Potato Chips Are America’s Favorite Snack
Before we get to the interview with the Anderson Family, we first need to talk about a little history on potato chips.
Did you know that potato chips were actually accidentally created? Did you know that the creator of potato chips was an African American man? Potato chips were accidentally created by a chef named George Crum who was both black and Indian decent. He was a chef at Moon Lake Lodge an upscale resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. After receiving many complaints about his soggy, too thick fried potatoes, Chef Crum started frying his potatoes very thin and crunchy to teach the complainers a lesson. Accidentally the potatoes became a instant hit.
After the chips became a big hit Crum decided to open his own restaurant in 1860 named Crumbs House. At every table baskets of chips were served to the diners. But back then, black people were not allowed to take out patents on their inventions. Crum never tried to get a patent for his potato chips. The chips were eventually mass-produced in bags and he never received any credit for his invention.
Anderson Family Interview At Sevenanda Health Food Grocery Store In Atlanta, Ga.
We had the privilege of interviewing Deondre Anderson the owner of Symphony Chips this past Monday April 16, 2018 at Sevananda Health Food Grocery store in Atlanta, Ga. Deondre runs the business with his two daughters Amina and Amari in Atlanta, Ga. The most amazing part of the interview was speaking with Amina and Amari. We were in awe at how well spoken both teenage girls were. Deondre is definitely teaching his daughters the ins and outs of business ownership. We also had the chance to watch the father and daughters in action. The way that they interact with the customers is such a wonderful sight to see. We love celebrating our black business owners whenever we have the opportunity to. Every customer that stopped by to sample the chips expressed how good they tasted. Just about every customer that sampled the chips purchased a bag or two! I can’t explain the taste, but I couldn’t just eat a few! Now lets get into the interview….
Ceo of Symphony Chips Deondre Anderson with daughters Amina and Amari
Symphony Potato Chip Facts: Gourmet, gluten-free, MSG-free, and all natural. Seasoning brand called All A’s Spices. In healthy grocery stores:
Skyy: What was your start to entrepreneurship?
Deondre: My start actually started right here in Sevenanda and that’s why it is so great that you guys wanted to do the interview here. My dad is a retired restaurant chef from Las Vegas and he on the famous Las Vegas strip created this spice that took him 40 years to master. That spice is actually on our potato chips, but it was here in Sevenanda where we actually started selling our spices first, and when you have spices people don’t really buy spices that they can’t taste especially when it’s brand new. Being that this is a natural food store, we had to put the spices on raw vegetables, popcorn etc. and people really liked it. But it wasn’t until we started putting them on the homemade potato chips when people started to take notice! They were saying things like “man the chips are good, what isle are they on?” We followed that inspiration and started making the potato chips. My daughters are starting their own lines as well. Amari is starting her line called Symphony Pastries based off of the sweet potato line that we have that has a special blend that we use for that chips that she actually uses to make her cakes with. It’s a brand new flavor cake that no one has. Amina is starting her own line called Symphony Meals which is a gluten-free fry mix and low carb. I forgot to mention Amari’s Symphony Pastries are gluten-free as well. We are making meals for everyone. People think anything gluten-free, is taste free.
Skyy: As one of the few black-owned potato chip businesses in the world, what makes your brand unique?
Deondre: I’m so happy that you asked me this question. A lot of the other brands have the two flavors like nacho and cheese or salt and pepper. I think that it’s time to raise the game for the potato chip connoisseur who ask, why can’t we get better flavors? We can give a blend that is bright enough on a potato chip and every bite is like a gourmet meal. My dad believes that every bite should be harmonious and that’s why we call our brand Symphony.
Skyy: What inspired you to start making potato chips?
Deondre: It was really inspiration from family members who were giving us ideas about what to put the spices on. It was a lot of hey try putting it on this or putting it on that. Then it was try putting it on potato chips! I could have made them at home and then brought them to the store, but I kind of love cooking so it was kind of cool to do it live and people love live shows, especially being able to see the food being made right in front of them. It was this one customer here in Sevenanda who said, I like these so much! I need you to tell me everything that you have here, like where did you get the potatoes, tell me what kind of oil you’re using, how hot it is and the spices I’m going to grab the spices so I can create this at home. So I was like hmm he was serious, let me just find out what it would take to do it. I actually started researching potato chip manufacturers and the idea was to not just jump into manufacturers but to see if there was a co-packer out there who could do private labeling for our brand and our spices. I found one who asked, you have your own spices, wow we’ve never heard of that before most people want what we have! They said lets try your spices and when I sent off the spices to them and they shared it with their plant workers, they said the entire plant loved it, from the president of their company all the way down to the factory workers were absolutely in love with our chips. They said that they are the best chips that they ever had and that’s coming from another potato chip manufacturer, now that’s serious! So that was even more push to say, hey we have to put this out here.
Skyy: What is your family connection with the symphony?
Deondre: We started handing them out sampling them and we got approached by the Atlanta Symphony because they are called Symphony Potato Chips. We did our first festival called House In The Park which was last labor day and we had a big marketing push. It’s a wonderful marketing company called Blackpr.com got to give them a shout out (lol) and they put our name out there. We got recognition from the AJC at first, which were like oh wow we have a black owned potato chip company and it’s family owned and he has his two beautiful daughters working with him, we have to find out what’s going on! With that advertisement the Atlanta Symphony reached out. They said we read your article and we would love to have you as a part of our concession stand. Bomb it happened!
Skyy: You are now in 7 locations, such as Woodruff Arts Center, Sevananda, ASW Distillery, Urban City Market. Are you looking to get in Whole Foods, and the other major local and national grocery Stores?
Deondre: Well, Sevenanda is an independently owned grocery and they embraced us, so being a small company that we are, we aren’t having the controversial issues with having to pay for shelf space. Sevenanda promotes our brand because it taste good and it sells. Those other brands are paying for shelf space in the stores that you named because their chips aren’t all that great and they don’t want any real competition. I would definitely put it in those stores when they want better tasting, better quality foods. But for right now the independent stores embrace us so here we are and we are here to stay.
Skyy: Does any of your profits go towards a non-profit organization?
Deondre: It’s not like we have a percentage and a lot of non-profits reach out to us and we respond with in kind donations. Recently we just did Hands On Atlanta, we actually gave away our potato chips to the homeless. We have an event coming up this weekend for a multiple sclerosis organization and we are giving all of the proceeds to the multiple sclerosis organizations that’s hosting the event. We do things like this when we can. We aren’t ginormous but we do give a percentage, but when things come up that we can be a part of that’s for a good cause, we do participate when we can.
Skyy: Ladies tell me your ages and what grades you are in?
Amari: My name is Amari Anderson and I’m 14 years old and I attend North Atlanta High School.
Amina: My name is Amina Anderson and I’m years 15 old and I’m in the 10th grade and I attend North Atlanta High School.
Skyy: Are you looking to further your education after high school? If so, what do you want to study?
Amari: Yes, I’m looking to further my education. I’m looking to go to either Spellman or Howard but I don’t know what I’m trying to major in, I’m still trying to figure it out.
Amina: Yes, of course I want to extend my education. I want to go to college and probably study business administration or business management, marketing…of course I don’t have everything figured out yet (lol).
Deondre: Marketing is so essential to business, like myself I’m good at the process the sales piece of it, but for marketing that’s a whole other aspect that a lot of people take for granted sometimes. They want you to create this wonderful long business plan to include marketing, like what’s your marketing strategy? Well the easy answer to that is I just want people to buy it (lots of laughs here). But then how to get that out there and to find people or companies that actually have that insight and foresight and know the latest trends on how to get you out there, for a low budget is good because when you’re starting out….well I don’t have a trust fund behind me so it’s called bootstrapping until you get out there a little more.
Skyy: How is it working with your dad?
Amari: It’s cool. I’m learning how to be a entrepreneur.
Amina: It’s very nice and educational. It’s good to see what happens behind the scenes of businesses especially his so when I go into my business I will know exactly what to do. It’s also nice because I can always call him for help. He’s going through things that I know I will be going through later own. It’s educational but there are some bumps but it’s not like I’m working a regular 9-5. Like, if I mess up it’s not like I’m going to get fired (lol) I come, I learn, I conquer!
Skyy: What have you two learned on this journey as young black female business owners?
Amari: I learned a lot about responsibility and what it takes to become a major business and how to be a entrepreneur.
Amina: I learned a lot about customer service. Customer service is everything! I learned a lot like she said, I learned a lot about responsibility, and always being there on time and meeting deadlines. Making sure everything is like it is supposed to be. Of course when you call someone on the phone asking them questions you want to talk to someone nice and when you send an email you want it quick and with the information that you wanted. I also learned…just about the elbow grease that goes into running your own business and being a business owner. I also learned to let some things happen, some things happen for a reason. Don’t be so controlling of a situation….Let God handle it.
Skyy: Starting as small business owners, what advice can you give to those, young and old, who want to start their own business but are afraid to?
Deondre: I would say the most important thing is to take the first step and don’t worry about what other people are going to say about you because I like to think of myself as something like unplugging from the matrix. You’re doing something that’s the oddball, people may say ah he’s/she’s crazy, they’ve lost their mind….but that’s okay because some of the billionaires in this country people thought they were crazy in the beginning, but they are not so crazy anymore. Don’t be afraid to follow Gods lead. We started as a spice company and now we are doing potato chips.
Amina: Be ok with failure, because that happens a lot in business. Be ok with being yourself because people respond better to real people. When owning your own business you have to be yourself.
Skyy: What do you project for your company’s future?
Deondre: I project with coming out with our other flavors, we have the smoke flavors coming out hopefully at the end of next month, we also have our sweet potato chips coming and our balsamic flavor coming…oh yeah we are gourmet (lol). You’re never going to see a nacho cheese or a dill pickle flavor, it’s always going to be a gourmet flavor. Oh I forgot the kale a chipotle. That is also extended to other countries because there is no reason why this gourmet flavor can’t be enjoyed in places like in South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, Iceland, Greenland, Australia, New Zealand, why not?
Skyy: How can we follow your success on social media, and what is your website?
Deondre: Our website is http://www.symphonychips.com Also our Instagram is @symphonychips Our Facebook is All A’s Spices