Thursday, September 25, 2014

Charlotte entrepreneur's granola becomes part of news Emmys

DeeDee Navarro with her packaged granola

It would make DeeDee Navarro's day if Diane Sawyer took a bite out of her granola.

There's a chance the former ABC "World News" anchor will next Tuesday.

Navarro, founder of Charlotte's Bungalow Picnic Company, was selected among a pool of more than 1,000 businesses nationwide to provide products that will be stuffed inside gift bags distributed to news media executives, reporters and filmmakers at the 35th annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards Sept. 30.

For the past six years, Off the Wall Gifts, a New Hampshire advertising and product placement company, has given small businesses nationwide the opportunity to submit products for the Emmy gift bags, company founder Val Wilson said. This year, products from 32 businesses will be distributed in 800 gift bags.

A research team examine each business' website, social media efforts and consider how recipients will react to the products. Wilson said she liked the look of Bungalow's website and felt the granola was nicely packaged and Navarro's brand not too gender-specific.

Navarro, mother to two college-aged daughters, said she dreamed of starting a healthy grab-and-go or snack food company for years, but she didn't know "exactly what that was going to entail."

As she brainstormed on what her niche could be, she made granola for her children and their friends. It was a hit. The owner of a local bakery agreed to help her make and package her own granola treats.

She began with basic ingredients --oats, bran and flaxseed-- but decided to also add coconut oil, an ingredient she didn't see used in most granola products. She mixed together a combination she grew up with --peanut butter and banana-- and created her first flavored granola product, which also includes almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries and banana chips.

She has since added sunflower seed butter granola to her flavor repertoire.

Navarro negotiates with store owners to get her granola on their shelves. Bungalow Picnic granola can be found in Whole Foods markets throughout the region, Reid's Fine Foods, EarthFare and the Fresh Market. She wants to continue marketing to specialty food stores, she said, before eventually moving to big retailers.

She hopes the added exposure will bolster business. It wouldn't hurt if some of her favorite TV reporters savored her products, either.

CNN's Anderson Cooper would be awesome, but Christiane Amanpour would be "just amazing," she said.

"It would be just amazing if I thought she was eating granola as she's reporting live from Syria," Navarro said. "She'd take a break to eat my granola."