AiPeazy Co-Founder on Building a Family Business
Sandra: Hey Dale! Nice of you to join ShopAIP today. I’m Sandra Dorst, and tell us who you are!
Dale: I’m Dale Markham, owner of AiPeazy. Well, part owner - my wife is the other part owner and founder.
Sandra: And when was it founded?
Dale: AiPeazy itself was founded in early 2019. The idea was ruminating around for the better part of 6 months or so, but actually a whole series of events led up to it.
Sandra: Where did AiPeazy start?
Dale: We started in a suburb of Portland: Happy Valley. We actually began right in our own kitchen where we were founded. We had contacted the state and we found out that we could have a commercial kitchen, sort of a startup in our own kitchen based on certain parameters. We had an inspection, and got approved.
Sandra: Nice. What steps did you take from the beginning to the point where your brand is today?
Dale: That’s a long story! A lot of steps. If we go back to 2011, I love working out and crossfit and all that. Through crossfit, I was introduced to Paleo. A few years before 2011, I started having some issues - skin issues, and all that. It turned out to be an Autoimmune issue. At that time, we were making several different products. We actually made the Roots Tigernut Butter before we made AiPeazy, starting in 2013, and back then, we used nuts and seeds. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was actually allergic to a lot of those nuts. In 2016, we got introduced to Tigernuts, so we started making the Tigernut butter. I was looking for something that had a nutty-type of flavor without the nuts. And I found it in Tigernuts!
After we found this great new ingredient, I went back to the basics. What were the difficulties I’d been having with AIP? Breakfast had always been tricky for me with AIP: it felt like constant cooking and cleaning and stress. We’d already been making Paleo foods in our commercial kitchen, so it was a pretty easy jump to AIP.
In 2019, we started AiPeazy. I wanted to make food that was more convenient. I’ve always come from a point of asking myself what my biggest problems are, and if those problems are shared with other people. And then I’d ask, “How can I fix this?” My biggest challenge with AIP was, like I said, breakfast. When you’re on this diet for so long, you get used to having, you know, a little bit of meat, and fruits, and stuff like that. But sometimes, you just want stuff you used to be able to have.
It took a lot of trials to get our final products. Most people don’t realize that for each product we make, there have been 100-plus moments of trial and error, and we had all of those moments in our own kitchen.
Sandra: What are some of your ideal pairings with AiPeazy? Even if it’s between your product and another brand, or your product and fresh food? Or two of your products?
Dale: That’s a good question. I personally like pairing blueberries with the muffin mix, and even cranberries and oranges, since those are my personal favorites. The hot cereal, that cinnamon raisin, is great by itself, but sometimes I like to add a touch of maple syrup. For other pairings, I love pairing things with our pizza. I really love the KC Natural BBQ sauce and pizza sauce with whatever you want on top. I prefer barbeque chicken with red onion, because the wife never liked that, and so I hardly get that.
Dale: We both really agree on, like, a prosciutto or arugula and red onion type of mix for the pizza.
Sandra: And I’ll interject here, but at every conference I go to, I always have the Roots Tigernut butter and pair it with Sweetpotato Awesome, using the chips as a vehicle for the butter.
Dale: Oh yeah, that’s a wonderful, easy snack. Also adding the Roots on top of a waffle with a little bit of syrup.
Sandra: That sounds delicious. Do you have a personal favorite product from your lineup?
Dale: Ah, you know, it’s between the pizza and the waffle mix. Um…I’d say pizza. But waffle is a very close second! It was something that was just a game-changer for my breakfasts. They’re crispy, and so good. It’s so hard between those two. But yeah, I’d say pizza.
Sandra: What do you think we can look forward to as a community from AiPeazy?
Dale: So our focus right now is getting more of a social media presence. We just got another little 600 sq foot storage space that will allow some easier movement among all the moving parts within the business, which should really free up some time to focus on getting the word out even more this year. One of my favorite things to do is make and invent new products, but we don’t have anything on the books for now. We’re so small that it usually takes at least six months of development before anything is ready.
Sandra: I can definitely understand. And then for you personally, you're super busy, it's a small company, you've got a lot of hats that you're wearing. I know you also have a family and children. So there's all of those responsibilities. Given all that, how do you decompress, relax, refresh, and get ready to go again?
Dale: [Laughs] And again, and again, and again… I would say that when the wife and I are home, dinner’s done, basketball is over, we’re home from practice and the kitchen’s cleaned up, and all that stuff… We have a Sodastream, and we love to put a little bit of pure grapefruit juice in it and then hit the hot tub. And most people that have hot tubs don’t use them, you know they just have the best intentions. We actually use this thing about every other day. Sometimes every day, because we’ve just found it so helpful for our own stress relief and health.
Sandra: Maybe you’ll inspire me after this, because I’m in the category of someone who has a hot tub and rarely uses it. Is there anything that you would really like people to know about AiPeazy? Something that most people might not know, even if they’ve been using your products for a long time?
Dale: I think some people already know, but we’re a very small business. I’m actually the one that physically mixes everything in our mixers. I’m the one that mixes all the raw ingredients based on our recipe, and I have one lady helping.
Sandra: That’s amazing. I’m so grateful that you came on to talk to us. I have loved working with you all these years, since we’ve been together almost from the beginning of ShopAIP, I think maybe the beginning of 2018 when I first got a phone call from you. I’m so excited for our community to really get to know you and the AIP brands more.
Dale: Thank you, it was great to chat!