Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Lange.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Well, I never set out to start a granola business, but now that it has fully taken over my life, it makes so much sense. I moved to LA in 2006 to work in entertainment and immediately got intimidated. I had zero connections and was terrified of everyone, so I began to find comfort in food. It had been my childhood dream to be a pastry chef, and I would sit at my assistant desk job scrolling through beautiful food photos and reading up on LA’s restaurant scene. I left that job to work at Cake Monkey Bakery and a few other places before I got my “big break” as the pastry chef at the Hart and the Hunter in Hollywood. That was where I developed my signature granola, now called Honey Run. A friend left the restaurant to open a coffee shop and wanted to serve my granola. Then some other coffee shops started carrying it. Next, people were requesting more flavors and other things like bars and trail mix. In 2016, I stopped working in restaurants and started working on granola full time. Cereal has always been my comfort food, so it’s only fitting that it has become such a big part of my life and I now make it to bring joy to others.
Has it been a smooth road?
Moving to LA really threw me for a loop. I flailed my way through my first few years–trying to make friends, make money, make a fulfilling career path for myself. I learned quickly that no one was going to hold my hand and it was very humbling. But once I committed to working in food, things started falling into place. I began to feel calmer and more confident because I was doing what I loved.
My current challenge is trying to grow my business with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. They are adorable, but they make it REALLY hard to get any work done. And of course, the pandemic has not helped. We were having a banner year until March came along. While we’ve been lucky enough to get lots of love and support from our customers online, we lost a lot of revenue when our wholesale clients and farmers’ markets shut down. Still, I’m grateful every day because things could be much worse.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Bearclaw Kitchen story. Tell us more about the business.
Bearclaw Kitchen is a granola and snack company that I started in 2014. We have five flavors of granola, two types of granola bars and a trail mix. Oh, and our newest product–granola butter! Our granola is always freshly baked–we sell out pretty much every week, which is by design because I don’t want it sitting around. We also use the best ingredients, like wildflower honey from Altadena, organic single-origin maple syrup from Pennsylvania, whole nuts, tons of seeds and organic oats. Our products are all about flavor. They contain whole ingredients for lots of healthy energy, but they also have a touch of decadence. Remember, I’m a pastry chef, not a nutritionist. That said, the nutritional info is very close to most granolas on the market.
We sell our products at the Hollywood and Playa Vista Farmers’ Markets and online. We’re also at several coffee shops around LA, including Menotti’s Coffee Stop, Dinosaur Coffee, Intelligentsia and Alana’s Coffee Roasters. And we just started selling at a few Bristol Farms locations. I’m most proud of the fact that my products sell themselves. I haven’t done a great deal of promotional work (see the part about my two kids), but interest has grown extremely well through word of mouth. Lots of people have told me that it is the one thing keeping their households happy during the pandemic, and that just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I have zero interest in trends. I just want to make the most delicious product that I can with integrity and hope that people will continue to eat it and love it.
- Website: www.bearclawkitchen.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @bearclawkitchen
Julianne Hartman for the photo of all the bags, Cathy Chaplin for the photo of the Coconut Grove, and Rachael Narins for the bowl with the blue cloth.