Hippie Chick Happenings

A Hippie Chick Kid Birthday and our Flavor of the Week November 07 2016, 0 Comments

Just because I’ve made it my mission to make the world’s best granola, doesn’t mean I know how to bake cupcakes.
 

But my first born daughter does.

 

When we hosted a birthday party for my son Brooks, who turns 11 this week, I recruited Fiona and her best friend Peyton to whip up some magic in our home kitchen.   

The result was a few dozen red velvet and yellow cupcakes with expertly applied icing.

They were tasty enough to beckon the boys away from their Nurf gun war for a few minutes.  

 

Maybe the greatest lesson I learned this past weekend was to think very carefully before having an 11 year old slumber party over daylight savings weekend.  As a result of the time change, I had a living room full of boys, awake and alert at 5:00 am on Sunday morning, wanting to go outside and shoot Nurf darts at each other.

Regardless of the chaos that reigned in our house this weekend, I should mention that I wouldn’t trade being a boy mom for ANYTHING in this world.

Last year at this time, the kids and I were heading back from a week in Florida, where we were fortunate enough to vacation with a family very dear to us from our native state of New Jersey.

 

We ate peanut brittle granola our entire seven hour car drive to Orlando and back to Oak Island. I’ve always referred to this flavor as our “road trip blend” since the chunkier texture lends to the ease of eating it straight from the bag.  It’s that perfect marriage of sweet, salty, and crunch, and the combination of rolled oats and peanuts make it filling at the same time.

This week, in honor of road trips and creating great memories, wherever we are, we’re making Bernice’s Blend, our peanut brittle granola, our featured “flavor of the week.”    As announced last week when we launched our flavor of the week program,  we will make the 12 ounce size bags of the featured flavor available for purchase at a 10% discount ($7.65 each).   This will give you an opportunity to purchase your favorite flavor blend at a courtesy price, approximately once every two months.  There is no limit on the purchase quantity and no discount codes are needed.  If you purchase via our website, the cost of the featured flavor will be pre-set at the special price in our online store. 

A note about flavor of the week turnover day:  Every Monday, the flavor of the week will change.  I would love to tell you that it will be at a specific time, like 11:59 pm or 12:01 am,  but we are small and unautomated.  The featured flavors are not planned in advance, and rely on the ingredients I have on hand, production schedules and other external factors in that moment, which are all part of the beauty and surprise of being "small."   If you’d like to take advantage of a flavor of the week courtesy price, please place your order by Sunday evening.      

I hope that your week is full of fun, happiness, and memorable occasions! 

With love always,

Ilene Evans  
 


Introducing Specially Priced Flavors of the Week November 01 2016, 1 Comment

We love fall and we hope yours has been fun and festive.
 

Halloween Weekend was a blast on Oak Island. The Recreation Center hosted it’s annual “Spooktacular”  costume party on Friday evening and led a candy hunt on Saturday at Middleton Field followed by a big screen movie presentation of “Hotel Transylvania.”

My girls were all in.   


Meanwhile, in the bakery, we’ve had a blast with our “Caveman Campaign” for the grain free granola in our local newspaper.  We've recruited a number of unsuspecting victims to don "cavemen" outfits and strike a pose with our Paleo blend for the camera.  They have been great sports! 

 
We’ve also been contemplating different ways to say “thank you” to you, our kind and amazing customer base.  We’ve been investigating different reward and loyalty card options, where our customers could purchase “x” amount of product to earn one free of charge, but we have yet to find the perfect option. 

The paper cards tend to get lost and the digital cards are not necessarily the best fit for the size and scope of our company.  However, we still want to show our appreciation for your continued support. 

In lieu of a loyalty card, we are introducing a “flavor of the week,” in which we will make the 12 ounce size bags of one specific flavor of our product collection available for purchase at a 10% discount ($7.65 each).*   There is no limit on the purchase quantity and no discount codes are needed. The Flavor of the Week will be available in our Oak Island Bakery and via our web store, and if you purchase on the website, the cost of the featured flavor will be pre-set at the special price on the product page. 

We’re launching our “Flavor of the Week” program today and are kicking it off with Tamara’s Blend, our Chocolate Pretzel Granola, as the first featured flavor.   It has finally cooled down enough in temperature that we feel confident to ship Tamara’s Blend to most climates without the risk of melting chocolate, which makes it the perfect inaugural blend. 


Although in our minds, chocolate is the perfect answer to everything! 

Whether you are "here," in town, or long distance, we appreciate your loyalty.  It takes a village to not only raise children but also support a small business. Thank you for being my village.  Have a wonderful first week of November! 

With love,

Ilene Evans 

*There are no substitutions for a featured flavor of the week.  However, we will grant a rain check for brick and mortar Oak Island bakery customers, should we run out of stock.

 


The Gift of the Unknown (or, What Happens When We Don't Allow Fear to Win) April 01 2016, 1 Comment

“What ingredients are you using?” 

The woman who asked the question sat on a stool by the corner of the prep table.

“Rolled oats, brown rice flour, sea salt, and dehydrated cane sugar” I said, tossing the dry mixture together with a spatula. 

The inspector took notes as I spoke.  The oven hummed loudly in the not too far distance. 

Next, I started on the wet ingredients, the oil, the maple syrup, the vanilla, hoping the woman didn't see the slight tremor in my hand as I poured the various liquids into measuring utensils.  I recited each ingredient out loud for her as I stirred. 

The inspector stayed while the granola baked.  She took a reading on the oven, refrigerator, and sink water temperatures, asked questions about what my practices would be for sanitizing sheet pans and other equipment and left me with only one suggestion that would not affect my pass/fail status.  It was April 1st, 2014, and the passing of my health inspection was the final green light I needed to open my business.

My first reaction after the inspector left was relief, followed by a brief brush with jubilation.  I posted a photo of my inspection report on Facebook to let my friends know that I was "this close" to opening day. 

But somewhere in between Facebooking my news and cleaning off the equipment I had used to bake granola for the Department of Agriculture Inspector, the panic hit. 

Why panic?  I had devoted the last six months to the startup of the business, from the upfit of the building to choosing the right equipment, packaging, logos, labels, credit card merchants, building a website, figuring out financials, among other numerous tasks.  I was finally able to start what I had set out to do a half a year earlier.  Yet, not soon after I shouted out my news on social media, I sat down on the floor of the bakery kitchen and cried. 

Suddenly, it was real, and it was here, and I was scared.    

What was I scared of?  I don't know exactly.  I suppose it was a free floating anxiety of walking into the unknown.  This sort of anxiety isn't new to me, and I should preface this by telling you that I am someone who is basically "scared of everything." 

A few examples: 

I'm scared of my car not starting. 

I'm scared of the dog running away. 

I'm scared of being late.  

I'm scared of important mail going to the wrong address and my never receiving it. 

I'm scared of saying something in innocence that might offend someone. 

I'm scared of speaking in front of crowds. 

I'm scared of screwing up my children. 

I'm scared of losing someone important to me before I get one last chance to tell them I love them. 

I should add that most of my fears are unsubstantiated.  I'll find myself afraid of running late, even when I've given myself 30 minutes to drive someplace that's 20 minutes away, or I'll stress over my car after my mechanic has recently looked at it.  I can watch every word that comes out of my mouth and still be afraid of "saying the wrong thing."  I'm fortunate in that even though I live with fear, I've learned to recognize fear and call it out. Also, I understand that many of mine are irrational.  When it comes to fear, for one reason or another, certain circumstances, or the thought of being in those circumstances, trigger me/us in ways that make our very survival feel  threatened where in reality, running late for an appointment or my car not starting is not threatening my survival at all.  Yes, I will go into panic mode over things that are inconsequential, but I've learned how to talk myself off the ledge.  When I remember, this is a great skill to implement.  

Given my susceptibility to anxiety, it's not surprising that I am someone who, for most of my life, played it safe.  I stayed well within my comfort zone with work, living situations, friends, family, extracurricular activities.  There weren't many things I took on that felt risky.  I talk about moving to North Carolina with my children and opening my business as often as I do, not to boast or pat myself on the back, but risks like these are so out of character for me, that it's as if I need to remind myself that this is my life.  These events actually happened, and they are real.  I'm still, two years later, a little surprised by them. 

If you were to ask how someone with anxiety and risk aversion took on a venture as risky as a brick and mortar business, one with substantial start up costs and overhead, and having no way of knowing if the business would ever get off the ground, the only answer I have is that I wanted it badly enough to deal with the emotional discomfort  that accompanies moving forward in fear.  Every big decision I had to make in the process of starting the business was its own exercise in managing emotional discomfort.  From choosing my location, to investing in the construction on the space, to purchasing appliances and equipment, to creating a product line, over and over again, I found myself having to challenge the boundaries of my comfort zone. 

The gift of pushing beyond our comfort zones is that after we do it once and realize our survival has not been threatened, we are more willing to do it again and again.  I am willing to take more risks now than I ever have before, because the start up phase of my business was one continual lesson that fear won't kill me.  My life is richer and fuller for this.  From little things, like being willing to walk into a room full of people I don't know, to big things, like taking my children on trips by myself, are possible because of the risks I was willing to take for the business. 

I can't tell you how many times I just wanted to back out.  

I wanted to back out on April 1st, 2014, after passing my health inspection, because on that day, I was nose to nose with the unknown, and the unknown is scary, especially to someone like me. 

But the truth is, we live in the unknown every single day.  Whatever we hang onto as security is really nothing more than an illusion, our material possessions, our tight, impenetrable circle of friends, our jobs, our routines, they can all be interrupted, if not taken from us, in an instant.

I love my work.  I can't image doing anything else right now, and this feeling is amplified on weeks like this one, where many of my "summer people" who were back on the island for Easter, to open their houses for the season, came in to say hello.  After two years, these are more than familiar faces to me.  They are old friends.  

They are the people I never would have known, had I allowed fear to win.  

When someone hands us a gift, what's inside the box is unknown to us, but usually, we trust that whatever is inside is something that will have a positive impact, something we will love, and something we will appreciate.  I'd like to start thinking of life's "unknowns" the same way.  Instead of fearing the worst, believing in the best, not necessarily predicting what's inside the box, but trusting in its fundamental goodness.  

Sometimes, if not all the time, what's inside that box is so much better than what we ever could have imagined.

xo 

 


The Terrifying Magic of Allowing the "What if" March 04 2016, 1 Comment

Chocolate and espresso.  Two of my favorite indulgences.  

Oooh, how I wanted to get them both in the same granola and while it never occurred to me to try this as a flavor combination before the man at the 2014 Southport fourth of July festival made the suggestion, once he said it, I couldn’t get the “what if” out of my mind.  I was on a mission to make it happen. 

That fall, the time of year when we R&D potential new flavors, I toiled away in the Hippie Chick kitchen to come up with the winning concoction that would combine these two amazing flavors.  This wouldn’t be a difficult task, right?

I can’t tell you how many misfires we had while trying to create our chocolate espresso granola, which ultimately went on the shelf in January, 2015 as Theresa’s Blend.   

According to my records, we went through 23 recipe revisions before we launched the final version.   Granola is the marriage of texture and flavor, and at times, especially when experimenting with new ingredients, it’s not unusual for a recipe to come out too dry, or too sweet or too crispy, or too soggy.  A lot of recipe creation in our world is nothing more than trial and error.    

In late November 2014, after weeks of baking in circles, I put the recipe on hold and committed to revisiting the flavor after the holidays.  That January, I made one final tweak and that one tweak was the difference between “not quite” and “this is it.”  

The fall before opening the business, I had conducted extensive beta testing on our four inaugural flavors that ultimately made up our original product line.  With all but the cranberry almond granola, which I had been baking for years, the three other flavors, the ginger, the peanut brittle and the chocolate pretzel were new creations, all  that had begun with a “what if,” before  taking a stab at trying those recipes for the first, tenth, and twentieth times. 

The chocolate pretzel granola had been the biggest “what if”  flavor of all to me.  It was so…..un-granola-like.  But when the idea hit me in an aisle in the grocery store to give this flavor a try, after the “what if?”  came a “why not?”

We all have “what if” moments, and sometimes, it’s easier or more convenient to ignore them.  “What if I saved more money?”  “What if I started an exercise program?”  “What if I started a business?”  “What if I wrote that novel that’s been sitting in the back of my mind for the past five years?”  Following through on the “what if” can be mighty inconvenient.  Sometimes, following up with the “what if” can take up loads of time.  That novel won’t get written in a day.  That new exercise program may require a significant change in your already packed schedule.   That “what if” can also conjure up fears of failure.  In my experience, though, following through on the “what if” takes more than the willingness to let go of failure. 

Following through on the “what if” requires the willingness to suspend the voice of your inner critic.   

I have made dozens, if not hundreds, of terrible batches of granola in the past two and a half years to get to the good ones. 

In order to keep moving forward, with confidence, I might add, I’ve had to learn to silence my inner critic, and just as important, I’ve had to learn to not allow my inner critic to silence me.       

If it weren’t for all of those bad batches of granola, I wouldn’t have the eight flavors on the shelf today that I truly love and believe in.

In early March of 2014, when I finally worked up the nerve to turn on my commercial oven, the chocolate pretzel granola was the first flavor I tried baking.

The initial batch wasn’t perfect.  It was under baked, and perhaps a little thick in texture.  I had to recalibrate the temperature and baking time in my new unit and tweak the ingredient measurements.  However, it didn’t take long to make those conversions.  The longest conversions I had to make when first working in my new commercial kitchen  were the mental conversions,  the emotional leap it took to go from “hobbyist” to “professional baker,”  letting go of the fear of failure, silencing the inner critic, and allowing myself to believe in and see through on all of my “what if’s.”

If I were to post a challenge to you, if would be to take one “what if” you’ve had in the past three months, just one,  and write down a plan to see it through.  Even if you cannot see it through right now for the most practical of reasons, I challenge you to commit your plan to paper.  I believe in the magic of the “what if,” and I believe in the magic of your “what if.”  

Besides, the magic isn’t in the final outcome.  The magic is allowing yourself to let go of the final outcome, and believe in it anyway.

xo


For The Girls February 19 2016, 0 Comments

The message was breathless. 

That’s the best way I can describe it, and although I don’t remember it word for word, Tamara’s reaction about receiving chocolate pretzel granola in her mailbox was nothing short of euphoric.  The package she received on that November afternoon in 2013 had made her day.

Tamara was one of several friends around the country that I had enlisted to beta test the four inaugural flavors of Hippie Chick Granola for me.  In each shipment, were four to eight variations of a single flavor along with a questionnaire for the testers to complete about taste, texture, and preference.  Tamara was and still is one of the biggest cheerleaders I know.  She’s a good friend, and one who always has a compliment or encouragement or at the time, a non-stop dialogue of supportive words about my starting the business. 

Tamara had made it sound as if she had found gold in her mailbox, the day the chocolate pretzel granola arrived.  She was so through-the- roof excited in her message, that I remember thinking to myself, “If this granola makes it to the shelf, I need to name it Tamara’s Blend.” 

And Boom.  There it was.  The big idea.

I would name the different granola blends after women who were special to me.  

  

The women whom I celebrate through the names of the Hippie Chick granola blends are just a handful of women who have inspired me, empowered me, and supported me through highs and lows and challenges.  I can tell you this with certainty:  I can face just about any obstacle thrown at me when a posse of women have my back. 

I am blessed with a wonderful circle of female friends, friends who listen, friends who empathize, friends who show up, and friends who keep my secrets.  I know how fortunate I am to have this and I honor these relationships.

I’ve met a number of women through the years who have chosen to avoid close relationships with other females due to betrayals in their past that have interfered with their ability to trust.  We’ve all had negative experiences with friends.  There was someone, maybe more than one, friend in middle school or high school, who gossiped about you or stole a boyfriend, or compared herself to you or put you down to make herself feel superior.   And it doesn’t stop there.  There are a number of high school “mean girls” who transition into insecure adults, who spend their lives comparing and competing and manipulating. 

But their game has nothing to do with us.  It’s their own misery that causes it.   And every time you deny yourself an opportunity for connection with other people due to a former bad experience, all you’re doing is allowing a piece of your past to hold power over your present.

This is one of the most important lessons that I will teach my daughters: 

To seek female friendship and to nurture those friendships.  And while it’s ok to walk away from the drama queens and the saboteurs  and the emotional vampires, hang onto the solid friends, the trustworthy friends, the positive friends, with everything you’ve got.  And just as important:  be that friend to others

During the third week of February in 2014, the first set of flavor blend labels for our packaging arrived.

They were the labels for Tamara’s Blend, our chocolate pretzel granola.

During a month where I had second guessed much about the direction I was heading with this new business, those labels felt so right and they looked beautiful.

They were a tangible reminder that I was on track.  And that so much of the reason I was on track, was that I had an amazing group of women who had supported me.

Every time I place a bag of granola on the shelf of the bakery emblazoned with the names of the “Hippie Chick Girls, “ I get to tell their story, and I get to tell their story in relation to how it intersects with mine.  

I also get to tell the story that I want for all of you.   It’s a story about opening our hearts and letting love in and dropping our armor.  It’s a story that reminds us that we’re all more alike than we are different and that whether we choose to realize it or not, we’re all more connected than we are separate.   

It’s a story that begs for our input.  So let’s give it all we’ve got and make it a good one.

xo


The Truth about Naysayers February 10 2016, 1 Comment

“My one piece of advice to you?  Don’t do it.  You’ll work all the time and won’t make any money.”  

I hadn’t recognized the number when it appeared on my phone, but I knew who she was after she introduced herself.   

A friend had suggested we connect months prior.  She was the owner of a gourmet food business, with ten years in, who offered a great product line and appeared to be successful.  Like me, big life changes had propelled her to want to write her own ticket.  She had thousands of hours of sweat equity logged and real life experiences with employees, vendors, and customers.  

In the months prior to HCGC opening its doors, I had reached out to several business owners, both local and abroad, seeking advice, support, and suggestions. Most were welcoming, eager to share resources on everything from refrigerator technicians to the distributors through which they procured ingredients. People were generous with time and information.  While no one told me I was on an easy path, the woman on the phone that Thursday morning seemed particularly discouraging.  

Of course, it didn’t help that I was in the middle of fighting major oven anxiety.  

In hindsight, I don’t believe my colleague was trying to sabotage my success or try to scare me out of business.  She was being real with me, and her words most likely reflected what she was feeling or where she was at in the moment.  Maybe she had a rough few weeks with long hours and big bills.  Maybe her star employee had just quit on her. 

The truth about naysayers is that most of them mean well.  Sure, there are those who discourage you out of their own agenda, or others who may want to see you fail, but I believe that these types of naysayers make up a very small percentage of the naysaying population. I believe that most people really want to see others succeed.

When someone jumps in front of you and says “don’t do it!” it’s usually because they are trying to protect you from something they perceive as harmful or dangerous.  Of course, “perceive” is the operative word here, because our worlds are all colored by perception.  Maybe my dream job was this woman’s nightmare.   

When someone naysays by trying to discourage you from taking a risk, it’s usually out of their own fear of that risk, and if they are trying to discourage you from something they have done themselves, they are most likely trying to protect you from reliving their own less than satisfying experiences.  

To many, worrying is part of how they show love. 

With any new pursuit, you will find the people who will rally around you and say, “go!  You can do it!,” and those who will say, “You’re crazy. Quit while you’re ahead.”  Any new endeavor, especially “big ones,” will include a chorus of both cheerleaders and naysayers. 

One of the reasons I took my colleague’s naysaying to heart was that I was in a place where I felt particularly vulnerable. Starting a business is a huge emotional investment, in addition to one of time and money.  

If you can separate yourself enough from your feelings to know you’re on shaky ground, you’re more likely to avoid internalizing someone’s else negativity. 

I won’t suggest that you only surround yourself with like-minded people, either, because healthy debate will help you see fresh perspectives.  However, I will tell you to surround yourself with people whose opinions you trust, even when they are often different from yours.  

Later that week, our signs were delivered. 

Then, the Jimi Hendrix portrait arrived. 

They were tangible reminders of a story that had begun to take shape.  

I was beginning to feel like I “owned it.”      

I did not stay in touch with the woman who called me that Thursday morning, and while I appreciate her sharing her honest viewpoint with me, I’m glad I didn’t listen to her advice. 

There would be mistakes and missteps along the way, but there would be no regrets.  It was my story, the good, the not so good, all of it, mine.

"When we own our stories, we get to write the ending". – Brene Brown


The Magnificent Freedom in Not Being Fazed by Failure February 05 2016, 1 Comment

I was in Southport running errands when I got the call from the driver.  He and his assistant had turned onto route 211 in Supply and were giving me the 20 minute warning of their arrival.  I told them to meet me behind the building, so that they could deliver through the double doors, directly into the kitchen.

The delivery took all of ten minutes, the equipment that I had agonized over for months, carefully researched, and ultimately committed to soon before Christmas, that two men carried in and arranged per my specifications on an early February afternoon. 

As the truck pulled away, my gaze pinged, from the oven, to the three part sink, to the refrigerator, to the prep table, over and over again.  I stood back against the wall and allowed by body to slowly slide to the ground, where I sat and called my friend Christine

“I’m having a life moment,” I whispered into her voice mail. Everything that I had planned for in the past five months suddenly seemed very real. 

Planning stages are just that.  They are for planning. My spreadsheets and lists and research on everything from credit card merchants to FDA regulations were all theory at that point versus practice. There is safety in theory.  We’re not “in it” when we’re in theory, although perhaps close. Yet, that afternoon when the oven arrived, was that moment when I was about to cross that experiential line between being a budding entrepreneur to becoming the owner of a business open to the public, and open to the criticisms and failures that every business is vulnerable to during its lifespan.  

For three weeks, I looked at that oven daily and refused to turn it on.  

To me, baking in that oven felt like that “point of no return” where I would need to commit to my business, for better or for worse.  It was the first time I had considered the possibility of failure. 

Failure is not a pretty word and one that most of us loathe. I think it’s bothered me less through my lifetime than some of my peers because I’ve met enough failures that I’ve been forced to learn acceptance of them, dust myself off and move on.  Perhaps that makes me one of the lucky ones.  But in early 2014, when I faced off with my oven every day, thinking of reasons to avoid turning it on, I knew I needed to confront the fear, and see it through.         

Many of us were raised to believe that not only is “failure is not an option” but that failure is worse than death.  It came with the ominous threat of looking bad or making our family look bad. It meant more than failing at something in particular and implied that we ourselves were failures.  So many of us have taken on this way of thinking, that isn’t even our thinking but the learned thinking of a parent or the culture in which we live that it begs the following questions:  

  • Is failure really the worst thing in this world?

And the even more important question:

  • Whose life are we actually living?  Are we trying to meet our own expectations or the expectations of one of our influencers?  

You can’t own a business and not be “all in,” and you can’t own a food business without turning on your oven.    In those three weeks, after the delivery of the oven, I had to sort out my feelings and ground myself.  And it all boiled down to this:

I was committed to love the heck out of my business and give it everything I had, regardless of the ultimate outcome. 

The food industry is fickle.  Every one of my customers could decide to quit carbohydrates tomorrow and that would send me under pretty fast.  But I can’t worry about that.  Not today.  Today, I need only be concerned with doing the best I can, making a great product, and making sure that everyone who walks through my doors feels welcomed and appreciated.  Because you are.  

And I wouldn’t be able to do any of that without this guy.

 

When I first switched the oven to “on,” the noise was startling.  It was louder than I had expected.  There was a learning curve of taking the recipes I had created and practiced at home and translating the temperatures and baking time in a commercial unit.  Ultimately, the granola baked more evenly than at home.  It tasted lighter.  The oven allowed me to be more efficient, baking dozens of batches in the course of a day, much more than I ever would have been able to produce without the use of a commercial unit.  

 

It’s remarkable how much can change from flipping a switch.

xo  

 


Hippie Chick Granola “Be Mine” Instagram Photo Contest February 03 2016, 1 Comment

We LOVE February.

While we never feel the need to wait for a specific date or occasion to appreciate the people who are special to us, Valentine’s Day is BIG in our household.

Last year on Valentine’s Day, we skipped right over chocolate and flowers and welcomed a new addition to our family.   

 

(Does any creature on this earth radiate love louder than a dog?)

Lucy, who is now a veteran member of our household, is one of my FOUR valentines this year.  

Am I a lucky woman or what?

Given it's the month of love, we've decided to hold a contest to help spread some, and we are asking for your help.  In exchange for granola, of course! 

Hippie Chick Granola Co. is hosting an Instagram photo contest to allow members of our community to share the person or people or fur babies you are celebrating this February 14th. This is a great occasion to honor someone special to you, a spouse, a friend, a significant other, a parent, a grandparent, your kids, etc. and spread some good vibes while doing so. 

Whoever holds your heart this February, let us know! Post your photo and follow the rules below to secure a chance to win a $25.00 Hippie Chick Granola Co. gift certificate.  

Contest Rules:

  • Post a photo of the person or people or fur babies you’re celebrating this Valentine’s Day.  
  • Tag your photo with #HippieChickGranolaBeMine and follow @HippieChickGranola on Instagram to be eligible to win.
  • The contest begins today February 3rd and ends on Wednesday February 10th. Three winners will be randomly selected and contacted by February 12th.
  • The three winners will receive $25.00 gift cards for Hippie Chick Granola Co., good for purchases online or in our Oak Island Bakery.    

Fine Print 

  • You must be 18 or older to enter with a mailing address within the United States.
  • One entry per person, please. 
  • By participating in this photo contest, you grant permission to Hippie Chick Granola Co. LLC to repost photos on our timeline or post them on other social media platforms. 
  • This photo contest isn’t sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram

Good Luck and much love.  

xo


More Love, Less Sugar! January 14 2016, 0 Comments

Happy New Year, Dear Ones!

We hope you spent the holiday season doing things you love with people you love, and that your January has proven to be a great start for a wonderful new year.

We feel honored that you chose to give Hippie Chick Granola to people who are important to you during the holidays and we hope everyone in your circle who received a bag (or several) were pleased and satisfied with the product.

While not everyone believes in new year’s resolutions, we at HCGC set the bar high a few weeks back.  We are on a quest to reduce as much added sweetener as possible to select granola blends.

We say “select” blends because we consider our sweeter flavors, such as chocolate pretzel and peanut brittle to be more like treat or “dessert” flavors and furthermore, we rely on the brown sugar in Tamara’s Blend (chocolate pretzel granola) and the Demerara sugar in Bernice’s Blend (peanut brittle granola) to help lend those flavors the carmelized texture that boasts their phenomenal crunch and chunky texture.  

The fruit blends are our target flavors. 

To date, we have reduced the dehydrated cane sugar in Fiona’s (cranberry almond) Alison’s (tropical fruit) Kimberly’s (ginger) and Scarlett’s (apple spice) blends by HALF.  We will keep experimenting with reducing the sweeteners, so long as we maintain flavor.   We believe that Kimberly’s and Scarlett’s Blends are good candidates for removing the dehydrated cane sugar entirely, since they contain maple syrup as well as a dash of honey for sweetness.  Also, these blends have a variety of spices that lend to a full flavored taste.  Fiona’s and Alison’s rely more heavily on the dehydrated cane not only for sweetness but for that slightly smoky taste offered by this dark, unrefined crystal, known for retaining its molasses content.  

The reduction of added sweetener will be a work in progress, and as always, we welcome your questions and feedback.

Wishing you a beautiful year!

Much love,

Ilene Evans  


Thank You for a Fantastic #SmallBizSaturday! November 28 2015, 0 Comments

Lately, I’ve been talking up Small Business Saturday, a nationally recognized shopping day that occurs the Saturday after Thanksgiving, encouraging people to get out and support small local businesses. 

The Small Biz Saturday movement was started by American Express as a way of reminding consumers that amidst the Black Friday Door Busters and shopping mall mega sales, your smaller proprietors are here, and are counting on your business for the holidays. 

There are a few things about small businesses that vary greatly from the big box. You may notice that we cannot be as competitive with our prices as big box stores, but there are valid reasons for that.   First of all, we may not get the same pricing on our goods or raw materials as the big boxes do since we’re probably not buying in the same volume.  In many cases, such as with Hippie Chick Granola Co., you are receiving an entirely handmade product versus one manufactured through automation, so there is a labor charge not associated with mass produced items.  However, I’d also bet you’re getting a much higher level of service at your corner boutique or cafe than you are at the big box.  Maybe you’re known by name, or offered a water of coffee if you are waiting for an item to be gift wrapped.  Perhaps you’re getting recognition or conversation that does not exist in a big chain.

At small businesses, it’s personal.  For everyone.

Sure, there are the conveniences of the big box.  They are open for long hours and sell everything you can think of.  But the character of the towns we live in is defined by the six foot awnings and sandwich board signs that line the streets. 

Today Hippie Chick Granola Co. celebrated Small Business Saturday in our Oak Island Bakery.  We served refreshments and had a raffle drawing and I spent the day visiting with customers who live locally or who came down to visit for Thanksgiving weekend.  What touched me more than anything were all of my “regulars” who came in with their visiting family members and house guests because they wanted people they loved to experience not only our product but the bakery itself.  I am touched and honored beyond words that 6402 East Oak Island Drive has become a destination for many of you, a place you want to visit and say “hello” to when you are here, and that we have a product you want to order when you are not.

One day, long after Hippie Chick Granola Co. is no more (although we’re hoping that we are around for years and years and years),  I may not remember how many batches of granola I baked on any given day and I probably won’t remember my sales totals from one month to the other, but I will remember many, if not all, of your beautiful faces, and your enthusiasm, and the stories of your children who left for college, and the details about the dog you just adopted or your new job.  I’ll remember talking about your trip to Italy and I will remember the day you picked up granola for your daughter, who was sick, and she told you it was the only thing she would eat.  

I am so glad that we have had a chance to meet “through granola.”  Thank you for supporting your corner store, mine and others, on this Small Business Saturday, and for allowing me the chance to be a part of your story.

Much Love,

Ilene Evans 

 


Walk with Me – the Dedication for our White Chocolate Cranberry Granola November 25 2015, 1 Comment

There is a bit of magic involved with friendship.  Sometimes we meet lovely people, but we don’t quite “connect” with them.  Other times?  BOOM.  There’s a moment of realization that you want to be around that person, and you want to know that person and you want that person to know you.   The initial, and perhaps surface connection may arise from a common belief or hobby, or having children the same age.  Maybe we’ve met our new good friend in church, or in yoga class or while volunteering at school.  However, that’s where the commonalities of hobby or lifestyle end and the magic begins. There’s an energy that can’t quite be articulated or felt in the physical world that enables the bonds of a strong, lasting friendship.   I often think of that bond being caused by one soul recognizing another.

I met my friend Christine Carter during a messy time.  Our first words to each other came six months after my marriage had ended, and I was still in the throes of learning how to navigate life and three children without a partner. Daily trifles often felt like crushing blows. Money was tight.  I cried.  A lot.  At the same time, several women who had been long time friends had taken a step back.  They say this happens during divorce, that it’s too much of a shake up for some to witness.   Yet, instead of Chrissy being intimidated by my mess, she embraced me.  I did not have a lot to give that year, and that was not an issue.  Chrissy never, not once, conveyed, that there were expectations I needed to meet.  She was simply there for me.   

Chrissy is a jewel in so many ways. She’s a woman of God and speaks, as well as writes, about her faith often.  She’s a talented writer, and posts gorgeous, inspiring words online on her blog The Mom Cafe.  She's a nurturing mother, and a supportive wife.  She has a wide circle of friends that she gives to selflessly.

If I had to choose just one quality about Chrissy that makes her extraordinary, it would be her ability to cultivate compassion.   Compassion, in a literal term means, “to suffer together,” It has been further defined as “the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.”  When I have called Chrissy in crisis, I immediately get a sense that she is walking with me, sharing in my suffering, if you will.  Chrissy puts herself in my shoes, not from her perspective, but from mine. She tries to see the world through my eyes, so that she can understand not only what I’m going through but how what I’m going through makes me feel.

It takes a deep understanding and acceptance of one’s own humanity and the humanity of others to see life through someone else’s lens. How many of us live with closed minds or with so much bitterness from our own negative experiences that we fail to offer compassion when it’s needed? How many of us look, with hardened hearts, at friends suffering around us, feeling smug that we’ve muscled through our own struggles and that others should just buck up and do the same?  

Chrissy inspires me every day to do more, be more, give more, open my heart a little wider, and to honor others, exactly where they're at. 

One of my favorite quotes of all times is from spiritual teacher Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

I am blessed beyond words to get to share my walk with Chrissy and it is my hope you have a Chrissy to walk with, too.

Love to all.


Simple Giving October 26 2015, 1 Comment

I have always felt, as my friend Jennifer Iavocelli puts it,  “The pull to give.”  Over the years, I have donated funds and time from global to community causes, with a heartfelt feeling that it was my place to offer myself to others to help make this world a better place. From hurricane relief to donating to school backpack programs, to fostering rescue dogs, I have heard and heeded the call  to help where I can when I can.

I’m not telling you this to brag or to win your praise.  I’m sharing this information with you since I think most of us want to help and want to make a difference, yet, we don’t know how or where to start.  We live in a society today where for most of us, money is tight and time can be even tighter.  Therefore, how can we offer ourselves to service in a meaningful way? 

I met Jennifer Iacovelli, at first virtually, via her Blog, Another Jennifer, about three years ago and had the privilege of meeting her in person two years ago.  Jennifer has been committed to teaching people how to incorporate giving into their daily lives for some time now, and I am excited to tell you that her her passion for philanthropy perpetuated the publishing of her book, entitled, Simple Giving, Easy Ways to Give Every Day

I love Jennifer’s book, which is chock full of information on everything from different giving models, for both individuals and businesses, as well as resources for finding credible non profits to get involved with.  Early in the book, Jennifer differentiates the difference between “charity” and “philanthropy” by citing definitions of both credited to Matthew Smith, which define “charity” as giving and philanthropy as “doing.” 

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s admirable and necessary, to give money to causes that we believe in, but when we look at philanthropy as an action, a long term commitment, something ingrained in our lives, then philanthropy becomes part of who we are and part of our legacy. 

Jennifer notes that becoming a simple giver does not necessarily mean making grand gestures, or again, donating lots of money. It means making sustainable actions that have a positive impact and that benefit something or someone else.  Jennifer suggests many ways we can make a positive impact, from holding open a door for a busy mother, to picking up trash in your neighborhood, to shopping locally, to talking to your children about giving back.  

These may seem like small gestures, but they make a difference in people’s lives. 

A few months back, we had explained to our customers that in lieu of coupon codes and discounts on granola, we had decided to allot funds as well as time for different causes that spoke to our hearts. We believe that our community would prefer this of us and that your hearts are in the same place.  We will continue to use our resources and our voice to make as much of a positive impact as we possibly can. 

Jennifer’s book has reinforced for me the importance of sustainable giving.  It is my goal for this to be more than a blog post on a book but the beginning of a conversation that Jennifer suggested we start.

I would love to hear your ideas on how we can keep the conversation going and how Hippie Chick Granola Co. can contribute. 

 

Thank you all! 

Much love always,

Ilene Evans 

 

  

 

 

 


Be Brave (The Dedication for our Apple Spice Granola) October 20 2015, 16 Comments

It had been an unseasonably warm day for a New Jersey January.   The kids ran door to door without jackets after school in the nearly seventy degree weather, helping their oldest sister sell Girl Scout Cookies.  Afterward, they took out their bicycles.

They sped around the block in a continuous loop, over and over, the older kids on their two wheelers and the youngest on her training bike, their mother, jogging behind, shouting for them to watch the driveways.

It was after three or four rides around the block that the sound of brakes screeching echoed through the street, followed by honking horns, and the din of a bicycle hitting the ground without the youngest girl on it. 

The rest of the night was a blur.  There was the ER, a child’s screams, a pair of shredded pink velour warm up pants matted in blood, pelvic and leg xrays, and the mother’s best friend, who appeared in the emergency room out of nowhere. There were stitches.  Endless stitches.  There was that housebound month to follow with visiting nurses and physical therapy.  But in the end, the little girl was fine.  She walked, she returned to school. 

The day of the accident, albeit dreadful for the mother, also served as a turning point for her.  At that moment in time, the mother was five months out of her marriage.  It had been an overwhelming five months. There was the managing the logistics of parenting three young children alone.  There was the juggling numerous jobs to pay her mortgage.  But more than anything, there was the exhaustion caused by her inability to make decisions about her future.   

She knew she couldn’t go on working multiple jobs forever, but what would she do to earn a living? She knew she had to move, but where?  She knew she wanted to give her children the best life possible, but the changes she thought she’d have to make in order to do so seemed far more radical than what she was willing to endure. She had begun to avoid any and all decisions she had to make due to fear.

Certain Eastern philosophies suggest that most of our fears can be linked back to the “ultimate fear,” the fear of death.  The day of her daughter’s  accident, regardless of her terror and her guilt, was also the day she realized that she had faced her ultimate fear of almost losing her child  -

 – and if her daughter  survived the accident,  and if the mother  survived the scare of the accident, then she really had nothing left to be afraid of.

Although it was a day she would never want to repeat, it was the day that got her *here.*

It was a catalyst for the mother’s willingness to take larger risks, sell the house, move to a different state, and start a business. 

It was the day she decided to own her ability to create her future.

Four months after the accident, the mother had a plan in place and an offer on her house. 

That same week, her youngest daughter got back on a bicycle.

Move swiftly.  Be brave.   Own your freedom, even though freedom at times seems scary.  We all have choices – infinite choices actually, despite our expertly delivered inner monologues that tell us otherwise.   We are all entitled to amazing opportunities.  Whatever it is you want out of life, I want you to have it.  And may whatever it is you want be within your reach.

I am honored to celebrate my daughter Scarlett, and give our new Apple Spice Granola her name, whose accident served as a catalyst for radical change, but who also, by getting back on a bicycle, reminds me every day, what it is to be brave.

 


Try Our Newest Blend For Free! September 17 2015, 4 Comments

Months ago, when the temperatures were still sweltering on Oak Island, and our biggest concern was your chocolate pretzel granola melting on the way home from our bakery, we began thinking up fun flavors for fall.  We all love pumpkin, right?  But we kept getting called back to try something different.  Something sweet and savory, with just a touch of spice.  Something that would warm us up from the inside as the Oak Island mornings began to cool down.   

Who doesn’t love a good apple?

This week, we’re handing out samples of our new apple spice granola for the world to try.  Like last year with our chocolate espresso granola, the recipe is likely to go through many revisions before it hits our shelf.  But it starts here.  With your input. 

For the next week, through Thursday September 24, you will automatically receive a 4 ounce bag of our new work in progress, apple spice granola, free of charge, when you place an order for two 12 ounce bags of granola via our website, or make a $15.00 granola purchase in our bakery. We like to “keep it simple” so no coupon code is necessary.  Limit one bag per customer, per order, please.   

We want to include you in this process because it is our job to ensure that we are creating products that you love, so what better way to do so than to have you taste test our recipes while they are still in the inception stage?

Thank you, as always, for being a part of our story and for your continued support.


In Lieu of Offering Discounts, We Do This Instead April 01 2015, 1 Comment

Early in the game, we decided to stop offering in-store coupons and promotional codes for online orders.   In lieu of giving discounts on our products, we have chosen to donate portions of our proceeds to charities and non-profits.  This was a twofold decision, first in that it feels right in our hearts, and second, we know our customer base well enough to believe that this feels right in your hearts too.

To date, with your support, we have donated over $550.00 to causes we believe in, which includes raising $285.00 for our local food pantry’s back pack program.  This tradition of giving is one that we plan to not only to continue but to expand in the months and years to come.

To celebrate our one year anniversary on April 10th, we will donate a portion of your purchases to several worthy causes in the weeks to come, the first being the March of Dimes and my friend Alexa.

Alexa Bigwarfe is one of the bravest and most spirited woman I know.  After experiencing the unthinkable loss of her infant to complications from Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), she has dedicated her life to advocacy, awareness, and being a voice for maternal and infant health topics. Her mission has taken her our Nation’s Capital, it compelled her to write a book designed to bring comfort and solidarity to grieving mothers who have also lost children, and she is a tireless supporter of the March of Dimes.  The March of Dimes is an organization committed to helping mothers and their babies experience healthy, full term pregnancies and researching conditions that threaten the health of babies.  This year, Alexa will participate in the March of Dimes walk for babies on April 28th.

Beginning April 1st through April 15th, Hippie Chick Granola Co. will donate $.50 for every 12 ounce bag of granola you purchase to Team Charis and Kat, Alexa’s team for the March of Dimes walk.  This applies to all orders, both in the bakery and online.

Thank you for both your continued support of Hippie Chick Granola Co., and for helping us support worthy causes in our community.

Much Love,

Ilene Evans


Leap of Faith - Kerstin Auer February 24 2015, 3 Comments

I met Kerstin Auer through the magic of the internet and social media about two years ago.   Since then, I have enjoyed witnessing her journey as a mother, business owner, and overall risk taker.  Kerstin has taken many leaps of faith, including leaving a secure job to start up her own marketing firm.  In my book, she's one of the bravest women I know. The leap she discusses today, in the kick off to our Leap of Faith series, is personal, and may be the biggest "leap" for many of us:  The "Letting go" when it comes to parenting teenage children.  

***

In the past seven years, I have taken one leap of faith after another. Moving to a different country (from Germany to Canada), quitting my job and starting my own business, and supporting my husband in quitting his job and starting his own business.

You could say I’m somewhat of an expert in taking leaps of faith, definitely an expert in free falling. So far, I’ve always landed on my feet in one way or another, but the leap of faith I have in the works right now has left me reeling. I’m talking about parenting. More specifically, the parenting of teenagers. 

The dog is a teenager, too. Just so you know what I'm dealing with here.

It’s funny (not really): I juggle marketing budgets of several 100K for clients without breaking a sweat, I’m going to give up my German citizenship and become Canadian without giving it a second thought, and I am generally a total hardass all around. But – my inability to bring clarity to blurry lines brings me to tears. My lack of faith that everything will turn out ok makes me nauseous. And just the thought of what the future will hold when the first kid graduates next year sends me into a downward spiral. 

Feelings of being disappointed and being a disappointment. Drawing the line between not telling the whole story because teens have a right to privacy and not being truthful and sneaky (can someone please come up with an official rule for that?!?). There is a certain truth to the saying “my house, my rules”, and while everyone should have the right to live how they want and be who they are – they still have to make a living and pay the bills. So unfair, I know. 

Is my struggle karmic? Supposedly, I was a really difficult child. My mother’s mantra was “I hope your children will be as just as horrible as you are” – so is this my childhood coming back to bite me in the ass? I actually don’t believe that. I don’t know if I would call any child “horrible”. Kids do get a pass for being kids and for growing up and for figuring things out. But during the teenage years? Not so much anymore. Maybe my expectations are too high, maybe my teenager is setting the bar too low… Maybe it’s just life. 

I remember my late teenage years and I can definitely see some parallels. And I think that was just about the time I took my first big leap. A leap I was not ready for and it turned out ok after all. A leap my parents definitely didn’t have faith in. I guess history keeps repeating itself in one way or another, and the first big leap is always hardest for the ones watching.

In the end, I will probably just rely on my track record and take the leap. Maybe free-fall for a bit. Try to remember that it’s probably just the same for my teens. And work on the faith part, because I’m definitely better at leaping than at having faith. 


Leap of Faith February 12 2015, 1 Comment

He sat with the book in front of him, a blank stare washed over his face.  He didn’t know the words and was hesitant to try.  He read what he could and attempted to sound out the rest.  He was nervous.

Reading had not come easily for him, and over time, a vicious cycle set in.  He’d try, he wouldn’t get it. He began to try less and less because he started to question the point of trying to begin with.

He had a superb team at school overseeing his progress.  They were encouraging.   They knew he felt intimidated and were sensitive to this.  One day I had a conference with his reading specialist who explained that with Brooks, the core issue was not ability but confidence.   She had witnessed his breakthroughs and she knew there were more to come.  My challenge as a mother would be to  encourage him to read without being afraid of making mistakes.

I reminded him that there was no shame in pronouncing a word incorrectly.  There was no failing.  Although in his head and heart, mispronunciations were indeed failing.  But we encouraged him to keep  trying.

And then at some point, it clicked.

Today, my son is an honor roll student and an avid reader.  It’s not unusual for him to read two books at a time, designating one for the school bus and one for home.

What turned the situation around was Brooks’ comfort level with the notion of failure.  Making mistakes became ok.  He let go of the fear and took a leap, willing to accept whatever outcome resulted of his efforts.

Failure.  It’s one of the ugliest words in our language.   We put so many stigmas on the notion of failing. Why, in a culture where our unofficial anthem is “Failure is not an option,” would anyone try achieve anything where positive results were less than foolproof?

But what if failing was not the worst thing in the world?  What if we all accepted failure as part of the cycle of living, without the negative connotations? 

Imagine the risks we’d take.

Most of us live with some level of fear when it comes to failure.  But have you ever sat down and asked yourself what fear has cost you?  Have you ever considered the consequences for both trying and not trying something new?  Chances are…the consequences for not trying at all would be much greater.

I love hearing stories about leaps of faith, stories about people who listened to their hearts and followed them, even with the possibility of betraying reason, popular opinion, or facing failure.  

To celebrate you and the amazing risks you have taken, HCGC is calling for submissions for your “Leap of Faith” story.

What is it that scared you that you tried anyway?  Maybe you started a job in a new field, returned to school, opened a new business, left a relationship, started a relationship, took on a hobby, took a trip, ran your first 5K, moved to a new place, learned a new language, spoke in front of a large audience for the first time. Whatever the leap, we want to hear it, honor it, and share it, with the intention of inspiring others. 

Maybe you succeeded with your leap.  Maybe you failed.  My guess is that regardless of the outcome, you are wiser and bolder for trying.  Maybe, in time, the failed leap was what led you to what was truly "meant to be," although you had no way of knowing it then. 

We can inspire each other.  We can make each other feel braver when we see that someone has gone before us. The notion of failure seems a little less scary, standing together.

I absolutely can not wait to hear your stories. 

Love to all,

Ilene Evans

 

*If you have a leap of faith story that you would like us to share with our readers, via our blog and social media platforms, please submit your idea to Ilene@hippiechick-granola.com .   For ideas that are accepted, entrants will be asked to submit a final draft story of 700 words or less, accompanied with photos for our use.  We are accepting submissions now through April 1, 2015. We can't wait to hear what you have to say  Many, many thanks! 


Not The Easy Thing - The Dedication for Our Chocolate Espresso Granola January 23 2015, 11 Comments

 

This story isn’t really about a car crisis.

Although sometimes a car crisis can throw a huge monkey wrench into your life.

Like when your vehicle has a leaking gas tank that your mechanic informs you is dangerous to drive.

Car trouble is not a life or death concern, but it’s a huge inconvenience when you live in an area where public transportation is non-existent.

But again, this story isn’t about a car crisis.  It’s about the woman who showed up for me when my car crisis happened. That day last November, when I smelled gasoline outside of my car, turned out to be a life changing day for me, not because my car needed a new gas tank but because it reinforced for me how good and generous and helpful people are.

There were many who helped me while my car was in the shop, but Theresa was the center of that universe.  She helped orchestrate the arrival of a salvage gas tank to my mechanic’s and she also insisted…and I mean *insisted* that I take a family car of hers to drive until my car was back on the road.  When a car savvy friend told Theresa that I would need a new fuel pump to ensure the success of the repair, Theresa and her husband had purchased one for me before I knew they did so – because it was needed – and they had my back.

But this story isn’t about gas tanks and fuel pumps.

A few years back, when my marriage ended, a wise friend advised me that I would see a shift in my friendships. There would be those who would "run toward me," presumably to help, and those who would "run away," presumably to avoid the mess, because the breakup of a marriage is messy. My friend was right, by the way, that first year, as a single mother, I saw more friendships evaporate than any other time in my life….BUT…I also saw other friendships grow stronger.  Because my true friends knew that I needed their friendship at that time more than ever.  There were friends who took my kids when they saw I needed the break, there were friends who brought me meals, and of course, there was that friend Kimberly, who offered me a place to live.  

While it’s difficult to compare the magnitude of a car breaking down to a marriage ending, any crisis is messy because it interrupts the daily rhythm of your life.    

When you are as fortunate as I am, friends show up to help put pieces back together, until the rhythm feels familiar once again, or until a new rhythm is established.

This story is, in essence,  about all of you who have "run toward me," during my lifetime, and those of you who perhaps I’ve never met, who have run toward a friend who needed you, because you weren’t afraid to get involved in her mess.

This story is more than a dedication of our new granola blend.  It's a call to action.

Run toward someone who needs help, even if you’ve never done this before, even if you were scared to do so in the past, because messes are messy and things that are messy aren’t fun or pretty or easy.

Helping me was not the easy thing for Theresa to do.  It was the hard thing and the inconvenient thing.  But it’s the hard things and the inconvenient things that often remind us we’re alive. They reaffirm why we're here. They remind us that we exist only within the context of others, and that we are all more connected to each other than not, whether we choose to accept that fact or deny it. 

So go, help your neighbor.  Love someone who needs loving, keeping in mind that love is a verb, and often not a convenient thing to do. 

Thank you for everything and love to all...

Ilene Evans

 


Success - A Love Story January 10 2015, 4 Comments

Success.  It’s what every business strives for, right?

Many business leaders would state that success is measured financially, gross revenue, profit margins, month to month, or year to year increases in sales.  Some may go a step further and add that success is measured by customer satisfaction, the conversion rates on e-commerce websites from visits to orders, or the number of likes on a social media page. 

Yet numbers and data don’t tell the whole story.

For me, success is more personal.  

When I opened Hippie Chick Granola Co. nine months ago, it was more than a vehicle to support my family, but it was also an opportunity to share something that I love with all of you.  The number of transactions I have in one day will never out shine the joy I feel when you send me a message to tell me how much your family enjoyed the granola you brought as a gift on a recent visit.   It will never upstage the times when you made special trips here with house guests to introduce them to the bakery, because you did not want your company to leave Oak Island without stopping by.  These are my real successes.    

Thank you for allowing me to get to know you the past nine months, to know your families, the names of your children and grandchildren, to know your victories, and in certain cases, your sorrows.  Thank you for letting me into your lives, for allowing our product to sit on the table in your homes to serve as breakfast to your family visiting from out of town, to bring to a friend’s house as a hostess gift, to give to important people in your lives as Christmas presents.

The real success of Hippie Chick Granola Co., for me, is being present to the unfolding of relationships, both near and far, and to have a product that I make with great care, be a part of your lives and a part of the lives of the ones you love.

Thank you for giving me a reason to do what I do.

I look forward to an outstanding 2015, with all of you.

Love to all.

Ilene Evans


Calling All Taste Testers! November 10 2014, 4 Comments

We’ve been hard at work here in the granola lab, ya’ll!

We’ve been playing around with some new granola blends and we’re “this close” to introducing our newest “Hippie Chick,” a chocolate espresso granola with cashews and coconut.

There are still a few minor tweaks that we need to make before we put this one on the shelf.

We’d love to get your feedback before we finalize our recipe.

When you place an order with Hippie Chick Granola Co. between now and Sunday, November 16th, you will receive a complimentary 3 oz. sample of our new flavor.   All we ask in return is that you send us an email with feedback.  The feedback can be simple, ie, you like it, you don’t like it, it’s too sweet, not sweet enough, etc.  You get the idea.  

A sample will be included with each order you place, regardless of order size or dollar amount.

For Oak Island bakery customers, you will receive a free 3 oz. sample with any $16.00 in store purchase. 

Last year, before the launch of HCGC, Ilene conducted extensive beta testing on the flavors that are now on the shelf.  She knew that she had the “right recipes” thanks to the honest feedback she received from friends and family.  We’d rather not put a new blend on the shelf, or delay it, until the recipe is “right.”

Thank you for being a part of the expansion of our product line, and as always, for being a part of our story.

Much Love,

Ilene and the Hippie Chick Team


Have Fun October 27 2014, 2 Comments

Monday mornings. 

Need I say more?

When I can wrangle my kids to the car pool line before the late bell, it’s a win.

I race up Route 211 to drop my children off at school with a packed truck, book bags, soccer cleats, lunches, my files and laptop and other odds and ends for the bakery.  I say good bye to my kids and make my mad dash for work, with a notebook full of to-do lists while I ruminate over things I need to add to my to-do list as I drive.

I am my own worst task master. 

(Yes, this pile of "to-do's" about sums it up.)

Yet as organized and “on top of” the to-do’s as I try to be, there are always more things on it than I can reasonably tackle.  There are plenty of tasks that slip through the cracks until taking action on them becomes critical.  The annual registration renewal on my car got taken care of on the 24th day of the month that it was due.    Permission slips from school get signed the night before the deadline.  Library books get returned…well, sometimes day of and sometimes not.  Sometimes a kind hearted librarian calls me to tell me a book was due a week prior…

Four months ago, the kids and I moved from our first home here on Oak Island, to the house where we live now.  At the time of the move, I contacted any agency that needed to have our change of address immediately, i.e., my auto insurance company, the electric company, and the children’s school.  As for anyone else in the entire world who corresponds with us, I’ve been slower to advise them of the change.  I just got around to ordering an updated driver’s license and alerting places like the cell phone carrier and the bank.  Other places are yet to be contacted.   

Being negligent about my change of address has caused a few snafus.   My last order of checks from the bank?  Sent to the old address.  The same thing with some packaging supplies for the bakery.

After enough delivery mix ups, I decided that the change of address updates had to be moved to the top of my priority list.  I would buckle down and knock every single one off my list.   Stat.     

Last Monday, I arrived at the bakery 90 minutes before opening time with a list of organizations that needed to be called or emailed with my new contact information.  I plugged in the laptop and pulled out my phone. I was on a mission to get this done once and for all. 

I started making calls while keeping an eye on the clock.  I had been on hold with an insurance company for what seemed like twenty minutes, and I could feel myself growing inpatient.  The window of time that I had to devote to paper work was closing.

The customer service representative who finally took my call began by asking the requisite security questions.  Once those formalities were out of the way, I gave him my new mailing address.    

“Is there anything else I can help you with today ma’am?”

“No thank you, that will be all.”

“All right then.  Thank you for calling. Have fun.”

Have fun?????

He didn’t tell me to have a nice day or a pleasant morning. 

The man told me to have fun.

Monday mornings almost never seem fun.  We’re back to work after a weekend where we all probably spent too much time running errands and leaving too little time for fun.

I am just as guilty of this as you are.

The truth of the matter is this:  We are all juggling, and for most of us, the to-do list is both exhausting and never ending.  The world won't end if we pause the to-do list.  As a matter of fact, that pause is typically where the important things in this world begin. 

This past weekend, I let the laundry and the errands sit in exchange for putting my toes in the Oak Island sand and chasing around a Frisbee at the beach with my son. 

I’m a terrible Frisbee player.   

But I had fun.

 

Wishing all of you a week full of love, laughter, and fun,

xo

Ilene

 


Boys: A Love Story October 13 2014, 6 Comments

The first screams I heard were those of my daughter, who had run to the house to get me.

“Mom! Mom!  G. is hurt!”  Brooks hit him in the head with a stick.  “Mom.  There’s blood everywhere.”   

I followed Fiona to the front yard, in search of the little boy who had been injured.

My eight year-old son Brooks and our neighbor’s son G. became instant friends when we moved to our block last June.  They rode skate boards up and down the street, they sparred with Light Sabers, they built cities out of Lego’s, they played video games on rainy afternoons. They were inseparable.  There was the occasional disagreement over what to play or how to share but one of them would always compromise for the other.   As young as they were, they often knew how to put their friendship above their own wants in that moment. 

I have always admired my son’s respect for friendship and the selfless ways he’s displayed admiration for others.  It’s not unusual for Brooks to select a favorite book or toy out of his own closet to give as a gift.  He is essentially saying, “This toy is important to me, and you are important to me which is why I want you to have it.” 

G. was no longer in our front yard. In following the sounds of voices and cries, we tracked Brooks and G. to our neighbor’s house where G’s father was working on his wound.

G’ injury was not nearly as severe as I had feared.  In play sword fighting, Brooks had knocked G. on the side of the head with a stick and the result was a nasty scrape that had covered a good inch or so in diameter on his scalp, but the gash was not at all deep.  Thank goodness.

By the time we got to the door.  G. was ready to play again. 

Brooks was in tears.

“He’s OK, buddy.  He’s OK,”  I said to my son reassuringly.   To commemorate the end of the scary ordeal, I invited G. over for ice cream.

Back at my house, I took bowls and spoons out of cabinets and handed them to Brooks to set our table.

“Mom, I don’t deserve a Sundae,” Brooks said, as his eyes glazed over once more. “not after what happened.”

“It was an accident . And G’s fine.   No one’s mad at you. “

Brooks took a seat at the table and put his face in his hands.     

“You would never try to hurt anyone,” I say to my son reassuringly.

As much as we caution our children to “be careful,” the most innocent of accidents still happen.  As adults, we can go to great lengths to take into consideration the feelings of others, but we will still occasionally miss the mark.  Although we can control our actions, we can not control how are actions will be received. However, intention counts.

Someone I know recently said to me that she has stopped looking for “good” friends and instead, is committed to trying to become that good friend to others.  

My son inspires me every day to try to be a better friend.

There’s no downside to showing up for life with love to share.

By the way, my son gave in and ate his ice cream.

xo

 

 


The Back to School Issue August 22 2014, 0 Comments

If I were as consistent with blogging here as I'd like to be, right about now, I'd be writing a post about back to school, the change of routine, the change in weather, the start of practices for fall sports, and of course, how Hippie Chick Granola is the best school, after school, pre-sport, and post sport snack there is for any adult and child! 

But I'm not consistent with blogging - so while I may be late to write that "Don't forget to order your Hippie Chick Granola for your lunch boxes, ya'll," back to school post, it's never too late to adopt a cause that feels close to my heart - and while it's not exactly, about going back to school, there *are* backpacks involved.  

As someone who bakes granola for business, much of my life revolves around food.  

However, I often think about families who don't have enough to eat, especially children who may leave their school environment on a Friday, where breakfast and lunch are provided, and not know whether they are going to eat again until they return to school on Monday morning.

Brunswick County, North Carolina, where I both live and operate my business, has an amazing organization that provides a backpack program for our school children.   Per their website, “Matthew’s Ministry provides weekend food for children in Brunswick County who do not have adequate food at home.  This year we will need over 500 backpacks to start the program. Backpacks go home filled with food on Fridays and are returned on Monday to be filled again.”

I want every child in Brunswick County, and everywhere, for that matter, to have enough to eat. 

 

With your help, I want to fill up backpacks with food. 

From now through September 15th, Hippie Chick Granola Co. will donate 50 cents to the Matthew’s Ministry backpack program for every 12 ounce bag of granola you purchase.  This is my gesture of thanks, to all of you, for an amazing first summer in business, and a gesture of love, to children everywhere, who deserve to sleep at night with a full belly.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support.

xo


Strike A Pose! July 15 2014, 0 Comments

Some of you like to pair your Hippie Chick Granola with a glass of beer and an episode of Deadliest Catch.

Some of you use it as a soccer snack!

Almost all of you have a granola thief in the house.

Some of you don’t bother taking it out of the bag!

If you took these photos literally, you’d all start to think that I send empty bags of the stuff to people!

I love the photos you’ve tagged me in and left on the HCGC Facebook Fan page.  They tell me you’re enjoying your granola.  Better yet, these photos embody a sense of fun, which is great, since that’s exactly what I want your experience with Hippie Chick Granola to be!     

Inspired by so many of the wonderful photos you’ve sent me the past three months, Hippie Chick Granola Co. will be holding its first photo contest.

The prize?  Granola, of course!  

Here’s how it will work:

Send your photo to me via Facebook messenger to the Hippie Chick Granola Co. Facebook fan page, along with the caption as you will want it to appear on our Facebook wall. 

I will post the photo/caption on the Hippie Chick Granola Co. fan page for the world to see, and whichever photo/caption garners the most number of likes will win. 

You will be the judges! 

The only requirement for the photo is that it includes a bag (full, half eaten, or empty, it does not matter!) of Hippie Chick Granola. 

Photo suggestions: 

Come up with a fun caption to pair with one of your "empty bag" photos

-or - if you are traveling this summer, take a bag of HC Granola along with you! We may have fun seeing where it turns up!  Beach?  Mountains?  Roller Coaster?   The possibilities are endless! 

-or - where do you hide your HC Granola so that no one else in your house can find it?    

Again, these are just suggestions -  the sky is the limit.  Get creative and have fun!  

Submissions are open NOW.  Submission deadline is Friday, August 1st, 11:59 pm, Eastern Daylight Time and voting will close on Tuesday, August 5th at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be announced on Wednesday August 6th.  

The prize for the photo/caption that garners the most likes will be three bags of Hippie Chick Granola, flavor varieties of your choice, along with a Hippie Chick Grocery Tote.

Now, go get your camera and get creative!

xo

Ilene 

 

Rules for entry:

-Must be 18 or over to enter

-The prize will be mailed to an address in the domestic US address only. 

-Submissions must be made via private message only to the Hippie Chick Granola Co. Facebook Fan Page. Photos submitted directly to the Hippie Chick Wall will be disqualified.

-Hippie Chick Granola Co. LLC reserves the right to refuse a submission if the material is deemed inappropriate.

-Entrants grant permission for their submissions to be posted publicly to the Hippie Chick Granola Co. Facebook fan page and they understand that the winning photo will be posted on the Hippie Chick Granola Co. website once the winner is announced.