount of time on financials and kind of just cleaning up the backend of the business.
Originally, I thought my role was just going to be kind of push April and going to do this thing. Like, I'll figure out the numbers, you know, and then I'll just let her loose on it. Because I had a career. You know, I was a massage therapist. I didn't have time for starting a packaged food business, you know, I mean, if I wasn't at work, I was tired. And I had to rest. I mean, you know, I mean, I started doing the Sunday markets, because I had Sundays off. And, you know, Sundays ended up being my favorite market, still my favorite market. So I wasn't personally prepared for the amount of the bigger role that I was going to play until I got furloughed, and all of a sudden, here we are in the same house together, trying to sort you know, COVID out, let alone what are we going to do with our business and each other? You know, you stare at your spouse with your vision, you're both off working doing your things. Now, all of a sudden, we're like this. What are you going to do today, Earl? Oh I don't know maybe I'll take Sari's course on COGS and you know, I'll learn something so it was definitely a very and continues to be a growth period for me, learning things about myself and the business and taxes and you know, like I get some of the you know, more the shift jobs but I kind of like digging into it, honestly a lot of it, most of it.
Thank God for that because just to give a little background, I had left my job at the natural food store to pursue this because they had specific rules about not creating and selling products that compete with what they sell. So I left probably two months after we started I resigned from that position and went to do this full time with part-time nutrition work on the side so I was doing a little bit of part time nutrition work and that and then yeah, he still had his job and was out of the house working and so I started but honestly if I didn't have him to do the financial piece, I don't know that we would be anywhere near where we are right now because it's just not my area of genius. It's just not where I thrive. I do math in a completely different way than most people. Earl calls it April math.
It's April math. It's very positive.
Thumbs up, we should do it. Whatever it is. It's like we should do that because it's gonna pay off.
It works out in my favor, always. But, yes. So then what to have him be able to invest full time was a huge blessing. But again, I mean, for those folks who many of them listening will have had a spouse that got laid off or didn't work during COVID. And here you are, where you are normally, like doing your own thing and coming together. Now you're together all the time. And so I think that that was something, we had to navigate it. And I would say, I don't know if you agree with me here. But I would say that we grew in our relationship in ways that we might not have if we didn't have this business, you know, we had obviously that COVID break, which was there's a lot of weirdness and all of that, but that aside, just going entering into this working partnership, has forced us to really look at and evaluate how we make decisions together, you know, how do we get things done without, you know, bringing too much emotion into it? And then also, when there is emotion, like, how do we deal with that? And, you know, because it doesn't work, if you're in business together with your partner, and you are in like, an argument about something maybe related, but unrelated to the business, and you decide you're not going to talk for two days. That doesn't work when you're running a business.
Yeah. And people don't get responded to and it's just not a good look. And it's definitely not a good feel. So I feel like this has given us an opportunity to really, you know, become better partners.
I'm a cyclist, and have been for 27 some years now. And I've always heard, although I've never ridden one, that a tandem bicycle is really the true test of any relationship that you might have.
I would say having a business together is very similar to that. It will point out all the cracks that you think you got sorted out, but no, no, no. Not sorted out yet. So but it has, it's been really great. And in a lot of ways, you know, I don't know if we'd still be together if it wasn't for the business, I think the business was a glue that, you know, especially through some of those really hard times of like, well, you know, if I'm not a massage therapist, or you are not a nutritionist, so who are we as why are we people let alone as a business and a brand and avatar and you know. Talk about doing hard things. We did some really hard things.
Sure. Yeah, there's been times you guys took some breaks.
We took time breaks, yeah.
My ex husband used to say, if we ever wrote a tandem bicycle, we would get a divorce. And we actually never did ride one. But here we are. Yes, I completely agree with that analogy.
I mean, relationships are hard without running business together. Relationships, definitely. I mean, to have a successful one, you need to work at it. You can't just, it just doesn't happen.
To your guys's credit, I mean, you are already doing personal development work, you've done the Enneagram. I remember you asking me about my number and you've done some other work, and then you guys are willing to do the work. You've done Badass 30. We've talked about decision making trees and so you guys have independently done the work on yourselves but then also together. And I don't know that you could do that. If people are thinking it's going to be like a cakewalk to work with your spouse, and make it so easy. I would challenge that.
There's a book in there somewhere.
Sure. Well, let's just jump to the future. And there's so many things we can talk about. But what I'm most excited about it in businesses that I work with, there's you know, there's the grind, and you guys did the grind at the beginning. And you know, you were kind of just reinvesting. You're bootstrapping and then you decided to do this next level up of your business. We went through, it's still grind, but all the nitty gritty.
I was gonna say. We're done grinding now.
You're not done a 100%. But there's always some amount of nitty gritty that has to get done. But what I really see with the new packaging and the personal development work you guys have done, you know honoring your word to yourself and to each other into the business, and showing up and doing hard things and doing B Minus Work and putting more out there, that you guys have created more momentum now than I've ever seen. And that momentum. I mean, it kind of just gave me chills like, it is so amazing to watch the just the more ease is not perfect, by any means. But it just feels like you're having more fun and your business and the money, the sales, the growth, the confidence is all happening at the same time.
So I know you guys have a big goal for this year. And that's something now that we feel finished our contract and everything. And now we're working more on just me working with you as a business coach to help you just like you said, see the forest from the trees. We talked about your three priorities for the rest of this year. But it's, I mean, I don't have any question that you guys are gonna reach your big goal for the year, but how are you guys feeling as far as end of year 2021 and then going into 2022?
Really excited! Yes. Are you excited?
I had those bring a couple times I blown mine. Like, yeah, it's happening.
Yeah, I enjoy sales. I mean, I have a whiteboard in the office where I track all of it. So from year over year, even, you know, and November, come November once November 1st hits, I'll have three more years to look back. This is where we were, this is how far we've come.
It's been consistent growth.
And it's been consistent growth. And now we're getting to the point, year three, it's exponential growth.
And have that momentum.
It's not just 60, 70% over last year, it's 100, 200, 300, 400% over last year. So it's kind of scary sometimes when I think of, like, can we produce enough?
Yeah, these are new problems to have, right? It's like, oh, like we're running of product.
Supply chain issues, you know, and we've had some hiccups, you know, through the last year but haven't really needed to you know, haven't have the demand to really have to produce, well now guess what? Our next road we're gonna have to make it all happen and I'm confident that we will so you know, like things are coming together in a way and April's now a kitchen manager. So like, all of a sudden, we have this huge rent bill to pay. I just gave her a raise.
She deserves a raise, for sure. I know that it's that flywheel catching. And, you know, were on an app called boxer and I often get boxers from April, like, oh, my gosh, this just happened. And this is so amazing. And it just seems like those things are happening so much more frequently. But you know, I want people to hear like, this is not an overnight thing. There's a grind in there so level up like. You didn't start out in this business with confidence. You started out with courage. And you were willing to take leaps and do the work and show up. And now you have the confidence. Right now you have the history to say, oh, we couldnt figure it out. We'll figure out production. We'll figure out Amazon. We'll figure out how to do wholesale. We'll figure out this next thing on ecommerce.
And credit to you helped us get there, like developing the mindset needed to be bigger like that. I mean, I'm going to get teared up now. But seriously because I wasn't, you know, I wasn't. I had no mindset for that the amount of time investment and personal investment needed to really be successful in this business and you know, once I could wrap my brain around it, it became easier. You know, I could let go because I always felt like, well, we're not doing enough. Why aren't we calling people? You know, why aren't we giving everybody you know, why am I not yelling at people at the farmers market to come over and sample our delicious granola, right? Like, I always felt like, well, I'm not trying hard enough. But you know, when you do the work on yourself, and you do the work on your business, like you say, the grinding out work, the packaging, you know, the behind the scenes stuff to social media that April does, like, at first, when we started the business, I didn't see that, I'm like social media was what is that gonna get you? Where is that gonna? Where does that play into it? Knowing what I know now about how the world and sales and all of it works. Like, you can't run a business without social media.
It's a compounding effect. There's no one post that's gonna be like, oh, this is the magic post, right?
Well, I think that could be said for the whole business, right? The compound effect, it's really just been, you know, one small, triumph over the next that's built up, our confidence, builds up our sales, builds up our presence in the community, builds up our customer base, you know. It's one interaction and one choice at a time, it gets done. And I think that, you know, you always hear in like business talk that the third year, right, give it three years, and then you're gonna really start to see it, and then we're starting to see that and we're looking right to launch on Amazon in the New Year. You know, and so that's what we're going to be spending our time on right reaching our not our financial goal for this year. But then we've got a lot of things in play, we've got high season, this is our first high season, where people are traveling more, so we're gonna see a lot more probably traffic, and that we have the new brand. So we don't even know really what to expect in terms of our farmers markets, right? If we look at the past couple of weeks that are farmers markets, it's insane. And it's not even January yet, right? The sales that we've made already. So some of that we definitely attribute to our presence over the long run, the long haul gaining some consistent, regular customers, but then also toward the packaging and the new brand, and the new presence that we have, and all of the connections that we're making those rounds. They built a lot of muscles.
Entrepreneurship, people they should just come easy, but it's not it. So there's the making of the product. There's the sales of it, there's the mindset piece of it. I know, Earl, you enjoyed the book I recommended, the Big Leap, which has been about like resetting your thermostat to have more expansiveness around, especially around money. I highly recommend that book for new struggles with that, but yeah, your mind is like, constantly. So, so fun. Well, I feel like we could just talk and talk forever. I know, there's so much and we didn't even get to the fundraising that you guys did. But maybe that's another good topic for a future time. But these guys did an amazing Kiva fundraising round, and definitely go look at some of their social media. I mean, in general, they should go look at their social media. And it's fun to like, I'm sure it'll look at the, you know, the progression, the evolvement of it, too. And, you know, for anyone who's thinking about starting or wants to level up their packaged food business, I just, you guys are just real people, and you're just doing it, you're doing the work. And it's not like you had a ton of money and like, you know, regular day jobs or anything like you guys keep putting yourself on the line. And it's, when you were talking earlier, April, I kept saying, I kept it in my mind like, yeah, you're just making everyday better than you're just showing up a little bit better than yourself.
Oh, it feels like, right. You know, it didn't just happen overnight. I think they said that you hear that, companies will say tha they'll be like, yeah, I spent the past 10 years becoming an overnight success. I feel like that's where we are, right. We're behind the scenes, and then one day, we're going to be looking at it and go, wow, and someone's gonna say that company, you know, like, people will assume you started there. But no, we didn't. We didn't have a lot of money. The Kiva thing was the first time we had taken money from outside our own resources, we had bootstrapped and fully funded ourselves with, you know, with a very small, you know, savings.
We started with $5,000.
Initially, yeah, yep. And then and then we put more into it of our own money. But yeah, when we got to the Kiva, it was finally time to ask other people for help, to help us get to the next level. And I'm guessing we'll be there again, we're gonna have to go outside ourselves. And again, it's just just not overnight. It was just like, small things adding up over time.
Yeah. And even with the Kiva loan, what I saw was like, Yeah, great, you got the money, but like, you guys have to evolve and become a better than version of yourself and do some hard things, ask people for help and get outside of yourself. And I think it may do even better for asking for going through that process. See your guys's stuff the appraisers all day long. And, you know, this is going to come out around Thanksgiving. I already told these guys and I'm like, you know, this is just the perfect people, a perfect episode. Because I'm so grateful for you guys. And just like I said, so honored to walk this journey with you and be a small part of your success and cheer you on. So thank you for trusting me and investing in yourselves. Having courage to do it.
Thank you for riding with us. I know from your end, you know, I mean, it's probably, you know, a challenge to support. I mean, not in a bad way, but a challenge to support people who are going through this because there's so much that we've gone through, you know, I mean, that isn't just the to do list is the growth that has had to happen, you know, and the personal challenges that we've had to overcome, you know, just as people so we can't thank you enough.
You could have walked away several times. And then like, I'm done with these two. They're nuts.
Yes, that's it.
You hung in there. So you're gonna be a part of our team, I think for a while. So stick around for all the good stuff.
Yes, this is riding the wave now, it get better better than from here. Oh, wow. Amazing. You guys. Thanks for being here with me today and spending part of your afternoon. Appreciate it. Thanks so much for listening today. Again, I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving holiday. And until next time, have an amazing week.
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