We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Steinkamp and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve always loved the idea of creating something on my own, and I spent a lot of years working for brands in the food and beverage world. After a while, I realized that I wanted to combine my experience with my own personal interests, one of which has always been finding cleaner, healthier food options. My husband is a granola connoisseur, to put it lightly. He eats it EVERY day of his life. I spent a lot of time looking for more nutritious brands but realized so many of the “healthy” granolas really weren’t all that healthy anymore. They were void of real nutrients and packed with sugars. Not what granola was originally intended to be. So I started making my own and I experimented with with less sugar and more whole ingredients. I added more nuts and seeds for better nutrition, then got creative with fresh and exciting spices and flavors, like lemon zest and cloves. But most granolas are baked for 45 minutes to an hour, and I wondered . . . why go to all the trouble of sourcing the most premium ingredients if you’re just going to bake away all of the flavor and nutrition? I found that baking granola for only a short time brings out the best in the individual ingredients and spices, while leaving the granola full of real flavor and nutrition. I call this process SHORT-BAKED and it’s what makes my granola different. It’s lightly crisp, but you can taste all the ingredients individually without the over-riding “toasted” taste. Perfectly snack-able! In 2017, we moved to Boulder which I knew was a hub for natural foods and clean eating, so it just felt like a natural step and the right time to take the leap and start my own food business. I started selling at the local farmer’s markets and the granola was a pretty big hit right away.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Most entrepreneurs are risk-takers, and I’m just not. I have to feel really sure about something before taking a leap, and I’ve done that mostly by staying in my “lane” of food and brand-building. I spent 16+ years working for other brands and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Working for some of the most well-known brands in the world, like Disney, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Baskin-Robbins, has given me invaluable experience that I’ve been able to apply to starting my own business and to building my own brand. My marketing career allowed me to have a broader understanding of what it takes to operate and grow a consumer brand. I have worked closely with Operations, R&D, Sales, Licensing, PR and Legal teams which has allowed me to see the bigger picture of how a business functions and grows, as well as its challenges. This has made me more confident as I take each step in my own business. I honestly don’t think I would have gotten this far or would have been able to do this on my own without having the background and experience I’ve had. I also think that you know you’re moving in the right direction when things just flow. For me, I know I need to re-assess when I feel like I’m trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Even if I”m not 100% sure where things will end up, if there’s positive energy and progress around what I’m doing, that’s when I know I should keep going. So far in my journey with Spark + Honey, things have moved quickly and the feedback I get from customers is just so positive that I feel like I’m on the right track. We’ve quickly grown from a farmer’s market or two, to being one of the best-selling granolas in local grocery stores including Lucky’s and Alfalfas. We also launched online sales last year, and offer granola subscriptions that we’re selling all over the country. People visit the Boulder farmer’s market, try our granola, then go home and order it online!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Having moved to Boulder from Los Angeles just 4 years ago, I still feel like a tourist in Colorado myself sometimes! Living here is a pretty big draw for friends and family to visit, so I’ve made a point to explore things to show off to others. In Boulder, one of my favorite places of all is Chautauqua. The hikes there are just magical, and a perfect thing to do with a friend from out of town is have breakfast on the porch of the Dining Hall, then hike up the face and just look at the city. Another thing I love doing there (didn’t happen this year due to Covid) is to hike up to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July at eye level. It’s pretty special. There are so many beautiful walks and hikes here, but a couple of other spots I love in Boulder are Wonderland Lake for the awesome scenery and Coot Lake, to let my dog go for a swim. When I’m there I can never believe that such a beautiful setting is 3 minutes from my house in Boulder. Another spot I love is the Boulder Reservoir. My son took rowing lessons there in the mornings, and every time I would drop him off I was in aww of the scenery. I miss the ocean, but am always blown away to see sail boats with the Rocky Mountains in the background. There seems to be an endless supply of day and weekend trips to take from Boulder. Recently we discovered the Grand Lake area and will be making that a regular family spot. The wildlife is kind of unbelievable. When friends are visiting, we always go up to Estes Park and to the Rocky Mountain National Park for sure. Brainard Lake is another epic hike. And my husband and sons just discovered Salida, CO and the Great Sand Dunes, which I can’t believe I missed after seeing the photos. A definite trip next summer!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Living in Boulder is inspiring in a lot of ways. It’s not only an amazing environment with natural beauty, but it’s a hot-bed of natural food entrepreneurs. There is such a sense of camaraderie here in the industry. Being a member of Naturally Boulder, working in a share kitchen, and having a booth at local farmer’s markets, all has allowed me to connect with so many natural food industry people. We all support each other’s businesses and share resources, which I think is pretty unique.