Nicole Pajak began selling her Small Batch Co.
granola at a Niagara-area farmers' market in 2014. Two years later, she opened a retail store and organic juice bar in Niagara Falls, and just released new (and adorable!) snack sizes of her artisan granola.
We talked to Nicole about watching her business grow into a local success story.
When and how did Small Batch Co. start?
I’ve always been interested in health and wellness, and I love to find different ways to sweeten desserts without refined sugars or syrups. I found a way to bake granola with dates -- which are low glycemic and full of fibre -- and brought my creations to a local farmers’ market in the summer of 2014. A local store picked up our products once the market came to a close and it spiralled into the business that it is today.
Can you share any memorable moments from your first year in business?
The first time we saw our bags on a grocery store shelf was pretty unbelievable -- to think complete strangers would spend their money on something I created and have it in their homes was pretty surreal. I also have acute memories of the hours and days we would spend hand-labelling all of our bags. It was definitely a labour of love and something I’m happy we no longer have to do!
How did you test your products and come up with the flavours and ingredient lists?
All of the recipes came through trial and error; however, I was always mindful that the products had to be gluten-free, vegan, and free of any refined sugars, additives, or preservatives. After that, it was about thinking of unique flavours that were intriguing and not really seen on the market. For instance, our newest flavour -- Peanut Butter & Jelly -- is a classic, nostalgic combination, but is also really unexpected and fun for a granola flavour.
What exciting things to you have planned for the business this year?
We just launched the snack-sized granola minis, which give you the convenience of having a healthy bag of granola in your office desk drawer, purse or backpack. Plus, you can pour milk right into the bag!
We also recently opened up our first brick-and-mortar stores in the Niagara Region and are the only raw, organic cold-pressed juicery in the area. We stock our shelves with Small Batch Co. granola and have a seasonal menu of vegan and gluten-free lunches. So a lot of my focus has been shifted to developing and growing our new stores while ensuring our granola continues to expand into new retailers.
Aside from granola, what's your favourite snack to make at home?
I love making homemade hummus with veggies or chia pudding (topped with Small Batch Co. granola, naturally).
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