Fromagerie Brings World-Class Cheeses to Central Ohio Area
With a name taken from the french word for “cheese shop,” Fromagerie already sets high standards for the quality of cheeses offered to customers.
Leaving a “cushy” life in aorporate America to start Fromagerie was no small feat for its owner, Kim Hendrix. But with the help of 1400 Food Lab, and a familiarity with the process of starting a business, Hendrix now brings high-quality cheeses from all over the world to the Central Ohio area.
Hendrix’s love of cheese started in a Department of Agriculture workshop at Ohio State. There she learned the ins and outs of cheese: the biology, chemical reactions, and process of aging all kinds of cheese. She found it all to be fascinatingly complex.
Later, her corporate job would contribute to her first business venture. On business trips to England, she visited the sophisticated cheese shops in London that would serve as her inspiration. And her experience mentoring future business owners at Santa Clara University didn’t hurt, either. But it was her return to school for her MBA that pivoted Hendrix’s career goals in a completely new direction.
“It was sort of my obligation at this point in my life to start a company and to create jobs,” she says.
Fast forward to today, Fromagarie continues to grow it’s customer base and product offerings to positive reception. Hendrix imports 16 different types of world-class farmhouse cheeses, including authentic cheddar from Somerset, United Kingdom – apparently, Somerset county is the sole authority on cheddar – and sells cheese plates, handmade artisan breads and party boards, and also holds cheese tastings, catering and educational events.
Hendrix mainly sells her cheeses at the New Albany Farmers Market. The choice to sell here was largely due to exceptional timing. As the farmers markets in town were evaluating potential vendors for the new season, Hendrix managed to apply, serve samples to market managers, and earn a spot in less than a day. She was recently accepted again for New Albany’s outdoor market taking place this summer.
Her stint with the New Albany Farmers Market is largely to prove there is a market for her products. Hendrix admits that while she is fully prepared in terms of the tools and knowledge needed from a business standpoint, there is some fear associated with starting Fromagerie.
“I think one of the biggest challenges, especially for somebody who’s been in cushy corporate life for a long time, is just fear. The fear of getting out and doing something,” she says. “Trying to get from idea to market in as short a time as possible, to try and prove out the idea.”
She did some work with the Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI) before, but prior to finding them, she had no idea resources like the ECDI or 1400 Food Lab existed. Thinking about equipment, licensing and a facility were challenges thankfully solved through these resources.
1400 Food Lab in particular has been a great resource for Hendrix. In addition to providing a space for her to bake her breads, dairy inspectors and flexible hours, they have also given her business. Makers Market, a farmers market style event hosted by 1400 Food Lab in December, provided a lot of new customers for Fromagerie.
“I’m really delighted that I found them,” Hendrix says, “And really grateful that they exist and do what they do.”
Looking ahead, Hendrix envisions her own dedicated space, possibly a market/cafe/bistro/cheese shop hybrid. But before anything else, she wants to validate the vision she has in place for Fromagerie.
“The customers seem to have responded immediately, in a positive way, to the idea that great cheese and great bread products do have a market,” she says.
Fromagarie will be a participating sponsor at Beyond the Grape, an annual fundraising event for EasterSeals of Central and Southern Ohio on Saturday, April 28, at the Huntington Club of Ohio Stadium. See romancingthegrape.org for more details.