It's been quite the journey since I launched the business in 2009. I know some of you have wondered where we went, and so I thought I'd share a quick timeline of where it started and where we are. Enjoy...
- Started the Company in 2009 using a lien against my car
- Learned how to bake the cookies from my grandmother (Anice "Gammy" Armstrong)
- Baked in a tiny abandoned building for 2 years
- Grew to 35 stores
- I had to put on pause as the business wasn't sustainable.
- Tried my hand at a bunch of other things
- I decided to come back to the business in early 2013
- Found a contract bakery after 6 months of searching
- Established a relationship with a broker group to help with sales
- Established a line of credit with a local bank
- Re-designed the brand & packaging to "G Mommas"
- Relaunched in Oct 2013
- Grew quickly getting into a few hundred stores (Specialty Grocery, Independent Drug Stores, & World Market)
- Lot's of PR (i.e. 2nd Place in AL.com Alabama Food Bracket Challenge, local write-ups, reuters.com, etc.)
- I had to "eat" a major baking screw-up - donate a few pallets of cookies to the local food bank
- NOT GOOD!
- Continued to add new retailers including Cracker Barrel, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, US Navy, HyVee
- By the end of 2014, I was in close to 1500+ stores around the country
- Unexpectedly in early 2015, our baking partner backed out of packaging the cookies. Decided to only bake.
- We had to start hand-packing the cookies so I rented an old karate studio in downtown Selma and set up tables to start a packing operation.
- Hired 12+ guys from the projects to help pack
- We did the hand packing for 4 months but was working to find a more permanent solution.
- I decided to build my own bakery here in Selma to get away from the contract bakery
- Got kicked out of World Market
- Got into Walmart (400 stores +)
- Renovated an empty old dollar general into an audited food facility
- Purchased all equipment I could afford and started trying to bake in late 2015
- Almost won a Super Bowl Commercial worth 4.5 million (top 10 out of 15K businesses)
- We outgrew oven capacity before starting and the oven type couldn't efficiently keep the consistency.
- I had to sell baking equipment - kept packaging equipment and started to pack in Selma and continued to bake with our baking partner.
- The setup allowed us to grow while also being flexible with the array of customers we had (i.e. Amazon, Home Goods, Fairway Market, Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Piggly Wiggly)
Not ideal, but it was working.
- Introduced a small grab-n-go bag - and developed a C-Store Sales Channel
- Won the Alabama Launchpad ($107 K) Pitch Competition
- Got kicked out of Cracker Barrell
- Got into 2 major national distributors
- Got into Piggly Wiggly & Associated Grocers
- In 2017 started working on launching a new flavor and launched it in mid-2018
- Got into Publix & Winn Dixie
- Upgraded our Packaging Equipment with more speed and accuracy
- Purchased a deliver van for store checks and smaller store deliveries
- In early 2018 we started to experience quality issues with our baking partner once again.
- The line of communication became close to non-existent
- We were having to ship orders several weeks late
- In late 2018, with the threat of losing everything I had to make the tough decision to pull back and "re-group"
So here we are, working towards getting cookies back to some of our best retailers and customers.
We currently keep a little stock with Amazon while we sort all of this out.