We had the good fortune of connecting with Audrey Martinez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Audrey, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I didn’t really set out with the intention of starting a cookie business – I simply have always cared about nutrition and once I found how beneficial chia seeds were, I wanted to spread the health benefits with others. I came across chia seeds when I was researching foods for runners – I had decided to run a marathon and knew I needed whatever help I could get! Before the business was even an idea, I tried and tested chia seeds myself during my marathon training, and I was absolutely blown away! On the days I had chia, my energy lasted longer and runs felt easier, but I also noticed my hair and nails were healthier, my digestive system was more regular, and my thinking was clearer. Sometimes with “healthy” foods, it seems like I just have to trust they’re doing their thing, but with chia seeds I really saw noticeable differences! People were hardly aware of chia seeds when I started the business, but I thought they should be. Cookies seemed like the best way to do that. It was only after I realized how amazing chia seeds were that starting a business became an idea again, although I had no experience in the food industry!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The first thing that sets us apart is, of course, our product. Chia seeds add so many health benefits to our cookies. A long, detailed list of the health benefits of chia can be found on our website, www.AudreysChia.com. Chia seeds not only add nutritional value to cookies, but because of their absorbent properties, they also regulate the body’s absorption of carbohydrates and water, making energy and hydration last longer. When I started this business, all I had was the desire to share the health benefits of chia, and the idea to do that through cookies. Being completely new to the food industry has been the main challenge throughout this journey, but I don’t feel it’s a big setback. I’ve had to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions, but figuring out how to grow this cookie business has been exhilarating despite the challenges. One thing I’ve learned is that every setback is a lesson, and it’s important to focus on what to learn from every experience. I also had great faith in God and myself, and with the inspiration of wanting to be a great example for my kids, I kept going. I’ve learned that everything is solvable if you don’t give up, and if you keep your eyes up and open for lessons, teachers, and opportunities. The teachers kept appearing at the right time, and we finally got onto store shelves of major retailers in the middle of 2019. Two important beginning stages were coming up with the recipes and the packaging. I’m an avid cookie eater, so getting the recipe right was very important to me. There were ups and downs in finding the right flavors and making sure the cookies were delicious in both flavor and texture, but I think (and have heard from many others) that the results are addicting. With the help of many people, we now have four flavors: Chocolate Chip, Almond, Lemon and Peanut Butter. Packaging was another challenging but fun step. We wanted a look that mirrored our product: simple, healthy, and natural ingredients – a healthy, clean spin on the classic, tasty cookies we all know and love, without sacrificing flavor. You can find our cookies at Sprouts, Whole Foods, AJ’s Fine Foods, Fry’s (on the local products shelf) and several independent stores. You can also find us online at our website www.AudreysChia.com or on Amazon.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
This is going to be a long, diverse itinerary! I’m wholly a product of Arizona since I’ve lived here my entire life and absolutely love this state. I also have a love for the outdoors, so the list includes a lot of outdoor activities. I have to add that it’s very important to me that we respect this beautiful land of ours by keeping it litter-free, not harming any wildlife, and obeying laws and regulations! One adventure on the itinerary would be to visit Prescott, Sedona, and Flagstaff, of course. From the valley, we could drive up in the morning to Prescott and spend some time at Watson Lake. Then we could drive the 89A through Mingus Mountain, through Jerome and to Sedona, admiring the steep hills and the history of Jerome. We could have dinner in Sedona at Elote Cafe and stay the night. In the morning we could walk around Oak Creek Canyon and then head to Lava River cave near Flagstaff to explore this incredible cave. We could then head to downtown Flagstaff, eat at Simply Delicious Café, walk around downtown and stay the night there. Another adventure would be to take a couple of days to drive the Apache Trail past Superstition Mountain, Canyon Lake – drive through Fish Creek Hill, and on to Apache Lake. We would have dinner at the marina and stay the night in the hotel there. The next day we could spend the day on a boat and explore the lake. Exploring the cities could be another adventure. My father-in-law used to own a drug store called Mesa Drug in downtown Mesa, so I could show my friend where it used to be located and point out the transformation of downtown Mesa. We could then head to Tempe for lunch at Four Peaks Brewery or House of Tricks and then on to walk around Mill Avenue. After that, we could head to downtown Phoenix to Roosevelt Row to see the vibrant culture, full of art and community. Roosevelt Row is full of small businesses and merchants, and art both in galleries and along the streets. For dinner and drinks, we could visit The Breadfruit and Rum Bar. Those are some of the places I would take my friend and make sure she came in the Springtime. I would also allow time for pure relaxing in our beautiful weather.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Audrey’s Chia Cookies wouldn’t be sitting on the shelves today without the support and guidance of many others. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give a shout-out, because I sincerely appreciate these people every step of the way! Though multiple people come to mind for a shout-out – namely Gene Williams, Brad Ghormley (packaging), and Elizabeth Cascio (distribution) – I will dedicate this to Gene Williams, who has been a mentor through every stage of this business, right from the start. Gene is the owner of Urban Oven, a cracker and cookie manufacturer based in Chandler, Arizona. When I started this business, all I had was the desire to share the health benefits of chia, and the idea to do that through cookies. I had no experience in the food industry. After coming up with the initial recipes for the chia cookies, I contacted Gene Williams for co-packing. Although he wasn’t able to produce my cookies for me, he helped me tremendously in other ways – he taught me how to adjust the recipes to be production-friendly, he made samples of the cookies to give to retailers, he introduced me to other key people, and has been a valued mentor since the very beginning. He definitely deserves a shout-out!