Photo Credits: CIELLE WATJEN BROWN AND RUBY BARUTH / COURTESY
Student business provides new sustainable way to snack
Best friends Cielle Watjen Brown, a fourth-year wildlife fish conservation and biology major, and Ruby Baruth, a fourth-year environmental science and management major, created a new eco-friendly brand of granola called “Wake the Funk Up Granola.” Anyone interested can buy homemade granola from this duo by direct messaging their Instagram @wakethefunkup. Brown and Baruth charge 69 cents per ounce of granola and will fill up up any jar with the requested amount, whether it be one or 20 ounces. If a customer does not bring their own jar, they will be charged an extra dollar. Brown and Baruth personally deliver orders on campus and give customers a complimentary sticker and song recommendation, creating the perfect snack experience. This new business currently has two flavors of granola: Destiny’s Chaild and Chock Berry.
Baruth’s idea for this small business was originally envisioned as a storefront business named “Ola Granola.” But to Baruth’s disappointment, this name was trademarked in multiple countries including the United States, which lead to the name change.
“We were like, ‘rebrand, rename, wake the funk up’,” said Ruby. “Make it all based on artists and music and also, when you wake up in the morning, what do you want? Granola and music! Things to get you hyped for the day.”
In order to make the perfect batch of granola, the duo goes around Davis searching for the best ingredients for their customers. The process of making it — which includes making sure their cat doesn’t get in the way — takes a couple of hours.
“People think granola is mostly a morning food,” said Brown. “But people now are just eating it as a snack and eating it out of the jar. One of my friends was literally using her pencil to get the bottom little scrapings out during finals week, and she was like ‘I want it all, it’s so good!’”
They aim for an eco-friendly and sustainable business model. By using mason jars and personally delivering the granola by bicycle, they avoid the environmental repercussions that regular store-bought granola creates.
“At the grocery store if you buy granola it comes in cardboard,” Brown said. “Then inside the cardboard, there’s plastic and you don’t need that. And also, I think you can really tell it’s fresh because it’s so much more crunchier and the flavor is just so much better. The way we store it, in the jars, makes it stay [fresh] for a long time. It has a long shelf life.”
With the goal of promoting healthy snacks, the pair found it difficult to stay on the organic route and still keep their customers happy with the prices.
“When I originally thought of this idea, I was like ‘I want to get all local, all organic ingredients.’ I wanted the best quality,” Baruth said. “That’s always a struggle. I feel like it’s the quality of ingredients and the price, because I could never pay $12 for granola. So I’m kind of on the same page, but I want to give the $12 quality. We try for as many ingredients as we can to have them be sourced from organic places or as local as possible, but that’s a work in progress.”
Although Baruth and Brown have shipped their homemade goods before, they found it challenging. Because shipping glass is so expensive, they had to try finding unique ways to compensate for the high price. The girls sat down and decorated the packaging and wrote thank you notes for all online orders.
“We were kind of discouraged when we were sending their granola,” Brown said. “It was more like we felt bad and frustrated that we couldn’t make it cheaper for people because we wanted to send it. It was so many of our friends and relatives that were really excited about us starting this new business, and they wanted to support us.”
Despite being full-time students, they take on this extra workload and still manage to enjoy both school and their business. They mentioned that while the granola sales barely bring in any revenue, the business is more fun than work.
“If we were getting paid, we’re getting paid like one dollar an hour for the amount of work we put into it,” Baruth said. “Which is why it’s important that we like to do it, because it’s really fun. And it’s not really about [the money].”
As their business continues to grow, Baruth and Brown have created a loyal customer base. Maria Vollmar, a fourth-year wildlife conservation biology major, mentioned that she was one of the first in line to buy the granola when the business started and is now on the list for the next order of their sold-out batch “Destiny’s Chaild.”
“It’s really so cool to see a small local business started by two young women slowly grow and reach beyond just their friends,” Vollmar said.
Their hopes for a granola bar in the future is close to coming to fruition and their new flavor will be a fruity one. They also plan to sell at the Whole Earth Festival in the future. Interested customers can find updates about where they will be selling their funky granola on their Instagram page.
“We’re really friendly, and we’re super accommodating to people,” Brown said. “So if they want to meet anywhere else off-campus or they have a weird jar, if they have food allergies, that’s something they can totally let us know. And we’ll make a special batch. We just want people to be happy with the product.”
Written By: Itzelth Gamboa — email@example.com