While many businesses are on pause right now, leave it to Stacy Madison to innovate amid a crisis. The longtime friend of Hello Alice is not only the name behind Stacy’s Pita Chips, but also the Stacy’s Rise Project, a partner affiliated with our WomanMade Food & Bev Community. Stacy’s Rise helps to fund women in that industry, and has so far invested more than $300,000 in fledgling businesses.
Madison joked to Hello Alice co-founder Elizabeth Gore in a column for Inc. that the secret to her success is that is that she “loves to eat.” But obviously, there’s more to it than that. Madison knows a thing or two about flexibility. Case in point? The birth of her chips.
Madison and her business partner Mark Andrus started with a sandwich cart in Boston. People liked the sandwiches, but became even more enamored with the chips that she made from leftover pita that she cut up and baked at the end of the day. She handed them out to the lines of customers at no charge to keep them happy. And that ended up being an understatement. Although the chips weren’t part of her business plan, her agile business mind saw an opportunity. She listened to her market and switched directions when she needed to. That pita chip took her from an annual revenue of $19,000 to $65 million in nine years.
The lesson to learn from Madison? Never stop innovating. The latest example is the launch of her BeBOLD bars, energy bars available in almond butter and peanut butter flavors. “We’re taking the same philosophy as when starting Stacy’s Pita Chip Company and applying it to redefine the bar category. Our success was built upon trusted ingredients and creating a great product,” says Madison. “There are certainly shelf stable bars that taste great and have been around forever, but we’ve taken that to the next level with fresh ingredients. That’s why BeBOLD bars are refrigerated and typically found in the yogurt, dairy, or produce sections of the store.”
The plant-based bars are gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, and have 18 grams of whole grains and protein from nut butters, chia, walnuts, and Brazil nuts. The bars were born at Stacy’s Juicebar, and they’re still sold at independent juice bars, but look for them in grocery aisles, too, probably the only protein bars in the refrigerator section.
All this is to say that now is the time for innovation. Whether it’s pivoting your business or launching something new and exciting, there’s no reason to be shy about your great ideas just because times are tough. Be careful as you proceed, but never give up on your big idea.