Charlotte-based Modern Muffin is currently producing 4,000 muffins a week, but that number could go to 10,000 a week by the end of this year. That’s a lot of muffins.
I was introduced to Modern Muffin when my wife purchased a 4-pack of Pumpkin Cranberry muffins for our 11-month-old baby boy. I’m a muffin guy, so I had to try them.
Delicious. Really delicious.
I would then try to eat them faster than my son could consume them, and since he only weighed like 15 pounds or so, I won. Finally, my wife said, “You know, we can just buy two packs of the muffins.” Problem solved.
Bottom line: The taste of a Modern Muffin annihilates those house brand Teeter bricks.
“Taste was by far #1 in the consumer survey that our youngest son ran for us when he was in business school at Chapel Hill,” CEO and founder Claire Putterman told me.
Yes, Modern Muffin is the most adorable family business you’ll ever meet.
When I asked what invoice software they used, Claire’s husband Paul told me, “That’s our middle son Matthew. He’s an Excel spreadsheet guru.” Their daughter Rachel runs marketing and social media.
Claire was a teacher for over 25 years in Charlotte, but she always wanted to own a muffin company. Seriously. Sounds crazy to me, but damn if I don’t respect her muffin passion. It’s evident.
Sure, some parts of the business creation like creating a LLC agreement on LegalZoom.com were easy, but they haven’t built the business without those mistakes that create fraternity among small business owners.
Paul described their biggest mistake to me: “We tried to get the best price per box, so when we first started out, we bought 100,000 boxes. We’re still working on these…”
Each box has four muffins, all individually sealed. Paul is right when he says, “When they come out of the freezer, they taste good.” I know because I’ve done this.
Their secret? Quality.
For example, their best-selling Banana Chocolate Chip muffin is packed with five bananas for each dozen muffins.
You don’t need to be a mathematician to understand that’s a legit banana to muffin ratio.
The Putterman family is crazy enough to think that they can start a muffin craze that rivals the cupcake craze. I wouldn’t bet against them. “We’ve proven that we can sell in Charlotte and Huntersville,” says Paul. “We have to prove that we can sell in all of North Carolina.”
Modern Muffins is expanding from two Whole Foods to all 10 North Carolina Whole Foods this year. They’re also in 34 Harris Teeters, where sales are up 30% year over year.
People describe Claire as the Mrs. Fields of muffins. That metaphor feels too mall food court-y to me, but I loved it when they point to Palmetto Cheese as a brand they look up to. Paul described meeting with the person who started the Palmetto Cheese company, and says “he was gracious enough to spend over an hour” with them.
Sure, their muffin 4-pack costs about $2 more than the Harris Teeter brick muffins, but I think Modern Muffin will continue to win.
Why? They’ve got the impossible combination – good taste and good for you with quality ingredients.
Claire’s advice to entrepreneurs still rattles around in my mind: “Be patient. You can do anything you want to do, just give yourself time. Have the faith and confidence.”
It’s not every day you get to share a Lemon Blueberry muffin with somebody who’s freakishly passion about muffins, but when you do, you realize the extra $2 is worth it.