Simple. Natural. Primal.
Ask the average person to describe his or her diet, and you are unlikely to hear these words leave their mouths. USF alumna Jordann Windschauer doesn’t only illustrate her food as such, but has modeled her business after this portrayal as well.
Windschauer, a St. Petersburg native, founded Base Culture, a company that specializes in making desserts and snacks to suit the Paleolithic diet.
Also known as the Caveman or Stone Age Diet, the Paleo Diet became popular several years ago. Its main guideline is that people can only eat what was available to humans in the Paleolithic period. This includes meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. It also means no dairy, sugar, salt, processed foods and grains.
Windschauer was first introduced to the Paleo lifestyle when she joined a CrossFit gym following graduation. Members of the gym did a 30-day Paleo challenge shortly after she joined. She took part in the challenge to get involved and make friends. She was so impressed with the health benefits she witnessed after the first 30 days that she decided to try it for another 30 more to “make sure that it wasn’t a fluke.”
“For me, it wasn’t about losing weight of anything like that,” Windschauer said. “It was more about the fact that I slept better in the night and I had more energy in the day, and it just really felt better and I was more positive.”
After the 60 days, she was sold. However, there was something missing: dessert. Windschauer had grown accustomed to sweets and snacks growing up and now they were nowhere to be found.
“I started doing some experiments in the kitchen with no real intention of starting a business. It was purely for my own selfish cravings that I wanted brownies and cookies and muffins that still followed this Paleo diet that made me feel great,” Windschauer said. “That’s when I had started experimenting more on the baking side of things.”
A graduate from USF Tampa’s mass communications program with a specialization in public relations, windschauer had no formal culinary training. She wanted to be an event planner, and that was her day job at the time. It took her a few months to get the recipes to the standards she wanted.
“Learning how to bake with seeds and nuts as flour rather than actual flour or grains was definitely a learning curve,” Windschauer said.
She remembers the first time she tried to make cookies when she used too much coconut flour. She described that tasting experience as asphyxiating.
“It’s just trial and error, and that’s really all the beginning stages of this company was, even on the business side of things,” Windschauer said. “Trying it, seeing if it works, and if it didn’t, just using that as a growing, stepping stone in the way to finding out the right answer because you can’t let failure stop you.”
Shortly thereafter, her gym had another Paleo challenge and her fellow participants offered to buy her snacks. She said she did it for the extra cash but decided to start a Facebook page for what had become a side business.
At the time, she was still working at her day job from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., so she would begin baking at 7 p.m. and wouldn’t be done until around 3 a.m.
Six months later, following a WFLA story about her company that aired in Tampa and across the country, she began to receive orders from around the country. At that point, she had to decide whether to make it a full-blown business or keep it a hobby. She chose the former.
Now, three years later, she has 11 people on her team and is in the process of building a 44,000 square-foot facility in Clearwater that will function as a manufacturing plant capable of producing 1 million pieces of product daily.
Her company started supplying the P.O.D. Market on campus last December, and students can now buy Base Culture’s fruit and nut squares and granola at three P.O.D. market locations on campus: Juniper-Popular, USF Pharmacy at Moffitt and USF Health.
Windschauer is currently on an 80-percent-Paleo, 20-percent-regular diet as she said that it allows her to stay true to the diet, rather than staying strict for 30 days and then binging later.
“I view the whole Paleo idea as more of a lifestyle than a diet because I feel like if you’re so strict on a way of eating for a certain amount of time, you’re gonna get tired of it and you’re gonna get off track,” Windschauer said.