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Making Her Own (Gluten-Free) Path to Success

Article by Cheryl Harris Forbes

Photographs by Shana SureckRebecca Tuttle was surprised to find the Entrepreneurial Center offered a variety of services for small businesses, particularly women through the Women’s Business Center.

For Rebecca Tuttle, grants and gluten-free are a great fit. If that sounds unconventional, it's because it is, and Rebecca wouldn't have it any other way. Her celiac diagnosis and the desire to branch out professionally were her catalysts for becoming a successful entrepreneur and a nationally recognized speaker, author, and trainer.

In any given week, this glute- free enthusiast and grant writing guru hopscotches across the country offering “gluten-free” speaking engagements and grant writing education to hundreds of people each year. Rebecca appeared on Better CT, with her crowd-pleasing gluten-free pizza recipe, and has been featured on the nationally syndicated Dr. Oz show for her positive outlook for success.

Through Tuttle Consulting, Rebecca works with a wide array of non-profit and private business clients throughout the United States, teaching them to find, write, and submit effective grant applications. She offers grant management training and consulting, using a uniquely designed grant writing curriculum that maximizes efficiency in grant writing and seeking. Rebecca’s multi-million-dollar portfolio includes grants, fundraising, and other development and private donor relations. When Rebecca is not writing, coaching, or training, she is off helping people enjoy their gluten-free lifestyle, sharing tips and recipes from her gluten-free book.

If you ask, Rebecca will happily tell you that one of her greatest joys is helping others be successful. “Meeting new people and sharing information and knowledge across sectors is really exciting. The grant writing, researching, teaching, and consulting, it’s all part of my professional passion and every day is a new adventure.”

Rebecca’s background in non-profit management lead her to promising roles as a director of a child abuse prevention center, program director at a community action agency, and non-profit consultant. Her unique ability to forecast future funding and raise the bar in the field of grant writing and seeking encouraged others to ask how they too could strengthen their grant writing skills and become more sustainable in their overall mission. This prompted Rebecca to expand her services to help other non-profits with grant management and community planning consulting. Rebecca hadn’t yet considered herself an entrepreneur, although she couldn't ignore her passion for sharing what she knew for the benefit of others. "That's when I began to think, ‘What else do I know? What else can I share that might help people?’”

As a matter of fact, Rebecca’s been sharing her personal journey for years. Among family, friends, and local parent engagement organizations she became the go-to resource for information about food awareness, food allergies, and gluten-free choices. However, it was the grant consulting opportunity that prompted her to consider how others beyond her immediate circle might benefit from easy to understand information about gluten-free living and successful grant writing and non-profit development.

"Gluten-free living became my passion because it became my life. It feels good helping others understand that despite food sensitivities, everyone can enjoy a happy, heathy, gluten-free lifestyle.” After making the decision to share her story, Rebecca focused on creating the text, and then turned her attention to researching and testing some of her favorite recipes. Rebecca was confident in her skills as a research writer, but had never written a book before. She knew little about the process, but she knew research, so she did the best thing she could and began researching book publishing. "I was confident that I could figure it out, just like I had done in my gluten-free life,” she says, "I put myself out there by responding to a call for presenters at a March 2014 early childhood education conference. I promised to deliver my book and my gluten-free expertise and there was no turning back.”

Since celiac and food allergy diagnoses can be overwhelming, this newly-minted entrepreneur chose to bring some levity to the subject. The Story of My Gluten Free Cookbook: No Chicken, No Turkey, No Gluten, Oh My! is a truthful, informative, and humorous recounting of her journey along the road to transformation and discovery. It leaves readers empowered to change the quality of their lives through food choices, confidence building, and personal connection. Her book was posted on Amazon just weeks shy of the March conference. Shortly after her Amazon debut, February soft-cover books and sales followed. The entire publishing process took about 4 months. "I proved to myself I could do it and I met my goal with enjoyment and success."

Rebecca furthered her involvement with the center in 2014 when she began teaching Grant Writing for Business workshops. Once her book was published and her journey came to life, Rebecca spent a tremendous amount of time researching and reading all aspects of business, from becoming an entrepreneur to marketing, finance, and everything in between. In the process of surfing the web, she came across the Entrepreneurial Center website by way of a link from the Small Business Administration. She was surprised to find the Entrepreneurial Center offered a variety of services for small businesses, particularly women through the Women’s Business Center. “I’m so grateful for this resource and for the Women’s Business Center. Milena Erwin is my technical assistance business advisor and she has been phenomenal. The Entrepreneurial Center expanded my knowledge, helped me expand my professional network, and meet new people from all aspects of business. It is a great place and Milena’s team is incredible.”

Reflecting on her experience, Rebecca explains, "Discovering the Women’s Business Center was a blessing. I began attending business classes, combining it with what I had already learned from my independent research, and put it all into practice to further the entrepreneurial goals for Tuttle Consulting. I attended every meeting with a written plan about my business vision and goals, along with the steps I'd already taken toward achieving them. I wanted the center’s team to know I meant business. I never ask others to do the work for me; I do all that I can first, before asking for help. It's great to know I'm not alone, and that in addition to my family, friends, and clients, the center is part of my business support team.” Rebecca furthered her involvement with the center in 2014 when she began teaching Grant Writing for Business workshops. 

Smiling and obviously pleased, yet not complacent with her achievements, Rebecca says, "Though my business is not conventional, I love what I do. As an entrepreneur you don't have to fit into any particular mold. I have the flexibility to balance my personal, professional and family interests. Starting a small business expanded my view of what's possible and the extent of my own potential. I used to think there were limits on what I could achieve. Now I see there aren't any. The sky is limitless and I have yet to reach my fullest potential. For me that is what is most exciting!”