After devoting their careers to science, April and Azur Moulaert decided to take a left turn. The couple met at a scientific research station in Costa Rica in 1992. Eight years later, they moved to Vermont, where they started a family. But in 2015, tired of the extensive travel that April’s job demanded, and the unreliability of grant-funded projects that Azur worked on, they decided to start their own business.
Inspired by the local foods movement and the Mexican cuisine they’d fallen in love with during visits to the Yucatán Peninsula, they sought a unique product using local organic produce: stone-ground corn tortillas.
Their research showed that only a handful of producers in the United States made stone-ground tortillas without additives and preservatives and that even fewer made them with locally-sourced corn. Their local co-op happened to be looking for just such a product, so the Moulaerts got to work.
The Moulaerts have grown from having just one employee to hiring two full-time and four part-time staff members. In less than two years, their revenue has soared to a projected $450,000 for 2018.
The Vermont Tortilla Company was featured on the Martha Stewart Test Kitchen blog and in Looking Tasty, The Boston Globe, the Heritage Radio Network, and their local NBC affiliate. In 2018, the company was named a finalist in the American Small Business Championship.
April says, “The resources SCORE provides have proved invaluable to folks like us that had an idea but no experience with running a business!” April made use of SCORE’s webinars, business plan templates, and financial spreadsheets.
Their first SCORE mentor helped them move past the initial concept phase of their business. They work with three different mentors with expertise in accounting, product distribution, and the natural foods industry.
April advises other small business owners: “Don’t try to reinvent the wheel – develop and maintain a list of targeted connections whether it is through SCORE or trade associations. You will be amazed at how many talented people want to help you! And one day, you can do the same.”