Two sisters, both Hastings High School graduates, are bringing a new product to Hastings.
Rebecca (LaZerte) Biederman and Elizabeth (LaZerte) Aarness, graduates of HHS classes of 1995 and 1999, respectively, have launched their own business, True Dough: The Pure Pizza Dough Company.
After high school, the sisters went off to college at Gustavus Adolphus. Biederman became a social studies teacher, teaching at Coon Rapids High School for eight years, while Aarness got into human resources work in Arizona.
The idea for the business started when Biederman was staying at home with her children. They were eating a lot of pizza, she said, and she realized that buying pizza was either too expensive or poor quality, so she decided to start baking her own, using healthy, quality ingredients.
When Aarness moved back to Minnesota from Arizona, she moved in with her sister’s family for a while and naturally helped make the pizza dough.They would spend a whole day making dough to be frozen for later use. The sisters have always wanted to have their own business, Aarness said, and the pizza dough was looking like just the ticket.
Biederman and Aarness developed six recipes: original, Italian herb with roasted garlic, spicy three pepper, whole wheat, whole grain and gluten free. Their recipes are largely a result of trial and error, they said, although they did get some professional advice along the way.
Some of the ideas were no-brainers. Recipes like original, Italian and whole wheat are already popular choices. The spicy recipe was just something the sisters wanted to create. The whole grain recipe was tricky to make without letting it get too dry.
The most difficult was the gluten free, a recipe they took on because of the high demand for gluten free foods currently. The dough is less dough and more batter, Biederman said, so they have to fuss with it a little more and package it differently. While the other recipes are packaged in frozen dough balls people take home and roll out themselves, the gluten free crusts are sold partially baked.
“It’s just a labor of love,” Aarness said.
Nutrition is important to the sisters, so they took care to find quality ingredients. They buy locally grown, organic flours, herbs and spices.
In May, Biederman and Aarness started taking orders for dough through Facebook. It was a test month, Biederman said, to see how much sales potential they actually had. That month, they sold 358 crusts and delivered them all themselves. They couldn’t quit their day jobs, so the pizza dough making had to be done entirely in their free time, as well.
In June, they started bringing their pizza dough to farm markets across the metro.
“We were received really well,” Biederman said.
They’ve seen customers returning to them time and again and ordering more and more dough. This summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, they’ve done $13,600 in gross sales.
Having seen their business gain such popularity so quickly, Aarness and Biederman are looking to expand even more. Starting Sept. 14, the True Dough brand will be available to purchase from Spiral Natural Food Co-Op and Grocery in Hastings. It’s the first step into seeing their product in grocery stores.
Ultimately, the sisters hope to see their product in a larger store like Kowalskis. For now, they’re focusing on learning how to partner with grocery stores. To help support the local, organic food movement, they plan on keeping their dough only in groceries like co-ops and at farmers markets, or stores that focus on supporting local producers.
On Sept. 14, True Dough will offer samples of its Italian, spicy and whole grain crusts from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. during Spiral Natural Foods’ membership drive. Spiral Foods is located at 1250 S. Frontage Road, at the corner of Highway 55 and Westview Drive.
For more about True Dough, look for them on Facebook, www.facebook.com/truedoughpizza, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.