People are eating up Ethel's Edibles
gluten-free baked goods at such a pace that this toddler of a company has had to grow up quickly and move to a larger bakehouse and its first bakery retail store. The company started at the family dinner table and has spread to stores in metro Detroit and Michigan.
"We really hadn't intended to move so quickly, but this spot came up," says self-taught gluten-free baker and chef Jill Bommarito of Grosse Pointe.
In 2010, she discovered the pecan dandies and hot blondies that would get her name out there in Grosse Pointe. By August 2011, she was shipping her goodies to food bloggers around the country and involved with the Tri County Celiacs Support Group which introduced her to people, events and organizations looking for gluten-free baked goods that didn't taste gluten free. By November, Ethel's Edibles was in its first store. It's now in 25 stores, and in June Plum Market will carry Ethel's in its new Chicago store along with two other Michigan products -- Zingerman's and Cooper Street Cookies.
"It's all about having good people to work with," she says. "And the customers, they are amazing. They have helped us so much in how we do things. They have great ideas, great advice. There are so many good stories."
Eastern Market, too, she says, has been the launching pad for her company and so many food start-ups.
The new bakehouse on Harper Road between 8 and 9 Mile Roads in St. Clair Shores is the stepping stone to more products, more distribution, and relationships with like-minded small businesses, Bommarito says. She has 12 employees and is developing a "decadent cookie like Mrs. Field's and a great gluten-free muffin."
She started gluten-free cooking to take care of family members with Celiac's Disease, an intolerance to gluten that is hereditary. Her goal, she says, was to make the same family favorites without anyone knowing the difference.
The success of Ethel's Edibles, named after Bommarito's grandmother who taught her to bake and cook in a carefree and creative style, resulted from a beautiful collision of circumstances: a growing consumer interest in eating gluten-free, a deepening interest in supporting local businesses and the explosion of social media as a sales and marketing tool.
"Twitter and Facebook have been tremendous," she says. "By the time we were in stores in August we would come up on Google….We receive orders through Facebook from Boston, Chicago, California."
"Last year, our first full year, was a fun year, a busy year," she says. "We intend to double our production this year over last year."
Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Jill Bommarito, founder, Ethel's Edibles