Jessica Mindell, founder of Jessica’s Natural Foods, used to hand-deliver her gluten-free granola. Now it’s sold in Whole Foods and other grocery chains.Photo courtesy of the company.

In May 2009, Jessica Mindell was all set to bake the first batch of gluten-free granola she would sell under the label of her new business, Jessica’s Natural Foods. She borrowed her father-in-law’s SUV and drove all the way from Birmingham, Mich. to Chicago, where two contracted bakers were waiting for her.

Mindell spent Memorial Day weekend making hundreds of pounds of granola. Then she packaged the finished product in 900 bags, loaded them into the SUV and drove back to Birmingham, where she started cold-calling local grocery stores and filling orders.

“That’s how I did things for a long time early on,” says Mindell, whose husband’s gluten sensitivity inspired her granola creations. “I would go store-to-store and hand-deliver the granola.”

Today, Jessica’s Natural Foods is a success story of the gluten-free retail market, which is currently worth an estimated $4.5 billion worldwide.