Brookline woman giving back with Hope Bars at Whole FoodsBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
June 16. 2018 10:37PM
BROOKLINE - Without any intention of starting her own business, a Brookline woman is now the founder of a locally-made nutrition bar that is helping to fuel busy lifestyles.
Christine Bell, 39, is the maker of Hope Bars, a superfood quinoa bar being sold on shelves at select Whole Food Market stores, as well as area juice bars, fitness centers and online.
She is currently making about 2,500 Hope Bars a week, and is contributing 10 percent of her profits to charity.
"I really never had any aspirations to sell the bars, except maybe at a local farmer's market," said Bell. "I laughed at a friend when she first suggested it."
Bell began experimenting with homemade nutrition bars after the birth of her first child. It was challenging trying to be health conscious and eat "clean" once a baby was in the house, she said.
After struggling with fatigue and moodiness, she knew that dietary improvements had to be made. Bell said she searched high and low for a nutrition bar, but could not find any healthy, on-the-go meal that she liked.
"A lot of the bars have a lot of added ingredients, added sugars and added preservatives, and they were chalky or dense," she said.
After several attempts at trying to make her own bars, Bell said she eventually found the right ingredients using a quinoa base. Although her friends and relatives liked the product, Bell never thought about pitching it to a local retailer until Whole Foods Market hosted a local summit in preparation for its 2014 store opening in Nashua.
She was nervous and hesitant, but Bell attended the summit and connected with Holly Long, the local coordinator for the North Atlantic region, who adored the product.
"Hope Bars pretty much grew organically from there, one store at a time," Bell said. Now, the six flavors of Hope Bars are available at about 15 Whole Foods Market stores in the region.
"We are constantly looking for small, local suppliers," said Long, adding the company is committed to finding new, trendy and high-quality products.
Long said it is rewarding to help a small supplier in their infancy stage, guide them through the channels and watch them expand.
According to Long, Whole Foods Market has at least 40 New Hampshire producers in its supply chain, and three more are about to come on board.
"One of our core values is talking about win-win partnerships with suppliers and helping grow small, local businesses such as Hope Bars."
The plant-based bars are vegan, have no refined sugar and are dairy free, gluten free and non-GMO certified. They sell for about $3.79 each, but are available in a case of 10 for $36 on the company's website.
The most popular flavor is peanut butter chocolate, but the bars also come in dark chocolate cherry, chocolate with coconut, almond coconut, antioxidant powerberry and maple cinnamon.
Bell, who works per diem as an oncology nurse, is producing the bars at a gluten-free bakery in Hollis. She says the most rewarding part of this new business venture is donating a portion of her proceeds to charities such as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Feeding America and Teach for America.