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Nutty for Nut Butters: An Interview With the Founders of Passionut

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Something I’ve really been trying to push as my college career winds down is living a healthier lifestyle. The days of hangovers, all-nighters fueled by RedBull/various other energy drinks and 2 a.m. Domino’s deliveries are slowly but surely winding down. Choosing healthier food options and making it to the gym daily are extremely important, especially now at an age where we’re building the routines we’ll follow for the rest of our lives.

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I enjoyed mine spread over a rice cake with sliced banana, almonds and a sprinkle of coconut, but you could really pair it with whatever you want! I even tried it by the spoonful- definitely a quick, easy, protein-rich snack.

After trying it for myself, I decided to reach out to Sarah and her business partner Tye to ask them a few questions about the startup:

Where did the idea for Passionut originate from?

  1. S: I started making my own nut butter because it seemed as if the current nut butters on the market had one of two general options, butters with added sugars (which I try to avoid as much as possible) or healthy options that tasted bland. So, I started experimenting, making my own nut and seed butter by mixing various nuts and seeds together. Thanks to Tye, I was hooked on his company’s whey protein (WheyPur by Epibolics Lifestyle), so I decided to mix that in. The result was delicious so I started sharing it with all of my friends who insisted I sell it. I partnered with Tye, who has an entrepreneurial background and expertise in health. He suggested adding MCT oil to improve consistency and for its metabolic benefits, and from there we came up with a specific combination of ingredients to optimize health and taste.

What else do you and Tye do on a regular basis to stay healthy? What are your other hobbies?

  1. S: We love to cook, so we are always experimenting with new, healthy recipes. You can check out both of our Instagram accounts (@sarbearhealth and @tyeingknots) to see that healthy food does not mean boring! Our diet consists of all whole foods, and we focus on eating lots of fibrous veggies, healthy fats, moderate protein (grass-fed and wild-caught when possible), and very low carb. Tye’s company, Epibolics, is in the field of preventative medicine, so avoiding added sugars is a must as recent research recognizes that added sugar, not fat, is the driving force in many chronic diseases. We are also very active, and go to the gym almost every day. Days we don’t go to the gym we also run we run sprints on the beach. We like to mix it up by playing volleyball, tennis, lacrosse, football or basketball as well. Beach volleyball is definitely one of our favorite hobbies. We typically play 2v2 for a couple hours every weekend which is a ton of fun, but a tiring workout as well!

With Passionut as a part-time gig, how do you find the time to juggle your other responsibilities?

  1. S: I have to be very proactive in managing my schedule. There is zero room for procrastination. Any free time I have I usually try to take advantage of in order to get ahead in my work. I work 40 hours at Raymond James Financial in the asset management department, and I am also taking 16 credits worth of classes. I try to get into the office early to start my school work, and do school work during my lunch breaks as well. I try to finish whatever schoolwork I have left before going to the gym at night on weekdays so that it is done by the weekend. I do most of my work for Passionut on the weekends, or in small intervals during the week. Luckily I have a great partner who has more flexibility in his schedule and can compensate for my lack of time during the week. Surprisingly I somehow always manage to have some free time on the weekends to hang out at the beach with friends and enjoy a few hours to relax.

Did you encounter any bumps in the road getting started? If so, how did you overcome them?

  1. S: Overall the process has been pretty smooth. Tye having gone through the process of starting a company before has been a huge help. We did have to make a very large purchase which we had not originally planned for. Due to the interest Passionut was able to gain from our Kickstarter, we quickly learned we were going to need to purchase an industrial sized food processor (allowing us to make approximately 25 jars a time as opposed to 2-4 that the average high quality food processor can handle). Just days before we planned starting production, the commercial kitchen we were leasing informed us they did not have 3-phase power need to run the nut-mill. Luckily we were able to locate another kitchen in the area who had the correct power source and they were more than accommodating and helped us quickly transfer kitchens so we could begin production without further delay.

There are 4 flavors of nut butter now, will there be more to come? What is next for your business?

  1. S: There will definitely be more flavors in the future! We have experimented with new ingredients and are going to continue trying new recipes so we will be able to roll out new flavors in the future. One of my favorite experimental flavors was Chocolate Coconut, but we will likely wait until sometime next year to start introducing new flavors.Having just launched, our focus right now is to spread the word and continue to grow. We want to increase our direct-to-customer sales before expanding to wholesale to retail stores. I also hope to be able to team up with athletic departments at colleges and universities so they can offer Passionut Butters to their athletes.

Anything else you’d like to add:

  1. S: Tye and I both agree that our business should be a reflection of who we are. We are unwilling to compromise our values in delivering a product which is what we believe will help set us apart. From the type of ingredients we use to the amount of information we provide on our website, we want to ensure we are giving our customers the highest quality product and the information to back it. Living healthy is a lifestyle choice, and we want to make eating healthy easy by providing a product that is both nutritious and flavorful. Passionut (a play on the words passion and nuts) is meant to represent passion for health, passion for quality, passion for improvement, and passion for integrity. The list could go on. Tye and I are both passionate people and our passion is what drove us to start Passionut and what will drive us to success.

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For more information on Passionut or Epibolics, visit any of the following:

Facebook: Passionut Butters LLC

Instagram: @passionut

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