Meet Michele Liddle, founder of The Perfect Granola and NAPPA 2018 Winner
Before launching the Perfect Granola, what was keeping you busy?
While creating The Perfect Granola I worked fulltime as a Business Development Manager for an Electric Motor Shop traveling during the day to accounts in the Erie PA, Buffalo, NY and Rochester, NY areas. I had 2 small daughters ages 2 and 5 while developing the company (they are now 3 and 7) and volunteered at our local food pantry. I am a very active adult and workout at least 4-5 days per week, so I had a lot on my plate, but knew I could do more to help the hungry children and families in our community and if I planned it right, I could help alleviate the poverty that fuels our hunger issue.
What inspired you to start Perfect Granola?
While volunteering at our local food pantry, I would watch mothers select their weekly bounty for their families and it broke my heart to see that they could not afford to buy organic and healthy foods at the typical grocery store. There were very little gluten-free and NON-GMO options, so I brainstormed how I could help. The Perfect Granola began as a dream; I envisioned a company where I could share the profits and food with the hungry and create opportunities to employ those in need so they can break the poverty cycle that fuels our hunger issue.
Tell us a little about you as a child. Did you think about having a business of your own as a kid?
I grew up in a normal household with a solid foundation. During my early 20’s I was a bartender to fund my culinary education and would host “misfit holidays” where everyone from the community who didn’t have a place to go for the holiday was welcome to my apartment to have a good meal and a sense of togetherness. This was really where my love of food and community started. I have always wanted to do something to make a difference in the world and after developing my professional career, I finally had the experience and confidence to start my own company where I could give back.
Why is giving back so important to you?
I have personally witnessed myself, and through friends and family, what it is like to have ends not meet. There were times that I could not afford groceries and still times where I want to provide better for my children. I also know that allergies to gluten, dairy, and soy do not discriminate against the poor; when those in need go to a shelter or to a food pantry, they are only allowed the food that is provided, and in some cases, this food makes them feel even worse. Furthermore, requirements like a degree and experience prohibit hard-working individuals living in poverty the opportunity to succeed and break the poverty cycle. Because these individuals are not given the same opportunities as others, this cycle continues and puts greater stress on these families and our economy as a whole. Companies need to do more to create a positive workplace and inclusion for ALL so that our communities can thrive.
What message do you want to give your daughters who have watched their mom start and grow this company?
I want to show my daughters that anything is possible. Sometimes people come up to me and say they don’t have the time to work out, or volunteer, or to start something great; my answer to them is that everyone has the time to do what is most important to them. It is important to me to show my girls that no matter what, EVERYONE should have the same opportunities for success and if the drive and passion is there, anything is possible.
What would you like to tell other moms who are thinking about launching a business?
DO IT! Nothing is stopping you. Don’t wait for the right time, do it now while the idea is fresh and exciting. If you have questions or need guidance, reach out for help. Nothing great is ever easy, so you need to work for it, but anything is possible with a dream and a clear vision.
How does family and work life look for you? Share a typical day with us.
Mornings are tough, hahahaha… Having 2 young daughters there are fights and battles, but once they are off to daycare and school, my workday begins. I am still the only fulltime employee working in the company, so I do all the accounting, sales, marketing, shipping, receiving, ordering, recipe creation, warehousing… you name it, I do it. When there is a sick kid, life goes on and I either work from my home office or take them with me to meetings. I am very active in my community and attend as many networking events and political events as possible and am very active in my PTSA for the girls’ school as well. Family comes first, and it always will, so I am a parent volunteer in the classroom, I surprise the girls for lunch on occasion, drive them to soccer, gymnastics, swimming, parties, dance recitals, and everything else that comes with parenthood. I am also an indoor cycling instructor, so in the evenings and early weekend mornings, I teach cycling classes. I live by my calendar and each minute of each day is booked, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s your mom mantra?
Get after it! ????
What’s your business mantra?
Get after it! ????
Best hashtag to describe you.
What your favorite day off spot?
HAHAHAHAHA!!! Day off??? What’s that? ????
What’s the best part of owning your own business?
I can grow my company the way I want. Since I am making the decisions, everything we do is to better the community. Each and every decision is made with the long term success of both my company and my community. I love being able to make a difference while growing a successful company.
What’s the best worst decision of your life?
There are many. I have stumbled and failed so many times at both motherhood and business ownership, but these failures and “bad decisions” are what has defined my success. When I make a mistake, I am proud to say that I can confidently own it, learn from it, and move on. There will be many mistakes and failures in the future, but with each failure, comes a recovery like none other and that has been what has made me successful.
What are your favorite things to do with your family?
I love anything that makes my girls smile and laugh. If it’s a trip to the mall to ride the carousel, or a trip to the museum, or just curling up on the couch to watch a movie. Time spent together is the best time of my life.
What sets your heart on fire?
Making a difference. We have recently been able to hire students living in poverty and give them real work experience before graduation so, when they do graduate high school, they have the skills for a brighter future. This makes me so proud and makes all the blood, sweat, and tears of entrepreneurship worth it. I can make a difference, and that is the best feeling ever.
What would you tell your high school self?
Don’t be so wrapped up in what others think and live for today. I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in the fear of failure that it paralyzes us and prevents us from taking risks. Taking risks is when the best can happen and if you fail, fail fast so you can recover fast and move on. Failure is the best way to learn and the only way to succeed.
For more information on The Perfect Granola, click here.