Provided by SCORE Bucks County:
Rochelle Berg fell in love with preventative medicine, but discovered early on nursing was not her calling.
Berg, of New Hope, found her love of culinary arts working as a chef.
“I realized this is where I want to be,” Berg said.
Berg’s nursing background – and insight about dietary needs and food allergies – has been helpful in crafting her latest recipe for success: Granola.
“The field itself wasn’t for me,” she said of nursing. “I was able to take something from it and do something else.”
About five years ago, she began whipping up her own granola.
“I didn’t like what was being sold in the stores,” Berg said, adding that most commercially produced granola products contain vegetable oil and refined sugar. “I started making it at home and it just tasted better.”
What began “naturally” as an outgrowth of cooking healthy for her family took off about a year ago as an entrepreneurial venture with Berg’s launch of Living Smart Granola. She sells her products at Wrightstown Market, Ferry Market in New Hope, Trenton Farmers Market in New Jersey, as well as various bed and breakfast establishments, and yoga and reiki studios throughout the area. Plus, customers place online orders.
“I’m so happy,” Berg said. “I still can’t believe I get to do this for a living.”
Her granola empire is taking off. Every two weeks Berg bakes 50 pounds of granola, which is used in her five varieties of granola, granola bark and granola butter. All of her products are vegan, as well as nut and gluten-free.
Granola butter, which she describes as tasting “like cookies, but so healthy,” evolved as a way to eliminate food waste in her kitchen.
Berg enjoys meeting customers face-to-face and relishes the challenge of creating new products. When a woman requested granola without maple syrup because of her Type 1 diabetes, Berg accepted the challenge and created Cinnamon Quinoa granola.
“I get inspired by people,” she said. “It’s important to listen to what people need and want. That’s how I’m filling that void in the allergy market.”
While the baking came naturally, the business side was challenging. She began mentoring with SCORE Bucks County mentor Tim Fielder, who coached her various aspects of business, including establishing a price point for her products.
“That helped me tremendously,” she said. “They made me accountable.”
Fielder helped her transition from a friend’s restaurant kitchen to an upgraded home kitchen certified to meet Pennsylvania food preparation safety requirements. His role with Berg now is “primarily one of encouragement.”
“From our first online meeting I was much impressed by Rochelle’s humor, her enthusiasm and a passion for her product, her capacity for hard work, her courage when problem solving and a willingness to listen and learn,” Fielder said. “Rochelle has all the personal skills and qualities needed to become a successful entrepreneur.”
She credits the people and businesses of Bucks County for supporting her granola-making enterprise.
“I’ve never felt a sense of community like this one,” she said.
As a thank you for the support, Berg offers free drop-off delivery for all orders in Bucks County.
Looking ahead, she hopes to launch a kid’s line called Mia’s Granola in honor of her 6-year-old daughter, who helps dream up new flavors, put stickers on the granola bags and sees the growth of Living Smart Granola.
“She’s seeing people place orders and us having our own business,” Berg said. “She makes granola with me. She’s on the logo with me. I can’t tell you how much that just fuels me. It gets me up at 3 a.m. baking.”
And best of all, “She always smells like maple syrup.”
Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 11 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, SCORE provides small business mentoring and workshops to more than 375,000 new and growing small businesses. With more than 70 members across Bucks and Eastern Montgomery counties, SCORE Bucks County provides over 4,300 free mentoring services annually to local small business owners through one-on-one counseling and small business seminars. To stay up to date on news and happenings, join SCORE Bucks County’s email list. Text SCOREBUCKS to 22828.