Where Are They Now: Hayden Flour Mills, 2014 American Made Honoree
Not all flour is created equal, and Hayden Flour Mills is committed to transporting people back to a time when flour was super fresh, minimally processed, full of flavor, and made with some of the richest, oldest varieties of wheat in the world. This is Emma Zinnerman, one of the owners of this extraordinary operation. We caught up with her to see what they have been up to the past 3 years.
WHAT HAS CHANGED SINCE HAYDEN FLOUR MILLS WAS NAMED AN AMERICAN MADE WINNER?
We just keep growing! Since being named an American Made winner we have expanded to 60 more grocery stores and seen our online sales triple. But more than an increase in sales, being named an American Made winner has helped us better tell our story and show the love a care that goes into each product we mill.
HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR PASSION? WHEN DID YOU KNOW IT WAS TIME TO TURN IT INTO A BUSINESS?
Hayden Flour Mills was started by my dad after his bread baking passion got a little out of hand. He started milling his own wheat and uncovering a whole library of ancient wheat varieties that had been forgotten. When he imported a wooden mill from Austria and had a farmer friend grow 10 acres of white sonora wheat we were pretty sure that his hobby had turned into a business!
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
It's hard to turn a passion into a business because sometimes we'd overlook the nuts and bolts of running a healthy business. But once we addressed the business basics it allowed us to pursue our passion more freely.
HOW DO YOU KEEP A WORK/LIFE BALANCE? THIS IS SOMETHING THAT A LOT OF BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS WORRY ABOUT.
This is a very pertinent questions since my son and first child was born this Spring. Right now, he comes with me to the mill and he's already been on his first tractor ride! I'm lucky that my work and life overlap and that I can bring my little guy to work.
WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE GOTTEN -- IN REGARDS TO CREATING/STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Stay authentic. There are a lot of opportunities that come our way and whenever they require us to make shortcuts or undermine the quality of our ingredients we say no!
WHAT RESOURCES, ORGANIZATIONS, GROUPS DO YOU TURN TO FOR SUPPORT?
We have a great local food community. As much as we have grown in the past five years, it is still our local chefs who inspire us and make up the core of our business.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST SURPRISE SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?
Flour seems like a pretty boring ingredient but when you start taking a closer look there are an endless amount of wheat varieties, a million way to mill them and and even bigger number of ways to cook with them.
WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING WHEN YOU WANT TO GIVE UP?
I love our product. I cook and bake with it all the time. Sometimes, when it's been a hard season I make one of my favorite recipes- creamy polenta. And it's so good and it reminds me that and that no one else is going to do what we do! So if I want to keep eating my favorite dish I better stick with it.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WOULD TELL SOMEBODY TRYING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Stop talking and start doing! When we started our business we did everything backwards. We didn't have a logo or a website or packaging. We just started making flour and the rest followed.