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Meet Shayna Gillerman of Vive Snacks in The San Fernando Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shayna Gillerman.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I had a problem everyone who has a busy lifestyle has encountered: wanting a better on-the-go snack. Nutrition bars are overly processed, taste weird and have a huge list of ingredients, not what I want to be putting in my body. So, being the dessert, baking and wellness obsessed person I am, I knew I could create something tastier and simpler. So I just had fun experimenting in the kitchen. I packed my Bites with superfoods I love and had fun creating different flavor profiles based off of my favorite desserts… basically I wanted to be able to eat sweets everyday and not feel guilty about it, haha. I had three flavors on rotation (the prototypes of my Chocolate Chip, Vanilla Almond Coconut and Chocolate Peanut Butter Superfood Cookie Bites) and brought them with me to school, work etc. Whenever people tried them the reaction was the same, YOU SHOULD SELL THESE! I never dreamt of pursuing a career in food. even though I’ve always loved cooking and baking, but after encouragement from the people around me, I decided to give it a go. After countless trials and taste tests, I had created a snack that was equally delicious and healthy. From there, I took my Bites to farmer’s markets around LA to get more feedback and it just took off from there!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely not! Starting a food company is a lot more challenging than I would have thought, from finding the right partners to figuring out the best marketing tactics. There is a lot of guesswork involved, especially at the beginning, and figuring out what works best for us and our business model. Scaling the company itself is another obstacle I was not prepared for, I thought I would be elated when we grew and that would be that! Even happy moments in growing a company present its own set of challenges and figuring out how to prepare for the future without thinking too far out.

Another hurdle comes from the fact that I do not have a business background. I’ve had to learn how to run a business from a combination of lots of self-education, trial and error and surrounding myself with those who know more than me.

All of our struggles help make our accomplishments that much sweeter!

Vive Snacks – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My company Vive makes Superfood a cookie Bites, delicious and healthy on-the-go snacks that taste like cookies (but you wouldn’t even know it!) Our snacks fit into many different lifestyles since they are gluten-free, vegan, NON GMO and low in natural sugar. When I create a recipe, I take some sort of dessert nostalgia for inspiration and rework it to swap out the processed ingredients for more nutritious ones; replacing white flour with oats, granulated sugar for coconut sugar, adding superfoods like nuts and fruits and the end product is always delicious with different textures and flavors. Instead of going straight into Whole Foods and other big retailers, we prefer to work with other small businesses (we especially love supporting other women-owned businesses!) so you can find us in fitness studios, hotels, spas, airports and gyms across the country.

We’re really proud of our ingredients. I personally source our ingredients carefully because I firmly believe that if you start with simple, high-quality ingredients you don’t need to add much to make them shine. We never use more than ten ingredients in each flavor. If you check our label, its really clean, all things you would find in a home instead of a lab. We truly think we have found the perfect nutrition/flavor balance, you’re not left wanting anything after eating our Cookie Bites! Many people have been surprised that they are vegan/gluten free/good for you… we always hear that they just taste like cookies!

Another thing we think is fun and unique is our packaging. We’re competing with nutrition bars and what I often found annoying was I’d want a quick bite of a bar and then I’d try to save the rest for later but I’d end up with a crumbly mess that gets thrown away so our snacks are bite-sized morsels packaged in resealable pouches. There are 6 Cookie Bites in each pouch so even though they can be eaten in a single serving, you have control over eating as much or as little as you want and it’s easy to stash in your bag or car or drawer for later.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
A few instances come to mind. When we were selling at Farmer’s Markets and we started getting return customers making a special trip to the market just for our snacks, that was really special.

The first time we partnered with a fitness studio chain, we didn’t know what to expect as far as volume and how fast our Bites would sell. It turns out their clients loved them so we were working at max capacity and scheduling extra shifts to produce enough product to keep their inventory stocked! That was pretty awesome.

Seeing pictures of people taking our Bites around the world might be my favorite thing though! Travel is really important to me, both personally and professionally. My adventures inspire me in terms of flavor creation and the aesthetic of my brand, the name Vive itself is French for “long live”. So even though I can’t be traveling all the time, knowing my creations are going to places and nourishing people across the planet makes me feel incredible. I can live vicariously through them!

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