Some of the twists and turns that have gotten us where we are today. If you have a favorite memory you'd like to share, click here.
Posts by Aldia Bluewillow
fitppl was launched in late 2015 and proudly homegrown in Austin, Texas. Their mission is to create clean, sustainable products to help busy people stay fitppl. They only use simple, wholesome ingredients in their products; nothing artificial. They are environmentally conscious thinkers continually seeking packaging and materials to reduce their plastic footprint. This was ingrained in Their philosophy from the beginning, and they will continue with this commitment.
We spoke wih fitppl founder, Patrick Schecht, and he graciously answered a few questions for us.
1. Why did you decide to start fitppl?
The initial idea for fitppl was born in August of 2012, while I was working at an Austin-based start-up. They offered great perks in the micro-kitchen, with snacks and food, but most were processed and devoid of nutrients. I've always lived a health-conscious lifestyle and wanted an option to keep me from eating those sugary and fat-laden snacks. I asked the office manager to bring in a protein powder for the kitchen to make smoothies. She brought in a generic, dairy-based protein with flashy graphics and a laundry list of ingredients that you couldn't pronounce. People I spoke with wanted to make healthy choices, but they really needed simplicity to balance out their busy lifestyles. That's when I had my “A-ha” moment and said to myself, “there needs to be clean, simple products to help busy people stay fit people”. That's where the idea was born and I got to work from there. After three years of research and hard work, fitppl was finally launched!
2. Why did you choose the packaging you use?
As I was developing the product-line and business philosophy for fitppl, I wanted the company to have an underlying social cause. It was important to me that the company have a genuine soul and purpose. This initially came to me in October of 2013, while I was in Thailand swimming in Maya Bay. The water was so blue and beautiful, yet there was horrible plastic litter floating everywhere. I did some research and learned about the catastrophic plastic pollution problem plaguing our oceans. As I did more research, I learned about the pitfalls of our recycling programs as well as biodegradable plastic initiatives. In spite of all that, there persists an overall marketing strategy with most companies which supports a throw-away mentally. I found that I was so under-informed about the situation…and knew I wasn't the only one. That's when the “Ditch the Plastic” campaign was created. The campaign’s purpose is to educate people that any packaging discarded doesn't just go away or get automatically get recycled. Reducing demand and reusing is the key. This is why we chose to use kraft-paper pouches instead of bulky plastic containers and each bag of protein and superfood includes a reusable wooden scoop.
3. What are the advantages of your plant proteins and superfood?
We kept the ingredients clean and simple for each product. No other ingredients, "natural flavors" or stevia. Even without all the artificial stuff, our organic plant proteins are smooth and delicious! They offer 16 grams of organic, raw protein with a complete amino acid profile, and come is 2 great flavors: Vanilla-Goji and Cocoa-Blueberry. Our organic green and red superfood is packed with superfood fruits, cereal grasses plus fresh and salt water algae. They deliver chlorophyll, enzymes, vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients. Our green and red superfood is unique and tangy! You can mix each product with just water, add to your favorite smoothie or include in recipes. They all include a reusable wooden scoop!
4. Anything new in the works?
Lots of awesome things in the works...Stay tuned!
5. What are your favorite things about Wheatsville Co-op?
Wheatsville Co-op is a staple in Austin. Growing up here, I can remember my Dad bringing me in anytime we were on Guadalupe. Wheatsville has so much heart and soul. Their sense of community is amazing. Everyone there is so friendly and supportive. Cody really believed in our philosophy and gave us our first shot as a new company…something I'll never forget. Wheatsville is the ideal fit for fitppl and I couldn't be happier having Wheatsville as our premiere store.
Cody Atkins' Superfood Smoothie Recipe
1 serving of Fitppl Vanilla and Goji Superfood Protein
12 oz Pacific Unsweetened Original Almond Milk
1 sliced and frozen banana
¼ cup Woodstock frozen Dark Sweet Cherries (about 5)
¼ cup Woodstock frozen Blueberries
¼ tsp. Frontier Vanilla Extract (optional)
Combine all ingredients in blender jar. Pulse until a smooth consistency is achieved.
When and why did you decide to make vegan cupcakes?
Sascha has been vegan baking since 2002 when her infant presented with dairy and egg allergies. Coming from a great line of bakers, her library filled with old newspaper clippings and recipes transcribed from generations past, Sascha taught herself how to recreate these recipes as vegan. Yauss, who has both an undergraduate and graduate degree in design, has been working in the industry since 2003. She has honed her skills in marketing and design, teaching at the college level for over a decade. In fall 2011, Yauss’s mom started encouraging us to put our talents together to package and sell cupcakes. We decided to take the leap in early 2013 and the rest is sweet, sweet history.
What local partners’ products do you use?
Cuvee coffee, Buddha’s Brew kombuchas, Jester King beers, Buzz Mill Coffee, SRSLY chocolate, JBG Organic veggies, Love Bean fudge and caramel spreads, Tequila 512, Treaty Oak rum, Revolution Spirits gin, NadaMoo! ice creams, Bona Dea gluten free flour blend, confituras jams, Zhi teas, Hot Dang OG burger, Happy Hemp toasted hemp seeds, Austin Pesto Co. basil, and lick ice cream so far.
What is your favorite treat that you make?
We can’t get enough of that chocolate Cuvee coffee pudding that goes on top of the Mocha Marmalade trifle jars. Whenever we make it, we all take a little bit home to eat (usually at night, before bed, IN bed!)
Are there new products in the works?
We are always working on new and exciting products! We are constantly looking for new partnerships for the most unique flavor pairings we can bring to market. If we aren’t baking for production, we are baking for R&D.
What are your favorite things about Wheatsville Co-op?
Do you mean besides Popcorn Tofu?! A trip to Wheatsville feels like a trip to visit with old friends. Everyone there is so lovely, supportive, and kind. It feels like everyone really believes in our company and our product, and is as invested in selling it as we are. We have SO much gratitude for the Wheatsville Co-op family and their bear hug of warmth.
Joaquin Avellan, CEO of Dos Lunas Cheese, graciously answered a few questions for us:
1. When and why did you decide to make cheese?
I just wanted to make something really good for my wife. And, I wanted it to be a gift from deep inside me, which meant from my homeland of Venezuela.
I am the chef in our home, and I put my heart on every plate. And, since my father had retired to a farm in the Andes and had started a dairy farm, I fell into cheesemaking during a long visit in 2011.
Back in Austin, I kept experimenting, putting more and more heart into more and more cheese. One day, my wife smiled and said she loved it (and me) but 80 gallons a week was too much for our kitchen and our refrigerator.
So, I pitched a tent at a farmer’s market and sold out the first day. Now, I put my heart onto every plate I can!
2. What kind of milk do you use?
The most pristine milk I could find in Central Texas, from Stryk Jersey Farm in Schulenburg, Texas. Their small herd of Jerseys are all grass-fed and free roaming, and I can literally taste the earth and the seasons in every bucket, all year round.
Bob and Darlene Stryk are the best, wonderful and ethical farmers and such good souls. You can taste all that goodness in their milk, too.
3 What is your favorite cheese that you make?
Dos Lunas Clasico. It is based on my father's recipe from Venezuela. Trying to capture that particular queso fresco taste in a freshly aged cheese was the original inspiration for establishing Dos Lunas Artisan Cheeses. And besides, it melts so well and makes a mean quick quesadilla.
4. Are there new products in the works?
Oh yes! Every year we design new cheeses, and for the past year we have been developing cave aged cheeses with a rind. The prototypes have been very successful, and I can't wait to share them with the world as well.
5. What are your favorite things about Wheatsville Co-op?
Wheatsville, being a co-op, is quite literally about sharing, about coming together with the best we have. It’s about community, and about sharing true health in our community. That’s exactly what Dos Lunas aspires to be about as well.
And, Wheatsville didn’t just buy from us. They have engaged with us and helped us so much, with everything from how to improve our packaging to encouraging us to create more flavors.
We admire the generous sharing spirit of Wheatsville.
How long have you been in the honey business and what prompted you to start?
We started selling honey in 1975. We only had a few hives, but they produced enough of a surplus for us to be able to sell some honey.
Do you have a favorite variety of honey?
The best honey is the stuff you get to dip into when you are extracting it fresh off the hives.
What is your best selling honey?
How long have you been selling honey to Wheatsville?
Wheatsville has been carrying our honey since the beginning. We used to take in a drum, turn it on its side and let people bottle out of it. Wheatsville and Woody Hills Co-op were our first customers. And as I recall, our very first customer was a food-buying club started by the same people who started Wheatsville. We used to deliver to them on a street corner.
How often do you get stung?
It depends on what we are doing, but it usually happens in the spring when it is still cold. They don’t like having the roof taken off and if you get someone mad at you there is a good chance you’ll get a lot of stings from that one and friends.
Does it still hurt a lot after all of these years?
No, it is just a minor irritation. Old-timers used to come in for stings to help with rheumatism and arthritis, but if you are allergic you better stay away.
What is the most unusual way that you’ve heard of Good Flow honey being used?
Some people use it in their hair or as a mask on their face. One person who is a pedicurist uses it for his treatment on feet.
What is one thing about honey or bees that most people might not know?
They have an incredible communications system based on the chemicals in their pheromones.
Will Good Flow Juice ever be available again? (Shoppers still ask every few weeks when your juice will return!)
Perseverance furthers as they say. We have been working at it steadily since we were forced to shut down because of new FDA regulations in 2008, and this might even be the year when it happens. We are getting close.
What’s your favorite recipe that features honey?
EZ BBQ Sauce
1/2 cup organic ketchup
1/4 cup Good Flow honey
1 TBS Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Mix all ingredients together. Baste onto meat, tofu or tempeh before cooking or use as a dip. Serves 6
SRSLY Chocolate (pronounced seriously) is our Vendor Focus for February, just the right company to see more of during the Month of Love. Bob and Robin Williamson are the owners of SRSLY Chocolate, a bean to bar chocolate company located right here in Austin, TX! Bob and Robin were nice enough to answer some questions about their lovely chocolates!
How did you get started making chocolate?
Bob used to bake baguettes and pastries for the farmers markets in Tallahassee, FL. One day, he decided to make chocolate from scratch for a croissant recipe. After pulsing cacao nibs in a food processor and watching the transformation to chocolate, he was hooked. From that moment onward, we’ve focused on making really great handcrafted bean to bar chocolate.
With a commitment to produce the finest chocolate in a sustainable manner, we use organic & fair trade cacao and cane sugar to handcraft each bar. Our cacao comes from a cooperative in the Dominican Republic that reinvests back into the community, building roads, clinics and schools. Our cacao beans are sorted, roasted, cracked, winnowed and stone ground in granite mills to produce an elegant and assertive chocolate. Gentle, low and slow roasting develops great flavor while preserving delicate aromas. Stone ground chocolate has a rustic texture that reminds us of its origin. Each bar is hand wrapped with love We’re serious about what we do!
What is your favorite flavor?
Bob: Oaxacan Espresso. Cacao and chilies have been used together for millennia. This ancient combination is exciting and intriguing in our bar. Add a little locally roasted coffee from our friends at Third Coast Coffee and you’ve got a really fantastic chocolate bar that incorporates and highlights its rich Mesoamerican history with local ingredients.
Robin: 70%. Honestly each flavor has gone through a phase of being my favorite at one point or another. I’ll get stuck on one for about five months and then rediscover a new one and then get hooked on that! Right now I’m finding myself reaching for the 70% plain dark a lot more. It’s a perfect match to whatever mood I find myself in. It’s rich, dark slightly malty fruity flavor really hits the spot!
Is there an unusual way to use your chocolate bars?
I think there’s someone in Austin that does chocolate massage… whatever that is. So yeah, I’d think that qualifies as unusual. But really, chocolate is an amazingly versatile thing. You can eat it in so many forms from a simple, elegant chocolate bar to rich luscious hot chocolate to chocolate brownies. Chocolate is great with anything!
Are there any new flavors on the horizon?
Yes... too many really. In a perfect world, I’d release a new flavor every week, ad infinitum. But really, a new flavor every few months is the way to go. We’ve been working with local Texas olive oil for a bar. Local is a big focus for us. It’s really hard to take cacao that’s grown two thousand miles away, preserve its sense of terroir and try to synthesize it with its production here in Texas. What else? Halvah. Cardamom and Pistachio. Texas Lavender. Keep your eyes peeled for some really interesting stuff.
Why did you move from Florida to Texas?
Because everything is better in Texas! But really, Robin used to live here in Austin about six years ago. She loved it and when I came to visit, I fell in love instantly. No offense to our Floridian brethren. Austin’s got a great food scene and really great citizens who help foster a supportive environment. It called out to us like it has to so many new residents. We’re pumped to be a part of it!
Where do you see SRSLY in five years?
We see ourselves as a regional chocolate maker with deep Texas roots providing one of a kind handcrafted chocolate made with organic and ethically sourced cacao. Our vision has us doing a couple of really great things in 2019: working directly with cacao farmers, building our own facility, employing fellow Austinites. It’s a long road but we’re up to task!
CLASS: Chocolate Making
Instructor: Bob Williamson
DATE: Saturday, February 7
WHERE: 4001 South Lamar Community Room
Ever wondered how chocolate was made? Learn how cacao is transformed into chocolate with SRSLY chocolate’s own Bob Williamson. Watch as cacao beans are cracked, winnowed and refined into chocolate. Taste some fantastic chocolates from SRSLY chocolate while we learn about cacao’s history and impact, past and present. Learn the basics, ask some questions and go home with a bar of fine flavor craft chocolate!
by Cecelia Wild Pony, Packaged Clerk, S. Lamar
When I chose to move to Austin in 2006, one of the major reasons was that I would not have to buy a car. I was a poor college student, and one thing I figured would save me lots of money was riding a bike everywhere. I was right.
Although I did buy a car in the years since, my first choice for commute is always by bike. Parking is convenient, fuel is cheap (and eco-friendly!), maintenance is easy and I never have to wait for everyone to be ready before I can leave the party. My initial commute to the Guadalupe store was pretty easy, a mile or so, and now my commute to the Lamar store is a bit lengthier, just about twelve miles round trip, but Wheatsville and it’s Bike to Work Benefit have always made making the choice to ride the easy one.
Our Bike to Work Benefit was launched two years ago by our dedicated HR Director, Beth Ley. The way that it works is each month, you fill out a slip stating that you rode to work either four times or a total of eight miles (whichever comes first) and then $20 is put into your “bike bank”, which you may use for any bike related items you purchase in that year. I have used it to buy bikes, gloves, u-locks, lights, tubes-just about everything, and it feels really great to know that I am investing in my fitness and safety each time I ride my bike to work.
My personal commute is from the Tarrytown area of Austin, from around 29th and MoPac. I try to utilize bike and pedestrian lanes when possible, so I take the back neighborhoods hugging MoPac to the river and then the hike and bike trail under the highway. This gives me the scenic route through Zilker (dedicated bike lanes!) and hooks me straight into the South Lamar lane for the long ride up the hill.
Once I get to work, I’m sweatier than I used to be when I rode to Guadalupe, but no worries, we have the convenience of an employee shower! In our office space, there are two showers dedicated specifically to employees who bike to work, and I can say from personal experience they are GLORIOUS. There is nothing quite like a shower after a long bike ride to get you ready for your day at work.
While Wheatsville has provided this consideration to staff, we also have plenty of amenities for cyclist shoppers as well. There is bike parking in the front and back of the store, as well as a repair station for putting air in your tires, fixing a flat, adjusting brakes or derailleurs. Parking in the front is covered by our awning to protect your bike, and we are adding additional parking to accommodate bikes with trailers attached.
When I moved to Austin, I was a hesitant and inexperienced cyclist. Now, having lived in a city and worked for a employer that is so encouraging and adaptable to cyclists, I can proudly say that I am a strong and knowledgeable commuter on two wheels. Thanks, Wheatsville!