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Cultured Love first business to "graduate" from Downtown Market Incubator Kitchen

A local couple has developed their own small food business in response to their daughter's Lyme disease, with help from the Downtown Market's programs and food entrepreneur community.
Jodie Krumpe making Cultured Love's saurkraut

Jodie Krumpe making Cultured Love's saurkraut /Courtesy of Downtown Market

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Jodie Krumpe making Cultured Love's saurkraut

Jodie Krumpe making Cultured Love's saurkraut /Courtesy of Downtown Market

Incubator Kitchen at the Downtown Market

Incubator Kitchen at the Downtown Market /Courtesy of Downtown Market

When Jodie and Paul Krumpe’s daughter was first diagnosed with Lyme Disease, they started her on antibiotics, per the doctor’s recommendation. But after finding no positive results with the medicine, they decided it was time to take matters into their own hands.

After endless research continued to lead them towards changing their diet as a solution, Jodie Krumpe decided to start experimenting with adding fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha to their diets. The Krumpes found that the probiotics (“good bacteria”) in these foods were not only helping their daughter’s immune system fight her Lyme Disease, increasing her gut health after two years of antibiotic treatment, but also helping Paul and Jodie with health issues they hadn’t even realized were diet-related.

Jodie Krumpe decided it was time to help others feel better and spread the word about why fermented foods are so beneficial by starting her own business to produce these foods for others. Her search for a commercial kitchen led her to the Downtown Market, and a consultation with the Incubator Kitchen manager helped her decide to produce sauerkraut as her first product. And Cultured Love was born.

“Because of the Downtown Market’s tiered rate system aimed at helping startup food businesses, the costs were reasonable and from the outset the support with helping us think through our business plan was invaluable,” she says. “We came into this with no food production or small business experience, and barely knowing our way around Grand Rapids having only moved here a year earlier.”

With help from the staff to navigate the licensing process, secure them an LLC and connect them to the MSU Extension staff for information about pricing, distribution and packaging, Cultured Love was officially a business.

Through the community of food entrepreneurs that was quickly developing in the Incubator Kitchen, Jodie Krumpe found a cost-effective designer for her logo and labels – another Incubator Kitchen tenant’s husband who has a graphic design background. Once she had labels and packaging in hand, Cultured Love was soon on the shelves at their first retail outlet, Relish Green Grocer, and had a booth at the Outdoor Farmers Market.

“These first retail outlets were incredibly encouraging and helpful for us to engage customers within a safe context. Being able to ask questions about wholesale pricing, labeling and delivery without fear of losing the opportunity for lack of experience helped build our knowledge and our confidence,” she says.

Through Foodworks, an Incubator Kitchen program that helps make resources available and accessible to startups and teach new business owners about the business of food and how to develop entrepreneurial food businesses within the community, Cultured Love was able to connect with a lawyer for advice about trademarks and intellectual property.

The Downtown Market’s Education Foundation makes that happen in the Incubator Kitchen by offering kitchen use, workshops, networking and collaboration opportunities, mentorship, business support and technical assistance, all at a reduced cost.

Next steps

As with most business incubators, the goal of the Downtown Market’s Incubator Kitchen is to help businesses grow, thrive and ultimately “graduate” from the incubator program into their own space.

Currently in 12 retail outlets as well as four farmers markets, Cultured Love is seeing an increased need for production capacity and efficiency to ensure they can produce enough sauerkraut. As the first business to have officially “graduated” from the Market’s incubator program, they have now officially moved production to a kitchen in Zeeland to accommodate their increased production needs.

The new space, operated by Dutch Treat Salads, a long-time producer of specialty salads, sauces and other quality foods in Zeeland, is closer to their home and capable of producing batches of sauerkraut in 55 gallon barrels instead of five gallon barrels. Spending less time in the kitchen gives Jodie Krumpe more time to think about product development, and what other foods or flavors she may add to the lineup in the future.

Cultured Love’s involvement with the Incubator Kitchen will continue, however. They will still sell their sauerkraut at Relish Green Grocer, and they hope to continue teaching occasional classes through the Downtown Market’s Education Foundation about probiotics and making fermented food. They may even continue to use the Incubator Kitchen’s resources on a minimal basis, for auxiliary storage and temperature-controlled space for fermenting.

“The encouraging and cooperative fabric of food producers, providers and customers at the Downtown Market is invaluable to a small business like ours,” says Krumpe. “It has the opportunity to make a tangible difference in Grand Rapids’ good food economy if it is properly nurtured and supported. If our story can be replicated, and even improved upon with many other businesses in months and years to come, the potential influence on the quality of life for many people in Grand Rapids could be substantial.”

The Downtown Market Education Foundation can only offer programs like these through the support of individuals, corporations and foundations. Be a part of Giving Tuesday! For more information about how to support the Downtown Market’s Education Foundation, please visit:

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