Jon Springer: Welcome to Breakroom,
Katherine. Why bone broth?
Katherine Harvey: When Ryan and I
started Bare Bones, we wanted to make
clean, nutrient-dense versions of kitchen
staples. Since Ryan is a chef, we thought
why not start with stock, which is the base
of all cooking. Bone broth is really just an
upgraded version of stock. And for me
personally, bone broth is my perfect snack:
It’s savory, hydrating and makes me feel full.
What makes Bare Bones different is our
commitment to starting with the highest-quality ingredients and packaging it for
maximum convenience. We believe firmly
that you are what you eat. And we also
believe that eating well doesn’t have to
be a massive pain in the tush. That’s why
our broths can be stored in the pantry, and
they’re in a microwavable pouch with a
Your products are primarily available
in natural food stores and online, but
conventional grocers seem more
receptive today to cracking the natural
channel, some via online “marketplaces.”
What’s been your experience?
We got interest from conventional retailers
long before we could get any of the major
natural chains to even look at our brand.
When the big retailers get excited about
something, they don’t like to take “no” for
an answer, so we have said “yes” in a couple
of cases where we probably shouldn’t have.
The challenge is that for emerging brands
like ours, slotting fees and promotional
requirements can still be out of reach. Even
when they’re not, conventional consumers
aren’t always ready for cutting-edge foods,
so the sell-through rate isn’t always as high
as we all want. Most natural food shoppers
still go to Whole Foods and Sprouts to
discover and try new products. Online
marketplaces may help, but adoption rates
are still low and they’re certainly not the
default path for testing and introducing
new products yet.
You’re a former retail reporter. How have
your skills from that gig come in handy as
a food entrepreneur?
I was fortunate to cover retail in San Diego,
I remember interviewing Jeff Church and
Annie Lawless, co-founders of Suja, when it
was just an upstart. The network, research
and critical-thinking skills have been
handy. But nothing could have prepared me
adequately for this business. The natural
food industry looks so innovative from the
outside looking in, but there’s a lot about it
that’s not straightforward or transparent.
And because it’s still so analog, there’s only
so much research you can do. You mostly
learn by doing. For example, it took us
hundreds of calls and countless wild goose
chases to find a contract manufacturer who
could make our products without taking
Hundreds of independent grocers
are descending upon San Diego this
February as the National Grocers
Association’s trade show comes to
town. Where should they eat?
My favorite ramen spot, Rakiraki. I take all
of my out-of-town visitors there. For tacos,
Galaxy Tacos. For a nicer dinner, Nine-Ten
in La Jolla, Calif., where Ryan worked as a
chef before we started Bare Bones.
Former San Diego Union-Tribune
retail reporter Katherine Harvey
co-founded Bare Bones Broth with
her husband, Ryan, who is a chef.
What’s in your go-to bone broth
smoothie? One cup carrot juice; 1 cup
fresh orange juice; 1/4 cup pineapple
juice; 2 cups beef bone broth; 1/2
teaspoon ground turmeric; juice of
1 lemon; and 1/2 cup ice.
Fill in the blanks: I thought the
hardest thing about this business
would be ... scaling production,
but it’s turning out to be ...
structuring and building a team
for sustainable growth.
Helpful hint for running a business
with your spouse? Have very defined
boundaries! Leave work at work,
and try to have activities outside the
business that give you something
else to talk about. I L
Read the full conversation at WinsightGroceryBusiness.com.