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Stellar Snacks: Woman-Owned Pretzels

Stellar Snacks is a mother and daughter founded pretzel company based in Carson City, NV that has sky-rocketed the last few years to nation-wide sales and being featured on multiple major airlines, like Jet Blue and Alaska Airlines. I had the opportunity to interview Elisabeth (mom) and Gina (daughter) Galvin about their connection to Northern Nevada, what it's like to be a mother/daughter team, the entrepreneurial journey, and what's to come for their brand.


TL;DR: Stellar Snacks are my favorite pretzels, Elisabeth and Gina are entrepreneurial geniuses doing big things for our local community, and their snacks are currently available in four flavors: Simply Stellar, Bold & Herby, Maui Monk, and Sweet & Sparky. You can find Stellar Snacks at the Great Basin Food Co-Op, Sprouts, and now Whole Foods. To learn more about their brand and where to find their snacks, head to: https://stellarsnacks.com/


This post is not sponsored.


OK, let's get into it.


Gina and Elizabeth holding Stellar Snacks

Gina (left) and Elisabeth (right) holding their four flavors of Stellar Snacks


Reno is a proud town. We love to celebrate local success stories, and while some things might feel like a big deal to us here, very rarely do we see nation-wide exposure highlighting our own backyard. Enter: Stellar Snacks, a woman-owned pretzel company that is taking the snack game by storm. Founded by mother-daughter duo Elisabeth and Gina Galvin in 2019, Stellar Snacks are made in Carson City, have reached shelves nationwide and are served on major airlines like Jet Blue and Alaska Airlines, and are poised for major growth in the coming years.


Some quick backstory: Elisabeth was born in the south of France where her parents owned a bakery, so good taste is in her blood. She came to the states and realized the American snack pretzel—although ubiquitous—was lacking. Stellar Snacks was created as an upgrade for both flavors and quality for snack pretzels, which is obvious when you taste them: crunchy yet melt in your mouth, made with vegan butter that somehow has more butter flavor than the real stuff, and expertly crafted flavors that are absurdly morish without any of the gross ingredients that usually cause that craving.


As for the name Stellar Snacks? After risking everything to start her business, Elisabeth looked up to the sky for guidance. While consulting her lucky stars, the name struck her: Stellar Snacks, the perfect alliterative nod to their exceptional quality and flavor. Thus, the brand was born.


I was curious to learn more about this dynamic duo the inside scoop about how Stellar Snacks came to be. Below are excepts from our interview.


 

Carson City? Really?


Elizabeth and Gina making hand hearts in their Stellar Snacks factory

Elisabeth and Gina in their Carson City, NV plant


M: Ok, I'm curious Elisabeth, what brought you to Northern Nevada from France? How did you decide to start a company in Carson City?


E: I was on vacation and went to a 4th of July party, and I decided to bring homemade French pralines instead of wine to the party. There were some wonderful people there including the CEO of Reno Air and his wife. They said, "we love your snacks, what if you made them for us?" So, I was on vacation, but decided to become a student and start my company Delyse Inc. in 1992—it was just a funny moment. That same weekend I bought a horse—I’m a horse lover—I called my dad and said, "I’ve decided to stay in this country, I bought a horse, and I’m starting a business.”


M: So Gina, does that mean you were born in Reno?


G: Yes, I was born in Reno—

E: From St. Mary's hospital!

G: —and graduated from Wooster High School. Reno’s a special place to us. The fresh air we have here, the Lake Tahoe water we have in our pretzels—it’s a microcosm of West Coast bliss. We’ve been employing people in the area since 1992. "Home Means Nevada" rings true for us in a lot of ways, and we’re happy to continue to flourish here.


M: So how did Stellar Snacks end up on major airlines?


E: I opened Delyse in 1992 in Reno making snacks for Reno Air. I was making sandwiches and snacks, including the French pralines which were a signature snack for Reno Air for a good 5 years, and was providing snacks to United and other airlines. When we started Stellar Snacks in 2019, United was the first company to put the Stellar Snacks branding on the bags. They started with the Micro Minis and then a year later we developed our vegan pretzel twists, and when we sent those to other airlines, we got a lot of interest.


M: That's amazing, and such great exposure for our area.


E: Nevada is getting a lot of exposure from our snacks on the airlines—hundreds of millions of people are seeing our packaging that says "Carson City, Nevada" on it. That’s also why we won the North American Agricultural Marketer of the Year award.


The Entrepreneurial Journey


Stellar Snacks mini braids being held inside an airplane

M: Wow, so, Elisabeth, that was a great idea to take your pralines to the July 4th party instead of wine.


E: That’s what I say to young entrepreneurs, you have no idea when an opportunity can knock at your door—it’s the law of coincidence, the law of attraction. You have to bring what you are passionate about, if the universe wants you to go in that direction, it will make sure to let you know.


A row of Stellar Snacks: simple stellar, maui monk, bold and herby, and sweet and spark

M: Gina, you handle most of the marketing side of things. I love that the Stellar Snacks bags feature art from emerging artists. Tell me more about that, and why it's important to you.


G: I’m an artist myself, not a professional one, but an adventurous hobby painter and ceramicist. I see that people have so much pain in getting discovered, and it’s frustrating when everyone points to social media to get that empowering feel of “catching wind.” We were thinking, with our pretzels, is there a way that we can promote artists? Also, in a space that we’re deprived of art and beauty, we’re really passionate about the fact that grocery shelves now have an art piece on them. The flavors match up with the art on the bag and we’re really careful about each piece we select. It’s a full circle of "feel good" because the artists are given that platform, and also customers get the experience of beautiful packaging that they might even want to hang on the wall. It comes from understanding the struggle of artists today, and trying to play a small role with a new solution.


M: I can imagine you have so many people reaching out to submit art, what does the process for that look like?


G: We have a submission form on our website that encourages everyone to apply. I personally lead a team of an art selection board and we review every piece that comes through, and also seek out artists. We’re beyond the thousands mark of pieces we consider, and we go into that process with flavor in mind and select the art that best represents it.


M: I’m curious about the future of Stellar Snacks, and heard you’re opening a plant in the middle of the country?


E: We’re expanding our factory in Carson City to Dayton, and also adding a new plant in Louisville. Freight is expensive, and we're taking new customers on the East Coast, so opening the plant in Kentucky will help us reduce costs.


M: Can we expect anything new and exciting in the near future?


G: We’re launching a new flavor, French Dijon: think honey mustard with a dijon kick. 


E: You have some of that French mustard flavor, which I love. I’m not big on the yellow mustard that’s everywhere in America. I think that’s great for hot dogs, but this will be different. That’s why we call it French Dijon, because it reminds me of France. And the packaging is beautiful.


Man, I Feel Like A Woman


M: Being a successful mother/daughter-owned company is unique. What are your favorite parts about working together?


G: I think what’s really cool is working with someone who knows you better than anyone in the world. So, not only is there that telepathy in communicating ideas, but my mom knows better than anyone how to pick me up when I’m down, or how to spot when I’m having self-doubt. She’s always been my inspiration, especially being a female entrepreneur, she knows where to lift me up if I’m feeling down and propel me—I’m emotional sharing this, sorry, because it’s so impactful—she knows my inner workings and helps me shine. 


E: Working with my daughter gives me energy and is soul-nourishing—it's what we mean when we say it’s not just a pretzel, it’s a labor of love. Not every day is a good day—contract negotiations, people not doing what they’re supposed to do, etc. I also have my self-doubts. We help each other and empower each other. She gives me that extra kick into, “ok, we have to get it done.” Our relationship in life, and as mother and daughter, and business partners, is the best gift that God could have given me. People talk about angel investors, my daughter is my angel partner. 


M: It's Women's Month! As a woman-owned business in today’s climate, do you feel like there are still challenges to overcome because you’re women?


E: I will say that we still have to prove ourselves, maybe more than men in general. Whenever I see that, it’s with a bank or a big supplier—the first question they'll ask is, “does your husband work with you?” It upsets me! I’m like, well, first of all, I am divorced, and does [a husband being involved] give some sort of validation that what I’m doing is better? And you know, I’m not 20, I just turned 60, and it’s interesting that that is still there. However, I will say that some organizations like to support women-owned businesses, and we get a lot of shine because of that, because we’re helping them be more diverse, we become an asset to them. I also have a disadvantage with my strong French accent, so I am not only a woman-owned business but also a foreigner. 


G: Similarly to my mom, there are a lot of times that I'll notice that bias is still out there. One example is sometimes I’ll be in a store doing a demo of product, and I’ll tell someone it’s a woman-owned brand, or tell the story of Stellar Snacks, and they have a preconceived notion of what, “me and my mom have a pretzel company" looks like, which is much less put-together than what we are. Like, “oh, I bet you’re putting snacks in Ziplock bags and driving store-to-store.” No, we’re a national brand and we’re really proud of it. So it is really interesting to see what peoples' implicit biases and preconceived notions of you are. Our drive is not to be the first women to do things, but to make sure we aren’t the last. We want to be women who empower other women, and make room for the next women to come. 


M: On that note, what are some other women-owned brands that you love? 


G: There’s a ton! Hummus Goodness is our favorite snack pairing, we love doing collaborations with them. They’re our coolest CPG partners in women-owned brands. Locally, there’s Janrey who makes gift boxes of all Nevada-owned products, and we love Dorinda’s Chocolates. We even try to work with woman-owned suppliers for Stellar Snacks when we can.


E: Another great company is Belgian Boys, which is funny because it is actually women-owned. They’re bringing breakfast waffles and crepes to the states and I think they're doing an incredible job. We love it every time we get to meet a woman-owned business, I think women stick together.


 

Stellar Snacks can be found locally at:


Whole Foods

The Great Basin Food Co-Op

Sprouts

Armando & Sons

Mt. Rose Wine Co.

Select CVS locations



For more information about the brand and where to find Stellar Snacks, head to: https://stellarsnacks.com/



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