Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is sitting on the precipice of a life-changing moment? It certainly makes for an interesting conversation, and can be a particularly animated conversation if there’s caffeine involved.
When I sat down to chat with Jill Lemen about her Noshsense bars it was obvious that this is a woman on the precipice of many life-changing moments ahead of her. She has kids readying to graduate from high school. She has a small business that’s rapidly becoming a bigger business. There’s a lot of change ahead of Jill, but she’s ready. “That’s the thing; I don’t really have a fear of failure,” says Jill. “I’ve been building this runway to get ready to take off.”
Noshsense started out when she started shopping and cooking for a friend who was paralyzed in an accident. “She’s gluten-free and sugar-free, so that’s how this all started,” says Jill. “I’ve never had issues with food. Once you start shopping and cooking for someone who’s cleaned up like that, it really makes a big difference.”
Jill started by making her friend some oatmeal cups first, which turned out to be quite good. So she then moved on to making bars. “They had apricot and cranberry and nuts and all that, and after she tried them she was like, ‘Oh my gosh, these are so good, you could sell them.’ I didn’t think much of it, but then another friend tried them and loved them and said the same thing, and then another, and another. They all said the same thing.”
She wasn’t necessarily looking to start a new business, but she couldn’t ignore two important factors: she really enjoyed making the bars, and everyone around her kept freaking out over how good the bars tasted. “I never even thought about that,” she says. “I thought to myself, ‘Huh, what would that look like?’ It just kind of rolled from there.”
So here she is, having experienced success with farmers markets and steadily growing a customer base, so the next logical step seems to be getting the bars into stores. This task isn’t as easy as showing up at a store and letting them have a taste. There’s a lot more to it than that, and Jill’s cautiously considering the big move to selling in stores. “Right now we’re growing slowly, organically, with word of mouth. People love these. It’s kind of where I’m starting.”
Jill isn’t a radical when it comes to clean eating, but she does hope that Noshense bars can show people that good, clean food can be convenient and tasty. She hasn’t always eaten very mindfully, but she says that she’s noticed a big difference in how she feels ever since she started paying better attention to what goes in her mouth. “I grew up on Doritos and TV dinners. This new eating just affected my whole family.”
Her advice to people who want to make the switch to cleaner eating, but aren’t quite sure where to start? “Get something clean. Taste the difference between a sugar crash and clean energy. That’s what I’m trying to do.” She adds with a laugh, “Don’t get me wrong; I’ll still eat a cinnamon roll.”
“I’m not like paleo/no grain. I love carbs. I don’t think they’re bad for you. I don’t want to have any processed sugar. I don’t use artificial stuff.”
The future of Noshense
The ending of farmers markets for the season mean that Jill has to decide what the next big step for her bars are if she wants to keep growing. “We really need to have a good plan for what we’re going to do next,” she says. “It’s still kind of unfolding as we go, and I’m excited about it. The challenges are huge, but so are the possibilities. It’s fun.”
She’s also looking for ways that she can give back to the community with her venture. “You can’t just sell, sell, sell. I’m looking for ways that I can sell a dozen and then give away a dozen.”
For now, she’s still making her bars for her regular customers, some of which she delivers to personally while others are out-of-town. Her recipes continue to evolve as she spends more time experimenting. “I figure it out as I go,” she says.
For more information: http://www.noshsense.net/