Well, this is our first blog, so what to write about? I suppose writing a little more about the Good Roots story, how we started, and how we got to this point is the best jumping off point for this first blog. In future blogs, I hope to write more about different subjects like complementary dishes, cooking process, nutrition, store partners, and the Good Roots team. But back to our story…
I was born and raised in Kagoshima, Japan, where the root of the lotus flower is known as “renkon.” Renkon is most commonly used as an accompanying root vegetable for a variety of dishes, rice plates, and soups. Lotus are grown in Japan but are also frequently imported into Japan from other countries including China, where they are prominently farmed and known as “lian ou.” Renkon chips, or lotus chips, are more common as a special side dish in restaurants in Asia and much less likely to be made at home. They are typically made by an experienced cook and the lotus root itself can be hard to tame on the stove top.
After studying in the US the late 80’s, I moved to San Francisco permanently in 1992. Over the years, I would regularly make lotus chips for holiday parties and was surprised just how much everyone enjoyed them. We lived in Singapore for four years in the early 2000’s where lotus root was commonly available which allowed me to experiment a lot. Upon our return to the San Francisco, I’d pack chips into my own children’s lunch bags and learned that my lotus chips were a hot commodity in their own lunch circles at school.
Through all of these fun trials with family and friends, what was most surprising to me is how children passed up the big-brand salty snacks to hang out at the lotus chip bowl. As a parent, I loved seeing kids scarf down an extremely healthy snack. And the kids – well, they were enjoying the unique taste and the chip’s intriguing kaleidoscope shape. It became pretty clear the lotus chips appealed to a wide range of tastes and age groups.
I actually started Good Roots officially in 2015 and we were initially set up as a “home kitchen” business in San Francisco. Making a chip at home is very different from manufacturing a durable chip for national distribution, so much of the first year was putting together a process that was factory-friendly while maintaining quality beyond all else.
In 2016, our simple plan was to release our products in multiple flavor to a select group of stores and see if there was a market fit for our product at the required price point. We placed our products at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco as well as two Japanese markets, Seruki Supermarkets and Super Mira. Rainbow Grocery and soon after BiRite drew progressive shoppers while the two Japanese markets would draw a different customer type with very high expectations.
From these placements, our uptake and feedback was better than I could have ever dreamed. In 2017, we expanded to about 15 stores and scaled our capabilities to make sure we never disappointed a store in supply and quality. We actually declined to do business with some larger chains until we scaled our production capability further. By 2018, we had moved into our third commercial facility to accommodate the production scale we needed to serve demand we were achieving from our distributor, 50 stores, and our website. In 2019, our store growth and web orders continue to grow dramatically and I spend most of my own effort trying to meet ever growing demand as we continually scale our production capability.
Our wonderful customers and innovative store partners have largely learned about Good Roots Lotus Chips on their own and by word of mouth. Our website receives daily online orders and we continually have the coolest, most innovative stores find us from coast to coast. I have always felt responsible to serve our customers the most unique, tastiest, and healthiest snack chip in the world. But we’ve not been good communicators to you. So Good Roots and I now look forward to the joy of communicating more with you, our Good Roots community, through this Blog, through our Instagram page (@goodrootslotuschips), and through our Facebook page. I look forward to sharing with you more, hearing from you, and creating opportunities for you to share with each other.
I am so appreciative for all of the support. Thank you again to all you mindful snackers of the world!