"Eat Simple"- The Story of The Local Bar
Caitlin developed a snack bar as a project during her Food Sciences classes at the U of S called Terra Bar ("Dirt bar?" I asked "No, terra means Earth" was the rather unfriendly response"). It used pulse products and blueberries and it was pretty yummy. It won a challenge called the I3 Challenge and placed second place in all of Canada, so it was probably more than just pretty yummy. But people really seemed to love the fact that it included pulses- nutrient packed lentils- which are often hard to incorporate into our usual menus. Also it was cool knowing where the ingredients came from and literally what farmer grew those plants. But Caitlin's intial exitement about the Terra Bar lost momentum shortly after the challenge and that's where things sort of ground to a halt on that product. She was a student afterall- not a business owner. She needed to focus on her classes to get her degree.
But the people around her had not forgotten about the idea of a snack bar that was actually healthy. And used ingredients from here in Saskatchewan, ones that almost everyone recognizes. And it tasted good. All in one easy snack. Isn't that what everyone is looking for these days? (I mean those smoothie bowls I see on my Instagram are gorgeous but I can't help but wonder "how much time did that beautiful breakfast take?"). She had a few friends who owned businesses in Saskatoon who offered to carry the bars to see how they did in stores and soon they were selling out faster than she could make them. Once again things started to slow down as she was becoming overwhelmed by demand.
ENTER: Me *jazz hands*
Caitlin asked me to help her turn the bars into a business and I was pumped to join up with her, mostly because I like hanging out with her and I thought the bars tasted good. Initially I was intimidated by Caitlin's education on nutrition and the food system but I soon realized our food business didn't need another person with tons of complex knowledge about what food does what and why. We had that in Caitlin. We needed a regular person who is busy (I'm a mom of three little ones) and doesn't eat things that don't taste good, even if it is a "Superfood". I just knew the bars tasted good, were easy to grab and kept me full. And if Caitlin tells me they're healthy, I believe her. She has more education on this subject than anyone else I know plus she has literally wrestled a box of mini carrot cakes out of my hands at Safeway to try to get me to eat healthier.
So we embarked on the journey to start a food business. We navigated insurance, trademarking and incorporating adventures, designed what the new and improved packaging should look like with a graphic designer and started working on scaling up the formula Caitlin had developed. Along the way we named our new bar The Local Bar.
A crucial part of producing large quantities of a product is scaling up to larger and larger amounts, testing the formula to make sure it stays the same as is it for the original bar. And when you're spending all that time and money making 500 bars, ideally it would be nice to sell them and recoup some of that cost. And in order to sell a food product you have to make them in a commercial kitchen. Which we quickly discovered is limited within Saskatoon.
ENTER: Inspiration for The Local Kitchen
Anyhoo. Luckily Caitlin had generous, supportive friends who let us use their kitchen at Primal and we prepared The Local Bar for it's Food Center premiere.
The Food Center is an amazing and intimidating place that took a couple runs for us to get comfortable using. (Don't even get me started on the different kinds of coats there. Red coat? White coat? Why are there beard covers in the women's changeroom? I still have no idea). We still get nervous the nights before we go to The Food Center because it's a large investment for our business to produce our entire inventory for the next couple months. But despite our fears it's always managed to work out okay. Likely because of the highly competent people running the show there who keep our production running smoothly.
So that's where we're at now- adding more and more retail locations to our list and watching in awe as our customer base grows. We're currently working on plans to launch our The Local Bar product line across Canada which is...intimidating. But we'll just continue taking it one step at a time and enjoying the journey.
We love talking with people who are currently running their own food production businesses or thinking of starting one. Feel free to come have a cup of coffee with us any time at The Local Kitchen and chat :)