Rachel DesRochers takes the name of her business, Grateful Grahams
, very seriously.
“For my family and I, something that we talk about every day is this idea of gratitude,” she says. “Just taking a second every day to think, ‘Whoa, look at all this amazing stuff in my life.’ That’s just how I live my life.”
DesRochers wanted to share this value with the world and decided to do it through cookies. She came up with the idea while a stay-at-home mom for her two children at the time.
“I was doing some baking and had an awesome recipe and we had an awesome message, so I combined them both and they worked,” she says. “I called my husband at work and I said, ‘I think I’m going to start this graham business called Grateful Grahams.’ And he said, ‘Of course you are, honey.’”
In the eventful five years since that day, DesRochers has held onto her core values and her vision of creating food with integrity. She still makes her grahams in small batches and uses no dairy, eggs, soy, GMO ingredients, high fructose corn syrup or dyes in the cookies. The vegan recipe is a nod to her father, a cancer survivor who went vegan during treatment.
With every bag sold, she hopes to spread her family’s message of gratitude. When Grateful Grahams sells their wares, they ask customers to write about what they’re grateful for on paper tablecloths. Their website has an entire page devoted to “Sharing Your Gratitude
,” and on Facebook
they often encourage followers to tag friends and family to express their appreciation for one another.
DesRochers wants that message — and the grahams — to travel far and wide.
“I started it with a huge vision,” she says. “I started it with the mission that I want to be across the country selling my product.”
Now that Grateful Grahams is a finalist in ArtWorks' Big Pitch
competition, the Covington-based company might get a big boost toward that distribution goal. The cookies are currently available at about 45 stores across the country and sold online, but winning part of the Big Pitch’s $20,000 in grant money would allow DesRochers to go to food shows to increase her wholesale business.
“I really appreciate that ArtWorks is willing to look at food producers,” DesRochers says, “because food is slow money and it takes a long time to really build big companies. There are lots of different resources and programs for tech businesses in Cincinnati, but being in the food industry is a different niche.”
DesRochers knows how slow and difficult it can be to start and grow a food company. Now she wants to pass on what she’s learned from the process to other entrepreneurs. In 2013, she started the NKY Incubator Kitchen
, renting workspace in her commercial kitchen space to other food companies and sharing experiences, tips and advice along the way. NKYIK is one of 80 local companies presenting at the first NewCo Cincinnati
July 23, and it’s helped launch Skinny Piggy Kombucha
, The Delish Dish
and other startups.
NKYIK is only one of many community projects DesRochers is involved in. She has also helped co-found the Good People Festival
and is working on an event called Grateful Plate to celebrate women farmers, food producers and chefs in Northern Kentucky.
For her, all the giving back comes from gratitude.
“I love my life,” she says. “I wake up every day and I’m so absolutely grateful that I get to create really cool things. There’s always gratitude for the fact that this is my life and I’m really happy to have these choices to make every day and to teach my kids that you can do whatever you want with your life!”
Soapbox is profiling each of the eight finalists in the 2015 ArtWorks Big Pitch, a 10-week mentorship program that offers artists, makers, designers and creative entrepreneurs a chance to claim up to $20,000 in cash prizes and professional services. The program concludes Aug. 27 with the finalists giving five-minute presentations to a panel of judges and an audience.