Life didn’t dump lemons on Jenna Kranz’s doorstep. Instead it was tahini—a whole bunch of it, so she made hummus.
“A neighbor, who was a food distributor, gave me the tahini,” recalls Jenna. “She said, ‘Can you figure out what to do with this?’” Friends told Jenna it was the best hummus they’d ever tasted, so she got the idea of selling it at the farmer’s market. That plan stalled because she was living in Florida at the time and regulations prohibited people from selling hummus made at home. She brainstormed some other ideas and found that granola was acceptable. “Truth be told, I’d never made granola,” she says. (go HERE to return to the Sweet & Savory main page)
“I was never impressed with what I found at stores. I’m a cook, so I experimented with recipes and got approval from the Department of Agriculture. They gave me their blessing to go to local farmer’s markets in Florida and sell it.”
She sold out of all her granola bars she took and never looked back. “I tried it again the next week and the week after that and I never stopped. I also made a transition. A coffee shop in Daytona Beach allowed me to use their space, and I started selling hummus, too.”
It wasn’t like Jenna had a lot of extra time on her hands. She was already working full-time at a local college, so it was challenging to add the production, sales, and marketing of a side business into the mix. She also didn’t have a name for her business—just a table and a tent that she would set up each week.
However, after her husband finished grad school, he landed a job at Western Carolina University, so she told him, “‘I don’t think I’ll look for a job. I think I’ll try to run a business full-time.’ I quit my job and we moved to Sylva. I didn’t have any friends or family or even a kitchen to bake in, but now, two years later, I have a whole line of products and they’re in a bunch of stores.”
She also has a company name: Happy-Go-Lucky Foods. It came to her in the middle of the night.
“I literally had no name for the business for six months. I was at the farmer’s market in Florida with a sign that said: ORGANIC VEGAN GRANOLA. People said, ‘Maybe you should have the name.’ But I was just ‘the granola girl.’ I thought about it, but I had nothing. Then one night, I woke out of a dead sleep and said, ‘Happy Go Lucky.’ I called my mom the next morning and said, ‘Mom, I have a name.’”
Her focus has always been on creating products that are healthy and environmentally conscious. Most of her ingredients are organic. She uses coconut oil and coconut sugar, and avoids gluten, dairy, and soy.
Everything she makes is vegan, and she’s working toward a goal of having a certified gluten-free kitchen.
Jenna currently bakes in a commercial kitchen in Sylva and produces a variety of granola bars, protein bars, granola, and protein bites. She’s planning on building a new production facility in Sylva, explaining, “I’m working on a sugar-free line. It’s going to be savory. I’m hoping for a December launch. It will be vegan, but sugar free.”
Granola sold by the pound is a big seller. Some are seasonal varieties like the gingerbread granola offered in December and January. “All of our granolas are 100 percent organic. A lot of people around here make their own everything,” she notes. “They say they can’t make granola for the price we offer if for because we do it in such quantity. People bring their own containers to fill. They rely on us for their sustenance and nutrition.”
When the business started, Jenna was baking five days a week. Now she has one employee and they bake three days a week. “We go through 150 pounds of oats some weeks! I’ve been doing this full-time for two years. For part of that, I didn’t even know what I was doing. I never imagined I’d be able to hire my own employee. Now I’m ready to build my own facility.”
It’s a big switch from her career at that Florida college where she supervised many people as associate director of a writing center. “My job was to teach writing tutors to teach people to write and communicate effectively. When I first told my mom I was quitting my job, she said, ‘I can’t believe you’re going to throw your education away.’ My degree is in marketing and public relations, and I have a graduate degree in English. I use my degrees every single day. I use my education better than sitting in an office, and I’m much happier now.”
She continues to offer products at area tailgate markets, but she’s also gotten into French Broad Co-Op, Asheville Direct, Sona Pharmacy, and, outside Western North Carolina, locations in Raleigh and Fayetteville, and even a couple in Georgia, plus her old Florida territory. “I’m getting nutritional testing done to hopefully get into Ingles. I don’t know what the future looks like—I just know it involves being a mommy.”
Her first child is due in April. “Baby Granola—that’s what people already call it,” she says. “We are really excited!”
Shop online with Kranz and see a list of Happy-Go-Lucky Foods’ retail outlets at www.happygoluckyfoods.com.
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