Pat is a wonderful example of becoming a food entrepreneur after a successful career in a completely different field of work.
At this time, Pat talks about how her love for a recipe she’d been eating with her family for over twenty-five years and without a doubt, inspired her to start their business so that she could share it with even more people.
Most importantly, she gives some great advice on working with a local co-packer along with the wisdom of being onsite, especially during initial production and how crucial it is to have a close working relationship with your co-packer.
Ken: Welcome to the physical product movement, a podcast by fiddle, we share stories of the world’s most ambitious and exciting physical product brands to help you capitalize on the monumental change in how, why and where consumers buy. I’m your host, Ken Otsuka.
In this episode of the physical product movement podcast. I speak with Pat Bennett, Founder of Pat’s Granola. Pat is a wonderful example of becoming a food entrepreneur after a successful career in a completely different field of work. Pat talks about how her love for a recipe she’d been eating with her family for over twenty-five years, inspired her to start Pat’s Granola so that she could share it with even more people.
Pat gives some great advice on working with a local co-packer, the wisdom of being onsite, especially during initial production and how crucial it is to have a close working relationship with your co-packer Pat’s story is truly inspiring. And her journey is packed with actionable advice for physical product entrepreneurs everywhere.Enjoy.
Ken: Alright. Hey, good morning, Pat. Thank you for joining me. I appreciate you jumping on.
Pat: Thank you Ken. Good morning. And thank you for asking me to be a guest on your podcast.
Ken: Well, I’m glad we could, we could sync up. I know that we, we tried a couple of different times, but life keeps happening and I’m just happy to be talking to you.
Pat: Uh, same, same, same. I’m happy that you circled back to me and that I had an opportunity to talk to you and you being in Utah and me being in Cleveland, Ohio this morning.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. Well, let’s kick it off. Um, we like to start with a quote, um, something that’s impactful to you. Do you have anything in mind?
Pat: I do. One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King Jr. “Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase”. And I do believe in faith. I believe that faith has carried me this far and certainly through last year where my business is still thriving and it has survived when many of the other businesses, certainly not only in Northeast Ohio, but in other courts of the United States and the rest of the world have basically gone away.
Ken: Yeah, I think that’s a great quote. Um, and, and I think it’s, it’s actually something we could, we could double down on and make sure to cover in this episode. Um, let’s talk just a little bit, give us a high level overview of who you are, where you’re from. And then also tell us a little bit about your product and your business.
Pat: Certainly, well, I am a native New Yorker. I grew up in Queens, New York, actually St. Alban’s through New York. My father was a dentist who practiced in the Brooklyn community of Bedford-Stuyvesant. My mother was in, New York City career school teacher, and we were raised in St. Alban’s and I went to public school pretty much my whole life.
My father was actually the first entrepreneur. I knew he was an immigrant from Jamaica. In the west Indies. And he traveled here literally with a suitcase to New York and he put himself through New York university, as well as Howard university dental school as a short order cook. He then set up his practice in Bedford-Stuyvesant and he actually never went to work solely for anyone again.
He did serve on the faculty of Columbia Presbyterian dental school for almost 40 years. And he did some public service work through the New York corrections department, as well as the New York city department of health. My mother was a community school teacher in the community, and she literally could have walked to school.
Most of the places that she taught at, she was an elementary and junior high school teacher. She taught generations of students in Southeast Queens. And I went to school, literally, not too far from where I grew up, but I was able to attend quality public schools in New York. When I graduated from high school, I went to Northeastern university for a couple of years.
Then I transferred back to the state university of New York at Stony Brook on Long island. And I picked up a degree in social work. I actually went to work as a social worker for a short period of time. And then I went into banking and I spent. Many many years as a banker for City Corp, I then started raising my family and I morphed into several other career paths, including financial services as a licensed insurance agent.
I worked for 15 years for Lexus nexus out of New York city. And I covered large law firms. And then the last period of my life, which is six years leading up to the point. I started my business. I worked as a hospice manager here in Northeast Ohio. So I’ve had a pretty full career before I ventured into starting my business.
And the business was solely born out of wanting to create healthy, nutritious food for my son who was a school age athlete. To take with them to school after school practices, as well as the way games. Um, we needed something that was delicious. It had to be nutrient dense and it had to travel well. So granola or trail mix, as it was known back then, or the stuff, which is what his friends used to call it.
He just took it everywhere, everywhere. And I made a different batch of granola. Some of it was good. Some of it was very bad. It was so bad that our Brock Wyler at the time, he wouldn’t eat it. But when I moved to Northeast Ohio, about eight years ago, I seriously started taking a look at what I can do with this product that we had eaten pretty much for 25 years.
And I did that back in 2018 with the support of some wonderful organizations here in Northeast Ohio, including the women’s business center. Jumpstart university circle and the small business development center at Lorain county community college. So that is the nut graph of my evolution. And I’m happy to be an entrepreneur in the food space because it really speaks to the heart and soul of what fuels people.
It’s not only what they eat, but what else they take into their bodies that gives them strength. It gives them energy and it gives them the ability to really operate optimally because that’s something that’s very important to me and my family.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love the story of you sending us this product with your, with your son and, and eating it, um, in your, in your family for like 25 years.
Um, so I guess let’s, let’s dig into that just a little bit. Um, yeah. You know, so when you, when you were looking for a product to launch, were you considering other products, you know, and what was it about, about granola that, that you, you know, that made you actually pick it as, as a product? Did you have other things in mind?
Pat: I did not. I actually loved granola. And when I was in high school in college, I had the opportunity to go on ski trips to upstate New York to Vermont. And it was always wonderful cereal. And I thought, you know what? I can learn to make this. It wasn’t as easy as I thought, because I wanted certain taste profiles.
It had to have those warm notes, cinnamon. It had to have certain nuts. It had to have the right amount of dried fruit. So I tinkered with this recipe for almost one year before I perfected what is now the tropical blend. And I offer three flavors: tropical, which is our signature. Ginger spice and then I have peanut butter and chocolate, but it was really born out of wanting to make something that I personally liked.
So I never thought about making cookies or making cakes, even though I make a mean sweet potato pie, I make wonderful chocolate chip cookies, which my mother taught me. Uh, I just said, you know what, I’m going to keep making this. And it really wasn’t with having the business in mind. It was solely to make food that fed us.
And that continues to be something that means to me everyday. I eat the granola every day because I just happen to really love the taste of it as do other people.
Ken: That’s great. And in fact, we’re, we’re recording this at about breakfast time. And so you’re just making me more hungry. So,
Pat: Well, I’m going to send you some granola.
I’m definitely going to send Ken some granola.
Ken: Well, I can promise you, I will definitely eat it. So that sounds great. Good deal. Um, and so had you, uh, had you launched any other type of business before this one? Um, you sound like you’ve been entrepreneurial or you’ve at least I thought about it for a while.
Pat: I, I have, I have to tell you, and this is the first time I’ve ever said this out loud. I kept a small book, a small journal that I would write down titles of books that I wanted to write, and I have looked high and low. I’ve moved a few times, so I have lost it, but I’ve started to resurrect it again. So I honestly thought I would be a writer.
I love to write. I believe I’m a good writer. I love to communicate stories. And the storytelling aspect of my business has really helped to carry me because people have gotten to know me. And part of being an entrepreneur is sort of opening yourself up to that personal space. And by nature, I’m fairly shy, but I’ve had to let some of that go.
And even though I worked in sales for many, many years, I really wasn’t perfect at relationship building and a little bit later. And that has now become my benchmark because people truly buy. From people that they know and that they like. And if they liked the story and the mission of the company that goes along with it, it makes a much sounder foundation.
And that truly has resonated with me and the people who buy our product, the people who talk about the product yourself, who found out about it. Me too. Our other network, LinkedIn, by the way, which I think is fabulous. And it is allowed me and other people, specifically my community in Northeast, Ohio. To work collaboratively.
We partner, we sell each other’s products through giveaways. We work together in small cooperative businesses. And that has just enabled me to bring the strength of my superpower, which is a word I started using last year to bear. And not only for myself, but that’s something I can do. I do that exceptionally well.
And I also can help other people help develop whatever the skills are in their wheelhouse. So I think being a business person has taught me that my last job at hospice, I managed several hundred unpaid volunteers in an inpatient hospice, and people came to work. They came to work with other people who didn’t come to work.
And I believe that that was solely on the virtue of not only believing in the mission of the work and believing in what they wanted to do in terms of serving, but also in my commitment to them as a manager, understanding that the value of their work was critically important. So I really try to go out of my way.
To thank people, show value, show appreciation, and be very inclusive of other people. Even if they’re competitors and they make granola or cereal products or something else, making sure to shout them out, to congratulate them on successes. And it has come back to me and my family full circle.
Ken: Yeah, absolutely. Um, let’s dig into, um, you know, the first few steps that you took after you decided, okay, I’m gonna, I’m going to try to produce this granola that, you know, I’ve been eating in my family for 25 years. What were the first things that you did? You also mentioned a couple of communities that helped you out, um, in the early days.
So maybe you can talk to those, those communities too.
Pat: So like, I wouldn’t go through with it. And they dared me. They said, you just, weren’t going to do this. You’ve been at this for so long. So it’s time to really just either do something with it or just forget about it. So I started taking some courses and I took some courses from the women’s business center.
And then I took a scratch-made incubator course specifically for food makers. So the foundation courses and business courses were there and I do have an MBA. But you know what? These are very, very different types of courses for food. It’s highly nuanced. There’s a lot of rules. There’s a lot of regulations and.
You can’t just make a product where I was making it in my kitchen and double the recipe. There are really things and processes that you have to go through and make things to scale. So I did a ton of research. I talked to many people, I talked to other entrepreneurs and that led me to a co-packer and the first instance of my working with a co-packer.
It was a disaster. They made the product wrong. And literally, I just sat in the middle of the floor and cried one night because I thought here’s my first batch. I paid for it. And I’m bootstrapping this the whole time. It was a fiasco, but somehow we turned it around. It wasn’t working well with that particular co-packer and I moved to another business and I monitor the business very, very well.
I actually am in the kitchen, making the product and the quality control is very, very high. And the kitchen that the product is made out of the co-packing the chef is there, there’s a manager. There, there are other people who make food, but I’m also there as well. And I think that that. It’s critically important that you know how to make your food.
I’ve heard other people say, oh, I have a recipe and I’m just going to have someone make it that wasn’t going to work for me. I know every nut, every spice. Uh, honey, the gluten-free organic oats that are made in mark products. And I know what it needs to look like. I know what it needs to smell. Like I know the crunchy texture of it, and there’s no way you can do that without being in the kitchen and sometimes having a failure.
So perhaps the first failure, if you will push this forward to do better and be better. And it has really paid off on stage because the product is made to spec just the way our remember making it myself. Right out of my kitchen. So I’m grateful for that, but the course from taking courses and then actually doing the work, I’m still doing the work.
I roll up my sleeves. I’m always testing in my kitchen. I’m always looking for new flavor profiles and looking for ways that I can cook with granola, that I can show people. It’s not just a breakfast food. And that really came to bear last year when people were looking for other ideas, because they were always hungry.
And quite frankly, they’re still hungry. I’m still hungry. I’m always looking for a little nosh or a little something even to travel with. I’m never without, you know, a small go bag with fruit bottle water. I always have granola, maybe a string cheese or something, because I never know if I’m going to be delayed or.
Stuck in a light, stuck in traffic. And that’s something that went back to my parents where we took road trips from New York down to North Carolina. My mother always packed food. It was never a matter of, well, we’re going to stop along the road and buy something. She wasn’t doing that for five people. We packed food, AIPAC food.
So those lessons early on in life still continue to resonate with me. And I’m now teaching other people how to shop in their pantry. Look for things that maybe you don’t know what to do with, I can help you and show you, give you meal ideas or recipe ideas, shop at the farmer’s market shop for things that maybe you have on hand that you don’t know what to do with.
And I use my blog as a way to expand out past granola because it isn’t just about granola. It’s really about educating people about food and what food means to them.
Ken: Right, right. Uh, you know, I, I, I want to double click a little bit on the image of you on the floor crying because your first batch was, uh, you know, it wasn’t, it wasn’t what, uh, what you’d hoped for.
And, and so, um, to help other people to avoid those situations and, you know, kind of like you said, some of these things aren’t actually avoidable, um, they’re just great learning experiences and it’s part of the process. Um, but my question to you is more along the lines of, okay. So the relationship didn’t work out with that.
Co-packer um, it went a lot better with this second attempt. What do you think that you did differently? Uh, and you did mention a couple of things, but I want to just make sure to double click on those. What, what did you do differently with your new co-packer?
Pat: I was on site for every part of the process. And it wasn’t just the first batch. It was every batch, it was a test batch. It was each step of the process and it was exhausting. Not only making the product, making the product, bagging the product, labeling the product every step of the way and taking copious notes. Not only for myself. But for the people who were entrusted to make it so that I knew, okay, I can look at the batch honestly and tell him it’s going to be right.
Even without tasting it, I can look at that. And that solely comes from having been on site. So that was a failure on my court. Not understanding I needed to be there and trusted it to someone who told me they could do it. And they didn’t do it because they really didn’t understand the nuances of granola.
And I came to find out they never made it before. And I’ve since learned, they’re special things you have to do with granola and temperature control and making sure that it’s cooled properly. It has its own special, unique processing. So everyone thinks they can make it. Perhaps, but not in large scale to make sure that the uniformity is there so that the ugly tears that I cried in hindsight will probably be good because I thought I’m going to do better because I’m never going to let that happen again to the best of my ability and in my control.
So the control piece has to be there and sometimes. You need to just be there. We need to talk. You don’t need to be ugly about it, but you need to say, my name is on the bag. I have to ensure that every time someone opens that bag, they look in the bag and see the product. They’re guaranteed that this is going to taste, smell, and look like what they thought the last time.
And so I am confident now that that has happened, but it’s still a constant work in progress.
Ken: Right. And I think that there’s actually some, some, some additional lessons in there. Um, you know, the first thing is, is making sure to, well, I think that there’s wisdom in finding a local co-packer that you can work with and which, which allows that.
That needs to be onsite or to be an actual physical product proximity to where your product is being produced. Um, that’s actually really helpful. Um, and, and that’s something that I’ve heard from other guests as well. I think that you can, you can move co-packers later. You can try to make the numbers a little bit better later so that you can save some money, um, you know, make things a little bit more efficient, but in the early days when you’re still developing your product, I think that what you’re hitting on is very important.
Pat: I’m 20 minutes away. I have a relationship with them that they need me. I’m a text or a phone call away. And I check, I constantly check out there even when I’m not doing production, because I want to check in and see how they’re doing, how their business is doing, how the commercial kitchen is doing.
Again, it’s back to the relationship in my wheelhouse and my superpower treat the people who we’re working with. As good as I want to be treated. And it comes back to you. So we had a few bumps in the road last year, but you know, I resolved it because I want to be able to make the product locally because I speak local shop, local buy local.
And I think he gives confidence to other people who think I can do something like this too. So it really spoke to what you just said. Being able to get there and not getting in an airplane, getting in a car 20 minutes away. I can be there in a flash. So for me, that has been very critically important to the continuing success of this locally made product.
Ken: Um, what about, you know, your thoughts around the size of the co-packer that you chose? It kind of reminds me of early, uh, you know, a product that I, that I, um, you know, once, uh, once promoted and, and, you know, uh, took to market when we were actually looking for a fulfillment center. One of my criteria was actually that we wanted a small fulfillment center.
We went and found some very large ones, but I realized that I would just be one little, one little section of a shelf and that if I called them, they wouldn’t know who I was. And so it drove us to make the decision to find a small fulfillment center that we could actually just walk in. Everybody knows each other.
Um, and we could speak directly to them. It sounds like you had a similar relationship with your co-packer.
Pat: Very much so, and as I said, I’m there, even when my production is not going on, I’m talking to them just anytime I can, they sell their products at farmer’s markets and some of the other products that they make in the kitchen, I’m there supporting the other businesses.
Because they’re small businesses like me and we are really working collaboratively because this is a local community. We all see each other. We don’t necessarily travel in the same circle, but we all know each other’s names and I believe that we need to support each other. And so I want to be there. I want to be seen as a resource.
People will text me. They’ll message me over Instagram. They’ll ask me to read things. They’ll ask if I have any experience with this. And so sort of in the background, it helps to mentor other people and the local aspect of it with respect to size. I agree exactly with what you said smaller for me at this stage, it’s fine.
And it’s working out beautifully. What is it? Where are you from? It’s just not where we’re at and our hope. It never gets to that point that my product will continue to grow and scale up. However, for right now, the local aspect of what we’re doing has served us exceptionally well. And so I want to continue to make efficiencies within that process and within the commercial kitchen and the people who run that business.
And I think that the conversations we’re having. Or better now than they’ve ever been, but it has been an evolution and we’ve had some tough conversations with them. I’ve had to ask them some tough questions. I’ve had to tell them honestly how I feel. I’ve had to say to them, here’s the expectations. If this doesn’t happen, then that’s when it happened.
And so. Maybe that would not have occurred if not for COVID. However it did happen. And at school I have been learning, you know, as a child of a teacher, I taught college for awhile. All learning is good. It’s just a matter of what you do with it. So I don’t discount anything with respect to a bad experience or something that I wish hadn’t happened.
It happened. What do we do with it? That also comes from being in business for so many years. It’s not a catastrophe. Things can be modified. They can be revived. You have to be open and you have to be solution driven. And I believe that that’s what I bring to my business as well. That I’m just not going to chalk up a batch of 500 pounds of something.
No, we’re going to figure out what we’re going to do and we’re going to move from there. We’re going to learn from it and hopefully not have that happen again.
Ken: Are there any other, um, lessons that you took from that initial bad batch? Where was there anything else that you did differently, um, maybe about your formula, you know, some of the tweaks that you had to make? Uh, what,
Pat: What did you do? Yeah, the formula was good. The formula never was the problem. The challenge was that the co-packer didn’t have the right equipment. They didn’t cook it correctly and they didn’t have the right love and they didn’t have the right pants. And honestly, I didn’t know enough to ask. I entrusted it to them without really looking deep because honestly not being a food owner, I didn’t necessarily know what to look like.
I had made these batches out of a pan. Inherited from my mother, which is a huge baking pan. And I carried that pan everywhere. The test batches were made in that pan, but it didn’t translate to huge half sheets, full sheets, baking trays that are done in racks in ovens. I had never been close enough to that process.
So shame on me. I just didn’t know what I do know. And I’ve learned through it. So perhaps that first batch, that was a disaster, might’ve been the best lesson I could have learned better than it was then than now, because I can recover from it. And I did, I absolutely did. So it was almost a blessing in disguise that that first batch was just a fiasco.
Ken: Yeah. And the trick with, uh, with co-packers manufacturers is that their business really depends on scale. And so if you think about even just the way that they’ll give you a quote, you know, if you do, you know, if you do 50 pounds or 50 kilos, it will be this much. If you do a hundred kilos, it’ll be this much.
And they’re trying to entice you to do a larger, um, however, in the early days, When you’re still developing your product, you need to be cognizant of that and almost want to err, on the side of producing too little, just to make sure that it comes across. right, right.
Pat: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Uh, I just think that they always want to get better.
I don’t let the enticement of doing more. I know what I need to make. I know how I sell. I know the businesses that I sell to. And what they need. And I try to stay a few steps ahead of what that is. Sometimes we fall short last Christmas time. It got a little bit dicey because they wanted a deadline for some of the things.
However, people now understand they’ll just wait for the product. I had some deliveries that got caught up in the postal snafu, and actually the last Christmas present that I had mailed the first week of December. Reached a client customer in late March. And as much as I apologize, I sent another package.
The customer’s response was pat, they’re going to be so happy when they get this. They won’t even care. The minute the customer opened up the package, he placed another order. He gave me another six orders to send to people. He said, I don’t care when you send it, just send it. So because of that, I set up a subscription.
Guest services and people can now get their Pat’s Granola on a subscription because I have frequent flyers who like Pat’s Granola, and they need their granola fix. And I’ve overnighted packages to people at the super bowl at the New York city marathon. I’m happy to send them if they tell me someone took their granola.
I have a friend whose husband is a truck driver. He takes the packages out of the mailbox and keeps driving just to get the granola. And she said to me, I know he was here. Because I see it was delivered. I know he drove by here in his truck and took the package. Please send more. I’m giving you more work addresses. So that’s fine. I’m good.
Ken: Yeah, that’s great. Well, let’s switch gears a little bit that, um, um, maybe even staying with the theme of local. Um, yes. Let’s talk about marketing a little bit. Um, so it sounds like you’ve been attending farmer’s markets. Um, you’ve been, uh, getting into some local retailers.
How have you approached that? How have you been thinking about it?
Pat: Uh, well, I did the farmer’s market route the first year that I was in business. And honestly, it was not good. People love to sample products at the farmer’s market. They’re happy to come out and spray. They get to listen to the music and eat things. Sometimes they don’t buy a thing. So we gave away probably more than what we sold. It’s a lot. It was a long, hot summer where we did it. It was on the weekend and it really wasn’t. Cost-effective as much as I thought, all this is the way to sell the product. And people had told me that was going to be the only way I needed to get into the market.
I knew better, but I went the distance. I did the farmer’s market. I still. Learn, you know what? I need to do a better job of strategically understanding who my market is. So I did some market research with the assistant systems of a person who does market research for the women’s business center. She ran some numbers.
We had a couple of sessions where she said, okay, let’s just look at the demographics. Who is the customer? Since I did that, the target to where I’m selling is much more clearly aligned with where I need to be. And businesses ask me frequently, oh, I’d like to sell your product and I’ll go into the business or I’ll look at it.
And I’ll think my product is not going to do well here. I don’t want my product to be everywhere and it’s not selling. I want it to be in places where people look for it. Not only do they come in to bypass granola, but they also think, oh, there’s other cool stuff here. I can buy my coffee here. I can buy others locally.
We make products. So I think it’s important for entrepreneurs to know who’s your target market and sell Tibet. You don’t need to be four things to all people, because for me that just doesn’t work. I don’t want my product. Sitting on the shelves. And even though it’s shelf stable and it won’t be perishable, I don’t want it sitting there.
I don’t want to go in and say, you know what? I delivered that three, four months ago, it’s still sitting in the same place or the bags are knocked over or they look shocked. That’s not a great strategy. So doing the research and understanding who you are, where you want to be and how you were able to communicate the story.
To customers’ needs resonate with those people. They will seek and buy out your product.
Ken: So you’d mentioned a, and I think we’ve danced around this a little bit, the effect of COVID on businesses in your area that are Northeast Ohio. Um, could you tell us a little bit about what that’s been like and maybe some adjustments that you’ve had to make to your business with all that going?
Pat: Oh my gosh. Um, we had just secured a contract with the hub’s news at the Cleveland airport, and honestly, I thought. This is great. I’ve got everything in place. I can now get into their network. I can sell it. Other airports will, that was in December right before COVID hit. So not only did the airport shut down, but the three businesses that I had from selling to.
They closed because the state of Ohio had the stay-at-home order slowly, slowly things started opening up and the people weren’t shopping. So I hadn’t, again, I called the women’s business center. I called the small business development corporation and I said to them, what can I do to save my business?
And the best advice I got stopped selling. Talk to people about how you feel. What are you going to be doing and sharing your story about, you know, what, you’re not sure what the future is going to bring to you, but here’s what you’re doing to continue to feed your family. And that’s exactly what I did. I changed the focus of my blog.
I started talking more about comfort foods. I started sharing recipes. Meal ideas. I talked about shopping online and I made my product sort of secondary to the message that meant that people could buy my product. They could buy it in bulk and they can have it shipped safely to their door. And that’s exactly what happened.
My online sales rocketed, but what happened as businesses started open. People were asking me, I want to stock your product because I see that people come in, they ask for it. I wasn’t familiar with it. I sent the samples. So a year ago in January, February, I had three places that I was selling. I’m now selling in 12 places.
And those continue to grow. Last year at the beginning of the year before COVID my goal was to increase my retail locations one a month. Well, it happened in spite of COVID and continues to grow because people are resonating with my story. They’re resonating with the taste of the product. The fact that it’s hand selected ingredients go in it, it tastes the same consistently and that they can have it shipped to their door or bought at their favorite local business.
That means something to people. And as I said, at the beginning of the podcast, the shop local buy local, I don’t think that’s going away. I have conversations every day with people who want to shop not only in their community, but shop for products that are made in a local community because it speaks to the passion.
It speaks to the commitment and people are really curious about why someone like me would stop working in a corporation. To run a granola business
and they look at me and I’ll say to them, I’m really not alone here. This has been the best time of my life with respect to finally doing something. Not only that it has my name, but it has so much a name and my family. And it has the ability to communicate the love and care and support that I have, not only for my family, but for other people who are seeking the same things, just like me.
Ken: That’s great. That’s great. I especially love the piece about, uh, starting to speak to some of the challenges that people are going through with COVID and changing the tone of your blog, um, to, to just resonate with what people were going through. Um, one of the things that I wanted to make sure that you, you, you talked just a little bit about, is some of the work that you’ve done, um, you know, for food deserts in your area and some of the, your community work.
Pat: Yes. I had the opportunity to donate a product to, it was a very grassroots informal. It was a restaurant tour and they set up a shopping Mart in the back of the restaurant because the restaurant was closed. And every week, anyone who was out of work in the restaurant or hospitality business could come and get food.
And I still want it. Okay. I make food. I can donate products. I was able to do that. I was able to donate food to schools where they didn’t have the school children come to school, but they were making food deliveries. I can participate in that. I was able to do food donations for the essential workers. We make food.
I could donate that food as fuel. Food is love. People need to be fed. I’ve worked in a medical institution. I know what working at 12 hour, 14 hour shift. It’s like, people are hungry. They can’t take lunch. They can’t take a break. They keep the food in their pocket. That’s what we did. And so to have the granola in little pouches where they can just throw back, you know, a tablespoon of whatever, just because they’re in between patients.
So they can’t stop meaning the world to people. And so I continue to do that. And part of the mission of my business is to continue to support. Those local efforts, partnering with other organizations maybe now on a more formal basis, or I can consistently do that as opposed to one-offs. And it’s taught me that this does more for the health and welfare of our community than anything else I can possibly do as an individual.
And as a business owner, it’s great to write a check. But giving through directly to people means something so tremendous that every time I do it, I’m just, I’m really humbled. I’m humbled that I make food that people can eat and feed them and feed their families. And especially the children. So we’re recording
Ken: this in, um, beginning, uh, the beginning of June.
Um, and we’re, you know, we’re, we’re coming out of COVID, uh, every day seems like we’re, we’re making some progress, you know, what are some of the things that you’re looking forward to, um, that you’ve got, you know, do you have any new flavors that you guys will be launching? What’s the rest of this year going to look like for you?
Pat: Um, I am still looking because it’s the middle of the year. At this point, I’m not looking to launch new flavors. I’m looking to expand on the existing players that I have perhaps into making some other products or even some other offerings. We’ve had several, uh, inquiries around making. Snack bags. So perhaps making a smaller size bag where people can use one or two ounces, throw it on top of their yogurt, or they can have a 12 pack of small snack bags that they can throw on the back of their car.
Because if they are continuing to support their little league teams there, they’re hiking, they’re biking, they’re playing tennis, or they’re driving kids around. People are always hungry. So to have a little snack bag is probably going to be what I’m concentrating on the most between now and then the end of the year, because it seems like that’s what the market is asking for.
And it’s important because people want to save. They want individual packaging. They don’t want to stick a hand into the candy bowl. Like what we used to enjoy in the break room at work, they can do a grab and go. And that seems to be where my business will probably evolve too, between now and the end of the year, especially the summer.
I’m looking forward to getting back out, visiting more farmer’s markets as a customer. And just talking to people about food and having the opportunity to be guests on podcasts, to tell my story, because you know, it may just inspire someone else to say, gosh, look at this woman, she’s doing this after a successful career in business, she’s sort of living her passion.
I believe that. For me, it’s not just about the granola. It’s about the message. It’s about giving people some hope, giving them some idea that you can do it. I met a couple of attorneys the other day, who live in new Orleans and they were here visiting some families and they just look so broken versus wrong.
They said you just hate lawyering so much. We just don’t want to do it anymore. Don’t do it. And I took a few moments. I told them about my story and they were floored. They were floored. They go, wow. Wow. I would never have thought to look at you and think that that would be the story that you would tell us.
So my party cost to them were, and they bought granola. They said we have some things to think about. This is good. This is really good. And I actually pointed them to your podcast. I said, well, I’m going to be a guest on this gentleman’s podcast, but you might want to plug in and listen to some of the stories that he tells, because I think you’ll get some more inspiration.
So I’m out there waving the Ken banner and fiddle. I’m just saying here’s some things you can do. And they were just delighted. So that just made my day.
Ken: Well, that’s, that’s great. And, uh, and we appreciate you doing that. Um, and you know, just to just a minor clarification, it’s not my stories, you know, and I think that this podcast is, is surfacing and bringing forward stories like yours.
And, uh, I think that’s what makes us this podcast appreciate it.
Pat: Well, you’ve given us a great platform and I’m honored. I’m so honored to be able to do it because, you know, we may be planting seeds for trees. We may not see. And I know that someone planted the seeds that I am reaping right now. So I think that it behooves us to do the same thing to pay it forward.
And that’s part of what you’re doing in sharing our stories with a wider audience.
Ken: All right. Well, let’s, let’s switch gears, pat. Pat, let’s go to the quickfire round. Just got four quick questions for you. Yes. All right. So what’s one tool or resource that has helped you out in your current position?
I think that’s the answer for a lot of people and hopefully less so going forward, you know, zoom is great, but I would like to meet people face to face more, you know?
Um, what is, uh, one book that you could share with us? Maybe something that’s been impactful to you.
Pat: Ah, there’s two, the purpose driven life is a book that I have read probably a dozen times.
And I have a book that I got recently that I really liked. It’s called brain switch and it talks about depression and part of why someone actually gave me the book, because I think that the mental health issue that’s come out of COVID has been under. And I think that people coming out of a year of lockdown, there are a lot of issues that are coming to play in depression, sleep deprivation.
So to have an ability to acknowledge some of it. And I know that mental health is getting a huge amount of attention now, dark days and people who just think I can’t get out of this understanding a little bit more about some things that perhaps each of us can do, not only for ourselves, but to be conscious of it for other people is really, really important and not being afraid to have some of those conversations.
Ken: And the name of the book again is, and who’s the author?
Pat: by Curtis Curtis.
Ken: Okay, great. Uh, what’s one piece of advice that you could give your 21 year old self or that you would give your 21 year old self
Pat: Dream bigger.
Ken: I like that. Um, who is, uh, one person in, maybe in your field of work or just one person that you look up to that you would love to take to lunch?
Pat: Right now, I’d like to take Tony Tipton Martin to lunch. She’s the author of the book Jubilee, and she’s just been named a Julia child award winner and Jubilee and the work that she has done, she actually was the food editor for the Cleveland Plain dealer. And I belong to the Northeast Ohio Foodie Cookbook Club.
We had wanted to have her here. Last year too. Basically we do cooking out of the book and Jubilee was the book that we had actually selected to cook out of and then COVID happened. So I would love to spend time with her.
Ken: Well, hopefully again, sometime. Well, that’s, that’s great. Um, so as we wrap up here, um, if somebody, if somebody wanted to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to do that.
Pat: Oh, you can contact me on Instagram at patched granola. You can send me an email, pat granola.com on Facebook, pat Bennett or patch granola. And I would love to hear from people.
Ken: That’s great. Um, any parting words of advice for other entrepreneurs that are in the food space? You know, people that are currently in the grind right now, what, what would you say to them?
Pat: I would say to them to look long and hard at the work that they’re doing and find whatever that is. That resonates, that joy, the food business is a hard business, tough business, expensive business. And for whatever they’re doing, if it’s not working. Try to figure out what they love about the business and perhaps package a piece of that and let the other stuff go streamline wherever they can, because the food business is so critically important to all of us.
We need food to live, but we also want to be able to gather together, break bread, talk over food, share a meal, share a glass of wine. And if we don’t have that, I think that there’s something inherently lost about how we need to feed each other. And it’s not just through the food we eat, but through the company and the conversations that we get to participate in.
Ken: Well, I think that those are some great words to leave on. I appreciate you jumping on this morning, pat. I’m glad that we put, put forward the effort to, uh, to connect and I think it’s been well worth it. There’s a lot of great lessons here today. Thank you so much.
Pat: Thank you very, very much. I really appreciate being a guest on your podcast.
Ken: All right. Good luck. Bye-bye.
Pat: Thank you.
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