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An Interview With Founder Melanie Francis

At 5 Sparrows, we're obsessed with flavor, precision, and connection. Our passion is empowering you on your journey toward better health and happiness through something as simple as a sweet, daily treat you can feel good about.

As a company, we’re devoted not only to the company we run but the company we keep. And we’re delighted to be a part of your healthy lifestyle!

In the spirit of connection, we wanted to give you a chance to get to know our founder, Melanie, a little better.

We recently sat down with Mel to ask her a few questions about herself and the company. Here's what she had to say:

1. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background?

I am a 5th generation Flathead Valley Native. I grew up with entrepreneurial parents- a farmer and a real estate broker in the Lower Valley area. My mom told me that if I wanted to stay in the valley, I should consider creating a job for myself. She told me she would match any scholarships I earned to go to college or help fund a start-up business if she approved my business plan. At the time, there were few coffee shops in the area and I was working as a barista. I loved my job and could see opportunities there. I also hated school, so the choice to start my own business was easy! It took several years, but I paid her back in full. To this day, I am grateful for her investment and belief in me.

2. What inspired you to start 5 Sparrows?

I was pregnant with Grahme, my third child) when the recession hit Montana in 2008. I knew that I wanted to stay home with my baby and also knew that the economy was taking a toll on my business’ profitability. I started looking for ways to reduce costs while keeping my high standards for our product. I realized how much capital I had in supplies. I remember looking at the ingredients on the cocoa powder mix I used and thinking to myself, “how hard can it be to make hot chocolate??” I immediately began to try hot chocolate recipes on my customers, who were happy to oblige. Once I perfected our dark cocoa mix, I couldn’t wait to formulate the white chocolate. After that, it sort of became a game to see how many products I could replicate.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I wake up to a handcrafted pour-over from my sweet husband every morning! I go to kickboxing or walk and lift weights with my girlfriends. I arrive at work late morning and have various meetings and work on projects. I am done in time to pick up my son from school. It’s really a dream schedule. It’s also something I’ve had to be very intentional in cultivating.

4. How has the company evolved since you first started?

I started out mixing every product by hand in a plastic mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. We now have a blender that can make a one-thousand pound batch.

5. How would you describe the company culture here?

We believe we are playing an important part in well-being in people’s lives. Physical health is important and that is the primary motivator for our customers. But we are also committed to spiritual, and emotional well-being. For ourselves, eachother and our customers. When you bring that to the forefront, it informs every action, every decision you make. Doing the right thing in any scenario is a simple outflow, not a problem to be solved.

6. What do you find most rewarding about running 5 Sparrows?

I saw a meme once that said “Set a goal so high, you can’t achieve it. And then grow into the person who can.” Every once in a while, I get to step back and see how far I’ve come both personally and professionally. It’s humbling and honestly a little shocking… and very, very sweet.

7. What is the biggest challenge of running a company?

Impostor Syndrome. 

8. Can you share a memorable moment or story from the business?

When the company was young, I would stay home with my kids during the day and work production at night. My friend, Lindsay, was involved. And so was wine. Those were some fun times!

9. Do you have a favorite flavor of 5 Sparrows?

Dark Cocoa, hands down.

10. Do you have a favorite recipe using that flavor?

The mocha affogato is pretty swoon-worthy. And it’s Italian, so it feels a little exotic and romantic.

11. When you aren’t at work, where would we be most likely to find you?

Playing cards with family, baking, sparring with friends at SBG, or reading a fantasy novel with a cat on my lap.

12. Do any of those activities influence your professional life?

To me, each is an act of art, and so is running a business.

“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” -Kurt Vonnegut