Alex Crosier is both the driving force behind Granola Lab and a part-time librarian at New York University.
It is difficult, she concedes, to maintain both jobs. But without a business partner, she is frightened by the thought of abandoning the security of the library for her food venture. “I hope to be ready to leave the library soon,” Crosier said. “I’m a cautious person. Cautious, but not fearless.”
Granola Lab came to be in March 2010 after Crosier was laid off from a librarian position at Columbia University and was exploring what it would take to open her own coffee shop. She found that while the shop was not financially feasible, she was nevertheless excited about the prospect of creating a business. Crosier had been making homemade granola for a long time, and one day, the connection clicked.
She works 14 hours a week at the library and 40 hours a week on her passion project. Less than half of that time is devoted to making granola time at Hana Pastries Enterprise, the commercial kitchen space she uses in Sunset Park. The rest of her week is spent on managing the business.
After selling her product online through Etsy, an online marketplace that caters to handmade crafts, and at several small markets, Crosier felt confident she could expand to retail stores. Now, Granola Lab is available at more than two dozen stores. Crosier offers five varieties of granola, all which are available for purchase directly from her website, though she concedes that virtually none of her orders come from that platform. Most months, fewer than 10 orders for bags of granola come from the website compared to about 350 per week for her wholesale distributors.
At $8.50 per bag for the tamarind, banana and walnut, the pecan and orange, the cranberry cashew, and the ginger and molasses granolas, and $8.75 per bag for coffee and chocolate granola, Crosier said her unique flavor profiles make her granola stand out against the mass produced alternatives. Though it is a processed product, she said it tastes homemade. With a lower quotient of oats and a higher density of varied ingredients like nuts, seeds and dried fruits, the resulting texture clumps together inconsistently rather than the identical oat clusters that many commercial brands yield.
Instead, imagine trail-mix honey-clustered candy: it’s the science of Granola Lab.