Why I've Decided To Do It This Way
First and foremost, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to read this and for those of you who do not know the story of how Safe Sam's started, I'm going to give you the shortened version.
I moved back to my hometown in Pennsylvania from Chicago a few years ago to start working with my dad. Only a few short months after being in Pennsylvania, I went to go visit a friend of mine in the hospital who at the time, was being treated for an eating disorder. She had been having some hard days with eating and two things kept crossing my mind. The first, was that I wish I could help her. The second being, what would happen if I, or someone else who was vegan, ended up in the hospital? What options would we have if we were having a hard day with eating? As soon as I left the hospital I went to a local grocery store and started turning over every nutritional drink on the shelf and validated what I was thinking, they all contained milk and soy ingredients. This got me thinking, can I possibly create something that does not contain milk or soy in it and that wasn’t intended as a supplement meal, but rather a snack option for those struggling? Now one thing you will notice about me if you stalk my LinkedIn profile, is that I have zero background in culinary, or food science, but did I let that stop me? Negative.
The very next day I sat down with the diabetic exchange list and started pulling foods from every category that when combined, would possibly not taste like complete dog shit. The mentality behind this was to create something from foods you are encouraged to eat at every meal, when following a meal plan during the recovery process. The more I did this, the more I kept thinking of the many issues a lot of people face during their recovery. Such as: bloating and digestive issues, having sensitive teeth due to binging and purging, fear foods, the overwhelming fear of the size of the meal, food allergies that on a side note, are actually not even eating disorder related. I feel like we live in an era where food allergies are at an all-time high. Please know that I too battled my own eating disorders in the past, so that's why I was able to have this understanding of all of these issues.
I made batches that ended up tasting like a mixture of a baby wipe and a fortune cookie and burnt so many batches, it was unbelievable. Literally, eleven o'clock at night would roll around and I would be scrubbing burnt batter off of pans because I just could not get this damn recipe right. There I was, twenty eight years old, night after night, jamming out to The Chainsmokers trying not to blow up the kitchen, declining invites to go out because I was hell-bent on getting this right. I had a full time job, I did not have to be doing this, but something just kept telling me, "keep going, you have to do this!” Finally, after about the fortieth attempt, I did get the recipe right. Fun fact: It hadn't occurred to me at the time to buy a food scale to gauge the exact recipe measurements. I was actually using my dad's postage machine day after day to measure weight of batter and ingredients, rookie mistake.
After that it was kind of a whirlwind uphill battle that consisted of getting laboratory testing done, figuring out packaging, designing, shipping, acquiring all of the appropriate permits and licenses, taking safe food handling courses, setting up a website, figuring out how to register a business, learning how to actually run my own business, start making phone calls to dietitians and therapists, sending emails and networking with people in the field, all while trying to get adjusted in my new role with my dad's business.
It came time for me to start actually manufacturing and selling these and I started to face a problem. I had these bars priced at $34.99 for two boxes. To a lot of people, that is a lot of money for snack bars and I'll admit, I thought so too. What a lot of people may not realize was that shipping and the shipping supplies was the culprit to blame. The fact that these bars contained no preservatives required me to ship them in special packaging. Now I know what you’re thinking, “You could've just gotten these into a grocery store and alleviated shipping all together!” I kept thinking that if Safe Sam's started to become known as a snackbar for people in their recovery, would people then feel anxious buying it at the grocery store if their eating disorder recovery was something they wished to keep private? I wanted to be able to have a way that these can come directly to you and I needed to figure out a way to do so.
I kept racking my brain thinking how I am going to make this work? I was losing my drive and love for doing this because I was losing sleep and stressed more than I was excited about it. There was actually a point where I could not stand the sight of my own logo.
I was on a flight with my mom to Chicago when I looked at her and said, "Why don't I just share the recipes?" After I realized that's the new path that Safe Sam's was now going to take, I became excited again to do this. At the end of the day, this was about creating something to help and make it accessible and affordable and I was determined to make that happen for you.
All too often I would hear that these bars could be used for so many different people not just people struggling with eating disorders, such as: people and kids with food allergies, athletes who need a quick boost of energy or people who want to just simply eat "healthier" and If those people want to make them, that's great! However, just know I did this for all of you out there fighting for your recovery like my friend and especially for you vegans and people that have a lot of fear foods.
P.S. just in case you were wondering what I did with all of those extra shipping supplies that I had on hand, highly considering trying out for the Chicago Blackhawks this upcoming season.