Susan and I met at a restaurant in Los Angeles 35 years ago and were married a few weeks later. She was a well respected language high school teacher and I was a French immigrant, born and raised in Algeria when the country was French. Yes I have been homeless, shared red wine with hobos and slept under bridges during the coldest winter of the century in France but as I always say to our employees: "never feel poor and always be grateful." Susan's strength of character and solid mid-western values have helped me a great deal. My skills as a survivor and born entrepreneur added to her. Susan won the 4-H championship for her baking entries in county and state fair in Indiana at age 14. I had many different businesses, including a renowned restaurant and 2 nightclubs in my 13 years in Spain.
St. Amour cookies begun in 1993 as a tiny venture. After 2 years selling at open air markets we landed a large retailer which for the next few years represented 90% of our business. In those days Whole Foods had only 3 stores in Los Angeles. We learned a painful and devastating lesson when 5 years later that large client demanded to private label our product line which we recalcitrantly did. From a steady growth, sales went down to nothing in less than a year with their label. For the next 3 years I was renting a table at a local bakery simply to keep our 2 lines of products in Whole Foods and Bristol Farms' shelves plus another handful of natural food stores while my wife Susan was keeping us alive with her teachers' salary.
By the end of 2002 we had dusted off the pains off of our backs and started from zero again and incorporated St. Amour Inc on maxed out credit cards. We were no longer spring chicken, Susan had just retired from her 34 year teaching position so I got on the phone and started selling. Also got in my car and crisscrossed the US, sleeping in it, eating only if I could sell a few bags of cookies, determined to get Susan and I out of this situation.
Today, thanks to a public's rising health consciousness, tastes evolving, thousands of sleepless nights and of course our 6 proven, super solid selling lines, each specialized to satisfy dietary needs of large segments of society, our company enjoys constant growth and is debt free.
Each one of our lines of product, independently, is crying to get to the next level as we can clearly see the national trends in dietary needs.
All our products are Certified Kosher and in the process of being Non-GMO certified. We boast having 2 lines on shelves at Whole Foods and hundreds of Natural Foods stores for 26 years and going! (Not to many products can claim that). For the past 4 years our sugar free lines of SUSAN's vegan cookies and POWER GRANOLA are literally transforming the company.
Our production capability at this point is 4 to 5 times larger than what we produce. Not one single item we make stays in stock for more than 3 days. All this also made possible thanks to exemplary employees several of whom we are proud to say we helped move from gang-banging many years ago to becoming fine, responsible, loyal and self-respecting people who now possess an acutely developed sense of discerning taste and skills required in the baking business.
If you want super solid sellers in your store and participate in the fascinating adventure of life, try our products.
By the way, at night I love to write short stories.