Natural-Product Businesses Thrive in Boulder, Naturally, Teddy Nykiel on


Natural-Product Businesses Thrive in Boulder, Naturally

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starting a business boulder colorado


Entrepreneurship in Boulder, Colorado, isn’t just business as usual; it’s a lifestyle.

The city’s locals love the outdoors and have a passion for healthy, active living — values that permeate their businesses. At the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Boulder has become a hub for natural food and skin care products.

“You might think you’re a little bit weird trying to change the world through tofu,” says Bill Capsalis of the industry group Naturally Boulder. “But then you meet someone trying to change the world through peanut butter.”

Jody Nagel was just trying to find food that fit her gluten-free diet when she started Boulder Granola in 2011. The business makes organic, gluten-free, vegan granola using her mother’s recipe from the 1960s, which fits right in with what some describe as Boulder’s hippie culture. “There’s something about being close to nature in the mountains,” Nagel says.

Nagel’s business isn’t the city’s only namesake; there’s Boulder Organic Foods, maker of gluten-free soups, Boulder Cookie, which makes packaged paleo cookies, and Boulder Organic Ice Cream, which sells its freshly crafted treats in stores and by the scoop.

Here’s a look at why the city is a thriving place for natural product businesses.

Industry veterans inspire novices

Boulder is home to nationally established natural food companies including the nut butter company Justin’s, Celestial Seasonings tea company and Boulder Brands, a publicly traded company that owns brands including Earth Balance, Smart Balance and Glutino. All these veterans “feed the ecosystem with experienced workers,” says Capsalis. The group hosts classes to teach more nascent food entrepreneurs about topics including how to get certified as organic and gluten-free, as well as food safety and handling.

There’s a natural progression that most Boulder natural food entrepreneurs take, Capsalis says. Many, including Justin Gold of Justin’s, start at the Boulder County Farmers Market, where they test products and get instant feedback from shoppers. Next, they’ll pitch to one of Boulder’s independent natural grocery stores and eventually to Whole Foods and other national chains.

Cindy Jones, founder of Colorado Aromatics, started selling her skin products in farmers markets too. “I think it’s really good exposure,” she says. Jones makes soaps, lotions, scrubs, balms and essential oils using herbs she grows on her farm. In 2014, she opened a small storefront in Longmont, Colorado, a city just northeast of Boulder.

Colorado Aromatics

Although Boulder is crowded with natural food brands, Capsalis says the community is collaborative rather than competitive because companies share similar values.

The obstacles

But opening a business in Boulder isn’t all sunshine and mountain views. Challenges for entrepreneurs include an increasing cost of a living and a comparatively small pool of available workers.

The city’s median home value was around $562,000 in April 2015 — up $136,000 from five years prior, according to real estate website Zillow. As the cost of living increases, the cost of doing business does too, says Clif Harald, executive director of the Boulder Economic Council.

Boulder Granola

But even as prices rise, more companies want a physical location in the community, says Mark Gittes, assistant director of the Boulder Small Business Development Center. To afford it, he says, they’re sharing spaces with other businesses or moving to nearby places including Longmont, Louisville and Erie.

Additionally, Boulder’s unemployment rate is low: just 3.6% in March 2015, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared with the U.S. rate of 5.5% the same month. Lower unemployment means it’s more difficult for businesses to hire employees.

“Companies are having to become more creative about attracting and retaining talent,” Harald says.

Funding options for Boulder small businesses

There’s better news, however, on the funding front. Be it venture capital or nonprofit microlenders, Boulder has a community willing to inject money into new businesses. Here are just a few funding options for Boulder-based businesses:

The Colorado Enterprise Fund: This nonprofit lender loans up to $500,000 to businesses that can’t get traditional bank loans, with an emphasis on businesses owned by women and minorities, low-income borrowers and startups. It uses traditional metrics including projections, personal equity and collateral to evaluate borrowers, but it’s more lenient than a bank, says Lewis Hagler, the director of credit quality.

The Colorado Lending Source: The nonprofit resource connects small businesses with lenders who offer loans guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. It also loans up to $35,000 directly to businesses through its Colorado Main Street microloan program.

The Colorado Impact Fund: This venture capital fund invests in Colorado businesses that are making a difference in the community, including some natural products businesses. Its first investment in March 2015 was Bhakti Chai, a Boulder-based company that makes chai drinks with organic ginger and fair-trade certified tea.

For more information about how to start and run a business, visit NerdWallet’s Small Business GuideFor free, personalized answers to questions about starting and financing your business, visit the Small Business section of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

Teddy Nykiel is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @teddynykiel and on Google+. Contact her at

Top image via iStock.


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Acai Bowl Recipe & Tips with Boulder Granola

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Açaí Bowl Recipe & Tips

Have you heard of an açaí bowl?  Maybe you haven’t, so if you are not familiar, açai bowls use the superfood açaí berries to make something truly nutritious and delicious!  Besides the health benefits (seriously look them up!) they are a gorgeous breakfast or snack.  In fact, you may have seen some beautiful versions on Instagram.

The best part of these bowls are that they are completely customizable!  I made my bowl using Silk soymilk, in honor of last month’s National Soyfoods month, when I shared a savory lasagna recipe.    Of course, I topped mine with some gorgeous fresh fruit for some color, flavor, and nutrition!

Lastly, I always use a few sprinklings of chia seeds, granola, and whatever strikes my fancy!  For this bowl, I used the Vanilla Pecan Granola from Boulder Granola because it is just the right amount of sweet with a super low sugar content.  It’s the perfect sweet crunch to complement the creamy, tangy açaí bowl.  Yum!

Acai Bowl Recipe & Tips on Diane's Vintage Zest!

Just a couple things before digging in.  The recipe itself is super easy and anyone can make this.  Probably the hardest part will be finding the açaí berry pulp.  The easy option in my area was in the freezer section of Whole Foods.  I have also heard that the açaí powder is a great option when buying online, but I have not tried it yet myself.  I’ll give it a try next time!

Now, are you ready to dig in!
Acai Bowl Recipe & Tips on Diane's Vintage Zest!

Açaí Bowl Recipe & Tips
Adapted from here


  • 100g (3.5 oz) pack frozen unsweetened açaí berry pulp
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup frozen fruit  (I used a three berry blend and dark cherries)
  • 1/2 cup milk  (I used Silk unsweetened soymilk)
  • Fruity Toppings!  (I used strawberries, blueberries, banana & kiwi)
  • Crunchy Toppings!  (I used chia seeds & Boulder granola.  Sometimes I use the roasted coconut chips picture too)
  • Honey for sweetness, to taste  (optional)
Acai Bowl Recipe & Tips on Diane's Vintage Zest!


1.  Thaw your açaí puree by running under water for a few seconds.

2.  In a blender, add the banana, açaí pulp, frozen fruit, and a splash of milk.

3.  Blend on low until larger chunks are broken down, then gradually increase speed.

4.  Adding the milk a little at a time, stopping to scrape down sides of blender if needed.

Acai Bowl Recipe & Tips on Diane's Vintage Zest!

5.  Stop when the mixture is the desired consistency of a thick smoothie, then blend on high for an additional 15 to 20 seconds.

Acai Bowl Recipe & Tips on Diane's Vintage Zest!

6.  Add toppings! Arrange the fruit and crunchy toppings any way you would like!

7.  Enjoy your gorgeous açaí bowl!

Acai Bowl Recipe & Tips on Diane's Vintage Zest!

I absolutely love the deep purple of the açaí bowl, and it always feels like I’m having a luscious sweet treat in the morning… even though it is super healthy!  Give it a try since it is super easy and it’s fun to see how everyone decorates their individual bowls.  A little bit of craftiness is a good way to start every day, right?

What will you top your açaí bowl with?
Acai Bowl Recipe & Tips on Diane's Vintage Zest!

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This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase using one of the links, a small commission will go to support Vintage Zest.  I will only recommend sites with products that I think you will love and enjoy!
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Boulder Granola & Justin’s: Together at Last

For those of you who know us here at Boulder Granola, you know we’re Boulder to the core. Yoga instructors, the Flatirons, climbers, prairie dogs, cyclists, Ralphie the Buffalo; we hold them all dear to our hearts. This wonderful town is in our blood, which is why we’re so excited to announce the newest experiment coming out of our kitchen.

Using Boulder’s, and possibly the world’s, greatest producer of nut butters, Justin’s, we’re excited to introduce our Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Granola. We’ve combined the goodness of our Chocolate Chunk Granola and Justin’s Peanut Butter to create a limited batch of the best granola you’re going to find, and, as always, it’s made using only the finest organic, all-natural and non-GMO ingredients.

Now for the even better news! We will be giving away a few bags of this limited edition flavor and you can get your hands on one! There are three ways to enter and each one gives you a shot at a FREE bag of granola. If you haven’t already done so, ‘Like’ us on Facebook and you’re entered! Got a Twitter feed that could use a bit more lovin’ from your favorite granola company? Follow us @BoulderGranola and Tweet about our new flavor and giveaway and you’re that much closer to chowing down on our newest creation! Scroll down for your chance to win! And hurry! The giveaway ends on April 24th!

And as always, you can purchase our Original, Chocolate Chunk, Cranberry, and Gluten/Dairy-Free flavors online by checking out our Granola Stash.

Can you dig it?

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We’re 1 Year Old!!

Our 1st birthday was on Dec. 6th.  Here’s to a fantastic second year of some real good granola!

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We’re Certified Organic!!

Check it out

We're Ceritified!

Thank you CCOF.  This means a lot to us.

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