When St. Paul resident Alisa Dale couldn’t find a great gluten-free bread, she decided to make it herself.
She began baking grain-free buns and bagels at GIA Kitchen (955 Mackubin St.) with other small start-ups to mid-size businesses who lease space in the licensed commercial kitchen in 2017. Everyone on the Planet Princess team lives in St. Paul.
What drove you to start your own business making gluten-free items?
About four years ago, I learned that my body reacts to gluten, and I needed to stop eating it. That was hard to hear because I really love bread! I honestly tried practically every gluten free alternative out there. But I found them quite unsatisfactory in one way or another: in taste, in texture, and especially in ingredient quality and nutrition.
Being a happy foodie, I resolved to create gluten free, grain free bread reminiscent of the hearty, traditional bread I missed. I had a lot of boxes to tick! It had to toast like bread, have a crumb like bread, stay soft and moist yet not break apart or get soggy. And it definitely had to taste great. And I was determined to do all of this using quality gluten and grain free ingredients, clean enough to be non-GMO with no binders, additives or preservatives.
At the time, I didn’t realize this quest would be a two-year journey. It was challenging and fun, and once I perfected the recipe, it was really gratifying.
What sets your products apart?
There is a huge gap in the market for really good gluten free and especially grain-free bread. In fact, one of the major food trends identified in 2019, projected to grow in 2020 is grain free eating. Consumers are turning away from grains for a number of reasons.
We fill this gap!
Planet Princess breads are so much more than “just” gluten free. Our products are “set apart” in several categories: they are protein rich, low carb, gluten and grain free, and they contain seven vitamins and five minerals. Not to mention that they are delicious and function just like traditional bread.
When you eat a Planet Princess bun, you get so much more! 10 grams or more of protein, as low as 7 net carbs, 4 grams of fiber, 7 essential vitamins and 5 minerals from non-GMO ingredients. This bread nourishes your body! One of our continuing efforts is to build that understanding with consumers.
Our buns are also Keto and Paleo friendly. People struggling with insulin resistance or diabetes have become some of our biggest fans as well! Our majority ingredients register low on the glycemic index.
Our customers keep us going! We really enjoy demos when we get to talk with them face to face, and we are so grateful for their support.
How is the Twin Cities food scene evolving and where do you fit into that?
The Twin Cities food scene is vibrant and growing quickly! New makers are entering the scene, creating amazing, local food products that are truly unique. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a wide range of resources and offers so much support to local makers. Minnesota is unique in its support of food entrepreneurs, financial and otherwise. We are so lucky that way.
And I have to give credit to the many incredible co-ops in the Twin Cities! They are so supportive of locally made products. Honestly, if you want to find locally made, unique food products before they go “mainstream,” check out your local co-op. They have been invaluable in our business building. If it weren’t for them, we would not have been able to do this.
We fit into the food scene as makers who are providing something new and unique. Since we bake in a community commercial kitchen, we get a great opportunity to share ideas and resources with one another. And makers understand the hard work of starting a food company like nobody else. There’s a natural camaraderie there. Food entrepreneurs are really great people. They are talented, enthusiastic, and committed as well as generous and approachable.
What challenges and benefits do you face being a woman entrepreneur?
The benefits of being a woman entrepreneur are exciting. There are so many local agencies and organizations that expressly support women entrepreneurs, providing networking, education, and other opportunities. Plus, in my experience, businesswomen themselves are generous about supporting other women business owners, especially those just starting out. They gladly share connections and helpful information. They are natural mentors. That has been a Godsend to me so many times. I want to offer whatever I can and pay it forward to other women entrepreneurs, too.
We are just now poised to start the process of raising capital to expand our production capacity and grow our distribution. And statistics on venture capital to fund women owned businesses are a bit daunting as I begin the process. For example, 40% of small businesses in America are owned by women, generating $1.8 trillion a year. Yet women still receive just 7 percent of venture funds, particularly angel funds.
This may be another challenge for me to overcome! In truth, though, I have no direct experience with it so far. And in spite of this financial landscape, I feel confident (especially in Minnesota!) that we will find the investors who deeply understand what we have, how on trend and timely it is, and how many people are looking for it. And they will support us financially into the next phase.
What’s your favorite Planet Princess Foods product?
I would say that I use the Plain bun most often for burgers. But my favorite is the Cinnamon Raisin ‘Bagels’. They are so yummy and smell so good when you toast them. Besides, I can feel like I just “treated” myself, yet still get all the good nutrition they contain. The Garlic, Rosemary, Sundried Tomato Buns are awesome, too.
Find Planet Princess items at both of the Seward Co-ops, all three Mississippi Markets, Eastside Co-op, the Wedge Co-op, and the Fresh and Natural Foods in Shoreview and Hudson Wis. Plain buns are also featured at Alma Restaurant in Minneapolis. For those who live outside the Cities, buns are available for delivery online at azurestandard.com, a national healthy foods distributor. We hope to be available on Amazon soon.
If you want to stay informed about new locations and new flavor launches, join us on our website!
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