Small Business Success Story: Local First and Gluten Free Galaxy

Entrepreneur Hilary Lee talks about finding your why, pivoting during a pandemic and how she’s making dietary restrictions less restrictive through her Gluten Free Galaxy product line.

Nicola McIntosh Jul 9, 2020
woman wearing cowboy hat

Entrepreneur Hilary Lee says if you’re not failing, you’re not trying.

“Being a truly bootstrapped, customer-funded business hasn’t been easy, but it sure has given us grit,” explains the CEO of Local First, manufacturer/distributor of the Gluten Free Galaxy product line.

Here, she talks about what sets Local First apart and her tips for other business owners facing challenges.

What do you want people to know about your business?

Local First is a small- to mid-sized food co-packer and incubator with a frontend restaurant and full bar that specializes in allergen products. In other words, we help farmers, producers and manufacturers get to the next level by assisting in production, distribution and strategy consulting.

If you or someone you know has a specialty diet, don’t be shy to give us a call or check out the Local First website for gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, canola-free, Keto, dairy-free, vegan and peanut-free options.

muffin on a plate

What separates you from your competitors?

We’re not afraid to step into the ring and take our shot, even if we may get a little roughed up. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying. We fought for our business and now we want to help you fight for yours.

How can people help support your small businesses?

Tell EVERYONE you know, of course! Don't be shy, give us a try even if you don't have any restrictions. We’d bet you wouldn't even be able to tell the difference. 

baked goods
baked goods
baked goods

What are your top-selling products?

Local First is home to and the manufacturer/distributor of Gluten Free Galaxy, a local, dedicated gluten-free product line that is completely Top 9 allergen-free and vegan. While loyalists know us for our cinnamon rolls, the newly released, scratch-made toaster pastries are very quickly becoming a crowd favorite.

What tips do you have for other small businesses facing hardship/challenges?

woman in truck

Find your “big why” if you don't already know it: Why did you start your business in the first place? Why do you get out of bed every day?

If you do know it, it’s time for a refresher. Then post reminders for yourself everywhere.

This will most likely be one of the hardest economic times any of us will ever experience. Remember, if you can make it through this, the rest will feel like a breeze!

How have you adjusted your business or business model in light of Coronavirus?

The better question may be, how haven’t we pivoted or adjusted our business in light of COVID-19? Going through everything we’ve been through on a daily basis has actually prepared us for something like this.

If we hadn’t learned to diversify our revenue streams, flip the script on a moment’s notice, utilize a customer-funded business model, run lean and mean, or simply get back up when we wanted nothing more than to throw in the towel, we wouldn’t be here today.

FedEx boxes and cupcakes

What was your experience working with your banker and Zions Bank on your SBA Paycheck Protection Program loan, and how did it help your business?

I often talk about entrepreneurship being a lonely game. The past several months have been a glaring reminder that while many people will say that they’ll help out when things get rough, very few put their money where their mouth is, and even fewer will follow through when things go straight up 2020 on you.

Our Business Banker Shaun Kelley was continually updating us throughout the process, giving us as much information as he possibly could while we continued to focus on what we do best, serving our customers.

We are extremely grateful to be one of the companies that was able to receive PPP funding in the first round, the credit for which I give to Shaun and Zions Bank. The funding has been imperative, but the light he gave us in the midst of the darkness was priceless.

As the top 7(a) SBA lender[cite::8030::cite] 26 years in Utah and for 18 years in Idaho, Zions Bank’s team of relationship managers can help you find the right SBA loan for your business. Apply for a business loan online anytime or visit a local Zions Bank branch to learn more.

Nicola McIntosh is Social Media manager for Zions Bank.

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