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Life & Work with Irene Reinkemeyer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Irene Reinkemeyer.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started baking granola for my family because I was looking for a healthy alternative to what was available. I developed the Original Haley blend, which is a honey almond base. My children, teenagers at the time, would have their friends over and they would eat the granola for a snack. Soon, the parents of those friends were asking for the recipe for the granola. My husband really likes peanut butter, so I developed a peanut butter-based blend with peanuts and walnuts.

I never planned to sell the granola, so for fun, I named the two blends after my children, Haley and Cole. I had labels printed and gave the granola as gifts. People started to say that I should sell the granola at farmers’ markets, so I looked into this. I needed to have a commercial kitchen to sell at the market. I had a connection through my daughter with Spencer’s Grill in Kirkwood and they allowed me to use their kitchen when the restaurant was closed.

I started selling at farmer’s markets and notice returning customers, some wanted chocolate on the granola and some wanted the honey almond with a coconut oil base, making it dairy-free. I added chocolate to the Original Haley and Cole blends the switched coconut oil for the butter making the Haley with Coconut Oil blend. I still have those five blends; all are wheat and egg-free, three are also dairy-free.

I approached several small stores around St. Louis and Dierbergs about selling it; I am in all the Dierbergs locations, The Woman’s Exchange, Vincent’s 12th street market, Freddie’s Market, Global Foods, and Summit Produce. I’m selling the granola in thirty stores.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I learned a lot from the people running the Farmer’s Markets, help with insurance, nutrition labels and UPC Codes. Finding a commercial kitchen can be difficult; I was so lucky to be able to use Spencer’s grill until I had me own kitchen and now I have the granola manufactured by a local baker.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I have met a lot of nice people when I’ve had sampling’s of the granola. I’m known for making the granola. I’m proud that people like it and buy it! There is a lot of good local granola in St. Louis; mine is a chewy soft granola which sets it apart from the traditional crunchy granola.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
I would recommend working with local farmer’s markets if you are trying to start any kind of a food business. They will guide you with Health Department, insurance and label requirements. Also, reach out to a kitchen incubator or small restaurant to gain access to a commercial kitchen.

Contact Info:

  • Email: Ireneshomemadegranola@gmail.com
  • Website: Ireneshomemadegranola.com
  • Instagram: Ireneshomemadegranola
  • Facebook: Irene’s Homemade Granola
  • Twitter: @irenesgranola

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