We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Briscoe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
If one thinks about risk as RISK, it’s highly possible that very few would ever take one. If one thinks about risk as OPPORTUNITY, that changes the game. When I left the East coast to live in AZ, it didn’t feel risky moving away from all my friends and family. Instead, it felt like an opportunity to experience a different part of the country, enhance my sales path at work, and start a family. If I hadn’t moved, I would never have worked for some great companies, and more importantly, have the amazing friends and relationships I have now. When I left my first career working for tech companies and pursued my culinary education, it didn’t feel like risk, but the opportunity to do something about which I was passionate. When I started Celebrated Cuisine, my first business, it felt so organic that risk never entered my mind. The same was true when I started Laura’s Gourmet Granola – I have always thought of that as a happy accident. Choosing to grow Laura’s Gourmet Granola and focus on just one business is the closest thing to risk I have done in my career – and life. To do so meant taking on more space, a greater financial burden, and a bigger team with nothing to fall back on. At the same time, it meant giving up income from my chef work. Yet it was the right choice and ultimately fortuitous given the unprecedented time we are now living in. It makes me ask “isn’t taking a risk really just accepting the fact you are going to focus on one thing and make it the best?” Put like that, it doesn’t feel risky at all – just intentional.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
If you had told me in January of 2000 when everyone was worried the world would stop at midnight (Y2K) that I would be growing a granola brand with my name on it in 2020, I would have asked if you had hit your head recently. Never did I think this was my path, but I couldn’t be happier to be on it. Every day in this role of founder, owner and executive chef of Laura’s Gourmet Granola is its own version of an MBA. As a sole proprietor, it’s amazing how many things I have learned along the way. Each time I was posed with an opportunity for growth, it came with a learning curve – one that wasn’t always happily embraced but always appreciated when I got through the hard stuff. Given the three pronged approach of our business, the need to learn more just accelerates. When we got our first stores (AJs Fine Foods) I seriously thought that was it. I was growing my chef business and granola was a side note. Then one retailer became two (Whole Foods) and then a request for foodservice – supplying large bags to restaurants. In each case I was faced with new challenges – creating barcodes, nutrition labels, packaging, branding – challenges that had to transition quickly into tangible assets to earn credibility. Each time there were mistakes, some very public, but more times there were successes that enhanced my pride in this product line. Today I am fortunate to have the support from some highly talented people – from production to sales, marketing to public relations to graphic design and to our website/ecommerce offering. The greatest feeling as an entrepreneur is recognizing what other people can do better than you and letting them be their best on your company’s behalf.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When anyone special comes to town there are so many opportunities to create the best time. Anything outside tops the list. Hiking throughout Arizona would be at the top of the list – so many different landscapes, climates and altitudes! Plus each area boasts unique dining and libation choices. Riding bikes through Old Town Scottsdale on the weekend, tackling different trails to hike or run on South Mountain, out in Payson, Sedona, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. A round of golf followed by patio dining at any number of restaurants during the right time of year is a favorite. Checking out some of the local resorts for happy hour or pool parties is also a fave.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My father, Art, always encouraged me to work for myself. When I started my first business, he was super supportive. When I started Laura’s Gourmet Granola, he was indispensable. My dad has a Ph.D in organic chemistry and as I was learning how to scale the original recipe, determine yields, and understand evaporation, among many other things, he was instrumental in teaching me the foundation of these concepts.
fresh by Suzie