Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sarah Kaminski, Owner of Best Ever Granola, located in Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a woman-owned, Pittsburgh-based company specializing in small-batch gluten-free + vegan granola. Our customers value pure, high-quality ingredients. So do we! That's why we created granola that tastes amazing and that bodies love too.
Tell us about yourself
In 2019, I developed a granola recipe that was featured in The Veg Out Project Recipe Series. It was nutrient-dense and seriously delicious, my kids devoured it, and everyone who tried it loved it. When the pandemic hit in 2020, it was time to pivot in my service-based business. The granola continued to come to mind, as it was the perfect, convenient, done-for-you meal or snack food as we all navigated life with so much more on our plates. This was my pivot!
So, I got to work with ingredient sourcing, choosing organic, gluten-free rolled oats, pure PA maple syrup, organic unrefined, cold pressed coconut oil, + a variety of raw nuts & seeds. We started toasting organic thick-cut coconut shreds, and it was, well... the Best Ever.
We’ve kept the recipe gluten-free + vegan, packed every batch with pure PA maple syrup and love, and in those first few weeks, produced over 225 pounds of plant fuel out of a tiny 3-rack oven. We quickly grew into a shared commercial kitchen space. In our first year, we expanded our products into dozens of markets and cafes regionally, hired a production team, and updated our packaging to meet growing demand.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being recognized by the Good Food Awards winner in 2022. We were one of 244 brands recognized across the country, of nearly 2,000—the top 12% of entries recognized for ingredient sourcing, sustainability standards, and epic taste.
Over the last dozen years, I studied and wrote about farm-to-school programs for my graduate thesis, hosted webinars, gave dozens of talks and presentations, hosted webinars, offered 1:1 and group health coaching programs, created a plant-based meal planning portal, developed hundreds of recipes, published dozens of blogs, collaborated with other incredible people in the wellness industry.
Never in a million years did I think I would be getting my message out to the world more effectively with a gluten-free + vegan chocolate granola! <3
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Creating space. There is always something that needs to be done, a new thing to learn, new ways to grow, and things that need to be addressed. Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is always the most challenging! I always try to remind myself WHY I started the business, and that helps me to stay grounded.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start before you're ready.
- Have proof that there is a need for your offer in the market. (just put it out there, give your product/service to people you trust, and get their feedback)
- Remember WHY you started.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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