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  • Writer's pictureTracy

Baking and Making a Better Future

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Debbie Meritsky and Marc Rotman, Co-Owners, Eat My Granola! and Master Repurposers

Breakfast is our favorite meal at VanWhy, and we often say in the evenings, “I cannot wait for breakfast and coffee tomorrow.” There is a reason why breakfast has been called the most important meal of the day. And so, when Deb Meritsky, of Eat My Granola reached out to us about assisting with a brand and website refresh, we were thrilled! Not only that, but together with partner Marc Rotman, Deb and Marc lead a second entrepreneurial endeavor as chief artisans at Master Repurposers. We love and make art! This divine call from Deb was coordinated by none other than lovely Frog Greishaw, of Frog Juice Kombucha.

Together, Marc and Deb tackle a life of entrepreneurial endeavors. We are impressed with how they navigate being entrepreneurs of two businesses while working alongside their partners. These joy-filled risks are what make the entrepreneurial life so beautiful. These risks are known to Deb and Marc and are mitigated with a smile, tasty granola, and

sustainable art.

How They Started This Double Entrepreneurial Life At VanWhy, we adore those who step out, pursue their dreams, and succeed. In 2007, Deb, a classically trained chef, and Marc, an interior designer, opened the Black Sheep Inn, a bed and breakfast in New York’s Finger Lake region. Deb and Marc spent over six years restoring the Inn, and from that salvaged 100's of items. These items were later used in the the barn restoration as well as the art they both make. Today, you may even find an item from the inn, such as160 old Cut nails. While running the inn, Deb’s granola became popular on the breakfast menu, turning into an item that guests could not get enough of each morning. Because her granola was such a hit, her recipes remained at breakfast for years at Inn. This guest appreciation of her delectable granola became the foundation for starting Eat My Granola, which is in its sixteenth year of production.

Along with baking, Marc and Deb worked at the art studio, F.L.A.V.O.R. (Finger Lakes Art, Vintage, Old and Repurposed) in the region. In the studio, Marc created stained glass, mixed media, and more from vintage and repurposed items and Deb joined him with a focus on jewelry making. After more than a decade in the Finger Lakes region, the couple decided it was time for a change. They sold the inn and set out with nothing more than the proverbial clothes on their backs. The goal was a year long road trip. However, the pandemic struck, and like most of us, their plans changed. The couple spent a short time in Charleston, South Carolina, and then set up shop in Knoxville in 2020. After landing the perfect home, the couple dedicated their energies to carefully renovating the space, and now operate Master Repurposers from their on-site studio. They both love Knoxville, as they feel the city has a beautiful blend of art and food lovers.

All Natural, Low Sugar, Allergen Friendly Granola You Can’t Wait To Eat Today, Chef Deb bakes out of Real Good Kitchen in Knoxville, Tennessee, preparing granola that can be customized to dietary needs or flavors, as well as delicious batches of granola with fun names such as “Jamocha Mama” and “KRAK.” The mission at Eat My Granola is to create a crave-able breakfast that is actually good for you. This is why she removes all processed ingredients, and includes only those ingredients you can say - with minimal, all-natural sweeteners added. Deb is so transparent about what she puts into her granola, that she lists the majority of her ingredients on the homepage of her website. As a chef, Deb knows well that what we put into our bodies truly can help or harm us. For confirmation that you’re getting the best granola, here are her own words:

Eat MY Granola, Knoxville, TN - Walnut Raisin Eat My Granola

“Eat My Granola was created in 2021 to formalize our desire to produce the highest quality and most delicious organic granola possible from here in Knoxville, TN. In order to aid those, (ourselves included), with specific dietary requirements, our entire product line focuses on all natural, gluten free and dairy free ingredients with no added sugar or preservatives. We currently produce eight flavors of granola all of which feature whole food ingredients. Within our offering you will find granola options for Vegan, Grain-free, Keto, and Nut and Seed-free.”

But, the love for baking good-for-you granola, which in turn makes our guts happy, leads to a healthy body and mind. This mission makes the world truly a better place, but it does not stop there for Deb and Marc. Creating Value in A Sustainable Future As an interior designer, an artisan is acquainted with the importance of the look and feel of objects and particular placements within space. Marc Rotman, Deb’s partner, operated the FLAVOR studio in upstate New York for years, harnessing his vision for creating works of art from materials that might have been destined for the landfill.

Pottery Pin created by Master Repurposers, Knoxville, TN

Value, one of the main elements of art, is defined often by an artist as the relative lightness or darkness of a hue or color. Marc and Deb recognize this definition, while additionally assigning to their art work the definition of value as ‘the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.’ From these ideas, they both create value in the works they create through repurposing and reusing items that might otherwise be tossed out. From found objects to stained glass, Marc and Deb weave a sustainable tapestry to make future generations smile. The works created at Master Repurposers are not limited to mixed media, prints, handmade jewelry, and stained glass. Their studio houses eclectic creations from the handheld to furniture, and more! Curious to learn his process and make your own? Marc offers studio classes for you to create using his methodology. The best part about these classes is that all the materials are provided for you, as well as the art instruction. Eat My Granola and Master Repurposers know WHY We believe in businesses that add value to our world. We started our own endeavors inspired by individuals like Deb and Marc who take a passion, share it with the world, and bravely live a life immersed in the entrepreneurial spirit. To learn more, Marc and Deb can be found all over the East Tennessee region at local markets. They keep their respective Eat My Granola and Master Repurposer event pages updated so you can easily visit them. Connect with them on Instagram and Facebook to eat their granola and to create sustainably with them!

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