We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Kozaki and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anna, every day, we learn about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Since I graduated from a culinary/pastry school in Osaka, Japan, I’ve been baking for almost 20 years in multiple countries like Japan, Canada, China, Macau, and Singapore. I’ve also loved traveling in the world since I was young, and I know for sure that arts & food are like a borderless language on the Earth. When I moved to Los Angeles 6 years ago, I knew that I was going to create my own food business because before that, I was running a bakery in Macau, and a cookie shop in Tokyo, and I just couldn’t picture myself working in a company doing routine jobs.
Although I still love baking conventional pastries, I was also constantly trying to come up with recipes of sweets and snacks that are also healthy and can be eaten by people with compromised health. My father passed away 15 years ago because of cancer and followed by my grandfather and grandmother with the same cause of death, which made me, even more, realize how important it is to take good care of our health every day especially with what we eat. That is basically the fundamental idea of what I created with my brand STAR SKY GRANOLA – delicious organic & vegan granola baked with the minimum amount of sugar, no salt, and one of the healthiest oils on the Earth, Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
STAR SKY GRANOLA is a Los Angeles-based organic & vegan granola company. All of our granolas and muesli are made of ingredients that are certified organic, vegan, gluten-free, and Non-GMO without any artificial sweeteners, preservatives, refined sugar, or salt. The 70% dark chocolate, cocoa powder, cacao nibs, coffee, and coconut sugar we use are all Fair Trade Certified. I started baking granola in a tiny apartment about 4 years ago and I was selling them at also a tiny farmers market, Old Pasadena Farmers Market (permanently closed now). Every step along the way was a challenge, especially when the COVID-19 hit, the farmers markets, and restaurants were closed, which also hit my business pretty hard. I was unsure if I was able to get my business to survive but thankfully, many of the farmers market customers started ordering my granola online, which helped me go through.
Now we are at South Pasadena Farmers Market every Thursday and Torrance Farmers Market every Saturday. You can find our granola also at all Erewhon Market locations, Little Tokyo Market Place, Rainbow Bridge Natural Foods in Ojai, and so on.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A day trip to Santa Barbara, or I would take them to beautiful beaches like Malibu. Then drive through the canyon roads, eat in DTLA. The night view from the Griffith Observatory is also amazing. Camping at a Joshua Tree National Park is also unforgettable with millions of stars.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Firstly, my parents, who have been so supportive of me even when I decided to quit high school in Japan and moved to Canada by myself, or when I suddenly decided to go backpacking around Europe when I was 19, which, became one of the major turning points of my life. Secondly, my friends, who are always there for me, especially when I was going through one of the most difficult times in my life a few years ago, just talking to them was giving me light in the darkness. I’m also deeply thankful to my customers who continue to give me their kind support. Without any of them, I wouldn’t be able to be in this situation right now.