As a classically trained chef (who also happens to have a master’s degree in Public Administration), Patter set out to make a snack for her children with ingredients she could trust. But over the years, her quest for good food that’s good for you coupled with great feedback from her family, led Patter to develop Patterbar.
Today, each bar is handcrafted, made in small batches with carefully selected ingredients and packaged by the small and mighty Patterbar team in Denver. Recently, we chatted with Patter to learn a bit about how her namesake bars came about and what she’s looking forward to next.
Where did the inspiration for your product come from?
I wanted to provide whole-food, that was convenient and tasted good. Originally, I made these bars for my children because I couldn’t find a snack with good ingredients, ingredients that I trusted.
You’ve trained at Le Cordon Bleu in London and have also worked as a staff educator with Whole Foods? How did these experiences shape the making of Patter Bar?
All of these experiences refined my vision that whole food with pure ingredients was the goal. That is what I want to give to people. In today’s world it is shockingly difficult for people to access good, whole-food, with ingredients that are completely transparent.
We should be able to readily recognize, define, and pronounce everything on an ingredient list that we eat. This is a simple concept, but incredibly hard to execute in a world where things like isolates and binders and powders and “natural” flavors reign supreme. There is a hole in the market. People want real food that tastes good. It is better for themselves, the planet, everyone.
When did you decide to start selling your product?
2017. However, Patterbar was formally launched at the Pearl Street Farmer’s Market in May 2018.
What were the early days of business like?
Challenging! Sourcing pure ingredients was and continues to be a challenge because I am unwilling to compromise. For example, the Medjool dates we use are very difficult to find. They taste the best and are the most finicky. I’ve been very fortunate to find partners who are willing to work with me, even at this very nascent stage.
The reception to Patterbar was incredible. It further reinforced everything I believed and knew to be true about what customers wanted. The continued amazement that I encounter, the positive feedback, and the unbelievable support. Strangers making connections for me and with me, the emails I receive from people telling me how much they love the bars, the outpouring of kindness. It’s all fuel that keeps me going.
What has been the hardest part of launching a product so far?
Sourcing ingredients, maintaining the integrity of the bar while scaling. Maintaining the craftsmanship of the bar while increasing access and availability.
Our product in particular, is unique in its challenges, because we don’t use shelf-life extenders, preservatives, flavor modifiers, flavor enhancers, or powders. Our ingredients are truly garden-to-bar. This invites a host of opportunities, shall we say, to figure out how to ensure consistency of flavor without compromising our ingredients or our mission.
Licensing, facility compliance, federal regulations, setting up a business was very challenging, however there is an extraordinary number of resources available in Denver for not only start-ups but also food start-ups.
What has been your proudest moment as a founder?
It’s hard to pick just one! The immediate response when people taste my bars is so gratifying; it makes me so proud because people realize that whole food – food that is not manipulated – actually tastes better. My hope is that this then translates to their appreciation for whole food in every other aspect of their gastronomic pursuits. If my bars can serve as the first toe-dip into the whole-food pond, then I’ve succeeded.
What can we expect next?
It is difficult to say in this unusual environment. However new flavor introductions (cherry cacoa in the works – shh!), more retail outlets, and some exciting collaborations!
As a founder, how do you maintain balance?
My daughter joined Patterbar full-time in January 2020, which has been an incredible. It’s allowed me to focus on bigger picture things and think more strategically about our next steps as a company. Not to mention, of course, that we can keep each other in check!
I am also constantly inspired by regularly listening to podcasts about the experience of other start-up founders; it truly helps me maintain perspective!
What advice do you have for other early-stage food and beverage entrepreneurs?
It requires 100% if not 150% attention and energy. Pursue every opportunity and follow every suggestion people have. Talk to as many people as you can. Continue to seek opportunities that may not seem as obvious or the traditional challenges.
Don’t give up!