Soul Grain with Sylvia and Liza feature #61 of Together Talks
Updated: Oct 25
"Together Talks" feature #61: Soul Grain presented by KLS, freight company
Some Background on Soul Grain
Today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the luxury to interview Soul Grain with Co-Founders, Liza Maya and Sylvia Williams. Soul Grain asks if you are looking for some high-quality, healthy ingredients for your next meal? Perhaps you’re tired of looking for a delicious yet not unhealthy option? If yes, Soul Grain in Saint Paul is the place to go – offering the best granola around.
Soul Grain is a female-led, minority-owned business whose aim is to liven up the granola game by exploring the vibrant spices, seasonings and flavors of the Black diaspora. Soul Grain is where science and art meet: professional baker (Sylvia) and MS in Nutrition and Functional medicine (Liza). Have a look at our options and they promise you won’t regret trying them out.
Anything but boring
The company was formally formed in May 2022, however the idea had been in the works for a few years prior. Initially the formula the duo had created was in a bar consistency, but then Covid hit. During Covid and talking amongst each other they realized that the granola space was unimaginative in addition to relatively unhealthy options in the space. There was an opportunity to use Liza's nutritional expertise paired with Sylvia's magic in the kitchen to redefine granola. As they shared with us, "What we saw from the competition was pretty boring."
It started with creating a product that was not only easy to consume (both being working mothers on-the-go), but also a created product that was truly good for consuming as a snacking option. One way of achieving this was using coconut oil versus canola oil. In addition to this, every ingredient used in their granola has a functional aspect. Each ingredient is intentionally included to provide benefits to the consumer. The next major innovation they brought was the texture of their Soul Grain granola. Normally granola has a hard and crunchy texture, but not theirs. Instead it is light and crispy. The next innovation was the flavors:
Sweet Potato Casserole
Soul Grain was created to bring soul food inspired flavors to the granola space. Being able to reimagine granola with these unique flavors was trendsetting. But they never lost sight of their initial goal of providing a quick, health conscious snack. As they explained, "many sugars are not very healthy. They are super sugary, contain bad sugars, bad oils. We eliminate that by diligently putting in purposeful ingredients. By using premium ingredients we create a premium product quality at Soul Grain."
The two long-time friends described their company as "a partnership made in heaven". They rely on each other's strengths to create their unique granola. What is more impressive is they both started this company while working fulltime. Liza still works full-time currently, while Sylvia transitioned to full-time at Soul Grain in the near future. The time balance has been a challenge for the owners throughout their time together.
They told us that they did have doubts and concerns, but never about the success of the product, "We wondered if we would have enough money, enough time, enough capacity to pull this off. But our journey has been serendipitous. Every time we reached a hurdle, we made it through. It hasn't been easy, but we've learned along the way and embraced our story."
Throughout our conversation one word continuously came up, "fun". The first major instance was in the kitchen. The duo shared with me that normally the kitchen can be a source of stress and anxiousness and frustration, but for them it is their escape. They love their time in the kitchen as it truly is fun, with one caveat...THE MUSIC. As Sylvia told us, "The music has to be just right, funky. One time I had the wrong music on and the granola suffered", as they both laughed :)
That level of fun translates during product samplings as well. Sylvia told us she is very vocal and will loudly call to people walking by if they want to try some granola. Sylvia, quite the character, told us the questions she receives are pretty comical, but usually it comes down to educating the consumers of the flavors they are offering for granola. Once she has their attention, they are interested in the unique innovation of Soul Grain. She went on, "We promise granola like they've never had it before, they try it and LOVE it. Seeing the reaction and instant feedback is such an incredible experience every single time."
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Expand then create again
The company started with creating something never experienced before in granola with their nutritional background and magical flavors. Soul Grain one upped that by producing a specialty flavor, Lemon Meringue Hie, which is infused with THC and sold in local dispensaries. They are working on two new THC infused flavors as well! In addition to these two new flavors, they want to expand into the remaining seven Kowalski's. Which brings us to their favorite moment so far at Soul Grain.
Four months after starting their company, they were sitting in a meeting with Kowalski's sampling their product. They told me the story of how that pitch went, "We walked out of there almost confused, like is that it? Did we get it, are we in? It was so easy and went so smooth, we were shocked." Liza and Sylvia are committed to not only building a business but a culture. The fun they have, the feelings they create when consumers enjoy their product is contagious and they hope to keep reaching new levels.
The partners are envisioning creating multiple cookbooks with the first highlighting different recipes that will incorporate their granola. In addition to the cookbooks, they plan to release other product lines within the Soul Grain family. Ultimately while building the culture, they hope that they both one day can be full-time at the company and then build it even larger to an eventual successful exit. Until then they are going to enjoy each other's company, strengths, and the fun journey they are on together.
Both mentioned that the biggest challenge has been capital and funding. Learning a new industry creates enough hurdles, but being able to grow at the pace of your money can be detrimental. But they both shared why in the end their journey together at Soul Grain is worth it, first Liza, "Have fun and enjoy the journey. Don't get disappointed not if, but when you get a no. Entrepreneurship is hard, it is really hard and not for the faint of heart." and Sylvia followed, "Love it. Can't be successful if you don't love what you're doing. It is like a marriage, it won't ever be easy, but love the process, the product, the journey to make it work."
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Also check out where Soul Grain has been featured in the following publications below!
Klimson Logistics Solutions - Together Talks with Soul Grain feature #61
*Klimson Logistics Solutions is an Industry Leading Customer Service 3PL. Our focus and commitment to our clients has us striving to be the BEST customer service 3PL for LTL, FTL, Reefer, and Drayage in the country. KLS, freight company, is a 3PL providing nationwide logistics solutions. KLS shipping services include: LTL freight, FTL freight, Reefer LTL freight, Reefer FTL freight, and Drayage. Klimson Logistics Solutions thanks you for viewing our marketing campaign, "Together Talks". If you have any interest in being featured or questions regarding your freight operations please contact us today!
Our precise and reliable effort.
We handle every shipment with the exact same process. It does not matter if you move one shipment a year or ten per day, you will receive the same level of customer service from us. When we started this company, we had one goal in mind, treat every shipment like it was our own. With our vast knowledge of the industry, we understood what a customer would want from a communication standpoint. We applied that process to be the standard here at KLS. Our reliability and being able to depend on our consistency is why we have such long-standing relationships with our clients.
Every shipment in our industry starts with a quote. We are firm believers that time is money, thus we strive to have quotes back in a 5-10 minute reply time for LTL and FTL, any FCL quotes are at the mercy of the carriers getting back to us. For LTL we have the flexibility to quote both off of NMFC and also Density depending on the carrier. Utilizing our services, you’re allowing us to use our expertise to class your freight accordingly to ensure we are providing the best rate we possibly can.
Once a quote has been submitted and a client chooses to proceed with KLS handling the arrangement of the shipment our full process begins. We create the BOL that will be used for the shipment. If it is a new location for our system, we will obtain all the important/special details (reference numbers, contact details, shipping hours, closed for lunch, dock/doors, etc.). We meticulously build every detail into our software for all future shipments involving that location. After we have both locations built and necessary reference numbers have been applied we will tender the shipment to the carrier. We use this method because it provides us a real time pickup number from the carrier to obtain updates prior to pickup. Our staff will either email the BOL directly to you or to the shipper (at your request) the minute after the tender has been accepted by the carrier. LTL carriers require a 2 hour window prior to close time in order to schedule it for a same-day pickup attempt.
The following morning you’ll receive an email from us. It will either provide the reason the pickup was missed (driver’s trailer filled up, driver missed the close time, truck broke down, shipper said no freight, etc.) or if the pickup was successful you will receive the PRO (tracking) number from us, along with the eta for delivery. Our staff will track it throughout the duration of transit and advise if anything happens that will alter the estimated delivery date. The day the shipment delivers we will email you with confirmation and the POD (Proof of Delivery), should you require it.
Your shipment has been quoted, scheduled, picked up, and delivered. The next step is waiting for the carrier to invoice us and make sure the rate matches up. If it does, we close out the invoice from the carrier in our system and automatically your invoice is created and sent to the requested party at your company. In the event the carrier has an additional charge on their invoice “Variance”, we will never send you an invoice with an additional charge without first identifying you of the charge.
Let us repeat, NEVER WILL WE JUST BILL OUT AN EXTRA CHARGE WITHOUT YOU BEING NOTIFIED.
You are our customer, we represent you. Should the carrier provide an extra charge on an invoice, “Lift gate, additional weight, reclass, detention, etc.) We notify you of the charge via email first. Second, within that email we identify what is required should you choose to dispute the charge. Again our goal is to honor your request, if you want to dispute, we will dispute. During a dispute we will provide you updates every step along the way. Once a dispute is closed out, whether it is approved or rejected, then we will invoice you as the invoice has been resolved.
For reference, our company only had 6.2% of all shipments go to dispute in 2022 and we successfully won 91% of those disputes on behalf of our customers.
This is our process for every single shipment you move with us. We don’t cut corners, we don’t hide from difficult situations. We believe in being available, honest, and transparent. We don’t ever want to tell you that a shipment is lost, damaged, misrouted, but it is our duty to notify you the second we find out something has gone wrong. We hate to present bad news, but it is part of the job. What you can guarantee is that we will work a shipment all the way through and turn over every stone until we get a resolution for our clients.
Our core business is LTL and FTL. Within these options we have options for both dry and refrigerated/frozen. We also offer FCL/Drayage options. Our company as a 3PL has nationwide options and services clients across the US.
Let’s breakdown our services more in-depth
LTL: Standard and Guaranteed CFS (Imports & Exports) Tradeshows Hazmat Anything that is on a pallet can be moved LTL. Typically LTL is up to 10 pallets, but the sweet spot for a carrier is 6-8 pallets at most for an individual shipment. LTL quotes are good between 5-30 days depending on the carrier. LTL can be quoted either via NMFC or density to determine the class (we do this for you).
Volume: Anything over 10-12’ of space in the truck is the technical rule for a volume shipment. When we run a quote for you we will determine if it qualifies for volume and provide you a rate if available. Volume moves allow you to get a reduced rate for larger shipments. The caveat to volume shipments it the quotes are only valid for 3-7 days and they move on capacity between terminals. If a terminal is backed up they will move their LTL freight first before the volume freight, which can lead to longer transit times for volume moves.
FTL/Dedicated/Expedited: 53’ Dry and Reefer 26’ Box trucks with lift gate Sprinter Van The main difference for FTL vs LTL is space and transit time. For standard pallets you can fit either 26 or 30 pallets in a 53’ dry van. The other main difference is transit time, for FTL each day counts in the transit time, whereas LTL does not count the day of pickup, weekends, or holidays in their transit time.
Reefer/Frozen: LTL and FTL We specialize working in the CPG space with food manufacturers. We regularly deliver to the following locations: Kehe UNFI Core Mark DPI Wegmans Cugini H.T. Hackney Netrition HEB ALDI Chambers and Owens EBY Brown Nassau Candy Harris Teeter Wakefern NU INC Long Distribution
What makes KLS different?
There are thousands for freight brokers and 3PL in our industry. Barrier to entry is rather easy and agents or owners will often hire sales people without any intention of properly training them. It results in high turnover for many freight companies and a forgettable experience for the client. We choose to operate differently through our consistency. We truly care about doing right by our clients and prospects too. While we would love to help provide our services to every company we speak with, that just isn’t realistic. We won’t always be the right fit for every company that moves freight and that is ok. Our authenticity as a shipping company sets us apart from the competition and that is backed up by our testimonials. We also run a marketing campaign bi-weekly called “Together Talks”. We interview, highlight, and promote two businesses every week. Our goal is to grow our network, make new connections, and learn something new with each collaboration. Check it out on our website and if you’re interested in being featured reach out.
Our company also runs a year long charity promotion. Book your first shipment through KLS and we donate to the charity of your choice in your name. Our way of thanking you for giving us an opportunity to show you the KLS way and what makes us one of a kind. This entire package is what we offer to every prospect and every client. Our goal is to help provide answers that customers may have when it comes to shipping. We want to always be available as a resource and will always offer a lending hand whenever we can.