Passionate about healthy living and quality food, Annie and Marla, twin sisters living in Somerville, MA, launched Enerchi Bites, a healthy, bite-sized tasty snack to “enerchize” active people on the go.
The UDK team met Annie and Marla (and sampled more than a few enerchi bites) at Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville earlier this month.
What has us hooked? Ingredients like coconut, cocoa, apple, and cinnamon mixed with a base of chia seeds, extra virgin organic coconut oil, gluten free oats, raw sunflower seeds, raw pepitas, agave syrup, sea salt and raisin concentrate. Simple ingredients, crafted together to create an energy boost for an active lifestyle – yum!
There are currently 3 flavors of Enerchi Bites sold online and at 5 locations in MA. Each flavor is vegan, raw, omega-3-rich, gluten free, and soy free.
- Apple Cinnamon
- Cocoa Date
- Coconut Oatmeal Raisin
Check out what Marla has to say about launching Enerchi Bites below!
Who are the business founders and when did you launch the business?
My twin sister, Annie and myself, Marla. The idea was first conceived in my home kitchen in Somerville. In 2012, I moved to the Boston area and enrolled in a yoga teacher-training program. The yoga studio sold these delicious raw chocolate truffles and every day I was tempted to buy some during our lunch break. One day, I decided to try creating my own healthier and lighter version of the truffle because I thought the size was perfect for afternoon pick-me-up. The very first flavor I made was a tahini honey. From that point on, my two roommates were in for a new treat. Almost every day they would find a new bite-sized flavor waiting for them to taste on the kitchen counter.
What inspired you to start your business?
Annie and I are both passionate about healthy living and quality food. When we were young we were always scouring the store shelves for unique food items, especially the snack aisle, because as athletes growing up, we always needed that extra energy boost. Today, we are just as active in our daily life, and were inspired to create a snack of our own that we could turn into a business and share with other like-minded people.
What was your AHA moment?
One day while hanging out in the kitchen tasting my newest flavor, a friend of mine who is a vegan and tri-athlete asked if she could buy a batch. Not quite sure how to respond, I hesitated because normally, I would have said “I’ll just make a batch for you.” Instead, I paused and that’s when I had my AHA moment. “Could I turn this new passion of mine into a business?” After the prolonged pause, I responded with an enthusiastic YES and that I would let her know the cost once I figured out the costs for ingredients and labor.
Where do you currently make your product and how did you find the process of finding a kitchen to be like?
We currently produce enerchi bites at Kitchen Inc. in Somerville, MA. The process of finding a kitchen started off with a simple google search, but turned into several months of networking to find the right one. Along the way, we had the pleasure of meeting helpful and inspirational peers in the local Boston food world. Kitchen Inc., a shared kitchen space, is working out great. We are enjoying the accessibility and management of the space as well as the dialogue we are able to have with fellow kitchen incubator businesses.
Did you have a background in the food/drink industry when you started?
Neither Annie nor I have background in the food/drink industry, however we consider ourselves passionate creators in the kitchen. Annie has professional experience in business and operations and I have a background in non-profit and education.
A business idea that was left on the editing room floor?
To create a local food artisan fair that, while similar to farmers markets, would offer newly established food companies a platform to test the market and gain support from their community. Think Crowd-funding meets Farmer’s Market. The concept is that it would bring alive the crowd-funding for newly established artisanal food companies to introduce their brand and product in person. Undiscovered Kitchen is doing something similar so we are excited about that!
What are some rookie mistakes you made when starting out?
You can never proof-read your packaging before printing enough times. Always have three sets of eyes look over your proofs! This is advice for anyone starting out a food business based on our royal typo in our first large print order for labels.
How do you stay motivated in the face of competition?
We try to as stay as engaged in the community as possible. Our customers and fans motivate us to keep our business moving forward. Maintaining confidence in our product is also essential. Walking through the grocery store snack aisle can feel quite intimidating, but we are confident that our product has the potential to stand out in the market place because of our unique texture and taste as well as our branding.
What’s the strangest customer request of feedback you’ve gotten?
- “They taste a lot better than they look.”
- “Have you tried shaping them so they don’t look like poop pellets?”
- “How many chia pets did you have to kill to get the chia?”
What’s your main business goal for 2014?
Our main business goal for 2014 is create widespread brand awareness to Boston’s active lifestyle community. After we get our product into as many local community-focused fitness gyms, cafes, and groceries as we can, we would like to expand to our hometown in NJ and the surrounding area. We would like to take our product back to our roots and share it with friends, family, and the local community where we grew up.
What’s your team company motto?
Our descriptor is “an energy bar re-defined” Our tag-line/motto is “Eat just what you want and save-or share the rest!”
Advice for someone with a great artisan food or drink idea?
Spend a good chunk of time testing your product. We spent months doing recipe development before even creating our business plan to make sure we had a good product to bring to market. Marketing and eye catching package design is important but on the spectrum of importance level, taste definitely exceeds what your packaging looks like. Also, have as many friends as possible taste test your product for feedback (You can never get enough of it!)
TRY ENERCHI BITES NOW!
Shop for EnerChi Bites products on Undiscovered Kitchen (Shipping is always included!)