New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi has played around with gluten-free home baking for years, and she even has a popular food blog. But two years ago, after her colleague Sara Adams suggested she start selling the tasty snacks she often baked for her fellow NYCB dancers, Manzi took the plunge and signed her LLC, Get Golden. Now, thanks to the COVID-19 shutdown, extra time offstage has allowed her to expedite her company's launch timeline. On August 27, Get Golden introduced its first snack bar, Savor, with direct-to-consumer website sales. Manzi has already had to place another purchase order, and a national fitness brand has reached out for samples.
Manzi and a Get Golden team member at the office
Manzi set out to create a brand and a bar that wouldn't be just for dancers. Gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, Savor claims to provide lasting energy from the healthy fats in its nut-seed blend and anti-inflammatory properties from Manzi's signature turmeric-coconut-caramel butter. "I wanted something that was savory, salty, sweet at the same time," says Manzi. "No birdseed, no weird sugars," and crucially, she says, something that tastes homemade.
Influenced by mentors she had met once at an event for female food-entrepreneurs, Manzi evolved her plans from making the bars herself with an at-home kitchen license and selling them at farmers' markets to small-batch manufacturing in a facility in Los Angeles. Manzi used her own savings to sign the LLC and start testing commercial kitchen spaces in New York City. She then raised a round of capital from friends and family, which enabled her to work with a team of people (including a product manager, a UX web developer, a product photographer, a social media manager, a creative director, an investor relations specialist and a San Francisco–based strategy team) to get her product and brand to market in just two years.
Get Golden's Savor bar
Courtesy Get Golden
In order to scale her home recipes, Manzi slightly tweaked the liquid-to-solid ratio, but allowed no additives to constitute the whole ingredients. From there, she researched everything about consumer-goods production, from die-lines (the shape and folding template for boxes) to what type of wrapper would best preserve the bars' high-fat content.
With the pandemic complicating in-person events, Manzi's Get Golden launch was fully digital—and targeted for our times, from the sunset-colored branding to the good-vibes messaging. "COVID has been shocking for everyone, so we wanted to make the unboxing experience similar to that of a care package," she says.
As for the post-pandemic future, Manzi plans to continue dancing at NYCB. Concurrently, she wants to continue growing Get Golden, branching into more categories than snack bars and creating a strong brand and a profitable company. "I think the only way to grow is to do it slow and smart," she says. "At the end of the day, that's what's important to me: that people enjoy the product and enjoy the brand."