As Good To-Go wraps up it’s first year in business, I find the need for a reality check. Sometimes you have to just stop and remember where you are and how far you’ve come. David and I have been plugging along with Good To-Go for many, many months now. We first got into stores in April of this year and are now in over 100 stores nationwide. I giggle every time I think back to David’s hyper vigilante rant this past June, “Jen, we need to get more exposure. We need people to be able to find us. You need to up production.” I laughed at him, as only a wife can do. “Seriously, David? We’ve been in the market for a month and are already in over 2 dozen stores. You need to dial it down a bit dear.”
The one thing David did harp on was staff. “Jen, you need to hire more staff.” Not that I didn’t want help but as a small business I was cautious about hiring. Although he was right, we needed all hands on deck and our four hands weren’t quite cutting it. David needed assistance with the ever-increasing demands of marketing and sales. I was busy in the kitchen 15 hours a day with no extra time to devote to the other demands of an upstart like bookkeeping, shipping or even just answering the phone. Then as luck would have it, fate dropped four amazing people on our doorstep.
Amanda Arloro answered my “Help Wanted” ad for a Chef’s Assistant. She was perfect from first inspection on paper and even better when we met. Amanda graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the prestigious culinary school, Johnson & Wales University in Providence Rhode Island. She spent time as a trucker for the American Mountain Club, stocking their huts and as the store-house keeper. I hired her away from the Kennebunk School System, where she was managing the kitchen, serving 500 students a day. She’s entered our kitchens with absolute confidence and has enabled us to double our production. Amanda is wonderfully upbeat and greets everyone with a smile and an interesting story. During her free time she enjoys baking, playing with her two dogs Libby and Wolfie, and working on outdoor projects with her partner Dan. Amanda’s son Greg is 18 and just about to enter college.
While I was busy trying to find help in the kitchen, Emilie Chatelain came knocking on David Koorits’ door. Emilie was working at EMS’s South Portland Maine store and had sold our products, tried our meals and really loved Good To-Go when David held a staff clinic to give them more detail of our Good To-Go story. Emilie had been working for years in outdoor retail, focusing her creative energies on visual merchandising. For over 7 years she was the visual team leader for dozens of REI new store openings and remodels. Her efforts spearheaded increased sales and customer interaction with the products. We were thrilled when Emilie wanted to join our tiny crew, focusing her skills on sales and marketing. Emilie has also been busy maintaining all our social media and will begin blogging on our website as well. When not at work, Emilie is an avid climber with many ascents under her harness belt. After relocating from the West coast, Emilie has taken up climbing in our local White Mountains but still misses the beauty and ascents of Joshua Tree National Park and Bend, Oregon’s Smith Rock. Emilie lives in Portland with her friend Caitlin and little dog Annie.
With our increase in production and sales we needed help actually getting our product packed up and out the door. This is when we decided to search for just the right person to head our shipping department. A task of this nature takes a person whose attention to detail, brut strength and lovely hand writing skill is paramount. We found all of this in Kate Newport, a recent transplant to the Seacoast area from Philly. I will admit, as we began Good To-Go, shipping was not a high priority for me. Well, after juggling even 10 orders at once I marvel at Kate’s ability. She can make a morning of 35 outgoing orders look like a walk in the park. On one recent day when Kate was off, David and I tripped and stumbled over each other to get out the day’s orders. I’m grateful everyday she’s here, not only is she efficient and always willing to help, Kate is absolutely hilarious, her one liners make even a stressful moment more bearable. Most days when Kate leaves the shop she heads for the ocean, surfboard in hand. She’s vowed to continue through the New England winter, I think she’s nuts, but perhaps that has nothing to do with surfing. Kate lives in Portsmouth, NH with her nuclear engineer husband, Chris and their black lady lab, Tank.
We very quickly realized with all this action going on someone had to jump on board to help us with numbers, projections and the millions of slips of paper that began to accumulate. That’s when Jean Rowe walked in our door. Wehad hoped to findsomeone who could help with bookkeeping, at best, someone with a little experience, Jean was a dream come true. A Bentley College Graduate in Accounting, Jean had kept the books for close to 15 years for the New England Carpenters Pension Fund. Jean had recently retired and was working part time close to Good To-Go’s World Head Quarters in Kittery when a friend had mentioned her interest in possibly working part time as a bookkeeper. We hired her on the spot. She’s been instrumental in reorganizing our accounting system and has already taught this 14 year veteran of QuickBooks more tricks and memorized reports than I ever knew existed before. Jean lives in York, Maine with her husband Jay. The two have 3 children, 12 grand children and 11 great-grand children. None of us here at Good To-Go understand how that’s possible since Jean looks about 50 years old!
Both David and I wanted to take a moment to thank these four lovely ladies for all their help, understanding and wisdom. It takes many hands to make light work or to bring a bowl of hot Thai Curry to a mountaintop. Thank you so very much and Happy Holidays everyone for all your support.
You’re back, great! Or maybe it’s your first read through our second Good To-Go blog.
Either way, I’m happy you’re here. As I begin blogging I feel the need to give you a bit more history behind why I’m writing and how I got here and who the other players are in our GTG world.
We did not plan Good To-Go, it evolved. Some people make a plan to start a new business and then it happens. I did that for my last job. I planned to be a caterer in Southern Maine, my husband built me the facilities and then I catered. A couple years into it I realized catering really wasn’t my thing. I was having much more fun on my time off. Any chance we could get, my husband and I would head to the mountains to hike in the backcountry.
You have a lot time to think when your hiking. Both my husband and I are builders and problem solvers so most of our thoughts and conversations were about how we could change our careers and what we would actually do. David thought we should make a product. What this product would be was anyone’s guess. We would throw out ideas to one another, none of them seemed to stick.
At that same time, we found ourselves with a 10 day window that I wasn’t catering and David could get off from work at his job as an ER nurse. We started planning our trip, a 7 day loop through the Adirondacks. I had never been out for that long of a stretch and meal planning became my newest obsession. David assured me we could exist on rice and beans, mac and cheese with tunafish, GORP and oatmeal. That sounded awful to me.
I started playing around with my table-top dehydrator. First with fruits and veggies, nothing unusual, just making light food that would keep during longer trips. But I started thinking “If this stuff dehydrates, why can’t whole meals?” I took my old standard comfort food recipes and gave it a shot. Some worked, some didn’t, most needed to be tweaked but I felt it was possible. We took out three different meals on that Adirondack trip. Funny, looking back at it now, I never really tested if they would rehydrate alright. I just kind of thought they would. Luckily they did, being I didn’t pack any other food for us other than my granola and homemade energy bars.
I continued making our homemade dehydrated meals, taking them on trips, sharing them with friends, all the while still trying to figure out my next career move. Friends started requesting my meals for their own trips. I would happily cook up a few batches and send them on their way. Again always going back to, “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?”
It wasn’t until my after my first sailing trip that I noticed the light bulb hanging over my head. I don’t know how to sail so my designated job for our 7 day outing was to be the chef. Perfect, I thought. I’ll cook everything at home and bring my dehydrated meals.
That way we could save money by not paying the crazy island prices for food. More importantly, after a day of sailing, I wouldn’t have to go below to the galley and slave over dinner. Boil a pot of water and “Voila” dinner is served. I did spend sometime in the galley, squeezing limes with a fork for mojitos, but the crew was thirsty and needed refreshments.
After David and I parted ways with our friends in Tortola we headed to St. John for a few days in some Eco-Tents. We hiked around the island and it was during that time we realized, “Maybe people would buy this! Would they?” We didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of Good To-Go.
Manhattan 2008- Food Obsessed City Girl Chef seeks companionship. Loves to travel and eat. Socialize and eat. Cook and eat. Garden and eat. Open to anything that involves food.
Maine 2008 – Avid Outdoorsman seeks companionship. Loves to hike in the backcountry. Ski in the backcountry. Take shelter in the backcountry. Eat in the backcountry. Open to anything that involves the outdoors.
What happened when these two met?
My Name is Jennifer Scism. I’m 49 years old and love food. I began cooking when I was seven. The meals I made at that age were spaghetti and meatballs, fried rice, and Swiss cheese fondue. Since then I’ve expanded my repertoire with the help of hundreds of cookbooks, a degree from the French Culinary Institute in NYC, working side-by-side with many talented and well regarded chefs, and an amazing 9-month tour around the world in search of great cuisine. I opened and ran Annisa Restaurant in Greenwich Village for 10 years. I was the GM and Sommelier and all around Girl Friday.
After living for 23 years in New York City, I moved to York, Maine, in 2010 to live with my husband, David Koorits. David and I met a couple years before in 2008. We were polar opposites, but, as they say, opposites attract.
David had spent the past 10 years of his life in the backcountry. He was a wilderness EMT, a ski patroller, and a commercial diver. He worked with troubled teens in wilderness settings and as a Hot-Shot fire fighter out West for 3 seasons.
Meanwhile, I was refining my wine pairings and expanding my closet of designer dresses, but deep down I was missing one major thing, the outdoors.
When I met David, I realized he was the missing link. I was soon outfitted from head to toe with quick-dry clothes, hiking boots, rain gear, and a 70-liter backpack. Our first overnight together, the first of my lifetime, was high above Crawford Notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It rained the entire time and I was completely overwhelmed by the weight of my ENORMOUS pack, but I had the time of my life. I was dirty, wet, and smiling from ear to ear. Six years and hundreds of trail miles later, I still love the moment the packs emerge from the basement in preparation for our next adventure.
A few things have changed since that first outing, most importantly, the size of our backpacks. We’ve scaled everything down and hike as light as possible. That being said, the last thing to change was our food supply. Cooking and loving food the way I do, I refused to pack in the freeze-dried meals I had tried in the past. I just wasn’t loving them. On short trips we would hump in fresh ingredients and I would labor over the stove at the end of the day, making dinner. That had to end when our trips got longer and the weather warmer. I then started playing around with my table-top dehydrator and several of my favorite comfort food dishes. After almost two years and much trial and error, what we hike with us today is now available for everyone to enjoy.
Good To-Go. Real Food. Real Adventure.
We look forward to sharing more of our experiences with you as Good To-Go grows. Both David and I are storytellers and love to gab so we’ll have to edit one another or this could get lengthy, but we’ll make it fun for sure.