Interview w/ Siete Foods – Episode 60: PaleOMG Uncensored Podcast

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Today on the podcast, I’m talking to Miguel and Veronica of Siete Foods. If you haven’t tried their grain-free tortillas and tortilla chips, it’s time to have your life changed. No one else makes tortillas and tortilla chips like them and it has been amazing to see their company grow from the very beginning. This family is proving that hard work and dedication really does pay off. I’m so lucky to call these amazing people my friends and I hope their story inspires you to chase your own dreams!

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Episode 60 Transcription!

This is Juli Bauer from PaleOMG and you are listening to PaleOMG Uncensored.

Juli Bauer: Hello. Welcome to another episode of PaleOMG Uncensored. Today is a very special day, because I have on not only some of my close friends now, but a very cool business that has entered into the paleo world and now the entire world. Today, I have Miguel and Veronica of Siete Foods, here to chat all about their business. Thank you guys so much for coming on!

Miguel: Thank you!

Veronica: Thanks for having us on.

Juli Bauer: Are you guys in your sound studio you have at the office?

Veronica: {laughs}

Miguel: I wish we were, but we’re actually; one of our employees wasn’t feeling well so he quarantined himself in there. So we’re actually in our gym.

Juli Bauer: Oh that’s hilarious. Quarantined himself; like, go home. Why doesn’t he just go home?

Veronica: Exactly. We didn’t have any Lysol to clean the room up.

Miguel: It’s because, you know, he’s committed to being around.

Juli Bauer: Jeeze, that’s a big commitment.

Veronica: Should we call him out on the podcast?

Miguel: {laughs}

Veronica: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Like, you have a sound room for pretty much the purpose of recording a podcast with me once a year.

Veronica: I know!

Juli Bauer: Ok. So for the people who don’t know about Siete, which I feel like the whole world knows about it now. Can you guys give a little background about Siete foods, how you guys started this business, what you guys have to offer, what kind of products you’re producing. Pretty much the background about you guys.

Veronica: Sure. Siete has been around since 2014. We really got our start out of a necessity. I was dealing with multiple autoimmune conditions for many years. I was diagnosed with something called ITP, which basically means low platelet counts, when I was 17 years old. And it just kind of grew from there. Then I was diagnosed with lupus. Years later diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. So just dealing with all of that stuff for many years. Medications and doctors wanting to take out my spleen.

In 2009, this was around the time when CrossFit was becoming pretty well known. People were starting to follow paleo diets. My brother, my older brother Rob, had done some research. He was really concerned for my health. And he was reading a lot of people online were saying that they felt better when following a grain-free, paleo type of diet. People dealing with autoimmune conditions.

So I decided to give that a try on his suggestion. And when I started following that diet, it kind of worked out where my whole family sort of jumped on board with me. There are 7 of us in my family, so myself, my parents, and all of my siblings, we were eating grain free. And we grew up in Laredo, Texas, which is right on the border with Mexico. We’re Mexican-American. So things like tortillas were part of our diet every day growing up. They were literally something where, you’re not necessarily eating them with a taco; with ingredients inside of them. Sometimes it’s just like bread that you have on the table that you’re using as a fork.

So when we went grain free, that was something that we were missing out on because there was nothing that we could find on the shelves that fit into our diet, that could serve as a tortilla. I guess you could say we tried some tortilla substitutes, like maybe a piece of lettuce that we would try to fill with fajitas and call it a taco, but it really wasn’t the same.

So I’ve always enjoyed cooking. And I was feeling better following a grain free diet, and getting creative in the kitchen. But again, we needed that tortilla substitute. So I got into the kitchen, and developed what was our first product, which is the almond flour tortilla. And I let my family taste it, and they liked it. And it just kind of became a thing that every weekend, my mom and I were getting in the kitchen and making them for myself and my family.

And years later, my younger brother, Miguel, suggested that we give it a go and ty to get this product out to as many people as possible. Because I was getting requests from outside the city I was living in. People were finding out about the tortillas that I was making. And I started realizing that there were a lot of people out there that could benefit from them the same way me and my family did. So that’s when we launched in 2014.

Juli Bauer: And was it just that you wanted to give more people the product? Was that the main goal? Or were you like; we should make this a real business. What was the first and foremost? Because this business has grown so much since then. Was the intention really to create a huge business around it? Or just get it out to people in Austin?

Veronica: I mean, initially it was just, I knew we had something special and there were probably some people out there that could benefit from it. I didn’t really know the scope of how many people that could be. So I don’t know if that answers your question.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Miguel: I was thinking more; how could we be friends with Juli Bauer?

Veronica: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Miguel: Let’s freaking sell some tortillas. That’s how we’ll do it.

Juli Bauer: And then we became best friends, with BFF necklaces.

Veronica: Uh-huh.

Juli Bauer: The best. So you guys came out with your almond flour tortillas to start. So then how quickly did you come out with more products?

Veronica: Oh. My brother is going to have to respond to some of these questions. He’s got a great brain for timelines, and my brain is a little bit foggy with that.

Miguel: We came out with another tortilla about, let me think.

Veronica: A year a half?

Miguel: A year and a half. Yeah, a year and a half later after the first product, which was the almond flour tortilla.

Juli Bauer: And that was the cassava coconut?

Miguel: Yeah. Cassava coconut with pastured pork lard.

Veronica: That’s your favorite, right?

Juli Bauer: Yeah. That is my absolute favorite. They’re the best. And then you guys did your chia; is it cassava and chia seeds?

Veronica: Yeah. That was probably about 6 months after that. And then in January we launched a line of cassava based grain free tortilla chips, sea salt, lime, and nacho flavor.

Juli Bauer: And what made you go with cassava versus almond flour for the tortilla chips?

Veronica: So, I guess there’s multiple answers to that. I had just become in love with cassava. And what you could do with it. Also, we were frying the tortilla chips, and I wasn’t too excited about the idea of frying a nut. We had just started using it for two of our other tortillas, and it seemed like; you know, it just tasted good when I tried it out.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Veronica: It didn’t really take much thought beyond that.

Juli Bauer: So this became like a full-on family business. How many of you guys are in your family that are in the business at this point?

Veronica: There’s 7 of us in the family.

Juli Bauer: Oh, Siete! That’s so weird.

Veronica: {laughing}

Miguel: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Veronica: Seven in Spanish. Five siblings and my two parents. And there are 6 out of the 7 now working for Siete full time.

Juli Bauer: Ok, cool. So everybody had their other fulltime jobs, and they started kind of working slowly into the family business? Or was it like, f*ck this other job, I’m going with my family so we can hang out and make delicious food every day.

Veronica: Well that’s kind of what I said when I left my job. Exactly what you said. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Veronica: So it started small. Initially, when we launched the business, we were working out of a commercial kitchen in Austin that we were renting basically by the hour. And we could only rent on weekends and in the evenings. So I was living in Laredo, my parents were living in Laredo, Texas. And my brother, Miguel, was living in Austin. And we decided to rent a kitchen in Austin. It was a certified, gluten free facility, and we felt comfortable making our products out of there.

So we were basically just traveling back and forth on the weekends. We would leave Laredo, come up to Austin, and make tortillas out of that kitchen. And it kind of grew from there to where we could no longer just operate on weekends and evenings. So I, at that point, had to leave my job in Laredo to pretty much practically move up to Austin to be in the kitchen full time. So it was myself, my brother Miguel, and my parents who were hand pressing the tortillas. And at the start, it was me and my brother who came on full time. And then slowly as we grew, we started needing to fill more positions. And we had 7 members in my family that were basically available and willing. So they all came on slowly, took on different roles as we needed them.

Juli Bauer: And to me, starting a food business is so; I would have no idea where to start. How did you find the ingredients, where to source these ingredients, at such a large scale? Especially when you go, you’re putting chips into so many different stores. How are you able to source such high-quality ingredients, like avocado oil? Where did you guys even learn; how did you figure this out?

Veronica: So at first it was just, looking online. So we started buying 25-pound boxes of almond flour. The same way with cassava. And then we hired some really smart people who could help us source ingredients. I’ll mention her right now; Erica. {laughs} She’d probably be the best person to answer these questions. Because she’s our official, I guess director of operations and she sources all our ingredients.

But it’s just been her, really, helping us out. Because I was on the same boat, at first. It was, how the hell do we start a food business? And we just kind of learned along the way.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. What were some of the main issues you ran into when you were just getting this business off the ground?

Miguel: I think; so the question that you asked previously, I think it kind of dovetails into this. So good job to you writing questions that the answers kind of dovetail into each other.

Juli Bauer: Oh, thank you. Thank you. {laughs}

Miguel: {laughs} So, it’s daunting when you look at any business, period. And a food business definitely has its complexities and regulations and that sort of stuff. I think that we compartmentalize a lot of things, and we solved problems as we went along. So if you start the business wondering, how am I going to service 400 Whole Foods? You’re missing the details that are right in front of you at the moment. So it’s a gradual but very steep learning curve.

So when we’re looking at problems; sourcing is definitely one of them. We’ve had rancid almond flour. We’ve had; you know, you have all sorts of issues, like making sure that the product is the same from batch to batch. You have to hire people to help you make the tortillas. And you have to; there’s problems even as you try and grow relationships with stores. So I think I could probably point to a whole bunch of issues that we’ve run into along the way. But like my sister said, we’ve been able to really bring really smart people on as part of the team. And people that really weren’t even in the food business, but they’re just exceptionally smart people.

Kind of like you and your blog and your podcast and what you’ve been able to grow. You kind of just figure it out, because it’s either you figure it out or you don’t put food on the table. So having that.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Have you had any situations where you’re like; this is a huge mistake. Whether it was the food didn’t come out correctly, or food was sent back because maybe it had gone bad. Did you have any huge issues like that as you were just really getting a feel for everything?

Miguel: Yeah. There was one night that I think we can all remember where we bought; we were making everything at night in a commercial kitchen. At night, and on weekends. So we had, maybe about 1000 pounds of almond flour come into the commercial kitchen. And we were about halfway through one of the evenings, like a Friday evening. And it smelled rancid. And it tasted rancid. And we had to make product to put it on the shelf. Because being out of stock is one of the crappiest things to do as a company. And so we didn’t want there to be an out of stock because of us. But the integrity of our product is of the most importance.

So I remember all of us smelling the flour, and then tasting it, and then smelling the finished tortillas. And we were like, is it rancid or have we just been making tortillas for so long that now we’re just making this stuff up? And we just had to throw away like 1000 pounds of almond flour.

Juli Bauer: Oh my god, that’s awful.

Miguel: And wasted the whole evening that we had spent making tortillas. And those things kind of just happen. And you hope that they don’t, but that’s one of the things about food. Food goes bad. Especially when you’re trying to make food with no preservatives and no junk in them. It goes bad. So these almonds; they were rancid. So at that point, we had a really good partnership with that almond supplier, and they were able to get us new almond flour, but it took a couple of days and so it sets you back.

And at the moment, I think at every moment you’re like; that’s it. This is the thing. This is the thing that’s going to put us out of business and we’re done. Why are we even doing this? Let’s just go back to our old jobs where it felt safe and secure. So I think that happens a lot. But that’s a moment that I can remember. And cutting into all the boxes of almond flour, and being like; dammit. They’re all rancid.

Veronica: Yeah. I think, though, running the business with integrity definitely helps to minimize how big of a mistake that could be. Because I guess other people could have said; oh well. Let’s see if other people can taste what we’re tasting. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope that they don’t. But we just decided, we have to throw this away because this is not a good product for people to taste.

Juli Bauer: That’s awful. I feel like whenever you’re making big batches; at least I’m like, when you smell milk, and you’re like; does milk just smell like that, or does it just smell weird to me? {laughs} That’s what I would have been like. Oh, let’s just ship it out. It’s fine. It’s fine. {laughs}

Veronica: {laughs}

Miguel: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: So with all the products that you’ve come out with, when you started your business were you thinking long-term. Like, ok we want to do tortillas, and we want to do chips, and then we want to do C, D, E. Or have you just, slowly as it’s grown and you’ve seen this business take off in more ways; are you then starting to add layers to that brand. Or have you been thinking about; ok we want to do this next, and this next, from the beginning?

Veronica: So when we started, I’d say me personally I do have lots of recipes of things that I think could fit into our product offerings. But initially, I would say I was really just thinking tortilla, for probably the first 9 months to a year. All you could think about was just launching that one product, and making sure that you could get enough of it, and get it on shelves, and people would want to buy it. But probably about a year into the business we really sat down and thought about what we stand for and what we want to do, where we want to go. And at that point, we did start to line up additional product offerings and sort of a timeline for when we want to put out those products.

But a lot of it really has been; like with the chips. We started seeing; customers were saying, “Hey; I take your tortillas and I fry them up in some oil. And now I have chips that I can eat.” So a lot of the stuff still comes from customer needs and wants.

Miguel: Yeah. I just wanted to add to that; I think it’s easy when you’re growing a business or even starting a business to get distracted by saying; like from day one we’ve never started a food business and we start claiming that we’re going to have 7 different product lines. And we have this 10-year road map and all of this stuff. If there’s anybody out there that’s trying to start any sort of food company, I think the biggest thing is get a product out there, get it on the shelf, see if people like it before you start thinking about how big the thing can be. Because, I don’t know. I feel like you could have a 10-year plan, but if product number one does horribly, there’s not going to be 10 years.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. I think that’s a great recommendation. I think people think that you guys pay me, because I talk about your products so much. Because I’m absolutely obsessed with them. But the chips are seriously a game changer. Because if you’re a person who likes chips in general, but you came from a background where you ate corn tortilla chips on a regular basis, or you just really enjoy that because you’re a normal human being, these chips are life changing. And we have them in our house constantly, and we buy them constantly.

So when I post about them, I think the main gripe that you see people; and I’m sure you get emails about this all the time. Because we’ve talked about some funny emails that we both have received. But I think the main gripe that people have is that they’re more expensive. But I don’t think people quite understand that; no sh*t it’s going to be more expensive. Because you’re using high quality ingredients; unlike most of the tortilla chip brands that are out there that aren’t sourced from the best ingredients.

So can you talk a little bit about why you use the certain ingredients you use? You use avocado oil, which is more expensive than all the other sh*ttier oils out there. So why did you choose to use certain ingredients, and not give into the price push that people constantly put out there whenever you talk about your chips. Or I talk about your chips.

Veronica: Mm-hmm.

Miguel: I definitely think for us; I didn’t really buy tortilla chips. I buy our product at Whole Foods. And people will laugh at me at Whole Foods when I go buy our chips. But I like our chips that we make and so I want to be a proud customer of the company that we’re running. So I didn’t buy chips before, because there wasn’t anything that fit. Like on the tortilla chip side. Because I break out on my forehead if I have corn. I don’t know why I break out, but I do. So I’d rather not break out.

I think on the potato chip side, I really enjoyed what Jackson’s was doing. So if I ever bought chips, I was buying the Jackson’s potato chips, fried in coconut oil. And I think that that is telling of why we use the ingredients that we do. It’s because we’re not trying to build products that hopefully the masses will love and that we’ll be able to sell a lot of. Really what we’re trying to do is put products out there that weren’t available for people to live within their dietary restrictions.

Like a lot of people don’t eat high oleic sunflower oil, or canola oil. I personally don’t. So if I don’t, what are the options? And it does become more expensive. And I think that’s important. Our goal isn’t to be the most expensive of any product or any category offering. The goal is to find really good ingredients, that we would want to eat, and that we would want to buy. We have an internal rule. If we wouldn’t want to buy the product off the shelf, then we shouldn’t sell it. Because we need to stand for something.

Juli Bauer: Well I love that. Because I think so many people will turn to canola oil or sunflower oil. And to see products coming out; and more products are coming out with avocado oil. It’s such a big thing for so many people.

I know that people have asked this. I wanted to ask this question. You are not made in a gluten free; completely gluten free facility. Is that your goal at some point to be totally gluten free, or is that not huge on your agenda for your chips?

Veronica: We actually are made; all of our products are made in a gluten free facility.

Juli Bauer: Ok.

Miguel: Our packaging needs and update on that, and we’re moving to a facility that will be entirely gluten and grain free. It’s definitely a priority for us. And so much so that we do test every run of our products as per the gluten; what is it. The gluten intolerance group, or the gluten intolerance organization. They have the GFCO mandates, and your testing parts per million. So we test, and it’s something that’s very serious for us.

Because we understand what that means as consumers as well. We’re not trying to dupe anybody at all. We are still a pretty young company. We’re 3.5 years old. But we try and be our own customer as much as possible. So we definitely are moving towards being in an entirely; there is no flour or corn coming near the facility at all.

Juli Bauer: Ok, good to know. I think people will love to hear about that. Because I saw a couple of questions about that. So let’s talk about your flavors that you have for your chips. So you have just the original, like sea salt. Which is delicious. You have lime, which is my favorite. And then you have nacho. Which I feel like is many people’s favorite, and they always talk about that. What are your favorites, personally?

Veronica: So if we’re talking about chips, my favorite is nacho. And I think that’s because; I mean, when I was growing up, I wasn’t eating the best food. And I grew up loving things like Doritos. So when I developed the nacho flavor, I think I really had that flavor in mind. So yeah, nacho. I’m a nacho girl.

Juli Bauer: I like it.

Miguel: I like nacho, period. And the tortillas, whatever works and whatever is in my fridge. I’m not picky.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. I’m the same way with them. With the tortillas. So, do you guys plan; and I know obviously you have to keep sh*t secret because there are stealers out there. But do you guys plan to come up with more chip flavors? And this was a question by a reader on my Instagram. And she mentioned jalapeno; which got me thinking that you guys should come out with a margarita mix line, and make a jalapeno margarita. And that’s pretty much just for me because that’s what I want. Ok? Ok?

Veronica: That would definitely be a pivot. But we’ll consider it. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: OK. Just think about that. Just think it over, let it mill. But do you guys have plans to come out with more flavors in your chips?

Miguel: Yeah. I would say that we have plans. This is going to be my politician answer.

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Miguel: We have plans to continue growing our company and to continue listening to the consumer and to continue to innovate within the parameters of being a grain-free Mexican-American food brand. So I would say there will be continued innovation. And that when we have it, the people will hear about it. And that kind of goes back to; it doesn’t go back to the previous question, but it’s this idea that we are trying our best to continue to grow and have product offerings that meet people’s standards.

So the gluten free; are we an entirely gluten free facility. Right now, we’re partitioned off, and we’re in a section that is entirely gluten free. And our goal within the next few months is to be in an entirely separate facility just for us. So we’re always working towards having more product offerings, and meeting the consumer demand.

Veronica: Yeah, but I’ll add to that. So we really see potential to be Mexican-American food brand for I guess the natural food space. And so the stuff that we make will be heritage inspired. I guess healthier Mexican-American food. I’m going to add the hyphen to it, because it’s not authentic Mexican food. So really, if we think there’s potential to innovate in any particular category or product, we can make it healthier, better, and it’s heritage inspired, then that’s something we’ll be looking into in the next few years.

Juli Bauer: Ok, sweet.

Veronica: So think Mexican food. You won’t see us trying to make pizza crust or pasta, like our friends at Capello’s. Because that’s not at least our heritage inspired.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. And will you guys talk about where you are available right now for people who are still trying to find your brand, or are just hearing about it. Where are you available? What grocery stores? Are you available internationally? Are you trying to go internationally? Tell us the deets.

Miguel: Currently available nationwide at Whole Foods. Available at Natural Grocers. We’re available in some Wegman’s. Tortillas are available in HEB here in Texas. West coast you’re looking at the natural markets; Erewhon, Lassens, Lazy Acres. Some Bristol Farms. New Seasons Market. PCC.

Veronica: Earth Fare.

Miguel: Earth Fare in the southeast. And some other stores up in New York. So yeah, that’s kind of the run down right now. Our store locator has most of the updated store listings. I will say that if there is a store that doesn’t carry us, and you feel like it should, and that you would want to buy us there. It really does help when you request us at the store.

Juli Bauer: Good to know. That’s what I always tell people if they don’t see something. Not just Siete Foods. But if they don’t see a product they want, to ask. And put the word out there. Because that’s going to be huge for that company. If a couple of people ask that, that’s going to be heard throughout the store and really get pushed. So I always tell people to do that.

Veronica: Mm-hmm.

Juli Bauer: OK. Let’s get into some questions from readers. I really loved this question, because I didn’t even know the answer myself, and I’ve known you guys for years now. This was from Monica, and she said, “I’m a sucker for great design. Where did Siete Food creators find the inspiration for their logo?”

Veronica: Juli, I thought we were besties. How do you not know this?

Juli Bauer: I know. Well here’s the thing; you guys have probably told me 40 times, and I still forget because I’m literally the worst.

Veronica: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: So. I think people should know, what’s so cool about your Austin office, is it’s like in two different houses, and everything is painted in bright colors just like your logo. So you’ve really taken your logo inspiration and pulled it throughout. Not only are the rugs in the offices bright, but the kitchen is super bright. It’s just so cool. So I need the actual background. {laughs}

Veronica: Ok. So our last name is Garza. And that means Heron in Spanish. So Heron bird. So our logo is literally our last name. It’s a Heron bird.

Juli Bauer: Mmm. Ok. And then what made you do all the colors? How did you find the color scheme? Did somebody; who made the logo for you?

Miguel: We chatted with a designer, and she’s really talented. And basically we told her the story. So it’s not just that it’s a heron, but it’s a heron design with papel picado.

Veronica: Sort of looking like a phoenix.

Miguel: Yeah. So the wings are supposed to be a rising phoenix. Because the story is really one of triumph for my sister and for the people that now get to enjoy tortillas and chips who maybe couldn’t before.

Juli Bauer: Aw, I love that. That’s adorable you guys! You guys are adorable.

Veronica: {laughs} Thanks.

Miguel: Appreciate it.

Juli Bauer: Thanks. Get all awkward turtle on me. Ok, so let’s get another listener question. Ruby said, “When did they know that their product was going to take off?”

Veronica: Have we taken off?

Juli Bauer: F*ck yeah, you’ve taken off!

Veronica: Are we there?

Miguel: I would say; yeah. I think that’s always our answer. That it’s not a destination or that it’s taking off. I think that we’re able to share product with people across the country. And that the answer to, when did we know that it had taken off? I’m not sure that we do. Because we have pretty large aspirations. But since the beginning, when you get to read emails from people who tell you that they had a life changing experience because they could now eat tacos again. I think we knew we were onto something there. And then my kissing ass answer is going to be when you first posted about us.

Veronica: Yep.

Juli Bauer: {laughing}

Miguel: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: That was a long-ass time ago, when you had a different name of your company and you were just packaging it out of your house, like in plastic bags.

Miguel: {laughing}

Veronica: {laughing} Not out of our house, that would have been illegal.

Juli Bauer: Ok, ok. Sorry. Sorry, you’re about to get sued, f*ck. All because of this podcast.

Veronica: I’ll actually add to that. I did have a moment a few months ago where it just kind of dawned on me how much people are enjoying these products. I was in DC. My niece recently started school at Georgetown, and I had taken her up to DC for a parent’s weekend sort of thing. And we were actually visiting American University with a friend of hers that was also going to start there in the fall. And I was walking on the American University campus, I think it was a weekend. Like a Saturday, so it was kind of dead. But we’re in this random area of the university, and this group of like 5 freshman girls are crossing the street, and in one hand this girl is carrying a bag of Siete chips. And they’re not in a Whole Foods bag or anything, they’re just in her hands. And I was thinking, that’s so crazy. I’m across the country. I’m in DC. And there’s this random girl just crossing the street with a bag of Siete chips.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Veronica: It really hit me at that moment. I was really grateful and humbled, but it was exciting. Actually it’s a funny story. I actually got kind of star struck; {laughs}, like the way you would feel seeing a celebrity. So I ran up to this poor little freshman girl. And I’m like; hey! You with the chips.

Juli Bauer: {laughing}

Veronica: So she turns around, and she’s like; me? And I said, yeah, yeah! I couldn’t think of what to say, so I told her something like, I make those! {laughs} And she looked at me kind of confused. She saw I was wearing a Siete shirt. And she was like, oh yeah, you’re even wearing the shirt.

Juli Bauer: {laughing}

Veronica: And that was it. She just walked into her dorm room, and I was like; ok, thanks. And I ran off embarrassed that I had said that. But I realized later that she probably didn’t get what I meant. {laughing}

Juli Bauer: Yeah. She was like; oh, cool, you have a sweatshirt. {laughing}

Veronica: Yeah. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Which I’m wearing my Siete sweatshirt right now. Is that weird?

Veronica: Awesome. Is it still cold over there right now?

Juli Bauer: No, it’s like up to 60 degrees now.

Veronica: Oh man. We saw all of this snow when we were on our way out the other day. And I guess we should explain; my mom and I were out at a gluten free fair this past weekend. So we got to run into Juli a couple of times. And when we were leaving, it had been in the 80s while we were there. And the day that we were leaving, it was snowing. Which is exciting for us, because we live in Texas and we never see snow.

Juli Bauer: I know. But it’s just so cold. My dog loved it. But I was over the snow as soon as it hit the ground.

Veronica: {laughs} Yeah, well it was over just as soon, I guess.

Juli Bauer: I know, it’s so true. I can’t complain. Ok. So, this kind of backs off that last question. It’s a little bit of a segue. So, this is from Kayla. And you kind of answered this. So she asks, “As a small business owner, I’d love to know how they were able to gain so much popularity in what seems like a short period of time. And lastly, how many times did it take the owner to create the final grain-free tortilla recipe.”

So let’s start with the first. Well, no. Let’s start with the second one. Let’s talk about first how many times it took you, Veronica, to come up with this recipe. For the first almond flour tortilla.

Veronica: I wish I could tell you how many times. But it just evolved. So I first made that tortilla in 2010 I think. So I guess I’ve been perfecting it for, I wouldn’t say 7 years because now what we’re selling has been that way for at least a couple of years.

Miguel: She’s lying. She’s obsessive.

Veronica: {laughing}

Miguel: She still works on the recipe.

Veronica: Yeah, ok.

Juli Bauer: Does she really?

Miguel: Yeah. She’s a perfectionist. I think that there are probably hundreds of iterations that she’s gone through. And she won’t probably admit to that, but it’s a process developing it. And I think we’re so committed to the consumer, that we’re never satisfied. And we want to continue pushing to make a better product and better recipe.

Veronica: That’s true, yeah. I would say if you’re asking about all of our products, I am always monitoring what’s being produced. We do monitor customer feedback. If I feel like there’s a way to make our products better, it really is always on the back of my mind. {laughs} Sometimes I go to sleep thinking about, “Huh what if I did this? Or what if I did that?” So.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Veronica: I guess it is still a work in progress. Although I think what we have on the shelf is pretty good right now.

Juli Bauer: What’s the main feedback of changes that people have asked for in the past that you have kind of modified the recipe because of them? Has there been anything that you took to heart.

Miguel: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s changes that have been requested, but maybe feedback of, I don’t know, there might be somebody that will say, hey it was really dry. So you’re like; oh, why was it really dry? So you’re modifying certain things that fit within the recipe parameters for something like that.

Veronica: Well I can give you an example. So maybe something like initially someone might have said; I tried to cook the tortilla and it fell apart. So, we don’t have any gluten in our products, so that’s always an issue that we’re going to deal with. We have to work around. So when we started getting that feedback, I realized there were some things we could do in our production to, I guess, so that wouldn’t happen anymore. So that’s one example.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Veronica: So little changes you can make in the process.

Miguel: It’s constant trying to make what you have better.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Miguel: She started in 2010, we didn’t have a company until 2014. So you can imagine there were many weekends with almond flour on her apron, working on another iteration.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, for sure. And what; I feel like Siete, it went from a great brand to a huge brand. That’s how I really see it. Because I see you guys everywhere I am in the store, which is really awesome. So how were you able to gain so much popularity? That was part of Kayla’s question, in a short period of time. And maybe it doesn’t feel like a short period of time, it just as the consumer it does. It just feels like you guys exploded. So did you ever take on investors so you could really kind of rebrand and expand more? What really pushed you to the forefront in getting out into more stores?

Miguel: I don’t necessarily think there was any one thing like that. Actually no. When we started in a food coop, we were in Wheatsville Food Co-op. I always love to give them a shout out because they took a chance on putting our products on the shelves, and were kind of the catalyst for the whole company. But when we got to Whole Foods in February 2015, and just in one store and then two stores then 5 stores. That retail partner has been instrumental for us as we continue to grow.

In 2015, we did do a small friends and family angel investment round in order for us to buy equipment to produce more tortillas at the time. But as far as that being the catalyst; I really think that what we’ve done is we’ve just tried to authentically share our story. And invite people into telling their own Siete story. And we’ve tried to, as best we can, provide the best customer service that we could. And really, to invite people into the family so that they feel good about supporting the brand. And then along the way, we’ve been able to again partner with great retail partners and continue to get people to try the tortillas and the chips.

So I don’t know; I look at other brands and I think they’re immensely more successful and popular than us. Because we’re kind of in a bubble here in Austin, in our office, and everybody is just always hard at work. So it’s humbling that somebody would say that at all. But I think it’s been a combination of factors. And a lot of being blessed; and I think that’s the most humbling part. Because we work really hard, and we have a really great team. And there are 6 out of the 7 of us working full time. My wife now works with us. So there’s a lot of people working really hard to share the message.

But I would really say that we’ve just been in a blesses position and we’ve been able to share the story authentically. And the people that follow you and are trying to live a certain lifestyle that we’ve benefited from their excitement. And we’re immensely humbled by that, and we don’t take it lightly. And we see it as a responsibility to continue creating products that can be life changing for people.

Veronica: Yeah. I think that’s a big part of it. We started out of a need to solve a problem for myself, and my family came together to help me do that. So any time we put out a product, it’s not like; oh, I see this void in the market let’s try to make a product that can fill that void. It’s really just been solve a problem for ourselves, and surely there are more people out there that we’ll be solving the problem for, as well in the process.

Juli Bauer: That’s awesome guys. Would you say you’re #blessed?

Veronica: Yes.

Miguel: Yes.

Juli Bauer: Yes! Yes. So before I let you guys go, I wish everyone could see your office. Because your office is so cool. You have this garage gym space. You have multiple offices. It’s very open and bright. And it’s just such a cool space. And you have this beautiful giant kitchen. And last time I was out in Austin hanging out with you guys, you had this huge dinner where you guys all cooked and had this amazing food. And it was all so good. And I gave myself a stomach ache because I couldn’t stop eating and drinking. And it was so awesome.

So that’s what I imagine your daily life to be like, but it’s obviously not. You’re not having dinners quite that big every single day. But do you guys; since you have this huge kitchen, and you’re obviously probably coming up with new recipes and testing new things. Can you just kind of talk through what your daily day at the office looks like? Whether that’s breakfast all together. Or you’re all working in separate offices. What does a day look like at the Siete foods office?

Veronica: Mm-hmm. Well we actually do have breakfast all together very often. My mom is one of the members of the family that works for the company, and she literally; she is a mom for the whole office.

Juli Bauer: And me. {laughs}

Veronica: Yeah, yeah. And you. She loves you.

Miguel: {laughs}

Veronica: She really, really loves you.

Juli Bauer: She’s the best.

Veronica: So she’s making breakfast at least a few days out of the week, so we all get to partake in that. And for me, personally I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen. That’s my main role with Siete, to develop new products. So I am in there often working on new stuff or tweaking old stuff. The rest of us; my brother can probably add a little bit to that.

Miguel: Yeah. So I would say;

Veronica: Sorry. Our computer is making noise.

Miguel: My wife is currently texting me via the Mac that I’m doing this podcast on.

Veronica: And she’s staring into the window making funny faces at us while we’re in here talking to you.

Juli Bauer: {laughing}

Miguel: So, I would say that I wake up. I’m obsessed with company that we have right now, and I basically live at the office. And now I benefit from my wife working with me now, also. So I can never work too much, because then I’m really just spending more time with my wife, Alex.

Juli Bauer: That’s pretty rad.

Miguel: So it’s pretty awesome. I wake up, get to the office early. I shower at the office. And then, I think most business owners would say; I think one of my jobs is to kind of address any issues that we have that day. And I think as you’re growing and you’re trying to grow quickly, you’re going to have problems arise. And so I’m here at the office all day trying to work with the team to plan for whether it’s new products or new retailers or new production requirements. And then putting out any issues. People will say putting out fires. Which I used to think was kind of silly, but it takes up a good chunk of the day, because in business, things happen. And you’re just always working to address those issues.

We all workout together at like 5:30 and go home, make dinner, and get back at it the next day. But I’m actually at the office 6 or 7 days out of the week. But mainly because we have cold brew here at the office. So I get to get free coffee. And I’m all about it.

Juli Bauer: Heck yeah. If I ever moved to Austin, can I come over to get free coffee?

Veronica: Every day.

Miguel: Yes.

Juli Bauer: Every single day.

Miguel: Only if you give us a boot camp by coach Ju.

Juli Bauer: Ok, deal. You got it. I’ll come over and we’ll all workout together. And then work together.

Miguel: I hadn’t done the Bulgarian split squat at high rep ranges, and then when you had us do them, I felt like my shorts were just fitting a little tighter around the glute area.

Juli Bauer: {laughing}

Miguel: {laughs} So, yeah. I’m all about boot camp by coach JuJu.

Juli Bauer: Ok, sweet. I’m there for you. If I move to Austin, I will be in the office every day. And we’ll drink coffee. I’ll have morning breakfast with you guys. We’ll workout together. And I’ll get my free coffee. And work in your office. Is that totally cool?

Veronica: Yeah.

Miguel: That’s totally cool.

Juli Bauer: Ok. So before I let you guys go, right now, what do you use the product. And it can be chips, it can be tortillas. What recipes are you making the most? Because for me, I have been dipping your chips. So this isn’t a recipe, like at all. But I’ve been dipping your chips into Kite Hill jalapeno cream cheese, and then salsa, and it is ridiculously good.

Miguel: I’m all about it. I’m all about it with you. The freaking jalapeno cream cheese thing is; me and, we haven’t been able to find it here.

Veronica: I don’t think I’ve had it. No.

Juli Bauer: It’s not on shelves yet. I think they’re having a hard time getting it onto shelves; the jalapeno.

Miguel: We found it; I think we found it at a co-op or something at some point. We haven’t found it since. But it was gone through lunchtime. But I’m not; I’ll have a different response than my sister. I’ll let her respond first. I just wanted to jump in on that. Give you the kind of over the podcast high-five.

Juli Bauer: Yes!

Veronica: {laughs} So, we literally. Or at least I literally use at least one of our products with every meal I eat. And sometimes it’s pretty simple. Last night my mom made nachos for dinner. So that’s what I ate. I think I ate that also twice last week. I often will use the tortillas to make sandwiches. So tortilla sandwiches I’ll call them, so just throw some ham and cheese and some avocado and lettuce and mustard in there. I’m actually pretty simple with the way I use the tortillas. But definitely every meal I’m either having chips or tortillas.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Veronica: Oh; so a snack. I take our nacho chips, and I add hot sauce to them, usually some Yellow Bird. Are you familiar with Yellow Bird?

Juli Bauer: No. I don’t think so.

Veronica: Ok, you have to get some. It’s delicious.

Juli Bauer: Wait, is that a sauce?

Veronica: Yes.

Miguel: Yeah.

Juli Bauer: Yes, ok.

Veronica: Like a siracha bottle.

Juli Bauer: Yes, yes I do have them.

Veronica: Yeah, it’s delicious. So take that, add some Yellow Bird sauce to the nacho chips, and then squeeze some lime juice on them, and that’s like the perfect snack.

Juli Bauer: Yum. Well, something I told Miguel that you guys needed to try. I came out with for people who, if they ever come to my site I have all kinds of different recipes with your products, because I love them so much. But I have a taco casserole that I made recently with, it’s like a lasagna so it’s just layered tortillas in this amazing mixture, and it creates this casserole. So I highly recommend; you should try it Veronica. Just test it out.

Veronica: I will.

Juli Bauer: If I get your blessing, then I’ll feel #blessed as well.

Miguel: {laughs}

Veronica: Ok. {laughs} I’ll try it. I’ll look for it.

Miguel: I’m going to run through my quick; because I’m super hungry and I haven’t had lunch.

Juli Bauer: I am too. {laughs}

Miguel: Sear a ribeye steak on the cast iron. I cook it to medium rare. I slice it thinly. I heat up a cassava coconut tortilla. I throw the thin strips on the tortilla. I chop up onion. I put the onion on there. I chop up some cilantro. And I also use the Yellow Bird, the habanero. I put a drizzle of that on top with some lime juice. And I think that’s been my dinner; at least the past three weeks at least 8 to 9 of the times, that’s what I’ve eaten for dinner. And it is delicious. I think you could do it with sirloin steak, also. But the ribeye just has the fat on there that makes it amazing.

Veronica: Can you tell everybody how you heat up the tortillas? Because we have a best method, we think, that I think everybody should try. And you might do it like this, Juli, based on your Instagram photos.

Miguel: Yeah, so gas stove top, right onto the gas stove top. But I’m not a fire professional or a fire fighter. So I’m not making that recommendation.

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Miguel: But I am saying that I put the tortilla right onto the gas griddle top. Like open flame, basically.

Juli Bauer: That’s what I do.

Miguel: Heat it up like that, and then I just flip it with my fingers. Again, not making that recommendation.

Veronica: {laughs} I use tongs.

Miguel: But it gives it just the right amount of crispiness and the burn marks on it that it’s just delicious.

Veronica: That’s definitely something I want to put out there to all of Juli’s podcast listeners. If you’re going to eat any of our tortillas, I highly recommend that you heat them up sufficiently before.

Miguel: Yeah, please don’t eat them cold.

Veronica: Don’t eat cold tortillas. They’re not meant to be eaten that way. Any tortilla.

Juli Bauer: No. Gross. That’s exactly how I heat them up, as well. Unless you’re eating the tortilla chips. Those are great cold. {laughs} But the tortillas, I heat them up on the gas range as well. It’s super easy. It’s like they’re cooked in seconds.

Veronica: And then for those of you who don’t have a gas stove top at home.

Juli Bauer: That’s stupid.

Veronica: Second best way is take a cast iron skillet, heat it up sufficiently. So you want to have it between medium and high heat. Grab some water onto your hands. Throw it onto the pan. And if the water sizzles and evaporates immediately, then it’s hot enough to cook your tortilla. Never cook the tortillas; at least ours, on low heat. Because they’ll dry out and just become tostadas. So medium to high heat. And you’ll get those nice little burn marks on them, and they’ll be delicious.

Juli Bauer: Love it. And for everyone; I get this question all the time, this question drives me f*cking crazy. Oh my god I have a dog snoring on my lap right now. So, if you are like, “Where can I get Siete foods?” Even though we just talked about it. And you’re like; I don’t know where to find it in my region. Oh, don’t worry guys. You just go onto SieteFoods.com. You go to the find tab, and you type in your zip code. And boom, it will spit it out right there. So next time you’re about to ask where can I find these. But I don’t know where you’re located in the world, you can find it out yourself on the world wide web.

Miguel: Boom!

Veronica: Yes. Thank you.

Juli Bauer: Boom. Put it out there.

Veronica: And we sell them, too, off of our website. So.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Yeah. And isn’t it on Amazon too, because everything’s on Amazon? Like prescription drugs at this point?

Veronica: Our chips are on Amazon. Yeah.

Juli Bauer: There you go. Sweet. Ok, guys. Well thank you guys so much for taking the time on this lovely Wednesday to hang out with me for an hour. I’m sure you’re starving because I am too, and it’s like an hour later there. So thank you guys so much for coming on!

Veronica: Thank you Juli!

Miguel: Thank you. We enjoyed it.

Juli Bauer: So stay on the line. Everybody, don’t forget to rate, review, subscribe because that’s supposed to be very important, so I’m trying to say that more often. I’ll talk to you guys soon. Bye-bye for now.

99 episodes available. A new episode about every 7 days averaging 68 mins duration .