The Innovator:

Success by the spoonful

Jullie Hession operates Julie Anne’s Granola.

Julie Hession did something pretty amazing — she started a business in Las Vegas in 2008 and now markets in 25 states. What’s even more amazing? This former corporate businesswoman and MBA is her own, and only, employee.

“It’s just me,” she said. “I do it all.”

And that means literally everything. Baking. Making sure the pallets of strawberries are delivered to her kitchen on time. And, of course, keeping her budget and managing expansion.

Hession started Julie Anne’s Granola in 2008 after she sold her bakery in Anthem, right at the cusp of the Great Recession. The granola, which now comes in fun flavors like PB&J (Hession’s salty-sweet favorite) and chocolate raspberry, had been one of the best-selling items on her menu. “There’s a lot of bad granola out there,” she said. “I wanted to create some good stuff. Customers loved it, and they asked me to sell it by the pound. So, I did.”

The granola business, after all, seemed more “scalable” than the bakery, she said, meaning there would be plenty of room for the company’s growth.

After nine months or so perfecting the packaging, getting insurance policies ironed out and figuring out the logistics of making granola on a large scale, Hession got her products stocked at Whole Foods stores across the valley, where her gourmet granola can be bought today. Free samples — just getting people to try the products — was part of what initially spurred her business along. And people really seemed to like it, she says.

Even better? MGM Grand recently picked up her branded granola for room service items, like custom yogurt parfaits, a fun feature she hopes to expand into other MGM Resorts International properties. But so far, she says, it’s a pretty sweet deal on its own.

Expansion locally, she says, is her first priority. After that, she says, who knows exactly how big it will get?

“I haven’t decided if I’m going to expand here or if I want to find a company that could make my products wholesale,” she said. First, she said, she’d have to find a company that could replicate her level of attention to detail and the flavors she’s worked so hard to create. Either way, of course, expansion will be good news for this small-business owner.

The key to her success? Great granola, loyal customers and positioning her products to succeed in a fairly saturated health-food market. You won’t find hemp seeds or flax in her granola, but you will find pure chocolate and dried strawberries — yum.