For a fairly new business, bumble & butter has come a long way since becoming a member of the 2017-2018 eLab cohort. Founded by recent School of Hotel Administration graduate Jamie Kim (’19), bumble & butter uses locally-sourced ingredients to create an artisanal granola available in several unique flavors. While the team remains committed to supporting local businesses and farmers in the upstate New York area, they are in the process of making many exciting changes to keep up with their rapidly growing consumer base.
Like many food startups founded at Cornell such as fellow eLab alumnus Grabanzos, bumble & butter originally developed and produced their product on campus in the department of Food Science’s Stocking Hall. As their sales have since more than doubled since graduating this May, however, the team has since transitioned production to a manufacturing partner to help bring production to scale–– though they are continuing to produce the granola by hand rather than automating the process. Another change they are making is switching from using butter in their recipes to using ghee, a clarified butter generally used in ayurvedic practices and known for its health properties. This will make the granola lactose and casein-free to accommodate those who may have sensitivities to dairy. bumble & butter prides themselves on their intriguing combinations of sweet and savory ingredients and intends to focus on their three core flavors by producing them in larger quantities, namely 8-ounce bags and bulk bags, while eliminating the 2 ounce bags. In addition, the team wants to bring some of their popular seasonal flavors such as black truffle and sweet potato with cinnamon and ginger into their retail locations.
Driving all these shifts in the company is a boom in recent sales as bumble & butter expands into several major retailers across the country. “We had a Whole Foods buyer approach us last June,” explains Jamie. “The process was simple, we started in one store to test out sales in Albany last November and have doubled sales since graduating. We’ve also just gotten into five stores with Pete’s Fresh in the Chicago area and are soon to be working with Wegmans.” Seeing their product on the shelves of major grocery chains is exciting, but the team has made sure not to lose sight of other priorities such as their existing ecommerce platforms and building connections with small-scale merchants. “We are focusing more on retail but have still seen a lot of growth in Amazon sales recently,” Jamie adds. Now that she’s graduated, Jamie has enjoyed her newfound flexibility and the opportunities available for bumble & butter in New York City where she has now moved the business. “I’m getting myself out there, going to coffee shops and more artisanal places where customers may really gravitate towards our products.”
Though their eLab days are behind them, the team still stays in touch with their peers from their cohort as well as mentors. “We met up with Grabanzos to talk over financials and sales strategy, since they’re going through the same thing. We also go back and forth with Iko Systems with tips and resources. It’s great to have a community,” Jamie explained. Going forward, the team is excited to further expand into retail and exhibit at supplier shows with Whole Foods and a new distributor this September. They are also rolling out new, revamped packaging this month by incorporating more color to refresh their image while still retaining their hand-crafted appeal.