A Chat With Justin Rashid, founder and president, American Spoon Foods
CS: What about the business appeals to you?
JR: Getting into this business was the solution to wanting to live a certain kind of life in a small town in a rural area. I value living in a small town here on Lake Michigan. I value being relatively independent. Watching the seasons, living with the seasons, which are pretty extreme up here. I value the long-term relationships we have with growers. And the fun part of the business of course is creating the new. Creating new products, new ways of featuring things in our stores. I’m a jack-of-all-trades, master of none, so I enjoy the variety of challenges I have, manufacturing, retailing, cataloging, communicating the story of what we do with our customers across the country. We say every taste tells a story, and it’s a real pleasure to feel that you’re thrilling customers and that the products you make bring enjoyment to their lives. So that’s the fun part of the business. It’s of course hard to be a very small independent business these days, but those are the rewards.
CS: So you grew up in Michigan?
JR: Yes, but I grew up in two extremes. I grew up in Motown in inner city Detroit. I spent every winter there for most of my life. But every summer we spent on that property my mother now owns in Wildwood, Mich., which is basically a ghost town. It’s an old lumber town in a valley 12 miles east of Petoskey. So it was two extremes: the inner city of Detroit and Wildwood, Mich., which is about as far away from anything as you can imagine.
CS: Sounds like quite the dichotomy.
JR: Yes, well the nice thing about it is that although it wasn’t a lake front cottage, to this day I can access about 30,000 acres of state land adjacent to my mother’s property. There are lots of trails and lots of room to hike and forage.