I’m seated in the intimate glow of the NORD TASTING ROOM among a wonderful group of women who make up our local NAWP. It’s a Wednesday evening, the March chapter meeting and we’re celebrating women entrepreneurs.
“Here, try this. I love this. I eat it every day. It’s a meal onto itself.” Little did I know seating at our table was our entrepreneur speaker of the evening, Lynn Gordon. With joy and enthusiasm, she describes her Grilled Portugal Sardines with grilled shaved cauliflower, salsa verde and bruléed lemon and passes the dish.
NORD TASTING ROOM ADJACENT THE FRENCH MEADOW BAKERY & CAFE
From Health Nut to Revolutionizing Bread
Founded by Lynn Gordon 30 years ago, French Meadow Bakery & Cafe was the first organic bakery — anywhere — other than one the East coast and one on the West coast. Lynn was definitely ahead of her time. She was doing yoga, eating organic, living a healthy lifestyle since she was in her 20’s. Sticking to her convictions, it created a foundation for not only for her business, but the energy required for all the challenges involved with getting “new and revolutionary” into stores and onto kitchen tables.
“I know people who can drink gin and smoke cigars everyday and live to be 100. They have a strong constitution. I don’t have a strong constitution. It’s why I’m mindful of what I eat, meditation and practice yoga.” — Lynn Gordon (not verbatim, but an the essence of what was said).
I could give a more in-depth history of events leading to Lynn’s successes (you can read them here), but back to the evening’s focus: What All Women Entrepreneurs Need Now & Again: Inspiration. Tonight it came from a warm, generous, 5-foot tall, energetic dynamo — and things she’s learned since she started making bread. In no particular order they are:
Nothing is Beneath You.
No task, no dirty job is beneath you. It’s your business and you do it when it needs to get done. She knows every inch of her kitchen, has grouted the floor tile, climbed up ladders, fixed things.
Everything Starts with a Need.
When Lynn lost her mother to ovarian cancer, she knew there was a need for better nutrition and diets, especially geared for people fighting terminal illnesses and cancers. That’s when Lynn turned to macrobiotic cooking, an approach that focuses on bringing balance to a person’s physical and emotional condition by utilizing foods that are balanced energetically and nutritionally.
We all have bread in our diet, but far too many people are adverse to gluten and other elements comes with bread made from grain. That need led to her organic bakery and yeast-free, sprouted breads. Then came Women’s Bread and Men’s Bread, designed for each gender and their health needs.
Perseverance and Determination.
Marketing her yeast-free organic bread wasn’t easy. She got the door slammed in her face many times. It took a lot of travel, determination and convincing to land distributors to buy into her French Meadow frozen breads.
The deepest pain Lynn and French Meadow experienced was the banning of her more popular beard, Hemp Bread. The 2002 issued order from the FDA banned hemp from all food and cosmetics because there might be trace amounts of THC. That episode cost to her business in sales and expense was upward to 2 million. It wasn’t just the cost the FDA ban inflicted, now the French Meadow’s integrity was in question.
Lynn went on to make advancements in the frozen bread category, opening a new way of wholesaling and shipping her breads. What really gave French Meadow its notoriety was Lynn’s focus on the nutraceutical industry, providing food with purpose for health and medical benefits. It’s an on-going force behind everything she creates, including Peoples Organic Coffee & Wine Café (opened in 2010 with six locations owned by franchisees.) “I sometimes wish I didn’t have so much drive, but I always have these ideas, there is always a need.”
Trust your Intuition.
Whenever you shut out the voice in your gut, things never turn out well or as they should. We hear this all the time, but it’s reaffirming hearing it from someone whose been there done that.
Believe in Yourself.
That goes without saying, but when your team sees and feels this belief, they believe in you, too. One thing I would add is be true to yourself. Lynn is a successful business woman, but she stays true to her nature. “I love serving people. I love creating good, healthy food that’s good for people.”
One Last Take Away.
To women entrepreneurs raising children and feel like they’re working all the time (because that’s what you do), feel your children come second and you feel really guilty about it. Don’t. It’s only you giving you the guilt. Children are incredibly adaptive. By sharing what you’re doing with them and by your example, you’re giving your kids the best lessons they could ever learn from you — believing in yourself, following your dreams, the perseverance and determination it takes to make anything possible.
One Last, Last Take Away.
You’re a women entrepreneur, passionate about your ideas and what you do. Now you’re at that point in the road where you know-want-need to take your branding and marketing to the next level. Want someone who can take you there? Let’s talk.
My Significant Other and I recently celebrated my birthday at the Blue Stem Bar, a sister restaurant to French Meadow. The Wild Caught Miso Salmon (a French Meadow Signature Dish), is utterly divine and well worth the trip to the cities. Our server, Kat, discreetly (sans singing, merci!) brought out a lit birthday candle atop my frozen chocolate peanut butter custard. L‘amour!