They tested some of her lotions and scrutinized the packaging and labeling of her soaps and spa items as the North Judson small business owner explained the local and fairly traded ingredients she uses in them.
After about 45 minutes, Biehl was handed her "welcome" packet and informed she would be among nearly two dozen local vendors represented at the new Mishawaka store.
The company tries to have 20 percent of its product mix from local suppliers. Artisan products must be grown or raised, manufactured and packaged no more than one day's drive from the store.
Whole Foods is set to open April 10 at 4230 Grape Road, in the former Borders bookstore building.
Biehl has already ramped up production as she awaits her first wholesale order.
"It was such a surreal thing. I didn't go in with any expectations; I just went to the interview to give it a shot," she says humbly. "But when they told me they wanted everything, I didn't know what to say. I'm just thrilled to have been chosen because it is an incredible opportunity."
Four Horsemen Brewing Co. also made the cut. The South Bend-based company will have its six-packs and 12-pack samplers on the store shelves, says Ben Roule, vice president of sales and marketing.
"They support local breweries, so they were immediately interested in us and had heard about us prior to our meeting," Roule says.
"This will hopefully help us get our product in Whole Foods stores in Indianapolis and other states where our beer is distributed," he adds.
Claeys Candy of South Bend will stock its Natural Horehound herbal drops; Earthworks Bread of Plymouth will offer breads; and Dutch Country Market in Middlebury will sell noodles, honey and maple syrup, just to name a few others.
Shaun Maeyens, co-owner and roaster at Zen Cafe Coffee, knew his business practices would match Whole Foods' requirements.
"We purchase our coffees ethically, the coffees we carry are traceable, and the cooperatives and farms are practicing sustainable growing methods," Maeyens says. "I was confident that we could form a relationship."
Stanz Foodservice in South Bend will stock its Belgian mustard and horseradish inside Whole Foods.
"We travel a parallel path alongside our independent restaurant customers in competing with large corporate chains and distributors that come in to the market and remove the dollars they generate from our community," says Mark Harman, Stanz Foodservice president.
At the same time, he says, competition is generally a good thing for raising the bar of quality and efficiency. And because Stanz is a family-owned business with a long local history, "we figured it deserves to be available in as many establishments as possible," Harman says.
"If Whole Foods is going to invest in the community in a substantial way and be a good corporate citizen and bring options that are not currently available, then that will be a positive," he says.
Steve Stogdill, chef and owner at Victorian Pantry in Granger, feels honored to have his creativity and quality recognized by a national grocer he has always liked.
When traveling, he has tried to seek out Whole Foods "and find some of the fun inventory as ingredients for our use."