I reached out to Kate one day on a whim when we were planning the Be Clean studio open. I was a huge fan of her vegan + gluten free protein bars, and I thought it would be fun for her to do a tasting at the party. I now think of this lovely lady as a friend, and am so inspired by her story! We hope you enjoy!
What inspired you to start Kate Bakes? What were you doing before, and how did you make the leap?
Several years ago I got extremely sick with some stomach issues that forced me to give my diet an overhaul. Many foods and dishes I'd been eating my whole life were off the table and I was struggling to find things to eat when I wasn't at home. After taking a break from law school, which inevitably turned into dropping out of law school, I wanted to do something that would fulfill me in a way that I thought becoming a lawyer would. It took me a long time to get over dropping out and during that time I needed to put my energy into something I loved that would hopefully bring me back to my path - and of course that was food!
Given the new set of food challenges being sick handed me, I decided to start a food blog and document how I was figuring everything out. I loved writing that blog so much and sure enough, one of my recipes was for a protein bar that was everything I felt was missing on the market at the time. The original flavor was the same Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal bar we sell today!
Since blogging wasn't exactly paying the bills, I was lucky to get my old job before law school back and spent about a year and a half slowly building up the foundation of Kate Bakes. But, eventually it got to the point where I knew I had to make the leap, and at the end of 2013, the timing was right to leave and I could finally focus on giving Kate Bakes my all. I put my two weeks in thinking I could always be a paralegal again, but if I was serious about my business I had to go for it right then. So I did.
How do you think skincare and food are related? Do you have a favorite skin-loving snack?
I know they're related because anytime I eat something that, while delicious, is probably a bit less than healthy, I can see it all over my face! When I'm properly taking care of my diet and eating well, my skin is in the best shape. I love avocados and almonds and think they love my skin back!
How do you formulate new bar flavors? Is there a dream bar you'd like to make one day?
I usually think of something I want to eat or a flavor combination I haven't seen yet and then try to figure out how to translate that with the ingredients I use to create something vegan and gluten-free. A few months ago I saw the Compartes Cereal Bowl chocolate bar pop up on my Instagram feed and ever since I've wanted to create a bar with that token cereal and milk flavor combo. It's going to be a challenge but I'm excited!
You're a really busy woman. How do you emphasize your personal wellness when you have a million other things to do?
I constantly think about balance and try to be aware of my limits. The truth is though, I work 7 days a week and have to if I want to achieve my goals with Kate Bakes. I'm more than okay with that, I love my company, but I also have to make sure to fit the rest of my life in somehow as well. I often joke that I'm the 'Queen of Making Time' because I always do somehow. What's the point of having this company and flexible schedule if I burn out? Or constantly miss out on spending time with the people I love? Or did you mean wellness in terms of sleep and exercise? Because then...next question.
What's coming up for Kate Bakes, and where do you hope to go on your natural food business journey?
We just launched our first seasonal flavor, the Pumpkin Bar, and have our second seasonal bar, the Brownie Bar, coming out in a few weeks. It will be the first time we offer a chocolate dipped bar (using Charm School Chocolate's vegan milk chocolate) and I'm interested to see what the reaction will be. I wanted to release it during the holidays because it will make a nice alternative for people trying to indulge on the relatively healthy side this time of year.
Outside of that, I'm trying to focus on growing our presence in smaller shops up and down the east coast. I'm not entirely sure how larger stores, such as Whole Foods, will fit into the Kate Bakes picture. For the time being I'd like to continue to provide a fresh and healthy option for people with food restrictions - or just good taste - in smaller places where options are slightly more limited.
Have you tried a bar from Kate Bakes? Which one is your favorite? We'd love to hear your feedback!