Meet a Maker

Meet a Maker: Ali Bonar of Oat Haus

The influencer and founder behind this food startup is OATally rad.

Meet a Maker: Ali Bonar of Oat Haus

People might react to the concept of a “influencer-founded food business” in different ways. But Ali Bonar, the founder of granola butter company Oat Haus, isn't anything you might expect out of that phrase. The SoCal-born, Philadelphia-based 29-year-old built a following on Instagram for her body positivity journey, but her business savvy and genuine social mission are what landed her business some big wins already. Ali and her small team are building a brand-new product - a nut-free spreadable granola - and spreading the gospel of self-love along the way.

Read on for the story of how Ali turned a broken relationship with food to a product that has devoted fans, countless partnerships and a growing number of delicious flavors, including their latest limited-release Pumpkin Spice.

Want more maker interviews in your inbox? Check out our weekly newsletter!

Ali, since we last spoke with you SO much has changed. Besides just about everything, what have been the biggest changes to the brand… and how have these led to continued growth?

Ha — you’re right! The past few months, we’ve made a TON of improvements: brand name, aesthetic, jar size, and product texture. To the public, it feels like these changes happened overnight… but we’ve been working on them behind the scenes for over a year! 

Who in the industry do you turn to for inspiration? Any other brands in the industry that you admire?

So many! I’m drawn to strong female founders and companies who have kept manufacturing in-house — since I know how hard that is. Samantha Abrams from Emmy’s has been a huge hands-on mentor to me in my entrepreneurial journey and I’m so grateful to have her in my corner! 

What inspired the branding for the new Oat Haus?

Kween will always have a special place in my heart, but Oat Haus feels very much more “us.” We wanted a brand name that helped contextualize our product and educate customers on what Granola Butter was. We also felt that the previous aesthetic with Kween didn’t align with our colorful personality — so we decided to add a little ~spice~. 


Can you tell us a little about working with influencers and other brands on product collaborations?

Definitely — it’s something we’re really passionate about and has proven to be instrumental in our growth. Prior to starting Oat Haus, I learned the ins and outs of the influencer side while scaling and monetizing my own Instagram account. Knowing how the influencer side operated gave me important insight when it came to working with influencers from the brand side.

My best tips: approach influencers like the dating world. Don’t come on too strong, don’t be clingy, and don’t ask them to give up too much when you just met. It requires a bit of finesse — play hard to get. Your goal is to be the brand that influencers reach out to because THEY want to collab with you. 

If you’re small, DM some micro influencers (5-20k followers) and offer to send them some free product. Look for engagement over followers. Be aware of their audience demographics (ie if your customer is mostly female, don’t send product to a bikini model, as her audience is likely 99% male). 

Please never say “I’ll send you X in exchange for 3 feed posts.” Get comfortable with sending out free product. If you’re confident in the quality of your product and you’ve done your homework when it comes to identifying the right influencer for your brand, the chances are high that they’ll post. Stories are great — I’ll take a story with a link over a feed post anyday. And I promise you the ROI will crush any other marketing approach you’ve tried. I’m willing to die on that hill :) 

In terms of product collaborations… we’re so bullish because just including our product is a great marketing channel for us, regardless of branding piece. That’s because we’re the first to do a Granola Butter — so if you see a Granola Butter cobranded chocolate bar, get curious and google Granola Butter, Oat Haus will pop-up. But if your product is an almond butter or other commodity, it obviously won’t have the same effect without your branding. 

That said, product collabs can be awesome for brand awareness as long as the partner is a good fit & the terms are favorable. 

What have been the challenges of navigating the CPG industry? How have you used learned from Kween & Co. to make Oat Haus the wild success it has been!

Manufacturing in-house is the best — and hardest – thing we’ve done for our business. Props to anyone else out there doing the same. We’re essentially running two businesses: a manufacturing business and a marketing business. It’s really challenging. But it affords us the opportunity to work on our own timeline, create new flavors and products quickly, and maintain top 8 allergen-free status. I’m not sure that we’ll do it forever (at some point it may make sense to outsource some things) but right now it’s working. 


As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health?

The irony isn’t lost on me that I went from essentially being a wellness influencer to an entrepreneur — since the lifestyle *isn’t* always the healthiest… but I’ve learned the hard way (read: burnout) that I really do need to take care of myself or else everything falls apart. 

For me, that looks like waking up every morning and not looking at my phone for the first 2 hours of the day. The chokehold my phone has on me is embarrassing, so I like to feel somewhat in control for the first two hours. I get up, lemon water, meditate (love Melissa Wood Health or Superhuman app), then workout (walk, Peloton, or strength training). 

At some point about a month ago, we got so busy that I couldn’t cook for myself anymore. We were pulling 12+ hour days and have an hour commute each way, so I was living on takeout. I decided to invest in a healthy meal delivery service during the workweek and it’s been life changing! 

When things get hard (which they will), your WHY needs to be strong enough to keep you going. 


What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?

Don’t do it!!! Just kidding. But actually — think about your why. Are you becoming an entrepreneur just because you want to put ‘founder’ in your Tinder bio? Hate to say it, but you probably won’t last. When things get hard (which they will), your WHY needs to be strong enough to keep you going. 

What foods do you always have in your cupboards/fridge?!

I only eat Granola Butter. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just kidding — but I do eat a lot of it out of pure convenience... and sometimes need to take a break because I overdo it & get sick of it LOL. 

I have Hashimoto’s, so I feel my best when I eat gluten free. I also love myself, so I refuse to eat anything that tastes like it’s gluten free. I recently found this bread by a brand called Plantiful Kitchen that I’m mildly obsessed with — it’s dense and hearty and delicious. 

I’m also a big smoothie gal. One of my customers turned me onto this brand called Ka’Chava. It’s a meal replacement protein powder with lots of good stuff in there — perfect for when I’m in a rush and need a meal in 5 minutes. Love the chocolate one with almond milk, frozen banana & spinach. And maybe some Granola Butter if I’m not in a “I’m sick of this” phase. Ha. 

What’s next for Oat Haus? We hear Shark Tank is on the horizon?!

Shark Tank IS on the horizon! Airing Friday 10/22 at 8pm. Be sure to tune in and watch us bring that big oat energy ;) 

Aside from that — we have lots of fun holiday flavors coming out and we’ll be onboarding with Thrive Market any day now! 

Feel free to follow along on Instagram. We’re super active on stories and show behind the scenes from the facility, highs & lows of running a biz, and other daily shenanigans. 


Read more Meet a Maker interviews here!

People might react to the concept of a “influencer-founded food business” in different ways. But Ali Bonar, the founder of granola butter company Oat Haus, isn't anything you might expect out of that phrase. The SoCal-born, Philadelphia-based 29-year-old built a following on Instagram for her body positivity journey, but her business savvy and genuine social mission are what landed her business some big wins already. Ali and her small team are building a brand-new product - a nut-free spreadable granola - and spreading the gospel of self-love along the way.

Read on for the story of how Ali turned a broken relationship with food to a product that has devoted fans, countless partnerships and a growing number of delicious flavors, including their latest limited-release Pumpkin Spice.

Want more maker interviews in your inbox? Check out our weekly newsletter!

Ali, since we last spoke with you SO much has changed. Besides just about everything, what have been the biggest changes to the brand… and how have these led to continued growth?

Ha — you’re right! The past few months, we’ve made a TON of improvements: brand name, aesthetic, jar size, and product texture. To the public, it feels like these changes happened overnight… but we’ve been working on them behind the scenes for over a year! 

Who in the industry do you turn to for inspiration? Any other brands in the industry that you admire?

So many! I’m drawn to strong female founders and companies who have kept manufacturing in-house — since I know how hard that is. Samantha Abrams from Emmy’s has been a huge hands-on mentor to me in my entrepreneurial journey and I’m so grateful to have her in my corner! 

What inspired the branding for the new Oat Haus?

Kween will always have a special place in my heart, but Oat Haus feels very much more “us.” We wanted a brand name that helped contextualize our product and educate customers on what Granola Butter was. We also felt that the previous aesthetic with Kween didn’t align with our colorful personality — so we decided to add a little ~spice~. 


Can you tell us a little about working with influencers and other brands on product collaborations?

Definitely — it’s something we’re really passionate about and has proven to be instrumental in our growth. Prior to starting Oat Haus, I learned the ins and outs of the influencer side while scaling and monetizing my own Instagram account. Knowing how the influencer side operated gave me important insight when it came to working with influencers from the brand side.

My best tips: approach influencers like the dating world. Don’t come on too strong, don’t be clingy, and don’t ask them to give up too much when you just met. It requires a bit of finesse — play hard to get. Your goal is to be the brand that influencers reach out to because THEY want to collab with you. 

If you’re small, DM some micro influencers (5-20k followers) and offer to send them some free product. Look for engagement over followers. Be aware of their audience demographics (ie if your customer is mostly female, don’t send product to a bikini model, as her audience is likely 99% male). 

Please never say “I’ll send you X in exchange for 3 feed posts.” Get comfortable with sending out free product. If you’re confident in the quality of your product and you’ve done your homework when it comes to identifying the right influencer for your brand, the chances are high that they’ll post. Stories are great — I’ll take a story with a link over a feed post anyday. And I promise you the ROI will crush any other marketing approach you’ve tried. I’m willing to die on that hill :) 

In terms of product collaborations… we’re so bullish because just including our product is a great marketing channel for us, regardless of branding piece. That’s because we’re the first to do a Granola Butter — so if you see a Granola Butter cobranded chocolate bar, get curious and google Granola Butter, Oat Haus will pop-up. But if your product is an almond butter or other commodity, it obviously won’t have the same effect without your branding. 

That said, product collabs can be awesome for brand awareness as long as the partner is a good fit & the terms are favorable. 

What have been the challenges of navigating the CPG industry? How have you used learned from Kween & Co. to make Oat Haus the wild success it has been!

Manufacturing in-house is the best — and hardest – thing we’ve done for our business. Props to anyone else out there doing the same. We’re essentially running two businesses: a manufacturing business and a marketing business. It’s really challenging. But it affords us the opportunity to work on our own timeline, create new flavors and products quickly, and maintain top 8 allergen-free status. I’m not sure that we’ll do it forever (at some point it may make sense to outsource some things) but right now it’s working. 


As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health?

The irony isn’t lost on me that I went from essentially being a wellness influencer to an entrepreneur — since the lifestyle *isn’t* always the healthiest… but I’ve learned the hard way (read: burnout) that I really do need to take care of myself or else everything falls apart. 

For me, that looks like waking up every morning and not looking at my phone for the first 2 hours of the day. The chokehold my phone has on me is embarrassing, so I like to feel somewhat in control for the first two hours. I get up, lemon water, meditate (love Melissa Wood Health or Superhuman app), then workout (walk, Peloton, or strength training). 

At some point about a month ago, we got so busy that I couldn’t cook for myself anymore. We were pulling 12+ hour days and have an hour commute each way, so I was living on takeout. I decided to invest in a healthy meal delivery service during the workweek and it’s been life changing! 

When things get hard (which they will), your WHY needs to be strong enough to keep you going. 


What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?

Don’t do it!!! Just kidding. But actually — think about your why. Are you becoming an entrepreneur just because you want to put ‘founder’ in your Tinder bio? Hate to say it, but you probably won’t last. When things get hard (which they will), your WHY needs to be strong enough to keep you going. 

What foods do you always have in your cupboards/fridge?!

I only eat Granola Butter. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just kidding — but I do eat a lot of it out of pure convenience... and sometimes need to take a break because I overdo it & get sick of it LOL. 

I have Hashimoto’s, so I feel my best when I eat gluten free. I also love myself, so I refuse to eat anything that tastes like it’s gluten free. I recently found this bread by a brand called Plantiful Kitchen that I’m mildly obsessed with — it’s dense and hearty and delicious. 

I’m also a big smoothie gal. One of my customers turned me onto this brand called Ka’Chava. It’s a meal replacement protein powder with lots of good stuff in there — perfect for when I’m in a rush and need a meal in 5 minutes. Love the chocolate one with almond milk, frozen banana & spinach. And maybe some Granola Butter if I’m not in a “I’m sick of this” phase. Ha. 

What’s next for Oat Haus? We hear Shark Tank is on the horizon?!

Shark Tank IS on the horizon! Airing Friday 10/22 at 8pm. Be sure to tune in and watch us bring that big oat energy ;) 

Aside from that — we have lots of fun holiday flavors coming out and we’ll be onboarding with Thrive Market any day now! 

Feel free to follow along on Instagram. We’re super active on stories and show behind the scenes from the facility, highs & lows of running a biz, and other daily shenanigans. 


Read more Meet a Maker interviews here!

People might react to the concept of a “influencer-founded food business” in different ways. But Ali Bonar, the founder of granola butter company Oat Haus, isn't anything you might expect out of that phrase. The SoCal-born, Philadelphia-based 29-year-old built a following on Instagram for her body positivity journey, but her business savvy and genuine social mission are what landed her business some big wins already. Ali and her small team are building a brand-new product - a nut-free spreadable granola - and spreading the gospel of self-love along the way.

Read on for the story of how Ali turned a broken relationship with food to a product that has devoted fans, countless partnerships and a growing number of delicious flavors, including their latest limited-release Pumpkin Spice.

Want more maker interviews in your inbox? Check out our weekly newsletter!

Ali, since we last spoke with you SO much has changed. Besides just about everything, what have been the biggest changes to the brand… and how have these led to continued growth?

Ha — you’re right! The past few months, we’ve made a TON of improvements: brand name, aesthetic, jar size, and product texture. To the public, it feels like these changes happened overnight… but we’ve been working on them behind the scenes for over a year! 

Who in the industry do you turn to for inspiration? Any other brands in the industry that you admire?

So many! I’m drawn to strong female founders and companies who have kept manufacturing in-house — since I know how hard that is. Samantha Abrams from Emmy’s has been a huge hands-on mentor to me in my entrepreneurial journey and I’m so grateful to have her in my corner! 

What inspired the branding for the new Oat Haus?

Kween will always have a special place in my heart, but Oat Haus feels very much more “us.” We wanted a brand name that helped contextualize our product and educate customers on what Granola Butter was. We also felt that the previous aesthetic with Kween didn’t align with our colorful personality — so we decided to add a little ~spice~. 


Can you tell us a little about working with influencers and other brands on product collaborations?

Definitely — it’s something we’re really passionate about and has proven to be instrumental in our growth. Prior to starting Oat Haus, I learned the ins and outs of the influencer side while scaling and monetizing my own Instagram account. Knowing how the influencer side operated gave me important insight when it came to working with influencers from the brand side.

My best tips: approach influencers like the dating world. Don’t come on too strong, don’t be clingy, and don’t ask them to give up too much when you just met. It requires a bit of finesse — play hard to get. Your goal is to be the brand that influencers reach out to because THEY want to collab with you. 

If you’re small, DM some micro influencers (5-20k followers) and offer to send them some free product. Look for engagement over followers. Be aware of their audience demographics (ie if your customer is mostly female, don’t send product to a bikini model, as her audience is likely 99% male). 

Please never say “I’ll send you X in exchange for 3 feed posts.” Get comfortable with sending out free product. If you’re confident in the quality of your product and you’ve done your homework when it comes to identifying the right influencer for your brand, the chances are high that they’ll post. Stories are great — I’ll take a story with a link over a feed post anyday. And I promise you the ROI will crush any other marketing approach you’ve tried. I’m willing to die on that hill :) 

In terms of product collaborations… we’re so bullish because just including our product is a great marketing channel for us, regardless of branding piece. That’s because we’re the first to do a Granola Butter — so if you see a Granola Butter cobranded chocolate bar, get curious and google Granola Butter, Oat Haus will pop-up. But if your product is an almond butter or other commodity, it obviously won’t have the same effect without your branding. 

That said, product collabs can be awesome for brand awareness as long as the partner is a good fit & the terms are favorable. 

What have been the challenges of navigating the CPG industry? How have you used learned from Kween & Co. to make Oat Haus the wild success it has been!

Manufacturing in-house is the best — and hardest – thing we’ve done for our business. Props to anyone else out there doing the same. We’re essentially running two businesses: a manufacturing business and a marketing business. It’s really challenging. But it affords us the opportunity to work on our own timeline, create new flavors and products quickly, and maintain top 8 allergen-free status. I’m not sure that we’ll do it forever (at some point it may make sense to outsource some things) but right now it’s working. 


As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health?

The irony isn’t lost on me that I went from essentially being a wellness influencer to an entrepreneur — since the lifestyle *isn’t* always the healthiest… but I’ve learned the hard way (read: burnout) that I really do need to take care of myself or else everything falls apart. 

For me, that looks like waking up every morning and not looking at my phone for the first 2 hours of the day. The chokehold my phone has on me is embarrassing, so I like to feel somewhat in control for the first two hours. I get up, lemon water, meditate (love Melissa Wood Health or Superhuman app), then workout (walk, Peloton, or strength training). 

At some point about a month ago, we got so busy that I couldn’t cook for myself anymore. We were pulling 12+ hour days and have an hour commute each way, so I was living on takeout. I decided to invest in a healthy meal delivery service during the workweek and it’s been life changing! 

When things get hard (which they will), your WHY needs to be strong enough to keep you going. 


What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?

Don’t do it!!! Just kidding. But actually — think about your why. Are you becoming an entrepreneur just because you want to put ‘founder’ in your Tinder bio? Hate to say it, but you probably won’t last. When things get hard (which they will), your WHY needs to be strong enough to keep you going. 

What foods do you always have in your cupboards/fridge?!

I only eat Granola Butter. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just kidding — but I do eat a lot of it out of pure convenience... and sometimes need to take a break because I overdo it & get sick of it LOL. 

I have Hashimoto’s, so I feel my best when I eat gluten free. I also love myself, so I refuse to eat anything that tastes like it’s gluten free. I recently found this bread by a brand called Plantiful Kitchen that I’m mildly obsessed with — it’s dense and hearty and delicious. 

I’m also a big smoothie gal. One of my customers turned me onto this brand called Ka’Chava. It’s a meal replacement protein powder with lots of good stuff in there — perfect for when I’m in a rush and need a meal in 5 minutes. Love the chocolate one with almond milk, frozen banana & spinach. And maybe some Granola Butter if I’m not in a “I’m sick of this” phase. Ha. 

What’s next for Oat Haus? We hear Shark Tank is on the horizon?!

Shark Tank IS on the horizon! Airing Friday 10/22 at 8pm. Be sure to tune in and watch us bring that big oat energy ;) 

Aside from that — we have lots of fun holiday flavors coming out and we’ll be onboarding with Thrive Market any day now! 

Feel free to follow along on Instagram. We’re super active on stories and show behind the scenes from the facility, highs & lows of running a biz, and other daily shenanigans. 


Read more Meet a Maker interviews here!

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