Name: Christine Pistole

Age: 53

Title: President and CEO

Company: Gryffon Ridge Inc., doing business as Gryffon Ridge Spice Merchants, Litchfield


About: A certified organic spice company that sells its spices and blends online


What’s your biggest challenge?

Ramping up for the growth. We are growing at the rate to where we are purchasing spices in different volumes, and we have to ramp up to the next level. I am revamping the company business plan to acquire larger machinery and have more product on hand for current clients and new clients coming on board.

You always have the goal that you are going to hit the growth you expected, and we have been hitting our goals for the last couple of years.

We are starting to implement the plan. Having the business plan has kept a visual plan for me to follow, instead of just winging it. If I wing it, I could go off course on a different idea. The plan keeps me on task with the main goals that need to get done.

We’ve been in business since 2009 with farmers markets, and the plan has been tweaked a number of times since then.

One thing about business plans, they hold you to what you say you want to do — if you want so many certain bulk accounts, and be in so many new stores in a year. We have broken down what the percentages need to be to continue the growth plan.


What’s the best advice that anyone has given you?

I have two that were given to me.

Be myself, and don’t try to compete or fit in with my competition.

Every time I try something new, I tell myself that fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment.

The first one came from my mother, and the second one came from a dear friend when I took over the business by myself in 2013, and I was very scared. I had started the business in 2009 with my husband and we divorced in 2013, and I made it a Maine-based woman-owned corporation.

How do you foster creativity in yourself?


In the business that I am in, there are a lot of different avenues I depend on to get ideas. Thank goodness for social media and the internet.

Being in the food business, it’s constant change. What’s the new product going to be this year?

I do a lot of reading cookbooks and online blogs, and I try to cook a new dish every week, with Maine ingredients. I might revisit them and tweak them if I didn’t like how they came out, but I try to make one new interesting one a week.

I am in the Brunswick Winter Market and the Crystal Springs Farm Farmers Market, and I try to buy ingredients there to cook with.

And I have boundaries. By 4:30 or 5 p.m., I am done. I have animals at the house, so I have to get home to feed them.

What’s your biggest fear right now?


Right now, it’s not keeping up with the growth, and that’s why we (Pistole has a couple of part-time employees) are re-looking at the business plan and re-evaluating what we keep on hand.

When I first come face-to-face with something, I don’t have knee-jerks reactions.

I am the type of person who likes to look at exactly what I need to make (something) happen.

I try to always look at situation and look at it before I react. If you make a mistake with money, it’s a big mistake.

(My approach) has been more learned. As I have been working the business solo for the past four years, I did a lot of knee-jerk things. I didn’t lose money, but I spent money where I didn’t need to because I could have done it another way.

One of my clients called because they are ramping up for a new season. Their production is growing, and I do the blending for them.


With this client, he gets me what he needs and then I go to my vendors and make them bid for the best price.

I want to get that best price for my company and pass that pricing to my clients.

Where will your business be in five years?

Last year (for television chef Andrew Zimmern’s summer cable series) we based blends on different shows produced for him on the Travel Channel. When he started his new series this year, they contacted me to do five new blends for him based on his travels and corresponding with the shows that have already been released.

It’s definitely opened up new horizons for clients. There has been a 13 percent increase in new clients on the website, and I contribute to the published information that went out in a joint effort. (The spice blends are for sale at It got me out in the limelight a little more.

I am a big advocate for my company and being out and talking to people about it and having things come through organically. That’s how your business grows.

For me, I am good at doing blending. It’s my niche.

In today’s world, people don’t realize how much social media can play into your business. When I am swamped and not posting to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, my online sales will drop. I hit it hard and my sales go up.

A good proportion of people buy with their eyes. They say, “That dish looks amazing and tasty and oh, my gosh, I want that. I want my meals to look like that.” When I cook a meal and post about a blend, and what ingredients I used, people will purchase that, and hopefully three or four more while they are there.

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