In this interview with Ree Dolnick, Founder of Jeca Bar, she explains the background and business story of Jeca as well as her plans for the future.
Q: Firstly, when did Jeca begin? Did you wake up one day and decide you wanted to get involved in making whole food bars and cookies? Did you have some sort of aha moment or was it much more of a slow boiler?
A: I think it's the latter. I've always been interested in cooking and baking, ever since childhood.And as a mother and health researcher, nutrition was always at the forefront of my mind. But I suppose you could say that all these interests came together in an aha moment when I decided that no snack products on the market really fulfilled my needs. So, I started making them for myself. All my friends loved them and kept asking me to make batches for them - that’s whenI realized how many other people might also want more options in terms of what they eat, and what I could contribute.
Q: The market is pretty crowded with food bars and cookies already, though. What makes Jeca bars different from the rest?
A: Yes, there are a lot of bars and cookies in the market, but it’s important to realize that not all of them are very healthy. At Jeca, our products are exactly what wesay they are. We use really good, pure ingredients, and we’ve done a lot of research about how to be healthy in a natural and wholesome way. This is real food.At the same time, we really try to emphasize the culinary aspect of food; to incorporate flavor, enjoyment and indulgence. Honestly, I think anyone who tastes our cookies and bars will tell you that they’re different.
Q: Was there a lot of research and development in getting your products just right?
A: Of course! I’m a scientist by profession, and baking is all about chemistry, so there was definitely a lot of experimentation that went into developing our recipes. And lots of tasting - everyone was volunteering to be my trial subjects! Seriously though, we wanted to make sure that they satisfied all our goals in terms of both meeting nutritional guidelines and stimulating taste buds.
We also had to take into consideration factors to ensure convenience such as the shelf life. How do we maintain freshness and the flavors? So yes, there was quite a bit of a development process.
Q: Here's a hard question for you: Where do you see Jeca bars heading in the future, in the next year to three years?
A: I'm hoping that over the next couple years we’ll be able to broaden the reach of Jeca products. Currently, we're really focused on local communities to see howthe product is received. Every indication is that people are loving both bars and cookies, and ultimately I would love to make them available nationally. In the meantime, I’m hoping to develop more partnerships with venues such as coops and artisan markets to introduce our items to everyone. But the internet is an amazing tool for more rapid expansion! Our website allows people to place orders online and we’re already shipping across multiple state lines.