Sisters Rebecca (Becky) Biederman and Elizabeth (Beth) Aarness are making lots of dough. True Dough, that is.
The idea for a frozen pizza dough company began rising about three years ago in Biederman’s Oakdale kitchen as the two moms were making and freezing big batches of pizza dough for themselves and friends.
Aarness and her family had just moved back from Arizona and were living with Biederman’s family. Amid the combined clan of five young kids with a couple of dogs and cats, the two sisters baked up a business plan.
“There just isn’t anything like it on the market,” Biederman said. “The grocery store options lacked taste and were loaded with chemicals, additives and preservatives. We knew we had a good product. It was all-natural, delicious and kid-tested — something really special.”
Aarness, now of Farmington, was a corporate runaway who had left her career in human resources and was eager to put her business savvy into the new venture. Biederman, a high school humanities teacher, loved to bake and create new foods. They rolled out their first products at the Oakdale Farmers Market with much success.
Made with natural, certified USDA organic, locally sourced ingredients, these frozen balls of dough (intended for making pizzas, calzones or breadsticks) seemed to sell themselves. “Who doesn’t love pizza?” Biederman said.
Before long, True Dough moved out of the house and into the Minnesota Crafters Food Building in St. Paul, a shared commercial kitchen with eight other food entrepreneurs.
Aarness runs the day-to-day operations and stays on top of marketing and sales. Biederman has returned to teaching full-time, but continues to work on product development. Seeking advice from food scientists, she mastered a gluten-free flatbread dough that is as delicious as any made from wheat.
She also brings her own real-world business experiences into the classroom, sharing lessons in success and failure, when teaching economics.
“We’ve learned so much from the other small businesses with whom we share kitchen space,” Biederman said. “The networking that happens spontaneously when we’re all working on our products has been invaluable.
“Money is important, but what’s helped us grow is investing in our relationships,” she said. “So many people have been supportive, willing to do things for us without charging. We’ve had help with photography, website advice, pricing, contacts.
“We’ve always tried to return the favors and pay it forward. It’s a wonderfully collaborative environment.”
True Dough products include five varieties sold in 12-ounce packs and retail for about $5.99. The two gluten-free flatbreads, already baked, retail for about $6.50. Find them in Twin Cities co-ops, grocery stores and at select farmers markets. More at truedough.com.