The idea of baking pastries for coffee shops always appealed to Jamie Sanders. So Sanders and her sister, Jen Norton, were delighted when Edmonds’ Walnut Street Coffee owner Pam Stuller – a friend of Norton’s — selected them to supply her shop with baked goods.
“It kind of just came together that [Pam] had a kitchen we could use and Jamie had some recipes.” Norton said as she recalled how Sisters Baking Company, the company the Edmonds siblings own, began. “I stepped in as the delivery person, and she [Jamie] was baking all night, and I was delivering really early in the morning,” Norton added.
The sisters continued making and selling an assortment of pastries until two years ago, when they decided to focus on what is now their only product, Rain City Crunch. “We really wanted [the name] to be Seattle-based,” Sanders said. Norton suggested Rain City, the name of her daughter’s volleyball team, and it stuck.
A cross between trail mix and a granola bar, Rain City Crunch is filled with oats, almonds, pecans and cranberries, among other healthy, gluten-free ingredients.
While neither sister follows a gluten-free diet, making Rain City Crunch without gluten was an important move for selling the product. “That [request] came from Metropolitan Market; they recognized a trend.” Norton said. “The funny thing is, now we’re a completely gluten-free bakery.”
Sisters Baking Company sells Rain City Crunch in stores across Washington state, but the kitchen is located here in Edmonds, on 212th Street Southwest near Edmonds-Woodway High School. Both Norton and Sanders currently live in Edmonds and have spent most of their lives here, which played a big role in deciding where to set up shop.
Eight employees, plus occasional family members who want to help, work in the kitchen to make and package Rain City Crunch. It is then shipped to more than 30 stores in Washington, including Haggen/Top Foods and Metropolitan Market.
“It’s really fun to get to pick the people that we get to work with. We get to hire people that we really enjoy,” Norton said.
“The amount of opportunities that we’ve had just to decide what we want to do, where can we go with this and just dream. It’s been really fun to have some wild opportunities,” Sanders added.
While Sisters Baking Company so far has sold Rain City Crunch only in Washington, Norton and Sanders are in talks about distribution through a customer who owns a store in Santa Cruz, Calif. “We’d love to go nationwide, we’d love to worldwide!” Norton said. In planning for that possibility, the two sisters also want to work on increasing the shelf life of Rain City Crunch.
When asked what it’s like to work with your sister, both Norton and Sanders had a positive outlook. “I think we’ve done a really good job of trying to keep things good between us.” Norton explained. “There’s definitely times that things get tense. But I think one of the really good things about Jamie and I is we get through it quickly.”
Adds Sanders: “When we started this, the bottom line was, sister come first. If there’s anything that comes between sisters, the business has to go.”
Although the business is called Sisters Baking Co., “it’s really a family business,” Norton said. Her husband does the books and Sanders’ husband does their website, SistersBaking.com. Norton’s daughters also enjoy helping around the kitchen when they can.
You can pick up some Rain City Crunch in Edmonds at Walnut Street Coffee, in Mountlake Terrace at Manna Mills or in Shoreline at Village Market Thriftway.