Meet Nicole Ledoux. She is the CEO and Co-Founder of 88 Acres, based out of Dorchester, Massachusetts.
88 Acres makes craft seed bars, seed butters and seednola from simple wholesome ingredients. Their products are free of nuts, dairy, gluten, soy, and a number of other popular allergens, which is pretty amazing for those who suffer from allergies, but the best part is that their products are absolutely delicious!!
Nicole co-founded 88 Acres with her husband Rob Dalton. Both Rob and their son Emmett suffer from food allergies, which is why it was so important for them to create a company that makes allergen safe products.
The story of how 88 Acres was born is amazing and I hope you will read on to learn more about this wonderful local business. Also, don’t miss the coupon at the end of this post to take advantage of 20% off an order of 88 Acres products!
A Mother’s Work: Nicole Ledoux | CEO/Co-Founder 88 Acres
I first met Nicole about 15 years ago when we worked together at a finance company in Boston. We were ‘cube-mates’ and sat next to each other every day, all day for years! Needless to say, we got to know each other pretty well. Looking back on that time, I remember how Nicole always used to be the one bringing in delicious snacks that she had whipped up in her kitchen the night before. If only we knew then what her late night kitchen tinkering would eventually become! I’m so thankful to have had that time with Nicole and I’m so proud of the success she and her husband Rob have achieved with 88 Acres.
Tell me the story of how 88 acres was born.
The story of 88 Acres is really a love story. My now-husband and co-founder, Rob Dalton, and I met on match.com back when that was the only way to meet online. On our 4th date, we were out to dinner and he almost died when his dinner was cross-contaminated with nuts. Rob is deathly allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and I don’t have any food allergies. Honestly, I didn’t want to eat crappy “allergy-friendly” food for the rest of my life (and neither did he!). I started making him snacks in our tiny basement apartment kitchen that he and I could share together and 88 Acres was born.
What is the most challenging thing about running your own business and raising a family at the same time and how do you manage it?
There is basically no work/life balance, and I’m okay with that. I actually think that work/life balance is a mystical unicorn that doesn’t exist. We love what we do and we’re passionate about making 88 Acres successful. That’s not a 9 to 5 job. When we’re at the office, we are heads down cranking out as much work as possible before one of us has to leave to pick up our son Emmett at 5:15. Most nights he begs to go to the office before we go home. He’s obsessed with our team and loves coming to the office to help take out the trash, water the plants, and watch the commuter rail out the window. We go home, eat dinner and enjoy uninterrupted time together and don’t check cell phones or laptops until after Emmett goes to sleep. After we eat dinner, we usually do a few more hours of work before heading off to bed. It’s madness, but we make it work. I love that Emmett is exposed to our business and gets to see his mom and dad working their tails off. I hope it teaches him to work hard, take risks, and surround himself with passionate people.
What’s the story behind the name?
I grew up on an 88-acre farm in North Brookfield, MA, and the core tenets of the company and the brand today are an extension of that experience.
What was your career before becoming CEO of 88 acres?
I spent a decade in finance before launching 88 Acres, in various trading and portfolio management roles. Before meeting Rob, I definitely never thought I would leave finance to start a food company!
When you were little, was there something specific you wanted to be when you grew up?
When I was little, my family used to tell me that I would make an excellent lawyer (let’s just say that I enjoyed arguing my cause from a young age…). At one point I wanted to be the first female president. I think I just wanted to be in charge of something, which I suppose, is pretty fitting.
I love that your business is a joint effort between you and your husband. Tell me more about what it’s like to work with your spouse – the good the bad the ugly 🙂
Working with your spouse is definitely not for everyone. I actually love it though. Rob and I have very different, almost opposite skill sets and personalities that really complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Starting a business is such an all-encompassing endeavor and I can’t imagine doing this with anyone other than Rob. There’s no one that I trust more, and our marriage and business partnership requires that we sort out all our differences at the end of the day, so nothing from work can sit and simmer. We spend a LOT of time together though, so we try to make sure that we get some time away from each other every once in a while (doing yoga, going for a run, etc).
What is one of the best pieces of business advice that someone has given you?
Have a network of other entrepreneurs that you can bounce ideas off of, and vent to. It can be pretty lonely being the boss, and other founders know what that’s like.
There are so many granola bars and seed butters on the market. What sets 88 acres apart from all the rest?
Everything that we have created and launched started with tinkering in our kitchen – initially at home and eventually in our office R&D kitchen. We don’t create food in a lab based on a specific set of analytic parameters. We aim to create foods that taste amazing and meet an unmet need in a category. If it doesn’t pass the taste test with our team, family and friends, then it doesn’t make it in front of potential partners, let alone coming to market. We believe that we’re driving innovation across brand, protein sources and approachable, yet unique flavors.
I’ve been eating your granola bars since the beginning, but your seed butter is new for me! It’s delicious all by itself, but I’d love to hear your favorite way to eat 88 acres seed butter?
This one is tough because there’s so many amazing ways to enjoy seed butter. I love to add it to my smoothies and bowls of oatmeal in the morning. I also love challenging myself to come up with interesting seed butter and jelly pairings for a killer SB&J sandwich (chocolate sunflower seed butter with jalapeno apple jelly is a current favorite). Our watermelon butter is an amazing base for salad dressings and sauces. But since we launched our seed butter in single serve squeeze pouches, you’re most likely to see me eating it straight up from the pouch.
Is there a coupon code I can share with my audience?
Read more features from the A Mother’s Work series here!
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