it’s a rare thing when you taste something so good that you can’t believe it’s actually healthy for you. that’s what happened to me when I tried out Elemental out for the first time. it was a desperately busy kind of day when I stumbled across the snack bars at my favorite pressed juicer – the kind of day where you just want to throw in the towel and gorge on greasy French fries with not just a beer in a hand, but milkshake to wash it all down. yeah, you get the picture. anyways, for some rare reason, I decided that I needed a healthy snack and some serious juice to keep myself going. I spotted the elemental raw seed bars neatly lining the clean counter top at the juice shop and thought “why not?!”. I was not disappointed. the Elemental raw bars taste like cookies but have ingredients that you recognize. because I was immediately hooked, I looked the company up and found a wonderfully pleasant story about how the company got started and who the founder was. naturally, I had to chat with her. here’s my story on who Nicole Anderson, founder of Elemental, is and what awesome things she’s doing:
most successful entrepreneurs and investors will tell you that before anything else, a business needs passion to work. and for Nicole, there was no shortage of passion when she started Elemental. in fact, the seed behind the company was actually planted way before the structure of the company was built. the very beginning of the company came with the birth her daughter. as a single mom, the years flew by and her daughter grew up, things changed. her daughter was diagnosed with autism at the age of three years old, meandering between doctors who focused on powerful drugs and schools that didn’t understand her needs. a frustrated Nicole started to question all of the drugs and reactive care, wondering if there wasn’t a more proactive approach that she could help her daughter take (note – this is the first sign of a strong and successful entrepreneur).
as many toddlers have, Nicole’s daughter had ear infections. but for her, the infections were nearly constant and relentless. each time they visited the doctor, they were given antibiotics. but this never really helped resolve the infections, nor did they prevent them from reoccurring. so Nicole took her daughter’s health into her own hands, researching online and looking for alternative ways to help her daughter. she began by cutting out dairy and within a very short amount of time, the ear infections were gone (they never came back). she also found a group of moms on the east coast of the US who were having some success helping their autistic children find happiness through nutritional healing. Nicole started experimenting in the kitchen, having provided delicious and raw deserts to a plethora of LA based restaurants to pay the rent. she eliminated the foods that made her daughter feel and act different, and added in the ones that made her happier. for nearly two years (one for her daughter), Nicole embarked on a raw diet.
by this time you’re probably wondering where in the world the elemental raw bars come in. they came in at just the perfect time – Nicole had perfected a good set of recipes for her daughter that were raw and were making a profound improvement on her health and overall being. a friend of hers was also delivering juices and salads to forward thinking LA residents, and she suggested that Nicole add her bars to the menu. in February 2010, Nicole started making the bars in her kitchen, and because they were so dang good, the bars gained quick popularity. people started dropping by her house several times a day, carrying out large white paper bags to their waiting cars (she had to wonder – what were her neighbors thinking?!) as more and more people demanded the bars, Nicole needed to create a packaging and production process to keep up with the growing consumer base.
once she’d outgrown her home kitchen, she moved to a commercial kitchen and she and one other person slaved away making goodness day in and day out. within a year and a half, she had 12 staff members working 15 hour days – hand packaging and labeling each and every bar by hand. but this grueling schedule was unsustainable, so, she started looking for a professional production company that could improve efficiency and keep up with the increase in demand. finding a production facility is one headache, but finding one that could source all of the organic and natural ingredients, plus ones that were certified gluten free (amongst other things) is ten times more difficult. once Nicole found a place she could work with, the focus narrowed in on quality. Nicole was looking to keep her brand in tact and honest to all of her consumers, which is often one feature of a brand that falls to the wayside when growth skyrockets. she called, emailed, and visited the production facility countless times. some people might call this micromanaging, but for the uber successful entrepreneur, this is how you get shit done. I’ve never met an entrepreneur that isn’t like this and Nicole’s story of her badgering reminded me that we all need to a much better job of asking for what we want, when we need it.
after a ton of work, sweat, and adjustments, Nicole finally had her business up and running out of the production company, serving health food stores all over the western and southern portions of the US. the funny part – she didn’t even plan on starting a food company!! now that the company has grown to a different level, Nicole spends her days managing sales and the overall production process, all the while raising a wonderful and well adjusted teenage daughter. I wondered how she could manage to do all of it, but when I met her, I realized that it was obvious. Nicole has a grit and passion for working hard that trumped every other force that would’ve kept her discouraged and tired.
now that she’s successfully built a company that feeds hungry people the right way, she’s looking forward to helping others do similar things. having had an immense amount of experience with raising children, being a single mom, and building a beautiful company, Nicole has the knowledge that others would kill for. and guess what? she wants to share it with other women and children and find ways to give back to the community. I guess that’s not a shocker for a woman who built a brand out the desire to do better by her daughter, but this kind of reaction to success is rare. this kind of entrepreneur is the kind you find moving mountains all over the world, inspiring people of all types to do what they love, and most importantly, she’s the kind of person that’s going to find ways to spread the love and the knowledge so that others can join her in her pursuit of a better world.