This Frustration Can Be a Good Thing

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“Dad, these tortillas…they are SO salty. Why are they so salty?” I question mid-chew, as I sit in the backseat of the car. He asks for a piece to try, and then he is quiet for a moment. He begins to shake his head back and forth, in a sense of confusion and mutters how this salty tortilla could be. Mom and I begin to question, “Did you forget that you put in the salt and then added extra unknowingly? Did you measure too much? Did the recipe mix unequally and it only is this dozen that is unreasonably salty? He shakes his head more vigorously, and replies, “No. No. I measured everything right. I made the recipe exactly right.” He’s just as stumped as we are. We go about the day, but every hour or so, we return to the topic of the salty tortilla. We are all very bothered by this occurance.

Come to find out, the whole batch is ruined, all 56 dozen. And, come to find out, it has nothing to do with a mistake that we made or anything that we really had control over. It was the bakery owners that made the error, and even though they admitted to adding more salt without our consent, they were unwilling to refund us or make another batch “on the house.” In all points of business, the people involved must be honest and willing to make amends for mistakes made, however costly they may be. There are different ways to learn in life, and one is by seeing how NOT to do things. Created Whole will always be committed to honesty, quality, and integrity, unlike some in the business arena.

The frustration with the current bakery we are working under has risen significantly over the last year. The owners have increased the price per dozen that we pay to make our tortillas at their facility, a price that is unreasonably high. The going rate gives us little added benefit. We are only able to make tortillas on their schedule, and at their convenience. The relationship seems fragile, breakable. We are caught in a tight-rope, scared to make a misstep that could send our baby business plummeting to sudden death.

The three of us (Tim, Brenda, and Kara), share equal responsibility (for the most part), for the decisions made within our business, but as the daughter (Kara), I look up to my father as the leader. He is intelligent and extremely capable, and it’s really because of him that this business began. I have been at the point of breaking for quite awhile, not wanting our business to continue like it has. We are stuck in limbo, because without production, we cannot grow. Without growth, in all honesty, it’s time to ask the question, “What the hell are we doing?”

I hate it when something happens with our tortillas, because I am so emotionally attached to the success and the quality of Created Whole. I think one makes better decisions when there is not the emotional attachment, but the attachment is an indicator of how much I care. We all care. I think, somewhat ignorantly, and it’s easy for me to say, “Let’s grow.” I don’t know the feeling of debt. I don’t really know what it’s like to fail. To jump completely in, with nothing and no one to fall back on and not look back. To me, the concept of just diving head-first into waters that are murky and with depth unknown, seems much more rewarding than hanging out in the kiddie-pool with rubber duckie arm bands. Sometimes, I think that Dad is just fine with the kiddie pool. I become angry that he’s not doing anything (which is a completely unfair and a wrongful accusation. People are not the most rational when angry.) But, I see that he does care, maybe even more than I do.

With the latest bakery frustration, I feel thankful. Maybe this will be the last straw for Dad. Our goal was for him to be the full-timer in our company by the end of the summer. It’s almost the end of the summer, and I think that we are all at the end of our patience with our current situation. So, this time, the frustration that we are experiencing may just be the catalyst to take us into the big markets that we keep dreaming of. So, maybe this time, this frustration can be a good thing.

Supply = Demand

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>I was never a fan of college economics class. There’s the supply and demand models, something about elasticity and price, and yada, yada, yada. The concepts are vaguely familiar, but if you asked me to teach a class on the subject, my poor pupil would very likely receive an F. (For the record, my final grade was something like a B+ or A-, but unfortunately, grades are neither an indication of understanding nor future success.)

Not that I understand the exact terminology of what Created Whole is experiencing, but it’s somewhere between a slow, but steady increasing demand, paired with an inconsistent and flat lined production level. Even I know that doesn’t equal.

Sometimes I think people get the idea that we are a big company, manufacture a lot of tortillas, have a great distribution network, and increasing vendor agreements. To put the record straight: We make tortillas at a SMALL tortilleria in Wasco, CA at about 55 dozen each production run. How much we can produce is limited to the schedule at the tortilleria, and we only make tortillas when inventory is low to gone. Our cost per dozen tortillas is what I term, “Pretty astronomical,” and we, those directly involved, are not making an income yet. We can be thankful that the business is not in debt up to this point.

Created Whole Tortillas are in a store (as in one), in Bakersfield, CA, one store store in Culver City, available online at TheBestTortilla.com, and the tasty round goodness shows up weekly at the Redondo Beach Farmer’s Market where 12-26 dozen “fly” off the shelves (I say “fly” with an edge of sarcasm). If we only focused on our overall sales, we would pack our wheat, throw out the other 3 ingredients, and say “there’s no point to this.” But, we see the potential in the market and the potential of our product thanks to our customers. The “good jobs” and “keep making these tortillas” and “I hope you guys do really well” reminds us of what we have and why we are in business. (Seriously, thank you guys for the encouragement). We are also reminded everytime we bite into a Created Whole Tortilla. Just this morning for breakfast I was eating a tortilla straight up, and said, “Wow Dad! How did you make such a GREAT tortilla?”

Tortillas are beginning to fly with Allegiant flight crews. Everyday of work last week I toted tortillas in my rollerboard. 15 dozen tortillas went to various airline employees this week. Tortillas are now a favorite for “Crew Breakfast”. Crew Breakfast consists of peanut-buttering up a tortilla, add a sprinkle of chocolate chips, pop it in the aircraft oven, and add banana slices after heated. The smell of hot and fresh tortillas wafts through the galley and flight deck, taunting the passengers while poor-thems crunch through cardboard box snackpacks. (Oh the benefits of being a stew.)

Another Crew Breakfast

As demand increases, our big question is, “Are we going to have enough tortillas?” Currently, we are exploring new options for production. Once we have a consistent production level, we will be able to approach establishments like Whole Foods and Chipotle. From consumer comments, we see that demand is there. One diehard fan wanted to take his Created Whole Tortillas into the restaurant and eat them instead of the tortillas that came with his fish taco dinner. That’s what we love to hear:) Keep eating!

Not The Enemy

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Have you ever heard people say, “I can’t eat that. Too many carbs.” We sometimes hear people say, “Sorry. I can’t try your tortillas. I’m not eating carbs.” A human body needs carbohydrates to run efficiently, and whole grains are a great source of energy.

The recommendation is to make one half of the day’s grains whole. Nearly nine out of ten Americans aren’t aren’t choosing whole grains often enough to meet the minimum recommendations. On average, Americans consume less than one serving per day. Even more astonishing is that four out of 10 Americans consume less than one whole grain product during two weeks of their usual eating habits. Consumers are showing a strong interest in whole grains and one survey revealed whole grains as one of the top three foods that respondents were likely to choose for their own health. Data also showed that four out of five people are trying to eat more whole grains and two out of three people are trying to reduce their refined grains intake.

According to Mintel, just last year, manufacturers launched more than 3,000 new products with a whole grain claim-to-fame. The largest growth areas are bakery, breakfast cereals, and snacks. Registered Dietitian, Tina Miller, states, “Carbohydrates are not the enemy; just choose them wisely.”

(for more information about this entry, please visit http://www.todaysdietitian.com/