Seven years ago, Erica Liu Williams, founder of gr8nola, was immersed in the world of tech. But an experiment in her kitchen during an annual cleanse with her husband led the Danville, California-based food entrepreneur to the idea for a healthy granola brand. The resulting six flavors are packed with organic coconut oil and anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric and cinnamon.
“One day, the light bulb went off and I thought, there has to be a market for this,” recalls Williams, who previously struggled to find tasty granolas with a clean ingredient profile. “In June 2013, I sold gr8nola at my first farmer’s market. It was a humble start, and I looked at it as a fun little side project.” Here, the full-time granola expert dishes on her stint as a competitive swimmer and what’s up next.
What’s your backstory?
Growing up, I was always very into health and fitness. I swam competitively at a very high level from a young age. I competed at two U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials and earned a swimming scholarship to Stanford.
What’s your can’t-live-without-it flavor?
Black Coco Chia. It’s super unique and the only black granola infused with detoxifying activated charcoal.
Favorite job perk?
Knowing that every day I’m building a brand and product that people love and that’s also good for them.
Are any future collaborations in the works?
We have a new flavor launching mid-January with Girl Up (a United Nations nonprofit organization focused on gender equality and empowering young girls through leadership development) and television personality Nigel Barker, who is highly involved in the organization. The flavor is classic with a superfood twist. I’m mentoring five selected girls with Nigel to give them firsthand entrepreneurial experience.