Hollywood has made excellent films about female entrepreneurs, such as Rom-Coms like Bridesmaids and Sweet Home Alabama. But it’s only a matter of time before a movie is made about Joe’s guest this week, Stephanie Blackwell, the founder and President of Aurora Products, a supplier of natural and organic nut and dried fruit snack packs. Stephanie shares how she built Aurora Products from scratch and all the twists and turns her Hollywood-like entrepreneurial journey has taken.
About Stephanie V Blackwell:
Stephanie grew up in Kingston, NY. An avid student of the sciences, she took the most obvious route in college, pursuing her Graduate Degree in Chemistry. Following her schooling, she accepted a position as a research chemist at Bell Laboratories where she stayed for the next 3 years until meeting her first husband, Richard Blackwell. The subsequent 10 years brought Stephanie four children and an end to her research career. In addition, she kept herself busy professionally by working with Dick in purchasing a sprout company. The sprout company, called Amalgamated Produce (A.P.I.) provided a springboard for Stephanie’s new found entrepreneurial spirit.
In 1998, Stephanie started an all natural and organic dried fruit and nuts company, using the resources of A.P.I. One year later, after a divorce and separation of interests, Dick bought her out of A.P.I. and she used part of the monies and a twenty thousand loan from her credit card to package her new product line. The new company was called Aurora Products Inc. Through her efforts and those of her workforce, Aurora developed a network of global commodity vendors and established relationships with supermarket retailers.
Over the past 22 years, Stephanie has built Aurora into one of the leading Natural and Organic food brands in America. Starting in a small warehouse space with only 4 employees, the company today employs over 200 people. Their products appear in major supermarket chains, warehouse clubs and other alternative markets throughout the U.S. Products include a wide variety of nuts, dried fruits, trail mixes, granolas and salad toppings. After several moves, Aurora has expanded its operation from an initial 1,000 square foot space in Bridgeport to over 140,000 square feet of warehouse and office space located in Orange, Connecticut.