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Inspiring Conversations with Jules Shepard of gfJules

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jules Shepard.

Jules Shepard

Hi Jules, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I was diagnosed with celiac disease in the 1990s, long before anyone had ever heard of it or a gluten-free diet. I call it the “dark ages of living gluten-free.”

I had to figure it all out for myself, and it wasn’t easy, fun, or tasty. Years into my new life, I developed an all-purpose flour blend for myself so that I could still use all my family recipes — this was a novel concept at the time, as it was presupposed that every recipe required a different blend of gluten-free flours to ensure success. I felt that approach was too time-consuming and uneconomical, which is why I worked for years to develop an all-purpose mixture instead.

Once I cracked the code on that solution, I wrote a cookbook and shared my original recipe with the world to help others in the gluten-free community to bake better, as well. My first cookbook, Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Eating, became very popular, largely because of the foundation of this essential flour mixture. But folks didn’t want to have to mix up the flour themselves, so I started hearing from readers who asked me to sell the mix. I didn’t know anything about the flour manufacturing business, but I decided to figure it out, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve been manufacturing and selling my much-updated and perfected All Purpose Gluten Free Flour blend as well as many gluten-free mixes since 2008, first under the name Jules Gluten Free, and now as gfJules. I’m proud to say that my products are consistently voted #1 in the Gluten Free Awards, and my blog (gfJules.com) is also the #1 Gluten Free Blog.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has not been a smooth road at all! When I first started, I had two small children and my husband had just left. I had no income and no help running the business, so I was working until well past midnight every night. I ended up taking on outside investors for sweat equity to get help with the business operations.

It worked well for a few years, but when the business became profitable, they decided they didn’t want me to be a part of it any longer. It was a devastating blow to have developed all these formulas, written the books and the recipes, and built the soul of a business that was torn apart by others because they wanted to run it without me. They ended up locking me out of my own company and not paying me for a year during litigation, using the profits from my company to hire lawyers to fight me — it was dreadful.

In the end, we parted ways and they were not permitted to use my name, image, or likeness to deceive my customers about whose products they were selling, but I had to start all over again to build a new company in 2014. It’s been a real slog, but I’ve persevered and built the business the way I wanted and it’s been successful because we’re mission-driven and a business run with heart.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
gfJules is the premium gluten-free flour and baking mixes company in the U.S., winning consumer choice awards year after year. It was founded by Jules Shepard, whom The Washingtonian refers to as, “Jules is one of the top experts on gluten-free living in the Washington area; Time magazine, ABC, and other major media outlets line up for her advice.” She was also voted “Gluten-Free Person of the Decade” in 2020.

Since its introduction in 2008, Jules has sold well more than a million pounds of her unparalleled gluten-free flour, first through her former company, Jules Gluten Free, and now exclusively with her new company, gfJules®. Jules’ famous All Purpose Flour allows you to use all your favorite family recipes again, and like all of her products, no one will ever know it’s gluten-free.

All of Jules’ products are independently certified gluten-free and kosher, and they are among the first in the country to also be certified free of the top 9 food allergens. They use non-GMO, vegan ingredients.

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
Milling & Baking News (magazine).

Contact Info:

Image Credits
R.Mora Photography

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