Some of you have heard me sing the praises of the Michigan State Product Center, a grant-funded program that helps small food-related businesses take root in "The Mitten". I was introduced to the Product Center by my good friend, MG, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude, as this introduction to Mr. Frank Gublo led to an introduction to Becky DeYoung, my Product Center counselor and now, dear friend.
When I set out to start my all natural granola business, I benefited from more than a decade in the brutal business known as the culinary arts. My experience in the culinary arts proved to be valuable, not just for such practical purposes like food and labor cost calculations, a palate that I've refined over the years to ensure that my product was completely irresistible, or the ability to doggedly pursue any dream without being discouraged. Being a certified chef also came in handy when sourcing ingredients and finding the best quality products at the best prices (not an easy task).
Still, I needed assistance for those other important aspects of my business such as which company would produce the best packaging, at the best price, who would sell the most competitive liability insurance, and how to navigate the labyrinth known as the Michigan Department of Agriculture. If you've ever spent time on the MDA website, you can appreciate how having someone to guide you through the lengthy process of proper licensing, can be a life-changing event. Without Becky's help, I would still be trying to navigate their pre-historic and illogically organized website, 10 months later!
I am approached by many people who, like me, want to start their own food related businesses here in Michigan. If you are toying with the idea of "Making it in Michigan", you simply MUST attend the "Making it in Michigan" event hosted by the MSU Product Center this Wednesday, October 19 at the Lansing Center. From educational sessions to a trade show that highlights the services and products foodie entrepreneurs need, this is an event not to be missed.
To learn more about the Making it in Michigan event at the Lansing Center, visit http://www.makingitinmichigan.msu.edu and see how you can make your dream become a reality.
Stacy Sloan; Chef & Founder of Three Little Birds