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Our Story in Kzoo Connect by Jayne Economos

DoughChicks – Healthy Food that Nests in Kalamazoo

Guest Writer Jayne Economos – 06.20.2017

We are so fortunate to have Denise and Kara Steely, a mother-daughter team, that created a health food business decide to nest here in Kalamazoo. These two inspiring, successful entrepreneurs, with matching funky haircuts are ‘birds of a feather.’ Sport enthusiasts, Denise skis, Kara snowboards, and both are keen cyclists and motorcyclists. They also run for fun, and amazingly still find time to create new recipes and expansion plans for growing their healthy snack and cereal business called DoughChicks.
Before starting their food business in 2007, Denise was a dental assistant and more recently sold motorbike apparel. Kara, inspired by her grandmother had always been a keen baker who initially started selling freshly made breads and cookies to neighbors and cafes in her then hometown of Green Bay, WI. Soon after she was awarded a grant for young entrepreneurs.
The Steely duo quickly realized they were onto something special and found themselves ahead of trend of healthier, natural baked foods. Fast-forward to 2017, their business has evolved into a dynamic, organic cereal and snack range with an energy sustaining promise, perfect for people just like them, on the go!
Kara described their secret appeal in more detail, “Our products are loaded with healthy, organic, nutrient dense, gluten free, soy free, dairy free ingredients, such as flaxseed, chia, raw nuts, bananas, honey and cherries. They keep blood sugar levels constant throughout the day. They are also perfect for people of all ages with active lifestyles like cyclists, runners and busy professionals.”
Their breakfast product range includes SolComets Cookies, including the Funky Monkey and Carrot Raisin which fly off the shelves. They also offer the Two Mitten Pancake & Waffle mix, along with the delicious cereal snacks, Midnight and Chia Crunch. However, their flagship product is KaraComet, what they refer to as Fuel4Motion food which is a unique, dense brown cookie which took over a year to perfect.
After a busy start to the day, I of course wanted to sample one immediately. Mmmm… a delicious power-packed fruit based, squidgy cookie which did as it promised- kept my hunger at bay, and my energy up all afternoon.
Denise shared that creating DoughChicks has been a great adventure and growing experience. She went on to say, “As a dental nurse, I understand health and nutrition. We both love helping people by supporting them with products and advice that meet their goal for a healthier lifestyle. I also love dreaming up new innovative recipes and using creative skills I honestly didn’t know I had.”
Kara shared her own very personal perspective, “I have a learning disability and the experience of running a business has changed my life and boosted my confidence. I now enjoy meeting and talking to people in and around Kalamazoo. I also like helping others, and giving back to the community.”
As their way of giving back to the community, DoughChicks are one of many sponsors of local running events like the Portage Winter Blast and Turkey Trot, along with the Gazelle Sports – St. Pattys Day Pub Run, which benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters. This year they also became a sponsor of The Southwest Michigan Eating Disorder Association in honor of one of their customers.
Wondering how they decided on Kalamazoo as their home Denise happily shared, “As self-confessed foodies, we are in our element here. Kalamazoo is a place where people love to discuss and discover new food. We wanted to base DoughChicks in a thriving, vibrant community where art, culture and food are important. Kalamazoo is a growing university town, has all of this and more. When my husband who is a dentist, was offered a job in the area, we all jumped at the chance to live here.”
Although always on the go, DoughChicks can be easily reached via their website. With the support of a dietician, they also welcome questions regarding ingredients, nutrition, and suitability of individual products for people with specific dietary need and are keen to hear from organizations looking for product sponsorship of local events. Products can also be purchased online from their website, various local farmers’ markets and health food stores in the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek areas.
Time seemed to fly by and as I was saying goodbye to Kalamazoo’s DoughChicks, I felt there was one last detail I must know – where did they come up with such a fun, yet funky name for the business. Denise explained, “I was signing off on a business letter one day, I was unsure what to call myself. I wanted something fun and different. The word ‘Doughboy’ stuck in my head but obviously wouldn’t work for two ladies. After some brainstorming, my daughter Bailey, who is very creative, suggested the name DoughChicks – we all loved it.”
Feeling chirpy and enthused as I left, a little bird told me that I needed to try more products. So naturally, I armed myself against hunger with more of their energy sustaining products to eat when feeling peckish. I’m glad I did, everything tasted delicious!