Growing a Successful Small Business with April Bellia, The Granola Girl

April Bellia is the Granola Girl.

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Starting when she was just five years old, her parents owned the first Filipino bake shop in Vancouver, which they named ‘April’s,’ after their daughter. From the beginning, April saw that this was more than a bakery. It was a place where people in the community could gather.

This planted the seed for her own journey with food and food products, as she learned through her parents how people are brought together and community is formed around food.

The Beginnings of Granola Girl

Over the years, April worked at various Vancouver restaurants and bake shops and eventually opened her own wedding cake business, which she ran out of her own home for 12 years.

The transition to granola began when a personal fitness trainer and friend challenged April to make something that wasn’t cake or brownies--something healthier and more nutritious that would be suitable for after workouts.

April tested out recipes on friends and at craft fairs, receiving positive feedback and suggestions. She soon became known to her friends and family as the “Granola Girl,” and this was the birth of the popular product and brand that has become her successful small business.

Challenges of Running a Small Business

Going into retail grocery, a male-dominated industry, with a women-centric product, was a challenge at first for April. Most of the buyers were men, and they hadn’t seen anything like Granola Girl before, with its pink packaging and obvious target demographic: women.

Despite these initial hurdles, April was confident in what she wanted to do with Granola Girl, and she never wavered on her vision. Now April has her product in several grocery stores all over Vancouver, and has had to face a new challenge: scaling. The move to scale up was to find a reliable co-packer, which then leads to the added challenge of ensuring consistency and continuity now with larger batches.

For April, every day is a new challenge, but the great thing about owning your own small business is that you can scale to the level you’re comfortable with. While Granola Girl has plans to continue growing--April ultimately sets the pace.

And although the product is still local to Vancouver, the potential to grow and spread even on a global scale isn’t out of the question. The brand represents more than the community of Vancouver, but the larger community of women helping one another around the world.

Finding Your Message

April has been clear with her message since the beginning. Granola Girl is not just a great product. The brand celebrates women, putting the spotlight on women who are doing great things in the world and giving them a voice.  

One way Granola Girl supports local women is by hosting breakfast parties, a different kind of networking event geared toward creating a comfortable and encouraging environment for Instagram, Facebook, and other online influencers to network offline and in person.

Granola Girl wants to educate the community about their mission while allowing event attendees to see their friends and make great connections. April’s goal is to create a global granola empire, but the granola and business are just her vehicles for sending a positive message into the world.

April truly believes that as we learn more as human beings, we’re shifting and growing. There is hope, and we’re moving in the right direction. What message do you want to send to the world?

Self Care and Entrepreneurism

It takes a good deal of self work to put yourself out there every day as an entrepreneur. For April, she desires to be there for others, cheer people on, and see their greatest potential, but in order to do all of those things in her daily life and through her business, she has realized that she has to learn to do that for herself first.

It’s a difficult lesson to learn. You may be able to do it easily for others, but if you try to operate from a place of emptiness, you will most likely fail. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself, because then you can come from a place of real love.

When you are fully embodied in yourself, you can give freely. But if you come from a place of depletion, anger, resentment, or obligation, you don’t create with a positive energy. Instead, serve your community from an overflow of joy that comes from within.

April’s Advice for Entrepreneurs

So how do you maintain that joy? What are some ways to avoid the pitfalls of overworking yourself and burning out? Over the years, April has learned some valuable lessons that any small business owner, whether just starting out or an experienced veteran, can learn from.

  • Find your network - People you meet along the way, those individuals who are just a call away when you feel some resistance in your life or in your work, are an excellent source of support. They’ve been there, too, and just having someone to talk to, someone who will listen, can make a world of difference.

  • Sit with it - When you’re feeling resistance in any form, whether you’re discouraged or unmotivated, or perhaps you have other negative emotions flooding your mind, rather than just brushing it aside, feel it out, be with it, look at it directly. If you avoid it, it will come back--bigger, stronger, as a more ugly beast that you don’t want to deal with. Face these issues as they arise.

  • Don’t lose your identity - You may fill many roles: parent, spouse, entrepreneur, business owner. Remember who you are at the core of everything you do, because you will have to come back to that person after these other roles have been fulfilled. Pay attention to what makes you feel more like you and pursue those things.

Key takeaways

  • The story of the Granola Girl

  • Getting a women-centric granola brand into stores wasn’t easy in the beginning

  • Supporting women: the message behind the brand

  • Entrepreneurism, self care, and encountering the shadow