Lauren Mindermann, Founder of LoLo Bars, discusses how her products have evolved and the dynamic nature of a growing industry.
Photos by Ryan Long
As the commercial hemp industry continues to blossom and more herbal remedies become available in cities with saturated CBD markets like Chattanooga, it’s important for consumers to know where their products are made and what’s in them. That’s why LoLo Bars, a company that prides itself on hand making quality, full-spectrum CBD edibles from locally and responsibly sourced ingredients, truly stands out from the crowd.
After graduating from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, Lauren Mindermann fulfilled her dream of starting a food business by founding LoLo Bars, LLC. Her brand originated as what she called a “superfood-packed granola bar,” geared toward athletes and rafters.
“As a longtime raft guide, I knew athletes out of the river needed something to take on the go,” Lauren said. Her granola bars were sold at rafting outposts along the Ocoee River, conveniently enough for paddlers and drifters. She quickly gained access to a commercial kitchen at an outpost called Quest Expeditions, where she was able to make her products in close proximity to the stores retailing LoLo Bars.
Around the same time, Lauren took notice of the massive influx of hemp farms in Tennessee and the success of peers in the commercial CBD industry.
“After watching the enormous business boom that emerged from the legalization of cannabis, I was so excited to see this new wave hit the Southeast,” she said. “I began infusing granola bars and a couple of other treats with full-spectrum, locally grown CBD extract and it took off like wildfire! I was beginning to sell way more CBD edibles than I was granola bars, so I knew I had to take part in this rapidly developing market.”
As her new products took off, she began wholesaling to larger CBD retailers like Hemp House and Five Leaf Wellness. The support and feedback of the hemp community and its customers encouraged her to continue evolving and expanding her brand, she shared.
“It wasn't long until I found my dog treats, rice crispy bars, fudge, and gummies were selling much better than the granola bars,” Lauren said. “The nutrition major in me was shocked (though not really) that people preferred candy treats infused with CBD over superfood granola bars. Although these items weren't as healthy as the granola bars, I liked that people were enjoying the healing and relaxing qualities of the CBD in the food.
“I would get feedback that my CBD treats helped people sleep better, helped with muscle recovery, or helped their parents and relatives who were ill,” she continued. “I was ecstatic to bring health and food back together, as I originally intended to.”
After Summer 2019, Lauren totally shifted the production of LoLo Bars, LLC to full-spectrum CBD edibles. LoLo products are now made by hand in a commercial kitchen inside of downtown Chattanooga’s Proof Bar & Incubator.
Even as her business continues to evolve and new opportunities arise, Lauren is quick to acknowledge the role her community has played in LoLo’s expansion.
“Chattanooga couldn't be a better place to emerge as a young entrepreneur,” she said. “The support I had from this community was amazing! I often wonder if I lived in a bigger city like Nashville or Knoxville if LoLo's would be where it is today.
“Anything is possible these days and I think consumers are excited to see new creative products and ideas flourish,” she continued. “It's 2020, you can do anything!”
With legislation surrounding the growth and sale of cannabis being discussed by state governments every day, there’s no concrete business model or set path to success for CBD companies. However, even considering her dynamic circumstances, Lauren expressed hope for further expanding the LoLo brand in the near future.
“I hope that I can continue having fun and living my dream of owning my own food brand and company,” she said. “I have an ever-growing passion for health, food and exercise, so I am eager to be a part of this fast-moving adventure.
“I hope my products can continue to make their way onto retail shelves, and I would love to secure accounts with local liquor stores and convenience stores,” she concluded. “I would like to experiment with more sports-related edibles for ultra-runners and athletes. I hope to continue to evolve as a local entrepreneur and collaborate with other businesses and brands in the area … I hope to continue to bring out more items to expand the list of edibles!”
LoLo Bars retailers include:
Chattanooga — Hemp House; Five Leaf Wellness; The Hemporium; Be Green Hemp; The Spot; Naked River Brewing; Local Juice; CBD American Shaman; Chattanooga Bud Dispensary; Proof Bar and Incubator
Cleveland/Ocoee — Scenic City Hemp; Reefers CBD
Knoxville — The Hemp House
Athens — Green Lite Health