Boxford Bakehouse, LLC
Tell us about your business.A family history of heart disease inspired me to develop a low-fat, heart healthy granola. Both my brother and father died of heart disease in their forties. After my brother’s death, the realization that I was genetically predisposed to heart disease hit me hard. I vowed to step up my exercise routine and incorporate more heart healthy foods into my diet. While researching heart healthy foods I learned that whole grain oats are one of the best foods to consume for heart health because they have a high concentration of beta glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has been scientifically linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Since I am not fond of plain oatmeal I thought granola would be a good way to incorporate whole grain oats into my diet, but when I went looking for a low fat, heart healthy granola – one that was all natural, and not overly processed with refined sugars and oils – I couldn’t find one so I began making my own. Shortly thereafter Boxford Bakehouse was born.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.Like many specialty food entrepreneurs I started my business out of my home kitchen but now I rent space in commercial kitchen that has all the equipment I need – a 140 quart mixer, rack oven etc. Renting space on an as needed basis allows me to keep my overhead low and my profit margins in line. I have no employees so all of the baking and packaging is done by me. Hauling 50 lb. bags of oats and large cases of other ingredients is physically demanding but I truly love the process and feel tremendous satisfaction when I see my products on store shelves. I have one small distributor but I still deliver product myself to many of my local customers, often arriving at the loading docks in early morning hours to price and stock the store shelves. In between baking and delivering I try to tend to selling, marketing and keeping my website up to date, but as every entrepreneur knows, there are never enough hours in the day.
What inspires you?What inspires me is the knowledge that on any given morning there are lots of people eating and enjoying breakfast cereals that I created – ones that are nutritious and made with high quality ingredients. I take pride in the fact that in a small way I am contributing to another human beings good health. Even though I have been at it now for 8 years I am still grateful when someone praises my products. It is this positive reinforcement that inspires me to forge ahead with my business in an industry that has razor thin profit margins and is dominated by massively large food companies.
What makes your business stand out?The quality of our products! We use all natural ingredients, including pure maple syrup, and produce one of the few “no added oil” granolas on the market. Next time you’re in the grocery store take a look at the ingredient lists of the granolas on the store’s shelves and you’ll see that almost all of them have added oil in the form of canola or vegetable oil. We believe that the next low carb or gluten free craze will come in the form of consumers rejecting products that are made with large amounts of these refined oils. Extracting oil from things like canola seeds and corn involves chemicals and highly industrial processes – not something we would normally associate with healthy food. In addition, our newly introduced line of muesli is unique in the breakfast cereal category. To our knowledge there is no other cereal manufacturer that makes an American version of traditional European style muesli. With only 2 or 3 grams of sugar per serving it makes a fantastic healthy breakfast.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?If you’ve always dreamed of being an entrepreneur and have a good business idea you are passionate about, as well as the creative skills to match, then go for it. Even if things don’t work out you’ll probably never regret trying – you’re much more likely to have regrets if you don’t try. As I like to tell my children, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need a lot of money or a formal business plan or that you need to hire an attorney. You can start many types of businesses very modestly, without a lot of financial risk. Keep your expenses low at first, until you get a sense for whether you have the basis for a viable business. Then, when things get rolling you can formalize your business and look for bigger sources of funding. Just get started!
What does American Made mean to you?As cliché as it sounds, I am proud to be an American and I think the American flag is beautiful. I even have it on one of my product packages! There is no other symbol that universally evokes quite as much emotion. I confess to getting a lump in my throat each and every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner. To me, the term American Made embodies this sense of pride and pays homage to the pioneering spirit and the values of hard work, persistence, quality, and attention to detail.
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