When it comes to selling her baked goods, Anna Turman isn't easily discouraged. The founder of Big River Bakehouse began pitching desserts to High Point Grocery 10 years ago. “Back then, I didn’t know all the actual steps you had to take to put things in stores,” she laughs. Now, having been open for a little over a month, Big River Bakehouse has granola in plenty of local stores, as well as shipments sent out nationally.
When it comes to baking granola, Turman goes about the process with health in mind. “Granola can use all kind of different components, so I use healthy fats in mine,” she says. “There’s no added sugars; it’s all raw natural ingredients. That’s been pretty important to my approach, since I wanted to try something unique.”
So far, Big River Bakehouse has three different varieties for sale. Simply Peanutty uses peanuts and roasted peanut butter as a base, and Blueberry Cashew is the most popular. Those two flavors use oats, but Turman also offers a low-carb, grain-free option. “My specialty granola, Spiced Maple, uses a lot of nuts and seeds,” she explains, “and it’s flavored with maple syrup. I do paleo and keto, so I wanted to make something I myself could eat at home. It’s great to eat out of the bag as a snack, but still goes well on yogurt. It’s a type of granola, but it’s basically made out of roasted nuts.” Only three flavors on the menu for now, but more ideas are in the works.
Turman works as a digital producer for FOX-13 during the week, but spends six hours in a commercial kitchen in Midtown every Friday afternoon and evening. “I put together all the dry ingredients first [nuts or oats], and then add wet ingredients, like coconut oil or raw honey,” she says. “I mix it all together in a bowl, and then it’s slow-roasted in the oven at low temperatures for about 30 minutes, stirring through the whole process. Afterwards, I let it cool for 15 minutes and add dried fruit at the end. When you pull it up from the container, it breaks apart into the little chunks.”
After finishing a fresh batch, Turman packages it all up for local distribution, and then ships out national orders on Saturday and Monday. While she felt a bit of trepidation at starting her own business, she knew she had to take the plunge this year. “I graduated from college at 35 last year, and felt really stable,” says Turman. “I thought if I don’t do it this year, there was always going to be some reason or excuse not to. I don’t feel really worried about the risk of failing, since this is something I was truly passionate about.”
Despite having little business experience, Turman wasn’t fazed in the early goings. “I’ve always been entrepreneurial-minded,” she says. The learning curve included obtaining all the proper certifications, as well as delving into strategies for her website and social media platforms. But with the business side of things now settled, Turman can turn most of her focus to the baking. “I’ve been thinking about branching out into other food items,” she says. “Something along the lines of baked goods. Maybe granola cookies, or a healthy muffin.”
Big River Bakehouse granola is currently available locally at High Point Grocery, Curb Market, and Miss Cordelia’s. “Memphis is a city that is really friendly and very helpful toward people who are wanting to make a food start-up or create their own food business,” says Turman. “I can’t stress that enough. In my experience, local stores have been very welcoming to people who have local products.”
Learn more or place an order at bigriverbakehouse.com