Welcome to our new website which we opened yesterday without announcement or fanfare. This isn't false modesty. We're still making sure the little pieces all fit together and link to the right places. But if you're reading this in the last week of October 2020 without being directed here by announcement, then welcome! A special heartfelt welcome. You are one of our first visitors.
If this were a physical store we'd want to drop what we're doing and show you around. Would you like to try our new DRC coffee? How about a bowl of muesli? We miss the warmth of personal connections. Since the pandemic started we've not been hosting many tours of our kitchen or fulfillment center. At the farmers' markets there are masks and 6 feet of distance and a whole rigamarole to keep things safe. When our whole mission involves removing the silence and distance between refugees and their communities we've especially wanted this store to feel accessible, down-to-earth, human; a place to meet and enjoy the great people we work with. (We now have a gallery of trainees right here.)
I have a lot of people to thank. The development of a non-profit social venture gourmet granola company never goes from points A to B to C. I'll stick with abbreviated names in case people didn't want to be mentioned in this blog, but you know who you are.
It was Ron W, while doing some contracting marketing for us, who insisted we move our store to Shopify. This was over 2 years ago. Before I quite knew what had happened, we had hired Ben Z to help build it out and I realized we were choosing functionality over flexibility in design. The store itself seemed perfect. The subscription functionality was wonderful. Yet the other pages didn't feel right and the holidays were around the corner, so we back-burnered the project. The summer of 2019 we worked with an intern Ben B to get all the products into the store. We settled for knitting the new store into our old website and launched. It felt a bit like building a Jeep with parts from a BMW. Not ideal for an e-commerce business. Not ideal for analytics. But not the end of the world either.
Earlier this spring, soon after Covid shut so much down, one of my first Zoom consulting experiences was with our board vice-president Tino C (who built our brand and has helped with design for years) and 3 key advisors Diane L, Soren R. and John F. Good business advisors usually ask very hard business questions and I had a lot of trouble answering them. (Here's an aside: when I was first starting our granola company and approached an investor about it he told me "Great--get back to me when you're shark-tank ready!" I was clueless enough about business then that I had never even watched Shark Tank--though as a non-profit guy I've since realized that I, personally, will never be shark-tank material. Not unless they just need a bite of red meat.) Yet that meeting proved essential in charting out the direction our new website would go. From the beginning our social venture has struggled with the tensions between selling a product and achieving a social mission and which takes priority in our marketing. You can look around our site to see how we've answered that question.
So many others to thank: Greg N, who I sought out to build the site. He didn't take the project but he took me through a whole education about how websites get built. Plus he's a birdwatcher and thanks to him I spent a whole summer mesmerized by birds. Tino C and his team in and around Giant Shoulders (including Mike V, designer Loren S, developer Jake C, photographer Matt) took on the project at a modest act-of-love rate. This is part of the magic of a social venture: people contribute practical necessities out of goodness of their hearts and we end up with wonderful relationships. Soren R stayed on as pro-bono strategist helping us learn to see things from customers' perspectives (not easy for non-profit folks). To help with the budget, I and my team played a more collaborative role than is probably typical in writing, editing, constructing. This is actually a great perk for under-resourced social venture. It means we already know this site pretty well and were part of knitting all little pieces together.
Jules B worked on the integrations to our database including building our new customer service system. Intern, Sudhir K, built out an integration between Shopify and Salesforce. My daughter, Jamie C, advised on some marketing and subscriptions. A team of wonderful summer interns Lily S, Monica N, and Jeena L (advised by marketing professionals David P and Traci K) helped plan for and install other integrations. Paula C who is lightning fast worked on everything from graphics to editing and helped hold my hand. Our team had a little contest treasure-hunt to find errors. Rebecca won by finding about a thousand. We still haven't decided what prize to give her.
So we're off and running. I'm rushing to publish this because I can see people on the site already this morning. I hope they are pleasantly confused by how different things look. Sometimes a surprise can be a nice gift. And if you made it all the way through this blog and have any thoughts or suggestions or see errors, feel free to join the team and drop us a message. In fact we could have a contest: For at least the first 50 errors, we can send you a coupon for a granola bar for every typo you find. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And thanks especially to Tino. He's been wonderful with beautiful design, a deep understanding of our mission, and great bedside manner. When I called to sign off and say I was happy and we were ready to go live, he said, "Oh it's only going to get better from here. We'll start filing in with pictures on the pages. We'll take some holiday photographs. We'll use get some post-covid kitchen shots. We'll adjust the things that aren't working. It's only going to get better." That's a nice thing to know about your new home.
Please feel free to tell us what you think. Put in some reviews on our products--this builds credibility and helps us show up in searches. Let us know if you see errors. And thanks for visiting.