If Rachel DesRochers was a tattoo it would say in big, bold font, “Girlfriend, just do it.” Just do it. Take the job, quit the job, start the thing, try the thing, quit the thing, try another thing, just do it. Because that’s what Rachel did and continues to do everyday. Rachel told us her story in the backroom of her Northern Kentucky kitchen incubator surrounded by boxes of product and walls lined with inspirational quotes. When we first sat down, we thought we’d chat mostly about about graham crackers because Rachel started Grateful Grahams, a local vegan, graham cracker company. As it turns out, Rachel engaged us in a thought provoking, inspirational conversation much larger than just crackers, about life.
Rachel is boisterous, and passionate, and bold. She started Grateful Grahams 8 years ago after her daughter was born. “My daughter was a real impetus for me,” she told us. “I thought, ‘I want her to be able to dream big. I want her to do everything she wants to do, but if I’m not modeling this behavior, then how will she know how? I just gotta do this.’ ” ‘This’ was making food for people. Rachel comes from a long line of foodies. Her great grandfather started a restaurant in the 30s, and her parents owned a pizza joint, so it was in her blood to do something great with grub.
“Food brings people together. Food breaks down barriers. It’s an ancient tradition. Breaking bread. There’s something so sacred about it.”
Rachel chose to make graham crackers. The treat was a favorite of her Grandmother’s who always had them on hand. Out of nostalgia, Rachel started making grahams for her own kids, but decided to make them a little differently than the packaged grahams that grandma loved. Rachel made her grahams from scratch, with a short list of natural ingredients. Her goal was to create an ingredient list so short and understandable that a 5-year old could read it. She also made her grahams vegan as a nod to her father who adopted a vegan lifestyle after surviving cancer. Turns out, her recipe kicked ass. (I’m actually eating a chocolate one right now. Field research.) Rachel started making more and more grahams, eventually outgrew her space, and signed her own kitchen lease in 2013. She has since turned the space into a kitchen incubator, renting the space to up and coming chefs.
For Rachel, Grateful Grahams is so much more than distributing healthy, tasty treats. Through every bag of Grateful Grahams, Rachel attempts to do what she calls her life’s calling--spreading the practice of gratitude. On the front of each bag is the question, “What are you grateful for?” On the back of each bag are stories from customers expressing gratitude for various life facets.
“Gratitude saved my life,” Rachel told us. “We can always choose to see good. We can make a choice on what to focus on. It can be the smallest thing we‘re thankful for, like our ability to breathe.” Before starting Grateful Grahams, Rachel worked in corporate America which she called exhausting. She found that practicing gratitude helped her positively reframe her perspective on life after a long day. She sees gratitude as an act of self-love. “I was that kid that got picked on growing up because I didn’t look like ‘them’ or act like ‘them.’ You have to love yourself. Giving thanks helps me focus on all the things I do have in life.”
Rachel views Grateful Grahams not as a food company but as a gratitude company that just happens to make graham crackers. So, in honor of Rachel’s life mission; what are you grateful for?