As a nutritionist, Weiswasser found it difficult to get her clients to eat the perfect diet and follow a consistent supplement routine. "I couldn't find a product on the market that was delicious and had a complete nutritional profile," she says. In 2009, Weiswasser set out to make one.
"I started out wanting to do a nut milk," she says. During the initial development phase, though, Weiswasser realized milks weren't shelf-stable. They needed to be refrigerated, and that thwarted the idea of easy anywhere eating.
When Weiswasser learned nut butters are one of the fastest growing categories in the natural food channel, she wanted in -- with a caveat, that is: Shelves are overstocked with nutty spreads, and Weiswasser wanted hers to be anomalous.
Starting with a heart-healthy almond butter base, Weiswasser experimented with spices and fruits for flavor, and came up with a nut butter that's naturally rich in antioxidants, healthy fats and protein.
"I feel like Willy Wonka when I say this, but the strawberries taste like strawberries. This is real fruit," says Weiswasser. Kalot spreads don't have added flavors, and that hint of sweetness comes from whole dates, never sugar.
"To make it more complete," Weiswasser says, "I added 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamins per serving, using a non-GMO and organic supplement that's a gluten-free and vegan blend made specifically for our product."
At first, Weiswasser made her nut butters in 25-pound batches, and packed and labeled them herself, too. Last year, Kalot moved into a co-packing facility, and automated its process, which has quadrupled its capacity.
Kalot launched at the 2013 Natural Products Expo West. But, Weiswasser had her eyes set on big grocery chains months before the annual trade show. In December of 2012, she wrapped her nut butters with a beautiful cutting board and spreading knife, and left it as a gift for one of the buyers at the Whole Foods Market Regional Office in Boulder.
"I knew she would open that box, and she did," Weiswasser says, divulging how she got an email from the buyer that same day. That's how Kalot was accepted into regional Whole Foods Markets; today, the spreads are sold in over 1,000 stores nationwide, including Sprouts Farmers Market, Natural Grocers, and select King Soopers and mid-Atlantic Kroger stores.
"We're currently the fastest growing nut butter company in the natural food channel, and are among the top 75 brands," Weiswasser says.
Speaking of brands, we haven't gotten our vowels confused. Kalot was rebranded last spring, when Weiswasser learned the company's original name, Kolat, wasn't trademarkable. The new brand is currently debuting on shelves, and it speaks to the notion that Weiswasser's product offers a lot more than your average nut butter.
Challenges: Learning the ins and outs of business on the fly. "I don't have a business background. I'm a nutritionist," says Weiswasser.
Opportunities: With automated manufacturing, Weiswasser can focus on marketing and expanding Kalot's brand presence. The company is also preparing to launch a single serve package this spring, and recently released five new flavors, augmenting its almond-based line with chia cashew spreads and two sunflower butters.
Needs: "We need more employees in order to really grow this brand into a national one," Weiswasser says.