As a runner, Laurie Moritz of Cedar Rapids, Iowa wanted to eat flavorful healthy food to enhance her tough workouts. However, she had no interest in giving up delicious desserts in exchange for a healthier diet. She came across the idea of eating raw and learned that there is much more to the lifestyle than plain salads and carrot sticks – desserts, too, could be made from raw ingredients.
Her idea was that she could create a bakery that catered to an online market that favored diets lacking soy, gluten, sugar, and dairy, but Laurie focused more on regional distribution as a new business. Laurie believes her products are “desserts to live for” and that consumers would seek out desserts packed full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes. Using coconut oil and nectar as well as nuts, she is able to bake treats that taste good and are good for you under the name Sweet Raw Joy.
Scott Swenson, director of America’s SBDC Iowa (SBDC) at Kirkwood Community College in Marion, was extremely helpful to Laurie as she began the process of developing her third business entity. He was instrumental in the planning and implementation of the business at each stage of its development, starting with creating a detailed business plan.
“Scott helped me to develop a game plan and to understand how everything that I purchase goes into the price of my products,” Laurie says. “He is helping me see where I am, where I want to be, and how to get there.”
Because the ingredients used for Laurie’s desserts are more expensive than ingredients in an average bakery item, it was important for her to keep her prices higher. Scott clearly explained the difference in wholesale and retail pricing to Laurie, to help her become profitable. She also learned that individual serving sizes would be necessary to hook customers before they committed to a larger purchase.
Laurie set up regional distribution through grocery stores and retailers. She also marketed her desserts to local restaurants.
Sweet Raw Joy has been very successful through different entrepreneurial opportunities. Laurie was the first 1 Million Cups pitch presenter at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa event, she was awarded $2,000 in technical expertise at the “Invest in She” event in September 2014, and she participated in auditions for network TV’s “Shark Tank”. She’ll continue pitching her business in the future.
Laurie continues working with Scott to identify her customers, refine product presentation, and develop strong marketing materials. In the coming year, she hopes to hire two to three production staff members and, potentially, a driver and an accounting employee.
“Scott Swenson is an entrepreneur’s best friend. He’s always there with a smile and timely guidance, advice, support, and encouragement,” Laurie says. “He loves what he does and it shows in how much he enjoys watching others reach their goals and greatest joy—being and doing what they love.”
To learn more about this unique Cedar Rapids, Iowa bakery and why their products are different from your typical pastries and cakes, check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SweetRawJoy?fref=ts.