The mind-body connection is more than just an Instagrammable caption. There’s a correlation between negative moods and unhealthy foods; it can lead to mindless snacking, excess consumption of available snacks that lack nutritional benefits, doing more harm to the body than good. What if we could manage our emotions using snacks as a function instead of just a means for temporary satiation?

My name is Andrea Hernandez, I’m a 29-year old based in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. I attended Northeastern University in Boston, majored in marketing and minored in communications. My background is pretty much all over the place, I’ve worked in public relations, had a Devil Wears Prada type of experience, I’ve worked in e-commerce, social media marketing, and even dedicated myself to delivering picnics as a business for an entire year. I’m the founder of Mood Food.

Mood Food is a mindful way of snacking, tasty vessels of nourishment that use a combination of adaptogens and ingredients to complement, enhance our emotional and physical well being. Each Mood Food snack is based on serving as an ally for a particular emotion, or mood, using absolutely no sugar, no dairy, no preservatives, no chemicals, no gluten; unlike other snack brands that try to pass candy bars as organic, or use vague terms that are more marketing ploys than well-intentioned ingredients in their products. We’re not about replacing important, nutrient-rich meals—we’re all about aiding your physical and emotional well being in between them while encouraging you to indulge in all your feels.

The importance of food literacy

Food literacy is important to me, not only as someone who suffers from an autoimmune disease but because I believe that our food is a pillar in our lives and we have lost connection with what nourishes us and in turn has brought a lot of sickness in both the body and minds of our collective. The rise in diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, obesity in the past decades are a serious concern, we have lost balance, we over-consume but yet we are deficient in nutrients and in overall health.

This is important for me because through Mood Food I want to help shift the relationship we have with food, a paradox that as a collective we have all these health issues, and a negative relationship with food because we correlate the negative effects of our overconsumption as a byproduct of natural food, which is not the case. Food, real food serves the purpose of nourishing us, heal us, strengthen us, in measure. Snacks have been seen as persona non grata for a while, thinking we need to restrict in order to be well, I want us to rethink how and why we snack, to see food as a friend that we can call upon when in need.

Creating a new generation of snacks

The process was a long one, particularly because I was scared to see this idea out there, it’s pretty daunting to birth a concept. There was a lot of research at first regarding our relationship to food, our emotions, researching about individual ingredients and their benefits and effect in our body, I wanted there to be science and medical research behind the actual ingredients I would decide to use for the bars.

Then came the fun-at-first-but-almost-drove-me-insane part, testing out the bars. Learning to do things from scratch, it’s like reverse engineering, tested various bars, using different ingredients, testing sturdiness, chewiness, base flavor. Once the base for the bar was established I focused on the add-on ingredients that would be tailored by mood (flavor) for the first generation of Mood Food bars.

And that’s just regarding the food, then I had to focus on buying the materials to package the bars, finding ways to naturally preserve the bars, how to extend their life without the use of chemical preservatives, creating the nutrition labels using FDA guidelines (we don’t have any in Honduras so used these as reference) designing the labels, what aesthetics I would be going with, fun fact: the idea was originally conceived as SpectrYUM because I was going for the spectrum of colors/emotions reference but decided it wasn’t clear enough by the name what my product was and as to avoid confusion, have the name be friction in a conversion, decided on Mood Food, catchy, to the point.

Building a bootstrapped business

I’m bootstrapping this entire operation so I did not intend to do a grandiose launch party, getting awesome feedback from people who got samples was a good start but my priority and focus was to validate that it was a product people would pay for. I launched by promoting through social media (Instagram in particular) and word of mouth by those who had received samples, influencers, friends of mine who I knew had large followings on social media, gave samples at wellness events and at yoga studios, the samplers had definitely caught the attention of people on social, the packaging ironically was what created a sense of intrigue and mystery, I got my 6 box orders ($35 x 8 bars) the day I had officially launched and I won’t forget the feeling!

It takes a lot of work, spend most of my time preparing batches of bars, packaging and delivering. Usually, wake up around 5 am get my batches done in the morning, answer Whatsapp, social media inquiries, package, then deliver in the afternoon. The rest of the time is spent researching more on the DTC industry, finding programs that I can submit Mood Food to as I’m trying to bring it into a much bigger market and currently looking for mentors in the industry, working on updating social media.

The feedback I have received is great, I’m surprised to see it being popular among both men and women and the difference is not disproportionate which is reassuring to me that the product fit for a larger demographic, the majority of customers are women (60%) and men at (40%). The flavor, the after-feel from the bar, and the branding overall have received numerous praises! I have even received handwritten thank you notes from customers who have enjoyed their snack bars. Currently, my most popular item is the Sampler ($10) which brings one of each bar, and since launching at the end of June Mood Food has now sold a little over 300 snack bars!

I want to take Mood Food to a much bigger market like the US, where I know the demand for healthy snacks has skyrocketed and will continue to rise as consumers focus more on diet literacy and physical well being (the snack bar industry alone is going to be worth 8$ billion by 2023) not to mention I want to get in the VC blitz on DTC, wellness products, you know, you gotta get in while it’s hot! I envision Mood Food expanding from bars to drinks to a different array of snacks, healthy chips, desserts, etc. I also envision Mood Food partnering with a wearable, serving as a modern version of a mood ring, and actually being able to address your mood via our snacks! And my most outlandish idea for Mood Food is a restaurant, where you can literally ask, “What am I in the mood for?” and get a dish tailored exactly to enhance your mood.

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