Growing up, Claire Smith wanted to be a cardiologist – or at least she thought she did. Now, many years later (and after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience), she’s found herself in an entirely different role – owner and founder of Teffola, a homemade granola brand made from a variety of fresh ingredients and Teff, an ancient grain.
After deciding the medical path wasn’t for her, she experimented with a few retail positions until accepting the call to head back home to her family’s farm (which has been in her family for 7 generations). With the agricultural industry changing rapidly, opportunities to innovate were everywhere. Her family was playing with the idea of growing Teff, and Claire decided to get creative. Soon after, Teffola was born.
She took the plunge and quit her day job after finding herself in three grocery stores. And she hasn’t looked back since. In fact, days after making the choice to move to full time, Teffola found itself moving from three grocery stores to nine…and it hasn’t slowed down since (the day of our interview, Claire landed another two stores).
The first Monday of doing this full time was the best day. It was a moment of believing in myself and what I can do.
And it’s still a family affair – her parents grow the Teff and sell the entire grain to her. Claire does the baking, alongside her assistant, and from there, Teffola finds it way to shelves.
As an entrepreneur, Claire has continued her innovation. Teffola can be purchased in person, at farmer’s markets or online through her subscription service (an online farmer’s market, of sorts). And her biggest advice for fellow business owners? Building what she calls a “foundation of mental strength for herself,” a facet of entrepreneurship that’s much harder than baking for 9 hours.
But it’s not just about granola – it’s about so much more than than.
“This is our legacy, this is our family,” Claire said. “It’s so much bigger than just me. Granola is what we do – but bringing joy to people is why we do it.”