Well, it all started when Samantha and Ian met in 2008 at a music festival here in Ithaca, NY where both lived. They were introduced by a mutual friend, Zia Anger, who is, in some weird, indirect way, basically responsible for Emmy’s existence.
Samantha had just graduated from Ithaca College, where she studied Theatre Arts Management and Dance. During her last year at college, she started experimenting with raw foods and developed a genuine passion for health and wellness. Her step-mother lent her a dehydrator and Samantha jumped right in (not the dehydrator, that is)! Friends and strangers began to look over at her lunches with puzzled faces. She knew she had found something that she wanted to pursue.
Ian had recently moved back to Ithaca, NY (his home town) for the spiritual and physical wellness that permeates the town. He moved from Brooklyn where he was working for a graphic design company doing flash animation. Before that he had been working as a raw vegan chef and kitchen manager at various locations in New York City, NY. Before-before that, he had done similar work with raw and vegan food in San Francisco, CA. When he wasn’t working with the types of deliciousness that would be Emmy’s, he built his reputation as a DJ and music producer. From his own experiences with food allergies and a digestive disease he developed a love for health and wellness.
So when they finally met, it was perfect. They found so much fun and joy (of course, a little love) learning and experimenting with food. Ian was living at his mother’s (the eponymous Emmy) house where they started to take over the kitchen. One night, Ian taught Samantha a macaroon recipe that he had developed back in NYC. It was so much fun and so easy that they started brainstorming. Samantha, in her typical enthusiastic way shouted, “Wow, these would look so cute in a package!” The next morning, Ian called Samantha and asked, “You want to go into business with me?” (No, he wasn’t talking about their relationship, yet).
They started making everything in Emmy’s kitchen. They worked to get the home kitchen certified, and they started selling to their local co-op and a few other local stores. They began with four flavors of macaroons. Emmy’s started getting really popular and the first few batches were selling really well. They applied to vend at Ithaca’s farmer’s market and started to pursue stores in New York City by taking a trip and pitching their stuff to store buyers. Slowly, but surely, they continued to get more orders. They moved out of the home kitchen and moved to Ian’s step-sister’s basement where they outfitted it as a kitchen and office. Their friend, Marian, started working with Emmy’s, opening new accounts and getting Emmy’s into its first Whole Foods Market region.
At this point, Emmy’s had expanded its product line and was approached by a broker who offered to do all of the selling for Emmy’s and to get them involved with multiple distribution companies. The orders grew and grew. Sam and Ian’s place in the basement was getting too small, and running huge orders up and down the stairs was not working anymore. They moved the kitchen to Emmy’s current location in August 2010, where they have continued to learn and grow. This is truly an exciting time for an exciting, young company.
For more details on each phase of our growing business, check out Sam’s BLOG…
Contributed by Peter L. Ford. February 2011.