Over the course of a year Suzy McCarthy spent hours at book stores pouring over granola recipes. Searching out and tasting other blends gave her insight into what she wanted in her granola. Suzy and high school daughter Kelly experimented until they finally hit upon a combination of ingredients that they loved. “We found the perfect blend of ingredients, put together in just the right amounts, all cooked in a very special way.” Suzy kept the house stocked with their new snack for herself and her family to enjoy. She also began giving the granola to friends in cute cellophane packages as birthday presents and hostess gifts. Their granola became a coveted item.
Then came a move to the west coast. Suzy’s son Whit, a recent college graduate, decided to head west with the family as well, to look for a job. But he also had an idea for his mom. Recognizing a great product, Whit encouraged his mom to sell her granola on a broad scale, but he was met with resistance when Suzy entertained the idea of gearing up a business. Suzy had been in advertising prior to having kids and had run a successful women’s boutique with a friend back East. Whit promised, “I’ll do everything relating to the business side of things.” With that promise, research began, and mother and son became certified to cook and sell a food product.
With her daughter there to help with a name and create packaging, granola became a family affair. Kelly says, “I’m in charge of the creative side, and do all the artwork and created the labels by hand.” The name By Hand Granola and the logo are a clever play on the fact that the granola is made by hand to eat by hand.
Hitting the street, Suzy and Whit got their first order from a local gourmet food store in December 2010. More stores followed and the work to make enough inventory became challenging. The two found a local commercial kitchen where they could prepare and package their growing granola orders. Whit kept up with all of the vendor relationships and deliveries when not coaching lacrosse.
We’d drop samples and follow up with calls. Suzy says “it’s truly a mother/son team, I do most of the cooking during the day, two to three days a week.” Landing larger accounts including a small hotel, the business was profitable within the first 60 days.
“The best part of working with my son is seeing his excitement and enthusiasm. And for him to see a business grow from an idea to a profitable venture is amazing.” Suzy and Whit’s next step is working the web – you can order their granola from anywhere now. By Hand Granola is available in two varieties – regular and gluten free – both made with oats, cranberries, coconut and almonds among other things.
“I never thought we’d be doing this together. I love that I’m bonding with my son managing a joint venture,” Suzy says, “It’s just enough of a time commitment for me to enjoy the business and still have time for myself and family.” Who knew her son would lead Suzy, By (the) Hand, into a venture for both of them.
Listen to your kids when they say you have something to build a business around and get them involved in a joint venture that you can manage together.