Published: Oct. 13, 2016

Nurse turns family recipes into family business with help of MSU product center

Contact(s): Chris Peterson MSU Product Center office: (517) 355-1813

Lauren Yacteen is a registered nurse at Beaumont Hospital by day, and homemade chef by night. While Yacteen was working in Maternal Child Health at the hospital, she would bring homemade Mediterranean food made from old family recipes in to nourish her co-workers through their long shifts. Once her fellow nurses tried her homemade hummus and fattoush salad, they knew she would have tremendous success selling it to the public, and that is when Bekka Valley began. 

With the referral from a friend, Yacteen reached out to Michigan State University’s Product Center, which helped her through the business planning and development process. Nine months later, Yacteen turned her dream into a reality and began commercializing her homemade Mediterranean food product line, Bekka Valley, named after her family’s home town in Lebanon.

“We were instructed on where to start from my application for the business license to the packaging and labeling to guidelines for doing everything safely and properly. All in all, the MSU Product Center had my back no matter what I needed!” Yacteen said. 

Out of her Bekka Valley kitchen, Yacteen now sells classic, roasted red pepper, zesty and habanero hummus, along with a green garlic dip and baked sea salt and olive oil pita chips for dipping. Bekka Valley also sells fattoush salad dressing, chicken and beef shawarma, and chicken tawook marinades. These Bekka Valley products are also a hit at local farmer’s markets, where the Yacteen children help out. 

MSU’s Product Center played a critical role in helping Yacteen’s business develop and she plans to seek more guidance from it as she looks to expand her market by selling in more locations and at gourmet grocery stores.

“The most valuable part of my relationship with the MSU Product Center was their sound advice on what to do next,” Yacteen said. “For anyone looking to start her own business make sure you think it through first, have a solid business plan, don’t let people tell you no, follow your dreams and of course get help from the MSU Product Center!” 

Every year, the MSU Product Center hosts it Making It in Michigan Conference and Marketplace Trade Show where it teaches fundamental business strategies and gives local businesses like Yacteen’s the opportunity to pitch ideas, network with distribution channels, and learn how to improve their business. This year’s conference is Wednesday, November 16 at the Lansing Center.