Julia Erickson Sets the Barre High for Vegan Energy Bars
Ballet dancer, philanthropist, and entrepreneur… Julia Erickson created Barre vegan energy bars to achieve the perfect balance of fast and slow-burning carbohydrates, plant-based protein, fiber, and natural electrolyte replacement. Her original goal was to meet her demanding dancer needs; now she and dancer husband, Aaron Ingley, share these super yummy “trade secrets” with the world!
Julia tells us the story of Barre’s beginnings:
Yummy Plants: Did you ever envision starting a large scale company when you first started selling Barre bars to the students attending Pittsburgh Ballet Theater (PBT) school?
Julia: Ha ha, not at all! But the success we had selling Barres to the PBT students made us realize that there was a deep need as well as a desire for healthy food in that particular market. Initially we thought we would just sell Barre to our dance friends on the professional level, but we came to see that a larger market existed.
Yummy Plants: Your Barre bars are made with simple ingredients that most people have at home. How did you come up with the formulations for mass production? Do you have any formal cooking training?
Julia: No I don’t—just a lifetime of pouring over cookbooks, getting messy in the kitchen, and having to find healthy ways to satisfy my foodie tendencies due to the constraints of my profession. Honestly, my original formula only had ONE modification to make it mass production-ready, and that was only so that the bar would bind and stick together vs. crumbling apart.
Yummy Plants: You make two flavors: Black Swan and Pirouette. Are you developing other flavors?
Julia: Actually, we’ve just released a third flavor, Ballerina Spirulina! We created it as a first to market flavor for the new Whole Foods in Wexford, PA, and for a limited time it was exclusive to that store. Now it’s available on our website and everywhere Barre is sold. It’s a coconutty, macaroon-like greens bar and it might just be my favorite!
Yummy Plants: It’s lovely that you give back to support the Arts. Which organization do you support? How would you encourage people to get involved and make a difference?
Julia: We support various arts organizations, especially those which concentrate on arts education. Some of the organizations we’ve worked with are Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, The Mattress Factory, New Castle Regional Ballet, Live and Dance Strong, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Dizzy Feet Foundation.
We feel art is vital to a rich and full life, especially in our frenetic modern society. And we know firsthand as dancers that many arts organizations walk a tenuous line just to survive. We want to cultivate arts education so that future generations will understand the value of art. Also, we are kind of obsessed with our art (i.e, we are BUNHEADS) and we want to share it with as many people as possible!
It’s great to see that the discipline and patience Julia learned as a young ballet dancer flow into her business venture. Thanks, Julia, for making these delicious and vegan Barres for us to snack on!