BeeFree is a female-owned business that makes delicious, homemade gluten-free snacks for a busy, active lifestyle. In this interview, founder and CEO Jennifer Wiese shares her inspiring personal story, from mothering a gluten-free child to building a successful gluten-free business.
My husband and I have four sons, and our oldest is on the autism spectrum. Back in 2008, we were looking for things that we could do to positively impact his life and set him up for success. We landed on dietary changes. BeeFree was created because I felt there was a gap in the market for delicious snacks with real ingredients that are nutrient-dense and gluten-free, without artificial preservatives and stabilizers.
We were a busy family with four kids going in a lot of different directions and they were all very active and into sports. We wanted something convenient that could be taken on the go and put in a locker, a gym bag, or in the car.
I felt like I’d been in the gluten-free trenches for a long time. So, we rolled our sleeves up in the kitchen and created our own gluten-free solution. We took a lot of our old-fashioned family recipes and foods and converted them to gluten-free.
Finally, we created Warrior Mix to offer a larger variety of plant-based gluten-free snacks. I felt this would be helpful for other people who wanted the same thing that I wanted, but maybe didn't have the time, energy, or resources to create it at home.
Those were the early days and that's the reason that BeeFree as a company was created.
BeeFree is a female-owned family business. Our sons are college-aged, and over the years, they’ve had a big part in our success. It's been fun to include the whole family and introduce our sons specifically to what it's like to follow your dream; to have an idea and turn it into something tangible that you can put on grocery shelves all over the country.
Here’s a brief introduction to our story and products:
Warrior Mix is a ready-to-eat, plant-based, gluten-free snack. It’s made with really simple ingredients like almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and shredded coconut, lightly sweetened with honey. We’re really passionate about lowering the amount of sugar that people are eating.
It's a soft, chunky, cookie-like snack and it's super convenient. It’s popular with all types of people, whether you're a parent looking for good solutions to feed your family, an athlete or someone with an active lifestyle, or someone who looks at food as medicine. It’s a great nutrient-dense solution.
BeeFree Warrior Mix is very much like an energy bar, in bite-sized pieces. It's made with love and a good part of it is made by hand, so it has a little bit of an artisan feel to it. We have four different flavors and each of them is named after a family member. That's one way that we could add more of our personality and uniqueness into Warrior Mix.
The original flavor is Auggy’s Original, because BeeFree was created for Auggy. Then we have Hagen’s Berry Bomb, Clay’s Chocolate Buzz, and Mae’s Apple Pie. We have a new flavor coming in next month called Bob’s Salted Caramel.
I’ve had a front-row seat to the growth and explosion of gluten-free over the years. In the early days, around
Living a gluten-free lifestyle, I see the need and the continued demand for not only gluten-free foods but foods that taste good, with real ingredients and nothing artificial.
As our communities become more informed about how we can better improve our health and wellness, more people are turning to healthy food than ever before. I don't see that changing. There are some other fads out there that might dwindle away a little bit, but as far as gluten-free and clean, real ingredients go, I don't see that going away, I just see it gaining traction.
People who choose gluten-free aren’t just choosing it because they have an allergy or a condition like celiac etc. They’re choosing it because it generally makes them feel better. They might have more energy or their whole body just works more optimally when they choose gluten-free.
There are so many different reasons why people choose to go gluten-free other than an allergy or a real health condition.
To people who are looking at gluten-free as a new way of living, I’d recommend looking at the communities and resources that are around you. There’s so much information out there that wasn’t around when I started my gluten-free journey.
BeeFree is part of a wonderful gluten-free community that offers great support, insights, and knowledge on how to make gluten-free living easier.
One of our goals at BeeFree is to encourage people to make good, healthy, clean choices because it really does matter. What you eat matters because it affects your body in so many different ways.
We provide information and guidance through our website, BeeFreeGF.com, but also through our social media. We have strong followings on Facebook and Instagram, and we're just getting into TikTok as well, so we can meet people wherever they are and give them the information that they want and need.
We have some super exciting new products that we're bringing to market. One of these is the Salted Caramel Warrior Mix that I’ve already mentioned, but we’re also launching a Hot Cocoa Mix. We're super excited about that one because it helps us fulfill our mission of providing jobs for people with autism.
Autism is near and dear to our hearts because we’ve seen, with our son, the challenges that people with autism face in employment. The autistic community as a whole has an 80% unemployment rate and that’s just not right. We feel like this is one thing that we can do to help change that and have a positive effect on people's lives.
It's important for us to share that a simple purchase of a bag of Warrior Mix or our new Hot Cocoa Mix helps to provide a job for someone who might not otherwise have one. That's the big thing that we want to share about our product and our company.
We're not only trying to put good clean food out into the world, but we're also trying to change people's lives by offering them meaningful employment.
You can buy all BeeFree products on Amazon or our website. We have a retail partner in every state across the USA. You can find us at big retailers like Kroger, Target, and WholeFoods; regional groceries like Hy-Vee and Meijer; and specialty stores across the country.
We're branching out into airports and convenience stores, sports venues, colleges, and universities. We want people to have easy access to BeeFree Warrior Mix to help fuel their next adventure – even if that’s only a trip to their pantry!