Tell us about your business.I began Marge in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010 as more of a full service baking company. When I moved to Seattle a year later, I decided to focus solely on the granola as it's what customers were responding to the most. People were thrilled to have a granola that was loaded with nuts and seeds -- that was interesting, delicious and yet still packed with whole-grain nutrition. My process is relatively simple: we have a kitchen in downtown Seattle and a small staff that produces the granola fresh each week. We sell the product online, to various grocers and food shops around the country and at local farmers markets. Where will the business go from here? We're looking to further develop the line to include granola bars and bulk granola for online customers, and we're exploring a new line of cereals including muesli and porridge (a must for winters in Seattle). We want to expand our distribution, too, to reach as many homes as we can.
What makes your business stand out?Marge Granola is different from a lot of store-bought brands in that we don't use any refined sugar. In fact, our granola boasts about 2/3 less sugar than most granolas on the shelf -- something we're exceedingly proud of. We bake our granola with a blend of olive oil, which gives it that characteristic toastiness our customers have come to know and love; organic maple syrup; and a signature blend of warm spices. We have three flavors in our current line (Original, Apricot/Pistachio, Hazelnut/Cacao Nib). Each are loaded with nuts and seeds -- the true opposite of boring granola. Last, we're proud to use local, Pacific Northwest ingredients (oats, hazelnuts, dried blueberries and cranberries, and pumpkin seeds) whenever possible.
What's the best business advice you've received?Get comfortable with the numbers behind the business right away. It's fine to be a creative. It's fine to love making the product that you become known for, but at the end of the day if you're not comfortable with the numbers and how they all play out ... it's possible your business won't have legs in a year's time. I got into baking because I loved making something tangible with my hands and feeding people, but that alone won't make a business. And I know that now, but wish I'd listened two years ago to everyone who passed that piece of advice along. Now, a glass of wine + a costing spreadsheet = a good Saturday night.
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