A Chat With Justin Rashid, founder and president, American Spoon Foods
© Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, October 2006
Catalog Success: When was the catalog established?
Justin Rashid: 1983. I started as a wild-food forager and purveyor. I grew up in the food business. I was supplying chefs, and one the chefs I supplied was a New York-based chef. He and I partnered to make the best fruit preserves in America. He gave me a recipe and I found the fruit. And we were young and dumb and we started a company when we were in our late 20s. We incorporated in 1982. The catalog got started when the foods we made were written about in the New York Times. That generated 4,000 requests for a catalog, and we didn’t have one. So that’s how we began, by answering the requests we got from the 1983 New York Times article.
CS: As a ready-made list, that’s not so bad.
JR: No, it was a great list.
CS: Where are your headquarters?
JR: Petoskey, Mich.
CS: What is your primary merchandise?
JR: Specialty foods, food gifts, primarily preserved fruits and condiments.
CS: What are your main sales channels, and what percentage of sales does each represent?
JR: One-third through branded retail stores, one-third catalog and the Web, and one-third wholesale. We have four company-owned stores and three licensed stores. We also have a cafe that features our products. All of those are in Michigan.
CS: You said you grew up in the food business. Were your parents involved in that?
JR: My dad, yes. I grew up in bunch of family-owned grocery stores in Detroit. You could say my father loved the fruit peddler part of the business the most. And my mom was just an Indiana farm girl who loved to garden and wild food forage, and pick berries and all of that. I’m kind of a natural hybrid of them.