She wasn’t a crunchy granola type but when Kathy Monahan’s husband moved the family to New Hampshire, she explored that side of her personality. Spending countless hours outside with her kids, hiking and skiing, Kathy felt she was getting back to nature. She even began teaching yoga and Pilates. Eating natural food went hand in hand with this new life and eating healthy snack bars became a part of her regular routine.
At a family gathering back in CT, Jim Bruno, her cousin’s husband served a delicious nut, oat and fruit bar made from a recipe that he had developed over several years through trial and error. Kathy loved it and after several glasses of wine, the two decided to go into the bar making business together. “As an exercise enthusiast, I was always looking for a healthy, delicious bar and I knew there was a need for something like the bar Jim made.”
So the next day, reality set in and they began to get organized. They needed a name first. Since Jim is a musician, he wanted use a musical theme. The bar that Jim created had 8 nuts, oats and fruits so they came up with 8 to the Bar. Kathy’s cousin and Jim’s wife, Donna, a graphic designer, took the name and created a logo and label with a musical note on it, perfect.
Spending almost a year of planning, the new partners did their research, sourcing ingredients, forming an LLC, finding a commercial kitchen and perfecting their recipe for larger batches. Kathy says, “We got a lot of advice from everyone we could find. Lloyd of The Double L Market in Westport, CT, was a great source of information and our first customer.”
When their first batch was ready, Lloyd said, “Bring in twelve bars. If they sell, you’re in the store.” Two days later, Lloyd called for more. Kathy and Jim’s bar is all organic, made with local honey and they are gluten free. They also offer a box of bites. Visiting other local stores, markets, and exercise studios, the orders came in. Doing everything themselves, Kathy spends about 20 hours a week or more in the kitchen and more hours delivering boxes of the bars. “We do everything ourselves from making the bars, to packaging, to delivery. My kids are older so this business couldn’t have come at a better time because I have more time.”
When asked about profitability, Kathy says, “Yes, we are.” She also says it’s great having a business partner. “We each have a different skill set and a huge level of respect for each other; it’s a very positive relationship.” Where do the two want to go with their bar? “We want to be in Whole Foods and all over the country.” No pun intended, but this is a venture I can really sink my teeth into. ”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.8tothebarllc.com
8 to the Bar oat bars can be purchased in the VentureMom Shop.
Do your research and get organized before you start.