Josh and Christi Skow Canyon Bakehouse

Entrepreneur Profile: Josh & Christi Skow, founders of Canyon Bakehouse

From a celiac diagnosis to a booming food business, Josh and Christi Skow have been dauntless in their efforts to found Canyon Bakehouse. Whether you're a fan of Canyon Bakehouse's gluten-free offerings or you're looking for entrepreneurial inspiration, this dynamic duo's story will feed your need.

What was the inspiration for your business and what inspires you daily?

As an entrepreneur, the opportunity to start and run a successful venture is inspiration. The opportunity came when a couple of events coincided. First, my wife, Christi, was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007. This allowed us to learn a lot about gluten-free food. Second, a friend of mine, who was a long-time master baker, developed some fantastic gluten-free bread recipes.

On a daily basis, my personal inspiration comes from my faith and my family. In business, my inspiration comes from fixing problems and succeeding.

What's been your road to success and critical success factors along the way?

  • A foundational aspect of our success has been the quality and taste of our products. It makes a difference when people like the bread and buy it.  
  • Major retailers giving us an opportunity, like Whole Foods, King Soopers and Target!
  • Entering a market segment that was taking off.  
  • Like many other companies, our success has been dependent on hard work and smart work from a wonderful group of people at Canyon Bakehouse. Hard work includes the daily grind of manufacturing, managing and building teams and processes, and being tenacious and resilient in the face of issues. Smart work includes making prudent decisions, understanding issues and how to solve them, and planning in advance.  

Describe a mistake you made with your business. How did you fix it?  

There are so many to pick from! A big issue we had was hiring the right team members. I have learned that no matter the immediate need, it is always best to take time and go through an in-depth hiring process. The chances of bringing on the right team member significantly increase when this is done, which significantly decreases the pain of turnover and the risk they bring to your business.

What's your best piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs? 

Have a solid understanding of what your skill set is, and what your skill set is not. Being well-rounded is important. 

Where are you going? What is the vision for your business in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? 

Continue to increase distribution in mass and expand our product offerings.

What was the first retail account you landed? 

Whole Foods, Rocky Mountain Region.

Has anything surprised you about working with independent retailers?  

I love working with independent retailers. They are very passionate and knowledgeable about the products they sell and the clients they serve. 

How do you position your products in mass, natural and online? 

From a brand position, we are the premium, best-tasting, gluten-free bread. In terms of merchandising, gluten-free can be all over the store, depending on the retailer. That said, our goal is to sell fresh off the shelf, generally in the in-store bakery section. Sometimes, there is a dedicated gluten-free area or a natural section. We are also sold out of the freezer in some cases.

How do you develop relationships with retailers and educate them about your company’s story? 

We have a really fun and unique story behind our company and products, so being able to work with retailers to share this story with customers is important to us. We take advantage of any chance we get to visit stores and sample our breads or work with retailers on events. 

What most helped market your product in the beginning?  

The product spoke for itself, which prompted folks to tell their friends about us via word of mouth and social media.

What’s a guilty pleasure of yours?  

Probably mountain sports. These require expensive equipment and generally some level of risk that my wife is not a fan of! 

Please share the inside scoop on yourself. 

Josh: I’m a cookie connoisseur.   

Christi: I’m the oldest of four girls and I grew up in a small Midwest town. I never thought of moving away until I met and married Josh, then all that changed. We moved four times in nine years from the Midwest to the West Coast, the South and eventually to Colorado.


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