WSU News

Hawaiian treat now online, thanks to WSU business aid

Becky Burns, right, started Anahola Granola
in 1986 with a 2-year-old daughter in tow.
Her daughter Malia, left, helps with marketing
while teaching in an inner-city Chicago charter

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Along with gorgeous sunsets and perfect weather, for nearly 25 years regular visitors to the Hawaiian Islands have had one more thing to look forward to: Anahola Granola.

There are still plenty of reasons to visit Hawaii, but it’s much easier to get Anahola Granola on the mainland.
With help from the Washington Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), Anahola Granola is ramping up its online presence. Website orders account for almost 10 percent of sales.
The WSBDC is a partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration, Washington State University, other institutions of higher education and economic development agencies. For more information, go here.    
Building momentum
In early 2011, Washington native and company founder Becky Burns contacted Jennifer Shelton, the WSBDC advisor at Western Washington University, for advice on how to boost the company’s brand as part of its year-long 25th anniversary celebration.
Now in its 26th year, Anahola Granola is continuing to build momentum – online, in stores and in public awareness. In February, Hawaiian Airlines began selling Anahola Granola MacaMania bars as an on-board snack.
Expanding with focus
According to Burns, Shelton’s advice, feedback and research were invaluable. Not only does Shelton continue to find relevant materials for Burns to read and consider, but she helps Burns stay focused on her goal.
“She forces me to be accountable and not get sidetracked by all the fires that erupt in a small business,” Burns said.
Anahola Granola’s online efforts include expanding its extensive, user-friendly website and, with the assistance of WSBDC student interns at WWU, diving into social media with renewed vigor to market the crunchy, nutty, honey-sweetened cereal. The granola comes in Original, Tropical and Mango Ginger flavors. There also are a tropical fruit-laden trail mix and four flavors of MacaMania bars.
Wholesome and sustainable
From the beginning, Burns’ focus was on wholesome ingredients baked into a delicious product sold at a fair and sustainable price.
An island girl at heart, Burns began making granola in the 1970s while working as a caretaker on a remote property in the San Juan Islands. She continued making granola when she moved to Kauai in 1981 and settled into the Anahola Valley. Baking her own granola fit right in with her back-to-the-earth lifestyle.
She never thought of selling her homemade granola until a friend planted the idea in 1986. With Malia, her 2-year-old daughter, in tow, Burns baked up several pounds of granola, scooped them into zip-close bags and headed to a Christmas craft fair. From craft fairs she moved to specialty shops and upscale hotels. A business was born.
Her slow-growth model allowed her to both make a living and have a life with her daughter and those close to her.
Succession planning
Now, however, Burns sees retirement looming, and her focus has shifted. Sustainability is still a core value but, with Shelton’s help, she has begun looking at succession planning.
When the time comes, Burns knows she’ll have no regrets about what might have been because she’s got a goal in mind and a plan to get there.
About the WSBDC
The WSBDC has provided one-to-one business advising, at no cost, to entrepreneurs and small business owners across the state for more than 30 years. The WSBDC network includes 26 certified business advisors working in 24 locations across the state and four international trade specialists working in Spokane and South Seattle.

For more information about Anahola Granola, go here.