Beautiful Day doesn’t just make delicious granola, coffee, and hummus – their products are prepared by international refugees as part of an incredible, nonprofit job training and resettlement program. This year alone, Beautiful Day has worked with 59 refugees across their adult and youth programs, giving dozens of families hope through in-demand job skills. In fact, 97% of Beautiful Day’s 2022 graduates have already found work in the U.S.!
We sat down with Joan McLaughlin, Director of Sales and Growth, and Paula Cunanan, Marketing Manager, to get the story behind Beautiful Day’s decade of success and the company’s growing packaging partnership with Roastar.
JM: We’re a job training program for refugees; we welcome refugees with work and a way forward. I’ve been here for five years and we just celebrated our tenth anniversary. Last year we transitioned to new packaging to refresh the brand and establish a foothold in the specialty market. As far as our old packaging, one grocery store employee put it best, saying, “It’s so farmer’s market.” Well, that’s how we started, selling at local farmer’s markets! But now we’re nationwide, and the new packaging has really added a huge lift.
PC: Just echoing everything Joan said, I’ve been working closely with Joan and Roastar to get our packaging – our new packaging – ready and launched. All of that happened last year. I was also involved in the redesign process.
JM: The original founder, Keith Cooper is his name, used to work for a refugee resettlement agency in Rhode Island; he was a teacher – and still is – who found that, when the refugees came (to the U.S.), they started with classroom training; they were learning English, but after three months, they essentially had to become self-sufficient. So Keith, who is a big granola maker, said, “I think maybe we should do a project and get the refugees making granola, to learn to work as a team while picking up English, learning the American work schedule, and so on. He started a company called the Providence Granola Project with two Iraqi refugees; one of them is now a granola chef (at Beautiful Day) and the other is head of shipping!
We’ve become a solution, we feel, for what happens to refugees entering this country… Making the granola, packaging it, and seeing it online and in grocery stores gives them this understanding that their work really makes an impact. We’re a $1.1 million company, now, and when I started five years ago we were at $400,000.
JM: The challenges we’ve faced have been operations-based; getting systems and processes in place. Of course, the focus is on food preparation and food production, training, working with mentors and ESL teachers, and getting a training facility set up to accommodate the training piece. But now we have the sales piece, everything from ordering to inventory – gifts and packaging – all the way through to shipping.
JM: Actually, our designer Nick was looking for a partner who could do (what Roastar can). It’s funny because I knew about Roastar through LinkedIn. Still, I wasn’t thinking of using an online partner, because we’ve worked with local companies in the past – but no one was really an expert in packaging or our type of packaging. We really wanted to see if we could have something that was recyclable and on the cutting edge of what’s happening in terms of sustainability. We couldn’t find that here, but Nick turned us on to Roastar! We tend to want things that are more custom; we wanted the tear notch, we wanted the slogan to be engaging on our granola –
PC: On all of our packaging!
JM: Right! So we had a meeting, with Nick, Paula, Keith, and I, and we went over everything and said “Let’s give this a shot!”
PC: Our packaging is great! Joan can speak to this more from her sales perspective, but (our new packaging) has really positioned Beautiful Day as the product; we’ve gone through multiple packaging versions and we’re so happy with where we at now, because it just looks…
JM: It looks like a Beautiful Day!
PC: Yeah! Our subscription is actually one of the first services Beautiful Day offered – we were handling subscriptions in an Excel spreadsheet and now we have a more defined software and process (laughs). Really our subscribers are our sustainers; making granola every month in that way helps keep production going for Beautiful Day. Like a lot of online companies, we get really busy during the holidays, but our subscription offers refugees steady work on a monthly basis.
PC: Yes, exactly!
JM: That’s exactly what we like!
PC: That’s one of the main reasons Roastar worked for us – because of their turnaround times. We try to order what we need every month, but a big sale can happen suddenly and we rely on Roastar to help us get our custom packaging as quickly as they can.
JM: Well, relating to the packaging and just expanding on that, it’s good to have a responsive team behind (our custom packaging). In the beginning, we had to figure out that we really sometimes are “crisis-oriented,” but we were able to work through that with Roastar’s help and build a great relationship. It’s really been wonderful! It takes the stress out of the other kinds of (growing pains) a business goes through. Particularly when Ashley (from Roastar) visited us, it helped create more mutual understanding because every company is so different. We can always bring up anything that we feel we need some help with, so we’re happy with that.
And we’ve seen the new stickers and some of the other products that Roastar is getting into – and we want to use those and be more innovative! We want to be the company that stands out because we’re always finding new ways forward.
JM: We’ll happily send over some samples!
PC: Yeah! Oh, and I just wanted to note that our packaging recently won an award; they’re called the Davey Awards. Our packaging won gold!
JM: It was great because the design process was such a culturally rich process and involved us really thinking about what we wanted to convey!
PC: Thank you!
JM: Take care!