Georgia Grinders’ founder was inspired by family roots
The entrepreneurial spirit is ingrained in Jaime Foster’s DNA. The North Buckhead resident always wanted to run her own business, something she and her husband could pass along to their children. But it wasn’t until 2011 when her mother was diagnosed with ALS at 59 that she decided to leave her job in medical sales to pursue her dream.
“Watching [my mother’s] health rapidly decline at such a young age acted as a catalyst to take the leap of faith and start my own business,” says Foster, founder and CEO of Georgia Grinders. “Life is short and there is never the ideal time to take a risk and leave corporate America.”
How did she settle on launching a premium nut butter company? The inspiration came from Foster’s grandfather who used health and wellness to combat his genetic predisposition to cardiovascular disease. He was known for his delicious homemade almond butter long before nut butters were all the rage. Foster decided to use his recipe as a launching pad for Georgia Grinders.
“My grandfather lived to be 97 and was able to witness the birth of Georgia Grinders,” Foster says. “Our mission is to create extraordinary nut butters out of simple, all-natural ingredients, with zero added sugars and oils, to fuel the adventurous lives of all ages.”
Since its inception eight years ago, the company has grown its offerings and expanded its reach. In addition to almond and peanut butter, Georgia Grinders also produces hazelnut, cashew, pecan and some limited-edition flavored butters, which are sold at retailers such as Whole Foods Market, Publix, Kroger and Sprouts as well as online. In March, Georgia Grinders moved into a new 16,000-squarefoot manufacturing facility in Chamblee, which Foster says will allow the company to triple its production capacity. The company has increased its roasting capacity from 250 pounds per hour to 1,500 pounds per hour. Being in the food manufacturing and consumer packaged goods industry has its challenges, from the constantly fluctuating price of nuts and equipment malfunctions to working with distributors.
“Each day, we are presented with a new challenge that we’re forced to overcome, but that’s what small business ownership is all about— perseverance,” Foster says.
Foster’s devotion extends beyond business to her role as the mother of a 9- and an 11-year-old. While her kids are at school, she is 100% focused on business, but during the evenings, she tries to be all about family. “Something always transpires with the business that needs to be addressed immediately,” she admits. “The biggest lesson that I have learned is to separate the two as much as possible.”
Foster takes time for an intense one-hour workout each morning. She also loves to cook, garden and take her three dogs—and any foster dogs she is housing at the moment—on long walks.
As the interest in plant-based proteins grows, Foster is hoping to see Georgia Grinders transition from a regional brand to a national household name. The company is working on a partnership with Georgia Organics and farmers in South Georgia to bring the first Georgia-grown, processed and manufactured organic peanut butter to market and hopes that other organic nut butters will follow. Foster also plans to launch additional flavors, including pistachio, walnut and superfood blends.
“We are set for optimal growth in meeting consumer needs. We’ve got a premium product, and people like the story from ‘ground to grind.’ Our new facility is going to allow us to take it to the next level in the next year or two,” Foster says.
PHOTO: Sara Hanna
Giannina S. Bedford is multi-faceted writer and editor. Her work covers design, travel, food and business. She’s penned Simply Buckhead’s home feature since inception and held a variety of editorial roles at the magazine. Her freelance work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today, Virtuoso Life, Hemispheres and TravelandLeisure.com. She also contributes regularly Atlanta Business Chronicle. Fluent in Spanish, Giannina was born in Miami and grew up in Brazil, Chile, Hawaii and Australia. She currently lives in Dunwoody with her two kids and husband.