Owner, The Bites Company
Owner, The Bites Company
After devoting the prior thirty years of her life to being a full-time mother, wife and community volunteer, Dina Upton was determined to make 2011 her year.
“I had recently gone through some major life changes and was ready for a new chapter. I knew I wanted to start my own business, but I wasn’t exactly sure at the time what it would look like.”
Inspiration soon struck close to home in the biscotti jar sitting atop her kitchen counter. Upton’s friends and family could always count on the porcelain container to be stocked with delicious, freshly baked treats made from the traditional recipe her Italian-born grandmother lovingly taught her decades ago.
“There was a huge movement around ethnic specialty foods at the time,” she said. “I did my research and found that the only kind of biscotti on the market were the hard, traditional log-shaped cookies. I thought, why not make them smaller and crispy instead of dense?”
The end product – round, artisanal biscotti bites that “melt in your mouth” – was unlike anything being sold. The health-conscious Upton was committed to ensuring that the bites were low in both sodium and sugar, used only organic and kosher ingredients, yet were big on natural flavors such as lemon, almond, brown butter and chocolate.
The Bites Company was born and sold its first bag of biscotti in the middle of 2011. Within only six months, the company had surpassed nearly 30,000 bags in sales.
“When I first launched this business I was focused and fearless. I didn’t have a long-term vision,” she said. “I was just running on the excitement of my nearly instant success. But as I grew, my vision and goals evolved significantly. I was aiming for large chains, attaining the right certifications and trying to maintain existing customers while growing at a sustainable rate. I realized I didn’t have all the answers.”
Upton turned to the Women’s Business Development Council where she sought out classes to help her streamline her accounting and learn about online branding and social media. She credits the Women’s Business Development Council with pointing her in the direction of a small business loan from the SBA that enabled her to acquire a larger production facility in Bridgeport.
Upton believes that one of the most valuable takeaways from the Women’s Business Development Council is the encouragement and confidence boost she received from its counselors, instructors and fellow women business owners. At times, she explained, it’s the shot in the arm she needs as she navigates the male-dominated field of grocery distributors.
Last year alone, Upton sold more than 200,000 bags (more than 8 million cookies) of biscotti bites on her web site, in specialty stores, and in grocery stores along the East Coast including Stop & Shop, Wegmans, Whole Foods and Big Y. She has also found considerable success on Amazon.
Upton encourages any woman dreaming of owning her own business to “go for it” and passes along her top advice: ”Be passionate, be persistent. They say ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. You don’t ever want to look back with regret for not following your dream, so be 100 percent in. There’s nothing more gratifying!”
For more information on The Bites Company, visit thebitescompany.com.