For the past three years, Bliss Nut Butters has been a welcome presence at the Hollywood Farmers Market. Over eight years ago, Daniell Bliss and her husband created these delicious and nutritious nut butters. As a triathlete, Daniell needed something that would give her sustained energy without making her sick. While most of the sports products at that time provided sustained energy, the additives were causing her adverse side effects. She wanted healthier food that could keep her going over her many four-hour training sessions.
Daniell’s story began in Maine where she lived with her mom. Her dad lived on the other side of the country in Portland, Oregon. Every year she traveled West to visit her dad, and each time she fell more in love with the Pacific Northwest. Finally, at age 15 she made Albany, Oregon her permanent home. But for over eight years, Daniell worked at Portland City Grill downtown. It was here that she became deeply entrenched in Portland’s culture and way of life.
After high school, she got her degree in Public Health. Always interested in nutrition and wellness, she thought her career would be as a health consultant, possibly a grant writer, or even a nutritional coach. A businesswoman to the core, this path led her to create the Bliss Nut Butters’ parent company, Back 2 Basics Wellness. Making her own product, and being very successful at it, wasn’t on her radar at the time.
Her knowledge of good nutrition led her to look for the perfect energy booster to sustain her through four hours of training. This she found in her own combination of peanut butter, honey, and sea salt. Each having a property conducive to her training regimen. Peanut butter for energy, honey because it is lower in sugar, and sea salt which provides naturally occurring hydration. Her family and friends were trying out this healthy treat and loving it. Not one to sit still, she created a second flavor by adding chia seeds for an energy boost. In addition to her friends and family, her co-workers were also enjoying the benefits and encouraging her to sell the nut butters. Her initial response was, “No way.”
However, destiny had other plans. Soon Daniell and her husband were renting space in a commercial kitchen one day a week. But the fledgling company was seeing a lot more demand than could be met just making batches one day a week. They tried working with a co-packer, but after a year, they found that the relationship was detrimental to their business, and almost went bankrupt due to very unethical business practices. They had to do something else.
As Bliss Nut Butters started showing up at farmers markets, they desperately needed more capacity. They did the research and her home kitchen could be certified, allowing Daniell and her husband to make larger batches to meet the ever-growing demand. While this was suitable for a time, it wasn’t long before a larger, dedicated space was needed. They needed room to have pallets upon pallets of nuts delivered.
Bliss Nut Butters found a new home and larger space in Oregon City, where the nut butters are currently produced to support 22 farmers markets and over 500 stores. She does all this with about eight employees for the farmers market and five on the production side. A solid team effort, Daniell owns and manages the business and her husband manages the production.
In addition to increased capacity for the growing nut butter business, customers started contacting Daniell about making their products as well. With the available production capacity, Daniell added a second business, Northwest Packaging, which ironically is a co-packaging company. She turned the negative experience with the first copacker into a strong desire to treat her customers’ products and business relationship with the same integrity as her own products. Local and national companies now send Daniell their recipes, and Northwest Packaging produces, packages, and distributes them. Daniell’s mission is to manufacture Bliss Nut Butters and her customers’ products using the highest manufacturing and food safety standards. Getting the manufacturing SQF and Good Manufacturing certification for food safety, quality, etc. is a top priority. Recently they invested in another facility for the co-packaging business and adding automated grinders to help support the expanding businesses. However, hand cranking the nuts is an amazing workout. Now her husband will have to find another way of working out.
Daniell has a business partner who is a master at sourcing what they need for the nut butters. Because she is going for a non-GMO, organic, and gluten-free certification, honey needs to come from a region that is completely pesticides free. Even if a local farmer doesn’t use pesticides, the bees travel wherever they can get nectar, and that could include a farm that does use them. To ensure the purest quality, their honey is sourced from the jungles of Brazil where the bees live a pesticide-free life. Good for them and good for her customers.
Nuts are sourced from in the U.S. Almonds come from farms in California, peanuts from North Carolina, and hazelnuts come from Oregon. Since hazelnuts only grow in a couple of regions, Turkey and the Northwest being the main growing areas, they are especially fresh and flavorful. People typically associate hazelnuts with chocolate, but not as a nut to eat on its own. Yet these little delights become a delicious treat in the Bliss Hazelnut and Cranberry nut butter.
What makes Bliss Nut Butters stand out is the fresh ground process which results in a lovely crunchy texture and preserves the integrity of the ingredients. Bliss Nut Butters uses only real honey (many companies use honey powder). And using glass jars helps preserve freshness and the jars can be reused or recycled. Great for organizing a kitchen pantry, homemade bath salts, sewing room, nuts and screws in the garage, even canning.
Bliss Nut Butters have 8 different SKUs ( products ). Except for the Almond & Coconut Bliss, all the nut butters are made with the right amount of honey. You won’t find a smooth one in the selection, but the slightly crunchy texture is wildly enjoyable. And none of them stick to the roof of your mouth. That alone keeps me coming back. Flavors include:
- Cinnamon Chia Seed Peanut Butter Bliss
- Almond & Coconut Butter Bliss
- Hazelnut Butter Bliss
- Cranberry Hazelnut Bliss
- Peanut Butter Bliss
- Sunflower Seed Bliss
- Chia Seed Peanut Butter Bliss
- Cashew Butter Bliss
Not only is Daniell putting her ceaseless energy into getting non GMO, gluten-free, and SQF certifications, she is also pursuing a Women-Owned Business certification to help her get into more stores. For example, the Army defers contracts to minority business. When she first started building out the production business some of the machine guys didn’t take her seriously. But that has changed and there aren’t any challenges except those that are associated with running a business.
Besides running the business, cooking is one of Daniell’s passions. She loves creating healthy meals that are super tasty and nutritious. Sharing them is part of the full experience. Try hazelnut crusted salmon for a great northwest entre`. Or take home the Thai Chicken recipe. If you are looking for an appetizer, spread the Sunflower Seed Bliss Butter on fresh, sliced cucumber with a dab of Sriracha and you have an easy winner at parties. My favorite is using the Hazelnut Cranberry nut butter with baked acorn squash. Quick, easy, and delicious. Pick up the recipe the next time to are at the Hollywood Farmers market along with other recipes. Of course, don’t forget the Bliss.
Getting the Northwest Packaging production facility up and running required many, many hours and she had to put her running on hold. But now that it is in the final stages, she is excited to start running again. She isn’t sure about competing again, but putting in a two-hour run is a good start.
Eight and a half years later and eight different SKUs, Bliss Nut Butters can be found at 22 farmers markets and in over 500 grocery stores, primarily in the Northwest, but is rapidly expanding to other states. Pretty impressive for someone who said, “No way.”