Making ourselves at home
“Home” means different things to different people - from where you hang your hat to where you feel comfortable and safe. In our case, it’s the place at the center of our fruitniverse. Up til now, though, that’s been rather spread out!
The first Peaceful Fruits home was the Delahanty family kitchen table. From the very initial R&D, to business planning, and even to labeling and order fulfillment - every task grew from there.
Over the last 3 years, we’ve outgrown that first home step by step. First, production went to the Cleveland Culinary Launch Kitchen and then we partnered with Ms Julie’s Kitchen, before finding our way to Hattie Larlham, where we’ve been moving along for almost 18 months now!
Along the way, packaging also moved from Evan & AJ at the table (+ family on both sides!) to The Blick Center - we’ve slowly grown with them from 1 table in the basement to own dedicated space on the bottom floor!
The Hattie Larlham Food Hub
As we got ready to launch our pilot efforts, in spring of 2016, we found a perfect partnership with Hattie’s Food Hub. Supported by Hattie Larlham, the mission of The Food Hub was to provide access to fresh, local food and encourage healthy eating while creating employment and training opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.
To provide 8-12 opportunities to people with developmental disabilities, the Food Hub worked with local growers and small start-up businesses. That’s where we came in. Too big to fit in a home kitchen but too small for our own place, Hattie Larlhams was the perfect fit. We were proud to be the “launch” partner of this new program!
Next, how to get all those snacks out the door? The Blick Center!
Now that we could start producing enough snacks to get into stores and online, we needed to find a way to pack them and ship them out to customers. Evan’s kitchen table at home wasn’t quite big enough - but Blick’s table was. First one table, and now a room full of them! The Blick Center is a warm and welcoming environment filled with services for individuals with developmental disabilities. This is the super star shipping team you hear us talk so much about.
For all of our team members, we are proud to always pay full wages. We strongly believe that, whether in the Amazon or Akron or anywhere else, if you work hard you should get paid.
When life gives you lemons, make more fruit snacks
Working with these two organizations, we were slowly ratcheting things up and building our business step by step over the following year. Little did we know that we were splashing into deep water - in February of 2017 we appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and we had no idea of the response we were in for! Though no Sharks bit on the investment, America wanted to nibble on our snacks!
As we rushed to bring on more people, machines, and fruit - so much delicious, sustainable, fruit! - and made more snacks in 2 months then in all of 2016, we started to think it might be time to look for a home of our own. A place where we could bring all of our partners under one roof.
Peaceful Fruits - A New Home?
Just as we were starting to think that through, this happened. After an amazing year of pilot together - for them and us - the Food Hub announced that it was closing its doors. We were surprised, but definitely not ready to stop. We decided that this was an opportunity in disguise - an opportunity to help our partner like they helped us, double down on our mission to support people with disabilities, and start getting ready to leave the nest and fly.
So here we are, after a whirlwind summer, standing on our own. We’re currently renting out the Food Hub and finalizing plans to scale up further - maybe here, maybe close by, but working had to keep this in Akron, where it belongs.
Because, no matter what changes as we push and strive to grow, we never want to forget our roots - making snacks that are healthy, delicious, and good all the way from the Amazon Rainforest to Akron OH. And many kitchen tables in between!
Have a great day out there,
~the team at Peaceful Fruits