Featured Founder: Simple Squares
Tell us a bit about the Simple Squares story, how it was founded and what inspired you to create the product.
Kimberly: “This all all started awhile back, we didn’t start selling bars until 2011, however; it was a long time in the making. I was working at a company called MorningStar - they do investment research here in Chicago. They offer a sabbatical for their employees so after every 4 years you are given a 6 weeks, paid leave to really go and do whatever you want, as a way of saying thanks for helping the company grow.
On my sabbatical, I decided to purchase an around the world ticket on American and the way that works is you basically pick how many continents you want to visit and then they price it out for you. So I visited four continents and was gone the whole 6 weeks and I discovered that I loved my job, but I wanted to focus on what I wanted to do with my personal life – I was looking for something more. And on this trip, I decided to focus on health and wellness and found it was a hobby for and something that I really enjoy.
I got back to the U.S. I started doing a role in the institute for integrative nutrition and at the time it was similar to an executive MBA program. We would fly one weekend a month to NY and essentially learn about all the different dietary theories from around the world. I did that program from 2007-2008 and then as I was graduating, went on an elimination diet where I couldn’t eat wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar. I was traveling all the time from Morning Star, internationally and I couldn’t find anything to fit the dietary needs that I could get on the go. So I started creating my own product and Simple Squares was born.”
“I originally wanted to make it a little more sophisticated so that’s when I started adding the herbs, the rosemary, sage, things that were a little different than your average bar. Then the goal was just to sell to Chicago farmers markets but we couldn’t get in so Plan B was mass distribution.”
So tell us about your aha moment.
Kimberly: “The aha moment was really when Sean, my husband, was wowed by the product.”
What’s the flavor you’re most proud of?
Kimberly: That’s a good question; I’ve never been asked that. Rosemary, I think it’s different. I don’t think anybody else is using it and while some people might be hesitant before trying it, it’s almost always everybody’s favorite once they do go through all the flavors. Coconut’s the bestseller, that’s the only one without any herbs and spices and the most popular.
What’s your company mission?
Kimberly: Bringing the masses great tasting and healthy snacks. I think there are a lot of healthy and great tasting snacks out there, but I don’t think there are many companies that combining the two.