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Family Values Infuse Family Business

Empowered by their parents, sisters Annie (Sproule) Gorder ’11, Mollie (Sproule) Ficocello ’14, and Grace (Sproule) Lunski ’17, GS’18 started Three Farm Daughters, a consumer food company that sells flour and pasta powered by GoodWheat™ varieties. Their tagline, “No fillers, no dyes, no lies,” reveals how their upbringing and Bethel experiences have shaped their values.

By Katie Johnson ’19, content specialist

February 01, 2021 | 10 a.m.

The founders of Three Farm Daughters from left to right: Grace (Sproule) Lunski ’17, GS’18, Mollie (Sproule) Ficocello ’14, and Annie (Sproule) Gorder ’11

The founders of Three Farm Daughters from left to right: Grace (Sproule) Lunski ’17, GS’18, Mollie (Sproule) Ficocello ’14, and Annie (Sproule) Gorder ’11

Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger has nothing on Annie (Sproule) Gorder ’11, Mollie (Sproule) Ficocello ’14, and Grace (Sproule) Lunski ’17, GS’19—the founders of Three Farm Daughters. The fictitious mascot's sole purpose is to sell a product while the Sproule sisters organically embody everything their company stands for: the trust, transparency, and integrity their parents raised them to value. They represent much more than a brand. They represent a way of life, especially as they run their business not only as entrepreneurs, but as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, and friends. 

Three Farm Daughters was founded on the premise of the Sproule sisters wanting to feed their families nutritious, clean-label foods. After becoming more familiar with the GoodWheat™ portfolio because their family farm grew the varieties for a couple years, the Sproule sisters combined their business experience with their family values and launched their own brand. In December 2019, Three Farm Daughters was officially born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on the farm where they all grew up. After milling, manufacturing, packaging, and establishing connections with various grocery stores in-person and online, the first Three Farm Daughters products—100% wheat flour, linguine, fettuccine, and fusilli—were available for sale in November 2020.

When Gorder, Ficocello, and Lunski each left Grand Forks to pursue their business degrees at Bethel, they never imagined founding a company together only a few years later. Their family had always been close, and they assumed they might partner in something more low-maintenance, like a lake home or small investment. After Gorder graduated from Bethel, she returned to North Dakota to receive her Master of Business Administration (MBA) and establish a career in real estate. Ficocello followed a Bethel professor’s advice and attended law school, also in North Dakota. Lunski stayed with her husband in the Twin Cities as he began his career as a chiropractor. She attended aesthetics school and Bethel’s MBA program concurrently while also owning a beauty studio before they moved back to North Dakota, into a house a half mile away from both her parents and in-laws respectively. “Even two years ago, if someone would've said, ‘You're going to move back and then start a food company with your sisters,’ I would've been so confused,” Lunski says, laughing.

"At the end of the day we're all wives, moms, and sisters," Lunski says. "We tried our products, and we thought, 'This is the kind of pasta that we want to eat and the kind of food that we want to feed our families.'"

"At the end of the day we're all wives, moms, and sisters," Lunski says. "We tried our products, and we thought, 'This is the kind of pasta that we want to eat and the kind of food that we want to feed our families.'"

The deep family connection is part of what makes Three Farm Daughters so unique. They’re not only sisters, but best friends. They take their kids to work at the same office their parents would bring them to as kids. “Honestly, people get the three of us mixed up so often because we all look the same, like long black hair, and we all style it the same, but our personalities could not be more different,” Gorder says. Their personalities work together to create a dynamic dependent on trust and open communication, especially as they take on their own roles.

Gorder handles the lending, funding, and finances while Ficocello connects the supply chain, making sure the grain, trucks, packages, and employees are all where they need to be at the right time. Lunski heads marketing and product innovation by refining their brand, creating their website, and developing a social media presence to share their story. And while they combine their strengths as business partners, they know they’re sisters first. “When we first got into this, our dad actually sat us all down in this conference room and was like, ‘Here's the deal. This is super great and I'm really excited. And I think you guys can do big things, but you were sisters first,’” Ficocello recounts. “‘This is a room and it's open. It's transparent. Don’t let anything mess with your relationships.’”

Paul and Susie Sproule have influenced and supported their daughters’ ambitions, sharing their own experience to empower them every step of the way. They embodied how to communicate not only as business partners, but as husband and wife, and how the two dynamics could best inform one another. They encouraged their daughters to start their business, promising that failure wasn’t fatal. “Rather, if you are going to fail, fail fast, fail hard, and pivot,” they said. The Sproule sisters do their best to follow their parents’ example, knowing it leads exactly where they want to go. “Our parents have been so instrumental in shaping the way that we communicate with one another and the way that we trust one another,” Lunski says. “It's just been amazing to have leaders in our lives every day that have helped to shape the way we think and the way that we operate as business partners but also as sisters.”

These are the products currently on shelves at grocery stores and for sale on the Three Farm Daughters website.

These are the products currently on shelves at grocery stores and for sale on the Three Farm Daughters website.

Their openness with one another has influenced Three Farm Daughters’ transparency as well. Their tagline is: “No fillers, no dyes, no lies.” They provide an honest food buying experience indicative of their values—instilled in them both in childhood and through their time at Bethel. “Not only did Bethel teach business, but it instilled values that we really brought forward to our business,” Ficocello says. The Sproule sisters all feel called to make business decisions rooted in integrity and honesty rather than for pure financial gain. They also appreciate how Bethel has influenced them to understand someone else’s motivations—that in their fast-paced world full of quick decisions, they all take the time to know how their choices may affect someone else, whether that be their consumers, partners, or competitors.

The values they’ve poured into Three Farm Daughters have resonated with their consumers. So far, they’ve established an online presence through their eCommerce platform, from which they have shipped products to 30 different states in the 10 weeks their products have been available. Their products are in 26 retail stores today within a 150-mile radius from Grand Forks and are soon to be available on Amazon. 

The most exciting part? This is just the beginning.

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