GORP has redefined the energy bar market by providing bars that are high protein and actually good for you! With their extra mile ingredient sourcing ensuring their bars contain nothing fake, these delicious bars are a go-to for anyone from extreme athletes to the average person trying to eat a healthy snack on the go! Packed with whole ingredients, plant-based protein from sprouted brown rice, hemp and nuts (which won’t cause bloat!) and made in Canada, GORP is meeting a demand in a market that other large companies aren’t quite reaching– keeping it real.
As a fan of GORP energy bars when traveling across the globe as a perfect airplane snack with its resealable package, I’ve been singing GORP’s praises since first hearing about them! Not to mention that GORP is based out of Niverville, Manitoba so it’s made right in Noella’s very own backyard… couldn’t get any more local then that! And now with their latest flavour addition, Ginger Snap + Apple, GORP’s delicious variety is sure to continue to propel them to new heights!
We interviewed Colleen, co-founder of GORP to learn her story, inspiration and goals for the future!
How did you get started?
I was busy learning how to train for triathlons (I have to confess I had KONA in my dreams!) and it went something like this: First things first…learn to swim. Check. Second…learn how to fall off a road bike WITHOUT toe clips in. Half check. Lastly…run like a banshee. Check.
As I learned more and more about how to fuel my body for performance and recovery, I started eating energy bars. As I continued training, I found that traditional energy bars weren’t really that cool. Lots of high fructose corn syrup, cheap vitamins, and wonky aftertastes. Sick. So I did some research and came up with GORP. Being farmers we knew that in our country…in our very province we grow some of the best superstar ingredients on the planet! So the experimenting began. . .
I never thought about going commercial with this little bar until my training mates started demanding them. That’s how it all began. Word spread and pretty soon the local welding shop was ordering bars for coffee break. Hairdressers, marathon runners…folks looking for a high-protein snack to get through the day. That is when the light bulb flickered on! We built a food safe inspected facility right on the farm…in our farmhouse basement. Baby steps at first, and now…5 years later we are finally renovating an old shop on the farmyard and moving out of the house!
What is your mission statement?
To passionately make the best energy foods on the planet while being a champion for mindful adventure! Pouring our hearts into others…cultivating dignity in all we do!
What are your core values?
- Quirky Spirit – Remembering to stay curious and being in the right mindset to experience awe and wonder in the little things.
- Authenticity – Being humble and embracing our vulnerability by keeping a teachable spirit!
- Passion – Enthusiastically going the extra mile. . .every time.
- Gratitude – Cultivating dignity by really seeing people.
- Nourish – Pouring our hearts into our community while being a champion for mindful adventure!
Tell us your experience as a female-driven business?
I’ve often thought about this. . .and it’s a very hard question to answer as I don’t have any experience being a man!! I feel like I’ve worked hard, been vulnerable, and have made a practice out of openly admitting when I don’t know what I’m doing! Once in awhile, I meet up with people that discount or underestimate me, but it’s hard to say if they are doing it because I’m a woman or for other reasons! Overall I feel like what I’ve put out into the world is what I’m getting back! Our stores and end customers have all given us amazing grace and been extremely patient with us as we’ve learned the ropes of retail! Learning curves are around every bend and I’ve found that as long as we are as open and honest as possible. .. you end up doing business with the right people😊
Tell us about the trials and victories as a small business?
I always say that “I don’t know what I don’t know!” and this continues to be a theme in my business journey! Perseverance and learning to forgive yourself when you make mistakes have been the reasons I’ve been able to keep putting one foot in front of the other despite setbacks.
It definitely hasn’t been easy, I seem to have chosen one of the most competitive market segments in retail… ignorance was bliss when I started! What has been a major victory for us and honestly the fuel that has kept us going is the connection we seem to have made as a brand to the end consumer. We are so often humbled by the emails and comments we get from folks about how our bars are helping them. This is pure gold to us! Cash flow is never easy, and dealing with other humans always it’s challenges (lol!) As a business owner, having the honour of creating a team and working for a common goal together is an amazing feeling… I’m honoured to have the team of people! They are the most caring, committed group of people I have ever met and have made me love this journey more than I thought possible!
How do you cultivate work-life balance as an entrepreneur?
When I shut down for the day I try EXTREMELY hard not to go back to work in the evenings… I’m not perfect at it…and sometimes there are obviously exceptions, but I try really hard! When I’m with my kids I also try not to look at my phone and to concentrate on really being present wherever I am and giving the human beings who are in front of me first priority over my device!!
What has been the best part of being a business owner so far?
Definitely, the best part is being able to chart a course. . .even if it’s not conventional! The freedom to create and the responsibility it also brings can be a double-edged sword… but the high is amazing! Pressure obviously comes as a result of this kind of creative risk-taking…but it’s what I love! Sharing this with my awesome team who are adaptable and enthusiastic about our path is the icing on top!
What are your goals for the future?
We have started to expand into new markets, the U.S. being one of the first big ones! I also want to continue to put a lot of effort into an innovation strategy so I can continue to create new products!
What inspires you?
People doing things they never thought they could do inspires me! Our goal here at GORP is to remind people to get outside and find their own adventure! It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s either! To remind people that the best things in life are free and that when you get into nature and pour yourself into your community/other people the rewards are rich and the effect is contagious!
What pushed you to make the decision to pursue the life of an entrepreneur?
I think it might be a defect in my genes?! But honestly. .. it’s all I thought about since I was a kid. I used to go door to door in my neighborhood from the time I was 6-years old selling everything from homemade magnets to whatever else I could get my hands on! It’s all I ever thought about. I obviously had no idea what it would look like or what industry I would end up in. .. but I knew from the time I could form a thought that I would start a business someday!
What is your current favourite product you sell and why?
Currently, we sell a line of all natural energy bars in 4 flavours! They are made in small batches by hand on the family farm and are packed with as many superstar ingredients as we could get in them! We are farmers and are proud to be part of the agricultural community in Canada and our province! We have also launched a line of “do it yourself” ready mixes so people can make GORP bars at home for a fraction of the cost of prepackaged bars! This way people can also customize the recipe, add more protein, nuts, dried fruit, coconut.. or whatever they want! They can also control the sugar in the recipe which is a major hot button these days!
We are looking forward to seeing GORP grow in awesome, adventure-filled ways as they continue to redefine the industry and shift to new creative endeavors. Be sure to check out GORP on Instagram, their website, and grab some of their protein-packed energy bars to try for yourself!