Name: Mary Molina
Business: Lola Granola Bar
Industry: Food & Beverage
Location: New York, U.S.
Reason for starting: I started making Lola Granola Bars when my husband asked me for a healthy snack to satisfy his afternoon cravings at work. My husband had taken a low paying job after closing his business and not being able to find work. He started eating off $1 menu’s trying to save money. When I went to the market, all the bars had unpronounceable ingredients or ingredients my kids couldn’t eat because of their soy allergies. I now had a mission: create a delicious healthy snack, allergy conscious, and easy to transport. I went straight to my pantry and pulled out oats (naturally gluten free), honey, seeds, nuts, and dried fruit.
As I sat in my kitchen at 3 am reflecting on the day with my kids, I remembered rhyming with my 4-year-old daughter Lola, we rhymed everything that day, even words that were made up… So of course, what rhymes with Lola? Granola of course! I ripped off a slip of paper and tied it around the bars and placed it in my husbands lunch bag. At lunch time my husband called frantic, he was rambling off words, “hey, they want to buy this stuff off me.” I had no idea what he was referring to, and he said again a bit clearer “Mary, they want to buy your granola bars, the Lola Granola Bars.”
Shortly after that phone call, my head started calculating ingredient cost, time, efficiency, what kind of bags could I use, etc. It took about 2 months for all the approvals, and in May 2011 I walked into town and sold my first bars to Who’s Cooking, a gourmet store specializing in local foods.
How do you define success? Watching your dreams come true. In December 2012 Lola Granola Bar launched new packaging and are currently in 7 Whole Foods Markets, Fairway, Dean and Deluca, Gourmet Garage, Shoprite, Adams Fairacre Farms and many other small specialty shops, deli’s and small markets through out New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Staying true to our roots, Lola Granola Bars are delicious gluten free snack bars naturally high in protein, Omega 3s, and fiber. Many of our ingredients are sourced locally in the Northeast, and all of our ingredients can be found in your pantry. Gratefully, we actively donate to the Food Bank for Westchester’s Backpack Program for at children at risk for hunger.
Biggest Success: My biggest success are my four beautiful children. They each have a Lola Granola Bar flavor named after them. In business, my biggest success has been bringing Lola Granola Bars out of my kitchen into a larger facility where I can handle large customers like Whole Foods Market.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? The top challenge facing us today is moving outside the New York market. We are actively seeking larger distribution networks to reach the Midwest and mid-Atlantic region.
Who is your most important role model? My mom has always been my role model, a young widow with three kids. She chose to start a house-cleaning business so she could be home when we arrived from school. She is creative, talented, funny and giving.
Edited by The Story Exchange