In order to start a successful business that benefits the community, there are some ingredients that you can’t get by without: Pride, passion, and persistence are just a few.
For Erin Doyle, her dream to start her own business on the Island came to fruition when she combined these elements with her love for tasty and healthy granola.
“My mom and I had been making it for a long time — the recipe has never changed,” Doyle said of her granola, which she now packages, sells, and distributes to the Island Food Pantry and other organizations that support hungry Islanders.
Talking to The Times on the phone, Doyle explained her initial ambition to start her own business, but said it’s not easy in such a competitive market, particularly in the wake of the statewide shutdown during the pandemic.
Doyle has historically helped out at Island Grown Initiative, and worked at Chilmark Chocolates for years before the beloved establishment closed down.
In order to help get a good start to her granola business, Doyle enlisted the help of her Chilmark Chocolates colleague and friend, Beth Kramer, along with the folks at IGI who head up community food production and distribution.
It would have been tough for Doyle and her comrades to dish out enough granola without the help of a spacious commercial kitchen. Good thing IGI was already renting out the kitchen at Camp Jabberwocky, and was able to let Doyle come in and make her granola every Saturday morning.
“They get all the ingredients, the business goes through them. All I have to do is make it, which is nice because I really like to cook and bake,” Doyle said, although she does enjoy selling it at some grocery stores and other venues where she can get the word out about her tasty and satisfying concoction.
Some of the granola, which Doyle has named Ganola because of her pronunciation of the word, goes to the IGI Mobile Market, while bags are also sent to the Food Pantry. She also sells some at Cronig’s Market on scheduled Saturdays.
Doyle thanked the IGI folks, along with Camp Jabberwocky, for allowing her to use the kitchen. She added that her signature Ganola is all organic, with oats, raisins, and other wholesome ingredients that don’t leave you feeling guilty after getting carried away with a bag.
“There’s lots of good stuff in there. I used to give granola out to my family and friends, but now I always make sure people can get it if they want — there’s a ton of it,” Doyle said.
Mixing granola is relaxing for Doyle, and she enjoys being able to spend time with her team, who work with her to help put out the finished product.
According to Polina Asenova, food equity manager at IGI, the food support organization conventionally makes delicious soups and nutrition-packed baby foods in the Jabberwocky kitchen, but were more than happy to let Doyle use the kitchen upon hearing of her plans.
“It was really all about helping Erin to see whether she would like to continue this business venture in the future,” Asenova said.
She noted that 25 percent of the sales from Ganola goes to the Island Food Pantry, and whatever granola is left over from sales goes directly to the pantry.
According to senior director of food equity programs at IGI Kayte Morris Doyle put a significant amount of time and effort into making a product that’s guilt-free, meaning it’s made with high-quality, nutritious ingredients, and zero waste packaging.
“The slogan is that it feels like love in a bag, which is pretty great,” Morris said. “We were so excited when Erin approached us with this idea, and the fact that we were in a position to help her out.”
Apart from supporting a longtime partner and advocate of IGI, Morris said, the granola business puts the word of efforts of IGI and the Food Pantry out to the community, and might encourage others to snack healthier.
It just so happens that the granola is wildly popular, and IGI might extend the operation year-round if they continue finding such high demand.
Morris said she is proud to support such a worthy cause as helping a friend and colleague start her own business, particularly when the product tastes so good with a little Mermaid Farm yogurt and some local honey.
“Providing everyone with the opportunity to make their dreams of starting a business come true is definitely one of the values that IGI has. Empowering people to do this is a wonderful opportunity, and we are happy to do it,” Morris said.
You can find this tasty granola out front of down-Island Cronig’s on some Saturdays, where Doyle sells it fresh after whipping it up. Folks can grab a bag from the Island Food Pantry or at the Island Grown Initiative’s Mobile Market and website: igimv.org/mobile-market.