logistics and learning
There are nearly 8000 boxes of the Gluten-Free Girl All-Purpose Flour in a storage facility on Vashon. They’re here. They’re real. It’s surreal and lovely and unbelievable.
These flours exist thanks to you. Thank you.
Now, let’s talk about what happens next.
Your boxes of flour.
We’re working hard to get all the logistics in place to sell these flours. (More on this in a moment.) But we’re going to send you a box or two of this flour before anyone else has the chance to use them. We want to get you baking!
A couple of weeks ago, we sent you a survey to ask for your addresses. Those of you who pledged at the $100 level will be receiving two boxes of flour: either 2 boxes of AP, 1 box of AP and 1 box of grain-free, or 2 boxes of the grain-free blend. The grain-free blend will not be ready for awhile. (More on this in a moment.) As you can imagine, it takes some concerted time to go through and collate all that information. But we’re doing that now. We’re also learning a shipping software, deciding on the carrier we will be using for delivery, formatting thank you notes, and learning how to print labels. There’s a lot of learning involved in this process. Let me be honest — sometimes we’re a little overwhelmed. But we’re happy to be learning. And we’re happy to say that we’re hoping to get all the boxes of flour out to you by the end of next week. That’s the hope!
(We’re realizing why Kickstarter has estimated delivery date instead of deadlines. It’s amazing, the logistics.)
We cannot wait to have these flours to you. Soon.
Selling the flours.
Part of the reason Danny and I wanted to take on this new business is because we knew we would learn so much. Our hopes have already been fulfilled on that one!
When we imagined the flour blends in the world, we always had it in our minds that we would carry these flours through a prominent online retailer. Why not trust the shopping, fulfillment, and shipping to an organization that does this every day? After the Kickstarter was successful, thanks to you, we returned to the logistics of shipping. When we started crunching numbers, we realized that the online retailer would take so much of our money that we would barely have enough money to do a second run of the flours.
So we decided to ship these flours to you ourselves.
While we never imagined putting boxes of flour into the hands of our delivery driver on a regular basis, we’re so happy that we are doing this now. This is a small business, run by a family. We want to do this ourselves. We want to sell to you directly. And we want to hear from our customers about what is working and is not working. We have many friends who run small businesses and have been guides in this process for us. They all say there will be lots of mistakes, times we want to tear our hair out, and enormous learning. But in the end, we trust small businesses. We buy from family businesses. We believe in the handmade and personal. This is the only way for us to go.
Later, we’ll probably be talking to grocery stores and larger retail places. But for now, the only place the flours will be available is through Gluten-Free Girl. That website is the heart of what we do and how we met you. How could we not sell it there?
So we’ve been scrambling. On top of our regular work, and the proofreading and final recipe testing for American Classics Reinvented (and all four of us battling a bad flu through January!), we have been learning how to build an online shop, talking with our accountant about sales tax and state codes, and having many many brainstorming sessions about our brand and our approach to hospitality and customer service.
This is part of the reason why the rewards have taken a bit longer to go out than we imagined. We got thrown a big curve ball. We’ve been doing a lot of batting practice before the big game.
We hope to have the online store ready on our site by the end of February.
The grain-free blend.
After the Kickstarter finished, and we did everything to put the All-Purpose Flour Blend into production, we turned back to the Grain-Free Blend. We always knew it would take awhile before we put that blend into production. Partly this is because we want to focus on producing and selling the All-Purpose Flour blend well before we add another blend. We want to learn our business before we add to our business. But waiting for the grain-free blend is also because we want that blend to be as foolproof as the All-Purpose Flour Blend is now.
All through December and January, we baked and re-baked breads and cookies and pies to make sure we loved the grain-free blend as much as we love the AP blend. I taught baking classes to some of you who had donated here, using the AP blend and the Grain-Free Blend. And what I found is that the formulation we thought we loved had some serious flaws.
Doing a flour blend with a good deal of almond flour means that familiar recipes turn out quite a bit differently than people expect. Almond flour is wonderful. But it’s also full of fats, which affect the ratios of the baked goods. I found myself saying, in baking classes, and the recipes we were writing for the PDF we are sending you: “If you are using the Grain-Free Blend, use 10 to 15% less fat in the recipe…” I wrote this in the directions for our next cookbook too, where the Grain-Free Blend can be used in every recipe. And one day, I sat up and thought. “Nope. That’s not going to work.” We want to give you ease with these flours, not more math to do. We want your baked goods to give you joy.
So we waited to send you the PDF until we had a Grain-Free formulation that worked with as much ease as the All-Purpose Blend does. We’ve taken out the almond flour. Using almond flour would make the Grain-Free Blend exorbitantly expensive. (And with the drought conditions in California, we’re not sure that almond flour is sustainable.) And almond flour makes the Grain-Free blend impossible to use for those who have tree nut allergies.
We started anew.
We have a blend we love now. It works beautifully as a bread flour, a wholesome flour for everyday baking. If the All-Purpose Flour Blend is the white flour of our line, then the Grain-Free Blend is the whole wheat flour of the two (without the wheat, of course). It’s hearty and wholesome. And it makes great breads.
We held off on sending the biscotti and the PDF of recipes until this was done. We’re ready to send them to you soon.
We know this is a lot of information but we want to be clear and forthcoming about this process. We’re in this together. We thank you for the chance to build our business, to be humbled by it, and to bring you these flours soon.
Shauna & Danny