Longtime flight attendant Todd Keys has spent the better part of the last two decades perfecting his homemade granola.
Keys’ interpretation of that beloved breakfast/snack food quickly gained a positive reputation with family and friends who encouraged him to sell his creation. Keys gradually added other items to a growing product line he later named “Hot Toddy’s.”
Now, Keys’ lineup features jellies, jams, cookies, brownies, lemonade and more. That smorgasbord of treats firmly puts Hot Toddy’s in the rarefied air occupied by some of the Indy area’s most diverse entrepreneurs.
Like the Statehouse Market itself, with Hot Toddy’s, there’s definitely something for everyone.
Q: Your business began with homemade granola but has quickly expanded to include baked goods, preserves and more. Was it always the goal to include more items, or did you originally envision your business as a granola-only shop?
A: I began making my own granola about 20 years ago. I experimented with many different recipes before finally creating my own, which is more or less what it is today. I would say around eight to 10 years ago, I began giving it as gifts and sharing it with others. People began telling me that I should sell it, so I did.
I first sold it at the farmers market in my hometown of Winchester. A good friend of mine asked me if I could sell not only granola, but other baked goods as well, in her snack shop at a local school. I began using her kitchen space to make granola, cookies, brownies and other treats. She carried lots of varieties of local apples in her shop and asked me if I could use the apples that were not perfect to sell.
That is when I began making apple bars and apple butter. I quickly decided I could also make other fruit preserves and jellies, as I had watched my mother and grandmothers do it many times over the years. So, to answer your question, I never really envisioned having a shop at all. I have always loved to cook and bake, so this evolution has been a lot of fun.
Q: What did you do prior to starting Hot Toddy’s, and what was the catalyst that led you to start your own business?
A: I am currently a flight attendant and have been for 27 years. While I still enjoy it, I longed to do something that would allow me to spend more time at home. So now I fly a little less and bake a whole lot more.
My partner, Earl, joined me about three years ago, and while he is a good baker as well, he definitely runs the business side of the operation. We make a good team and have plenty of work to keep us both very busy.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about appearing at the Statehouse Market?
A: The Statehouse Market allows us to be right downtown where we are able to share our product with so many more people. We love introducing our granola and other goodies to new customers, and really love it when they return to us or write to us telling us how much they loved everything.
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of running your own business? What has been the most challenging?
A: The most rewarding part of running Hot Toddy’s is the freedom to create new products every day. The most challenging part is finding enough time to do everything we want to do!
Q: Tie dye is a signature of the Hot Toddy’s brand. How did you decide on this unique look for your logo?
A: A good friend of mine, who is a flight attendant and a graphic designer, designed my Hot Toddy’s logo. I wanted something simple, yet fun. I have always loved tie dye. So when we decided on making the T-shirts, we simply had white shirts made with our logo, and Earl and I tie dyed them all.
I love all of the color. We want to stand out at a farmers market. Colorful tie dye shows what we are all about — having fun and sharing our natural and delicious goodies!