Orion, Akeisha, and Jaden Lane are the siblings behind Organic Matters Kitchen in Fairfield.
A Fairfield family business is making amazingly delicious confections that just happen to be healthy. Combining a passion for great food with a passion for healthy fare, Organic Matters Kitchen puts the “tasty” back in healthy treats. Says co-owner Orion Lane, “We make our products truly good, not just good for gluten free or good for vegan, but good for everyone.”
Along with his brother Jaden and sister Akeisha, Orion owns and operates Organic Matters Kitchen. “We’re an authentic family-owned business and we’re going to keep it that way,” he says. With a culinary background as well as restaurant experience, Orion works with Akeisha in the kitchen, creating products and developing recipes. Jaden, with his solid business sense, handles the office side of things. Filling a unique niche in the food industry, Organic Matters Kitchen products are not only organic but gluten free and vegan as well.
“We see a lot of hypocrisy in the organic food industry,” says Orion, “with people jumping on the bandwagon for the money. We wanted to create a company that talked the talk and walked the walk. We are absolutely 100 percent committed to using organic, non-GMO ingredients. We source our corn locally. Anything we can get locally, we do. We’ve got to put the heart back in the ingredients.”
Cookies, Brownies, Caramel Corn
Their signature vegan Vanilla Sea Salt Caramel Corn was created serendipitously. While making a batch of caramel corn, according to Orion, they ran out of butter and used coconut oil instead. The resulting caramel corn tasted incredible, and their first product was born. They released two more flavors of caramel corn and branched out into cookies and brownies.
Creating delicious recipes that are organic, gluten free, and vegan can be challenging. “It’s been difficult, but I think we’re finally getting to the point where we’re nailing the recipes,” says Orion. Their products have a unique flavor profile. “We want each product to taste amazing. Take an oatmeal raisin cookie—we added goji berries. We took that classic cookie and turned it into a superfood cookie,” Orion says. They want “healthy,” but they demand flavorful, too.
Small Business Challenges
Orion and his brother started the business about a year ago, using their savings for start-up costs and renting the certified commercial kitchen at the old St. Mary’s church location, now owned by the Bonnell Building Project.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without the support of the Bonnell Project,” Orion says. “They helped us out, incubated our business, and got us through the initial ups and downs.” As they expand, Orion plans to donate a percentage of their profits back to the Bonnell Project, as a thank you.
Akeisha joined the family business recently to help with packaging and product development. Their packaging is designed locally using the talented help of Natalia Olivia Danel, who hand drew everything from the company logo to the packaging labels.
As a new small business committed to using organic ingredients, they face a number of challenges. The high costs of organic ingredients make their profit-margins slim, but they say they are committed to keeping their retail pricing affordable for their customers.
Also, the food industry is set up for large businesses, from the distributors to the grocery stores, and it can be hard for a small business to get noticed. “Even the shelf space is limited,” says Orion. “They don’t want to open up shelf space to a little guy, so the people who are doing business with us are taking a risk. I’d like to thank everybody for their support.”
Organic Matters recently became USDA certified organic, and while this is an accomplishment, it has also added to their workload. They have to know the lot number of every single organic ingredient for each product and provide this information to distributors.
Organic Matters Kitchen products are available in Fairfield at Everybody’s Whole Foods, Hy-Vee, and Natural Selections. Products are also available through their online store at ogmatters.com. They now have wholesale accounts in Des Moines and Chicago, and Orion hopes to expand throughout the Midwest, and eventually branch out to the coasts.
“We’re very passionate about what we do,” says Orion. “We’re very excited to expand sustainably. And we want to do so in a way that provides a high quality for our customers. Our mom and dad home-schooled us and they taught us to be creative, to work hard, and to be of service to others. We hope we can make a contribution that is not only tasty and nutritious, but worthwhile.”
Discount for Source Readers!
Organic Matters is running a sale just for Iowa Source readers. Enter source14 on their website, ogmatters.com, and receive a discount.