To any other entrepreneur, entering the nutrition bar market - one with sales upwards of $10 billion annually in the United States alone - would seem risky. But Clara Paye, founder of upstart protein bar brand UNiTE, says bring it on. An immigrant herself, Clara's idea for UNiTE was born out of the lack of cultural representation in the functional snack category.
With cross-cultural flavors like Churro, Mexican Hot Chocolate and PB&J, UNiTE's core mission is to bring people together through nostalgic and nutritious foods. All products are gluten free and made using plant-based protein.
UNiTE Food founder, Clara Paye, spoke with Foodboro about the challenges of launching during COVID, who she turns to for inspiration, and what we can expect from the brand next.
Before starting UNiTE, what were you up to?
I was head of a plumbing manufacturing company for 17 years. So food is a whole new world!
You launched on the cusp of COVID, how did you navigate this?
I knew that retail buyer appointments would be hard to come by so I engaged on Linked In with industry peers and hired an excellent Sales Company.
Do you work with a co-man? What is this relationship like?
Yes, we love our co-man. It’s been a very successful partnership.
What inspires you? Who in the industry do you turn to for inspiration?
I am inspired by traveling. I love to explore the world and food from different cultures always fascinates me. I turn to other female entrepreneurs like Gail Bercker of Caulipower, Sarah Blakely of Spanx or my good friends Nona Lim from Nona Lim Foods and Richa Gupta from GOOD FOOD FOR GOOD.
Any other brands in the industry that you think are killing it?
Too many to count! I love what Laurel Orley at Daily Crunchy Snacks is doing and Pete Maldonado from Chomps and Jake Kneller of Eat Sweet Nothings. All are amazing products led by inspirational entrepreneurs.
As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health, “turn off” work?
I eat clean, play tennis and run around playing with my kids. Those three things if practiced daily will guarantee I go to bed with a smile.
What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?
Just START! There will always be obstacles and what ifs and you can talk your way out of a good idea with a scarcity mindset. Always seek abundance.
What food and beverage trends are over-hyped and which are here to stay?
I think that is a personal question. If a trend feels sustainable to you personally it will stick. But if you are eating a food because you “think you should” it will be a matter of time before you stop. It’s true some foods take some time to warm up to but if you can’t get to a place where you authentically like the food it won’t stick.
What can we expect next from UNiTE?
More flavor variations and offerings in new categories. So many great things to come!
Connect with Clara on LinkedIn
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