We had the good fortune of connecting with Beth Chen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Beth, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve spent my entire life with a nut allergy but later in life had to remove grains and dairy for my overall health. Removing one item from your diet is a difficult change but can be done. But when it comes to baking if you remove wheat flour, you’re pretty much left with nut flour which I couldn’t eat. And when you then remove dairy, you can’t eat 99% of what is in the baking aisle. Forget about prepackaged or convenience foods, they barely exist for some with these allergies.
I remember thinking that I will never be able to enjoy baked goods or any type of bread again. I was sad but it was fine. For a little while. Then my son was born, and he also had to remove nuts and dairy from his diet.
I had such fond memories of baking and then enjoying the home baked cookies with my mom and fresh baked bread with my dad. I was so sad that my son wasn’t going to be able to have the same childhood memories with his mama.
I started a blog, bonaippetit.com, to help those on the autoimmune protocol which is a version of the Paleo lifestyle meant for healing from autoimmune disease and chronic illness. It removes a lot of the top allergens to help find optimal wellness. Sharing my health journey and all the resources and recipes I had created over the years helped a lot of people. But I really thought I could do more.
Bread of any kind is very difficult with food sensitivities and allergies. And the flours used to make cookies, bread, etc. aren’t always easy to work with. There’s no 1:1 substitution for wheat flour. Yet, there are 3 million Americans that have nut allergies. 2 million celiacs (gluten allergy). And 18 million with gluten sensitivities!
I thought I could simplify baking and flour for this community, so I created Beth Blends. It’s a grain-free flour blend that’s made without almonds. It’s made in a top 5 allergen-free facility so people with allergies or sensitivities to milk, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, and soy can feel comfortable using this for themselves or loved ones.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m really proud that I was able to start this company during a pandemic with many chronic health issues myself. I was able to launch the product about a year after my initial idea.
I’m really excited at the potential of Beth Blends as well. This product is more than just flour, it’s a helpful resource for so many that are struggling with food allergies and sensitivities. Our goal is to make life easy and delicious.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The beach! Everyone that visits wants to go to the beach. There are so many beaches to visit from SB to SD that it’s hard to pick a favorite. I also love Santa Barbara. Strolling down State Street or stopping to smell the roses in the garden across from the Mission is lovely. And probably a visit to the San Diego Zoo for the kiddos.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Thank you to anyone with food allergies or sensitivities, especially Beth Blends customers. Managing a chronic condition for yourself or your child is an unpaid medical assistant job that you never asked for or wanted. You’ve been thrust into a role for which there is no instruction manual. You’re making it up as you go along. But you’re not alone. There’s an entire community of people in a similar situation. I know that doesn’t make it easier but it’s always good to know there’s a community to which you can turn for support. It’s because of you that companies like mine exist and thrive.