It’s always so exciting to sit down with an entrepreneur who is on a mission to better the world and who can NOT. BE. STOPPED. This was the feeling I got as soon as I started chatting with Annie Berdar, half of the brains behind the Bare Blends franchise. Annie’s commitment to making “plant-based” taste good goes so much deeper than simply a desire to open a smoothie or juice bar. Her background in science drove her need to put more whole, functional foods in our hands. Creating products that are delicious, nourishing, and absolutely beautiful.
I got the idea that Annie wasn’t your typical medical student. Annie found herself getting much more satisfaction from her “blogging” hobby than her studies. And not the type of blog that was teaching make-up or wardrobing tips. Annie would peruse medical journals and interpret nutritional studies she found imperative into easy-to-digest (no pun) reads that all could understand. And then taking it a step further, she’d supplement the article with simple recipes that would enable the reader to bring their new insights into the kitchen. I don’t know about you, but my friends, at least, were doing very different things in their dorm rooms.
Although she eventually veered from the med school path, the science of food remained top of mind. And not knowing exactly HOW she was going to do it, Annie knew she wanted to change the way people thought about healthy eating. She wanted to simplify it. (Click here to watch 9 Miles East talk about how they are simplifying healthy eating!)
ANOTHER SEED WAS PLANTED
As she approached her last semester at school, Annie thought it was the right time to take a job as a stand-up paddle board yoga instructor in Aruba. Naturally. And it was this one-month job and at-whim decision that planted the seed. Frequenting a favorite juice stand (and even working there for food), Annie’s wheels kept-a-spinning. Maybe she could impact lives by putting similar products (nutrient-packed plant based foods and juices) in as many hands as possible.
After graduation and shortly after joining The Hot Yoga Spot team as a yoga instructor, THYS’s owner Jessica Fuller recognized Annie’s unique knowledge and motivation, becoming Annie’s business partner and opening the first Bare Blends within her existing Stuyvesant Plaza space. This became first of what would become seven Bare Blends locations and a franchise with growth that has surprised both partners since the idea took root only three years ago.
Bare Blends’ success is due to many things. For one, Jessica’s decade of business experience and mentorship was the perfect complement to Annie’s science-based background and creativity (both being incredibly driven, might I add). Next, their gorgeous product presentation and clever branding has surely accelerated their success. And last and hardly least…the way they weave in all those unique flavors. Bare Blends’ move to bring on a full-time culinary director has allowed them to continuously innovate, bringing customers weekly specials, seasonal favorites and flavor profiles from around the world. All while packing those delicious blends with plenty of nutrients and superfoods to live out their mission.
I am CONFIDENT that this successful, women-owned business will continue to expand while setting an example for girls everywhere. Believe it or not, Annie is ALREADY thinking about how she can do even more, and take her commitment to sustainability (all packaging is plant-based) to the next level. I know people like Annie. And Jessica. And those wheels will NEVER stop turning. I can’t wait to watch their growth, success, and most importantly, their impact on both our community and our world, in the years to come.