Category Archives: Behind The Brands

Behind The Brand: Organic Living Superfoods

If you have been in to Thirst recently, then you have probably noticed the new nuts and snacks we have in the store. Organic Living Superfoods is the name of the company that produces these delicious, healthy snacks. Founder Heather Stevenson and I recently got the chance to visit Bruce Namenson, co-founder of OLS, at his office in Walpole, MA and get a tour of his facility as well as ask him some questions about his company (and walk away with some samples too!).

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Organic Living Superfoods started in 2012 when Bruce Namenson and Craig Singer came together to create a company that makes and distributes plant based and organic nuts, dried fruits, seeds, powders, and more. Bruce had previously been a part owner of Prana Cafe in Newton, MA where his passion for creating healthy food finally led him to start his own company. OLS’s original office was in a 200 square foot room in Bruce’s house. Bruce and his partner later took over space from an old yoga studio inside a building in Walpole. They had one small, plastic dehydrator. Now, five years later, they have expanded into other spaces in the building and have a facility that is about 15,000 square feet.

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Though OLS now has a variety of different products, it all began with nuts. A cinnamon pecan flavor came first, and then Bruce started experimenting with more unusual flavors. Potato chip flavors like salt and vinegar and buffalo ranch inspired Bruce, and he thought, why not try these on nuts? So he did, and the product was a healthy snack that tastes like a delicious treat. When asked about what makes Organic Living Superfoods unique, Bruce said that a lot of people think when you have something healthy, it cannot taste good, or that a tasty product cannot be healthy. By combining health AND taste, Bruce created a mission for his company: motivated by health, inspired by taste. Bruce believes that it is important to give everyone access to clean, healthy foods, so he sells his products to a wide variety of vendors. From restaurants and grocery stores to gas stations and convenience stores, OLS is dedicated to bringing healthy snacking everywhere.

Another component that distinguishes Organic Living Superfoods from other companies is their focus on quality. Bruce personally tests every ingredient that comes through his doors and every batch of food before it is packaged to make sure that it tastes perfect. He confirms with the embassies in countries where he sources his ingredients that farmers aren’t employing underage kids, and he has developed a certification for sprouting so that all of the nuts meet a certain requirement. He develops recipes with detailed instructions in order to ensure that everything is made properly. The bottom line at OLS is all about quality. If a recipe or a batch is not 100% perfect, it will not be sold.

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Looking towards the future, Bruce mentioned expanding OLS’s relationship with Tom Brady’s company TB12. Alex Guerrero, Brady’s personal trainer, came to Bruce because he loved OLS’s products. Currently, OLS makes power bars and other special snacks for the quarterback that are only sold online. He hopes to eventually be able to sell a TB12 product line in stores and gyms. Another future partnership Bruce mentioned is with a well-known, luxury hotel brand. OLS will soon have their products in every room in the hotel chain, which will be great exposure for OLS.

As Bruce showed us around his office and production facility, the attention and care he puts into every aspect of the company was obvious. Perhaps this is one of the reasons OLS has grown so rapidly in only a small number of years. With Bruce and Craig’s continued dedication to making OLS the best it can possibly be, they are very well set up for even more success in the future.

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Next time you’re at Thirst, grab an OLS snack! Or to purchase Organic Living Superfood products online, you can visit their website at  http://organiclivingsuperfoods.com

Thanks again to Bruce for making healthy, delicious snacks that we all can enjoy!

This post was authored by Emily Saperstone, Thirst Team Member and Social Media and Branding Intern.

Behind the Brand: Bola Granola

Two summers ago, as we prepared to open Thirst’s first location, we tried a lot of different granola.  We knew that whatever granola we selected had to be vegan and gluten-free, and we wanted it to contain limited added sugar.  We also preferred to purchase granola from a local company, though we tried granola from all over the United States.  When we tried Bola, which is made with all organic grains in small batches in the Berkshires, we immediately knew we had a winner.  All Bola granola is vegan, and they sell a delicious gluten-free line that we use at Thirst on all of our acai and smoothie bowls.  When we added the option to our menu for “extra granola,” it quickly became one of our most popular “boosts”.

Recently, I talked to the founder Michele about what makes Bola so special (other than the obvious fact that it tastes amazing!). Some of the highlights of our conversation are below.

Acai Bowl with Bola Granola

Photo Credit: Stephanie de Bourmont

The Beginning of Bola

I asked Michele about the start of Bola granola, and she explained that creating a granola company was not always in her plans.   She spent years running restaurants, but it wasn’t until after she’d left the restaurant industry that the idea of starting a granola company occurred to her.  Michele had left the food business to “follow [her] dream” of “being an artist,” and had no plans of returning to the food industry.

Even after she stopped running restaurants, however, Michele regularly made granola at home, and her husband was a big fan.  When she reached a point in her life where she was looking for ways to increase her income beyond what she was making as an artist, her granola provided the answer.  She thought about making the granola that would eventually be named “Bola” granola into a business and decided that she “just had to jump in and do it.”

Explaining the early days of Bola, Michele told me, “it was all I did.  It’s basically all I do.  It’s taking care of the baby.” She acknowledged thankfully that these days, “it’s working out very well.”

The Growth of Bola Granola

Starting from a small production facility in the Berkshires, Michele has grown her granola company into a household name in New England.  You can find it on the shelves at Whole Foods and many local markets, at grocery stores nationwide, and Bola ships directly to consumers, too.  I asked Michele about how she was able to grow her company and she explained some of what’s made Bola the huge success that it is today.

It is clearly a business driven by passion.  Michele told me that “I used to think when I taste this and I’m not excited anymore, that’s when I have to stop.  But I still have it every morning for breakfast.”

It’s not only Michele who is excited about Bola – her employees play an integral part too.  Part of Michele’s role is “making sure everybody’s happy here at the bakery.”  She explained, “I’m very grateful.  I’ve had a lot of good luck, a lot of great support, a lot of great employees.”

Customers, of course, are what keeps a business open.  “I love that it means so much to people.  We get really wonderful letters, some of them very emotionally connected with their parents who are gone, or a special occasion or trip.”

She is thankful for the journey so far.  “If I hadn’t had to earn money again, I would not have gone back into business,” she told me.  “But as it turned out, it’s been an amazing ride.  Meeting all kinds of great people.”

Part of what Michele has focused on with Bola is keeping it healthy, and she tries to get her employees to eat better too.  Bola has limited added sugar and comes in a less sweet variety.  When I asked her what’s next for her and for Bola, she told me Bola would keep expanding and that she might go back to school in order to gain more of a scientific background on nutrition.  We can’t wait to see what’s next!

Finding MORE Bola granola outside of Thirst

For those of you who want more Bola granola than you get on your acai bowls, on the Bola granola website, there’s an updated list of all the stores that Bola supplies (available here, and including local favorites like American Provisions and Formaggio) .  And Bola also does a tremendous amount of mail order.

Thanks to Michele for her time and for making sure amazing granola!

To read more about Bola or to place an order, you can visit their website: https://bolagranola.com/.  You can also keep up with Bola happenings by following them on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bolagranola/.

 

 

 

 

Behind the Brand: New Grounds Food

When it comes to sourcing, we think long and hard about whom we’re buying from, what they stand for, and the quality of the items they’re selling us.  We work with companies that we’re proud to be associated with.  A lot of those companies, like us, are locally based.  Because we love them – and think you will too – we want you to meet them!

Over the next few months, we’ll be introducing you to some of the local companies we work with in our Behind The Brands series.

September 10, 2014- Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari, DSMB'17 are the co-founders of New Grounds Food and will be launching a kickstarted campaign to help get their Coffeebar, an all natural energy bar with a full cup of fair trade coffee, off and running.

Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari, DSMB’17 are the co-founders of New Grounds Food.

With countless snack bars on the market, our standards for bars are extremely high.  Like everything at Thirst, all the bars we sell are gluten-free and vegan.  Additionally, we look for bars that aren’t just tasty and healthful, but that have something special about them – they’re locally created, a unique concept, or especially delicious.  New Grounds Food Coffee bars check all those boxes.  Created by Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari during their freshman year at Northeastern (!) and containing a full cup of organic, fair-trade coffee in every bar, Coffee Bars stand out in a crowded field.

Johnny took the time to answer a few questions about what makes New Ground Food Coffee Bars special.

Where did the idea for New Grounds Food come from?

After running late to our 8am classes freshmen year at Northeastern, my co-founder and I never had time for breakfast and coffee in the morning and wanted a quick way to get our boost without sacrificing nutrition. We would joke around asking “Why can’t we just eat our coffee?”, and eventually had the thought of actually creating a way to do it. We started making some and tested the recipes out on friends and family and it started taking off from there!

Tell us a little bit about the founders. How do you know each other? Have you always been entrepreneurs? Food/coffee lovers?

Ali and I met during our freshmen year at Northeastern in Peggy O’Kelly’s 8am Financial Accounting class where we would occasionally find ourselves coming in around 8:05am without our morning cup of coffee! I’m not sure if I’d say we were always entrepreneurs but we always enjoyed making things and solving problems. Food and coffee are definitely a big part of our lives! We don’t exclusively hold ourselves to eating coffee, but also enjoy a nice pour over at a local coffee shop.

There are a lot of “healthful” bars out there these days. What makes yours unique?

There’s a full cup of real coffee in every bar! We want to provide people with clean and simple foods to keep them energized for all of life’s adventures and we thought eating coffee would be a tasty and nutritious way to make that happen.

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Does New Grounds Food have a mission? If so, what is it?

Ya! Our mission, as I briefly mentioned is to provide people with clean and simple foods to keep them energized for all of life’s adventures. This means keeping our products free of ingredients we wouldn’t want to eat by themselves, or another way we like to say, “using ingredients found in a pantry, not a laboratory”.

Anything else we should know or that you’d like to share?

Make sure to keep a lookout for awesome places like Thirst Juice for your chance to eat your coffee! And if you want to follow along, check us out on social media @NewGroundsFood to explore new grounds with us!