Today we’d like to introduce you to Ali Graeme.
Ali, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My life changed dramatically in the summer of 2007 when my teenage son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I immediately thought about pasta, hamburgers, cookies, and his favorite, brownies-all foods he would have to give up as a result. We were both devastated! Things got worse in the next few weeks, when I too, was diagnosed with the same disease. Rather than dwell on the negatives of our diagnosis, I decided to channel my energies into something positive for my son and me.
Having recently retired from the financial world, I decided to pursue my passion for baking after finding that GF baked goods that tasted flavorful and delicious, were nearly impossible to find. After experimenting with different blends of flour in my kitchen at home, I finally came up with recipes for cookies, cupcakes, and most importantly, a brownie that everyone can enjoy!
With encouragement from my family and friends, I started Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery in April of 2009, dedicated to creating the most delicious gluten-free products that all those suffering from a gluten intolerance would enjoy, as well as those not affected by gluten, would also enthusiastically embrace. Eliminating gluten from my diet has had a tremendously positive effect on my health and overall well-being, and I have become a huge advocate for following a gluten-free lifestyle.
Demonstrating to those living a gluten-free lifestyle that their world has now become limitless, instead of being limited, further fuels my desire to continue to strive for excellence and introduce GF products for everyone to enjoy, regardless of one’s diet, allergies or restrictions.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It was not always a smooth road but worth it. Like any small business, there are always bumps in the road. Some of our biggest struggles come from ingredients. Being gluten-free, our requirement is more strict than most bakeries. We have worked closely with our suppliers to ensure that we always know who manufactures each ingredient, we have all of the specifications and gluten statements before anything comes into the bakery. This can cause delays in production process caused by supply shortages and developing new products. It never is as easy as it looks.
Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We are a dedicated gluten-free bakery in the Chicagoland area with 2 locations (Hinsdale and Glenview). We make gluten-free products that taste great whether you are on a gluten-free diet or just looking for good food to eat. In addition to our 2 locations, we have a wholesale business that supplies gluten-free product to Wholefoods, Mariano’s, Fruitful Yield and over 130 grocery stores and restaurants across the Chicago area.
While it is not fun to be on a restricted diet (I know this from personal experience), it is wonderful to see our customers so happy to feel “normal” when they come into our bakery. They can order a birthday cake specially decorated for them, cupcakes, cookies, eclairs, pies, stuffing, hamburger buns, dinner rolls, and doughnuts. They do not have to read a label or ask questions on how it was prepared, they know it is safe to eat. Most people do not realize how gluten allergies or intolerances can affect your daily living until you or someone close to you has an issue. We strive to be their go-to place to provide what is missing.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is simple – when I get hugs from our customers thanking us for doing what we do. I know we have done something right.
- Address: 13 West 1st Street, Hindsdale, Il 60521
1107 Waukegan Road, Glenview, IL 60025
- Website: www.sweetalis.com
- Phone: 630-908-7175 (Hinsdale) and 224-432-5530 (Glenview)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: sweetalisgfbakery
- Facebook: @sweetalis
- Twitter: @sweetalisbakery
- Yelp: sweet-alis-gluten-free-bakery-hinsdale