Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ginger Butts, owner of Back to the BASICS 101, located in Cochran, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Back to the BASICS 101 mission is to help others get "Nutrition from the Source." The "Source" means God's Creation. My customers are those who want real food as close to the point of nutrition.
Tell us about yourself
I was a homeschooled mama. Part of the homeschooling "culture" was being a homemaker since that was my full-time "job." In the homeschool arena, the Bread Beckers teach how to have a whole-grain lifestyle. It made sense to me, so I completely embraced it. I bought a residential mill and milled grains to make/bake foods for our family. It was definitely my thing and a component of healing my boys of asthma and ADHD through nourishing foods from God's Creation.
In 2012, our school system was selected for Feed My School pilot. With this program, one school would feed their children for a week from local farmers. The Nutrition Director knew I milled grains into flour, and my husband grew wheat. She asked me to provide the flour to make yeast rolls. I milled my hubby's wheat with my residential grain mill and went to the schoolhouse armed with freshly milled flour. I baked with the staff, and we made light, fluffy yeast rolls, cookies, and muffins. That week, everyone experienced delicious whole-wheat products because of freshly milled flour. The "Feed My School" initiative was a success and "birthed" my business, Back to the BASICS 101.
I knew if our school system bought freshly milled flour, other school systems would also. So I purchased a commercial stone mill to accommodate large school orders. However, schools were not in session during the summer, and I needed cash flow to pay start-up costs. Not to be deterred, I went to a Farmers Market with freshly milled flour. Everyone loved the concept of locally grown wheat and freshly milled flour, but the reality was no one baked. So that's when I developed Homemade Baking Mixes using our Georgia Grown wheat flour along with other pronounceable ingredients.
Homemade Baking Mixes were the first product line. Initially, I took the recipes I made for my family and multiplied them to make larger batches. Our first mixes were:
- Pancake/Waffle Homemade Baking Mix makes a pile of hearty pancakes or waffles. The consumer adds a few staple ingredients to make a yummy and filling meal.
- Banana Bread Homemade Baking Mix is an award-winning mix! It was Finalist in the Flavor of Georgia contest in 2016. Again, just a few "normal" household ingredients and ripe bananas produce a moist, yummy, quick bread!
- Sausage Cheese Balls Homemade Baking Mix was created just in time for the holidays. However, sales prove that Sausage Cheese Balls are a timeless appetizer any time of the year! It also was Finalist in the Flavor of Georgia contest in 2017.
We now have 17 different kinds of baking mixes. I believe the secret ingredient in our Homemade Baking Mixes is the fact that it is made from freshly milled flour. Our taste buds aren't used to that kind of freshness! It makes us happy to produce a one-of-a-kind quick baking mix. There are no other fresh baking mixes made from Georgia-grown wheat, stone ground into flour, and hand packaged into mixes. We really are just about as Georgia Grown as you can get!
In 2014, I personally suffered a health crisis. It appeared to be cardiac-related. I have deep faith in God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I felt led to treat myself nutritionally and went vegan, for lack of a better term. I needed protein, and that's when I created the purest form of plant protein with my second product line, Nourished in 5. Five organic seeds were milled into a meal that I used in smoothies for five years to heal my body of inflammation. And the result was complete healing of my body and the potential cardiac issues.
A third product line was born when there was a flu rampage. I had an elderberry syrup I used for my family for years. I knew it was effective. When a friend had the flu, and I sent her the syrup, she was amazed at how well it worked for her. That's when I realized I needed to make it a product so others could benefit from it. Elderberries & More Ultimate Syrup mix was created. I chose not to make it already made as I would have to use a co-packer and wasn't confident in its efficacy versus making a mix that puts the power in the hands of the consumer. When they drop the powerhouse herbs in hot water, it releases their medicinal properties providing the consumer with the peak of potency. It can't help but be effective!
In 2018, I opened a retail store and commercial kitchen in addition to my wholesale business. I carried the most superior forms of all food in my little country store on our property of over 250 acres. It was a dream. All the foods I ate, I was able to prepare and provide for my community. I had all the fermentation. Fermentation is such a gift that needs to be tapped into. I wanted my customers to use the coconut milk kefir I carried. But a lot of them didn't like it by itself. As an avid dipper, I thought I could add ranch seasoning to it and dip away! Everyone loved it. So I created a 4th product line of seasonings: Ranch, Taco, and Italian. All use organic dried herbs. That's it. Nothing extra. Nothing preserved. Just purity and an explosion of taste!
Toward the end of 2019, I shut the retail store and commercial kitchen down. It was too much, too quick, and I was struggling to keep up with it all. I got an online store up and going, and it was perfect timing because 2020 was right around the corner!
In 2023, my focus is to be the best vendor to my retail partners that carry our product lines, maintain our online store and oversee the online community. In the summer of 2021, I created an online community for women. The last ten years have been busy creating a following by making relationships. I'm all about some relationships, and truly my heart is to "do life" with a community of women to help nourish their bodies, mind, and spirit for ultimate holistic health. The online community is a place where we can learn together and challenge each other to nourish our entire being. We do that through over 40+ instructional video recipes, weekly zoom call with a book study that helps nourish our minds and spirit, and a FB group to daily encourage each other in everyday life struggles.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Accomplishments are usually measured by fiscality. Money doesn't motivate me. So I'd say my biggest accomplishment is when I'm able to get one-on-one with another human and truly help nourish their body, mind, and spirit. That has been done throughout my 11 years, but there are no financial statements to support that.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing for me is trusting that God will provide and not overdo my "due diligence." My personality makes it that I'm a problem-solver and a workhorse. That makes it difficult for me to enjoy the gift of my business and the people who support it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Set boundaries to avoid burnout.
- Train and reward trusted employees for allowing you the freedom to step away.
- If you lose your "joy," step back, compare your purpose to your actual day-to-day operations, and reevaluate to line up with your core beliefs.
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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