Gambling on Granola: Unexpected Gifts on the Path of Entrepreneurship
In the wake of an unexpected divorce, Fiona Simon leaves her job to launch a natural foods company, which she hopes will provide a flexible lifestyle for spending more time with her daughter. Through the account that follows, she chronicles the challenges and victories of small business ownership and the—often painful—lessons learned. From hand-selling her granola at the farmer’s market to co-packing opportunities, Simon shares building her business—the hardships and successes, the serendipitous moments and near-misses—as she bootstraps her way to building her dream.
Gambling on Granola: Unexpected Gifts on the Path of Entrepreneurship by Fiona Maria Simon is an exhaustive yet heartfelt story of the author’s struggles to balance business and motherhood, of choices made, of getting product baked, bagged, and on the shelf, and of the steep learning curve Fiona encountered. It covers everything from designing logos and creating various product lines to missed sporting events, and is filled with joyous moments spent with her daughter. It also tells of relationships forged and victories gained. Most of all, Gambling on Granola is the story of a mother’s love for her daughter and her willingness to do whatever it takes to manifest her deepest held values in business and in her personal life. While she celebrates the successes, Simon doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff, such as pulling an all-nighter to bake granola and subsequently missing her daughter losing her first tooth. She also doesn’t mince words about the financial stresses of her entrepreneurial venture nor neglect to cover the struggles of navigating the bureaucracy of getting her food on shelves or of getting the help and space needed to actually bake.
While readers can’t doubt the seriousness with which Simon approached her business, it is a highly personal account and, at times, runs too much into a summarizing style of storytelling, relying on recounted information, rather than placing readers inside of the scene. The scenes that “show” are very powerful, and more of this might have made the story more accessible. As written, it can be difficult to emotionally invest in the story. For instance, we never “meet” the narrator’s second husband for more than a few summarized sentences. We don’t see the moments where their parenting styles differ but are, instead, told that the gap widened to the point where the differences were insurmountable. Instead of a story that grabs a reader and pulls them in, this story, while powerful, too often summarizes, partially alienating the reader.
Despite that shortcoming, Simon tells an interesting and honest story that stands as a heartfelt tribute to a mother’s love for her daughter and willingness to go after her dreams.
Terra Nova Books
Fiona Maria Simon