Insight into the ethos of Paleo-powered entrepreneurs.
Written by: Sabrina Grotewold
This three-part series explores the stories, acumen and ambitions of three bakeries that specialize in sweets for the Paleo diet, a consumption philosophy that encourages followers to eat the unprocessed, preservative- and chemical-free foods—such as fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood and nuts—our Paleolithic ancestors assumedly ate. (For more specifics about the Paleo lifestyle, as well as literature for athletes, check out Dr. Loren Cordain’s website.) These interviews provide insight into the ethos of Paleo-powered entrepreneurs, as well as a heads-up for athletes looking for naturally sweet treats with clean ingredient lists.
Check out the upcoming December issue of Competitor magazine for a taste-test review of these Paleo sweets.
Co-founders: Dave, Lee, Nik
Where: San Diego, Calif.
Mac Attack: box of 10 cookies $27.50
Brownie Bomb: box of 10 brownies $33.50
Double Tap: box of 5 Mac Attacks and 5 brownies $30.50
Interview With Nik Hawks, Co-Founder Of Paleo Treats
Competitor.com What makes the Paleo diet good for athletes?
Nik Hawks, co-founder of Paleo Treats: The reason we dig the Paleo diet so much is we just plain feel better on it. No mood swings during the day, no phlegm or stuffy nose in the morning. Just clean, pure and abundant energy to rock our days with, whether we’re working in the gym, digging in the garden or running in the wild.
When did you start living the Paleo lifestyle, and how has your life changed since?
We learned what Paleo is and started following the diet in the spring of 2009, when Dave moved in with us [Nik and Lee]. We had drifted in and out of a bunch of diets before; we were continuously seeking something that worked. Occasionally, we found bits and pieces that did, but more often we felt less than optimal. Since reading about Paleo and applying the basic principles at a hyper-moderated rate (we’re usually pretty strict but ever so often we jump the hell off the wagon), we’ve noticed a general cleaning up of health issues in our lives, and more energy to get out there and get after it.
What gave you the motivation to start Paleo Treats?
We started Paleo Treats in our house, making the first 2,000 cookies for the CrossFit Games in our little 150-square foot kitchen. We drove them up to the ’09 games, thinking that we’d sell as many as we could and then give away whatever was leftover. The CrossFit Games are a three-day event, running Friday through Saturday, and we ended up selling out at 10am on Saturday! We were pretty stoked about it and, having started and run other companies before, we knew that we not only had a business winner, but a good lifestyle as well.
Can you talk about the ingredients in your products and where they come from?
We started making everything totally organic, but quickly realized that there are trade-offs to everything, and organic either priced us way out of the market, or came from so far away that it wasn’t in keeping with our idea of trying to be as local as possible. Goji berries are still hard to find close to San Diego—although we’re experimenting with growing them at home and have been successful so far), but we manage to get honey, almonds and eggs from within a 100-mile circle. The rest of the ingredients are sourced from places we trust and almost always by people we’ve met or know.
How do you ensure quality in your products?
We’re still a small enough company that we physically pack every single order that goes out, so we get to look at and sample our products twice a week. We’re pretty strict about what we let go out the door because we made mistakes at first—stuff like shipping Cacao Nows in the middle of the summer and hearing about customers getting a box of melted chocolate. So we err on the side of caution, delivering Paleo Treats that are easier, healthier and cleaner than what you could make at home.
You ship your products—how do you ensure preservation?
About the only “preservative” in our cookies is a little bit of honey. Other than that, there’s nothing, which has made it harder for us to grow business-wise because we won’t give in to putting synthetic crap in our food. Our cookies have a 10-day shelf life at room temperature, so we make sure that shipping takes less than 10 days. In the freezer, they last 90 days, although they rarely are around for that long. We hear from customers that their box is gone in the first few days! Ever so often, we’ll have an international order go out and we just let those folks know that we can’t guarantee anything that goes outside the U.S., but so far we’ve had a 100 percent success rate, and people as far away as New Zealand are stoked to get Paleo Treats.
Your website boasts unique philosophies and sassiness—whose voice is that?
It’s our voice. Between us, we’ve gotten to enjoy some of the highest and finest points of life, and our writing is a celebration of those experiences.
How do you market your products?
Everything so far has been word of mouth, with a little help from Facebook. We’ve been approached by Whole Foods and CrossFit gyms and are working on a way to get our products into both of these venues in a way that is good for them and for Paleo Treats.
What’s the one thing you’d like to say to people who doubt the Paleo lifestyle?
Like anything else you’re not sure of, try it. The worst that happens is you don’t like it and you have to eat awesomely healthy food for a few days. The longer you try it, the more you’ll notice the difference. A lot of folks commit to a 30-day Paleo-only diet, and they seem to get great results. Eating Paleo is probably one of the most important things you can do to quickly make you feel better, but like anything worth going for, it can be a hassle. You’ve got to decide whether the squeeze is worth the juice. For us, it is, and for a lot of top-tier athletes, it is. Good luck!