Hello Modern Epicureans! This is one of many interviews of local food makers to come to our blog. A huge part of our initiative as a company is to bring visibility and awareness around the growing local food movement in Colorado and the local food companies within it. We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview a growing paleo snack company, Lillabee, founded by husband and wife duo, Jared and Indea Lovenduski in Boulder, Colorado.
They got their start in the farmers' markets as many small local producers do and now you can find them in regional Whole F foods stores and Amazon. We will be offering their cookies on our online farmers' market soon, as well.
Lillabee sells the most delicious snack cookies that are grain free, paleo, and filled with superfood ingredients such as avocado oil, hemp seeds, cacao, and organic coconut oil. Not only are these the tastiest cookies out there, you actually will not feel bad about eating them...can you even imagine what that? Guilt-free cookies...
We covered many topics throughout this interview from how they got started, what their vision for the future is, and what their thoughts are on the growing presence of food companies online.
"The digital space is going to be the greatest thing to happen for small food companies. Not only packaged food, but for other niches within. It's amazing to be able to get your product in front of the world - your customer. You don't have to wait for a gatekeeper with a magic wand. It's amazing. I love it!"
Even though online food purchases only take up about 5% of total food purchases, there is exceptional potential for growth and we expect to see many more food producers of all sorts taking advantage of this exciting new opportunity to interact with their target customers online across platforms, big and small.
That being said, Lillabees, is strategically working both angles: brick-and-morter and online. We hope that their story inspires the dreaming food entrepreneurs out there as much as it has inspired us. Be sure to follow them on Instagram @lillabeesnacks, so you can stay up to date on their newest product releases and giveaways (their feed is also really beautiful, so there's that). And, now, the interview...Enjoy!
How did you get started?
My wife has had multiple food allergies for a long time, which is why we started the company in the first place. She couldn't have dairy anymore. As that diet evolved over time it was kind of a desire to get a little less carbs in our diet and more protein and healthy fats. A lot of gluten free flours have a lot of carbs and empty calories. So, we switched because of that just because the diet we did have delivered a little more health and nutrition.
Our diet continued to evolve and we started switching from gluten free to grain free, then, a real switch to paleo. We wanted the foods that we made to align with what we ate at home. So, we started looking for "what are we going to make?" What could be this exciting new product that nobody else made, that's new in the category?
Where did the name Lillabee come from?
My wife, Indea, created it. She is the creative force behind the company. Her grandfather was a florist that emigrated to the United States from Italy and Lilla is Italian for Lilac. So, it was really inspired by her family's heritage. You know, flowers and bees...we wanted it to be something more than a really functional name.
"We wanted our name to be something more than a really functional name. We wanted it to be a little more fun...in everything we do...and that carries through in the products that we make, the packaging, and the branding. Everything. We call it 'positive nutrition'. We are really focused on positivity."
Can you tell us more about "positive nutrition"?
It's an ethos. We believe there's a way to communicate that benefits many and in a positive light and we choose to take that approach.
What was working at the Boulder Farmers' Market Like?
Well, it was 2010. We had a baby that year, we were learning the business, because why not, and I think it took a while to learn what we wanted to do. It was a journey for us, you know, we had the product idea, but we had a lot of work ahead of us. We had to perfect the best recipe, find a commercial manufacturing partner, and raise money. We worked the Boulder Farmers' Market in the summer for two years. Then, around 2014, we had an outline for what we wanted to do. As soon as we received funding from Whole Foods, we ran with it.
Would you recommend that aspiring food producers sell their products at farmers' markets?
It all depends, but I think you should be willing. Farmers' markets are a lot of work. They're a lot of time. Sometimes it rains and nobody comes. But, in terms of exposure in your community and developing a proof of concept I could not imagine a better way to do it. You're going to work for it and the results are not guaranteed. However, it is a really great proving ground, at least to figure out if you've got something.
What is the vision of the company?
We have a vision to be a grain free, paleo focused snack and food company. We have a lot of products that we have ideas for, the consumer acceptance in retail and online has been fantastic, and we feel like we've found a little white space. We are running with it and are going to have a lot of fun along the way. We have high hopes and great expectations and it is all tempered with knowledge, which is the moonshot.
As far as positivity goes, this interview really hits the spot. And, as far as delicious, smart snacks go, Lillabee is where it is at. They have three different flavors: classic chocolate, salted caramel, and chocolate mint. Our personal favorite is the classic chocolate, but you cannot go wrong with either one.
Be sure to show them some love on their instagram and other social media channels. You will feel their positivity with every post and you will definitely feel the positivity when you try their brownie thin cookies the next time you are looking for a smart snack to pack for your next adventure!
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