Denver-based Love Grown is revolutionizing the most important meal of the day, and it all started with a family granola recipe.
Founders Alex Hasulak (BSBA ’08) and Maddy (D’Amato) Hasulak (BA ’08) met during their junior year at DU. It was 2007, and Alex, a business major with a dream of owning his own business, and Maddy, a sociology major with a passion for health and wellness and helping others, had an idea.
“I would always cook for Alex, and one day he said, ‘We should take your cooking and sell it.’ I thought he was crazy,” Maddy says.
The couple started making samples of Maddy’s mom’s granola and taking them to campus to share with classmates and professors. They were a hit, and Love Grown was born.
Alex points to the support the two received while at DU when asked about Love Grown’s success.
“Love Grown got off the ground on campus, and DU fostered our innovation and entrepreneurship,” Alex says. “Denver is a place that nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit, because you’ve got a lot of like-minded people who are early adopters and are willing to try new products.”
While the first line of granola was a success, the couple had a vision for more. They wanted to reinvent the food industry and make healthy eating the norm.
Although the trend to eat healthier is gaining popularity, obesity rates among children ages 2–19 are at an all-time high (17 percent). Because of this, Maddy and Alex believe the mission they are on to be a critical one.
“We are part of the exciting movement toward healthier, cleaner foods,” Maddy says. “We use ingredients that people would not expect to find — like beans in cereal — that bring more nutrition and health benefits. This change is gaining momentum, and it is thrilling to see even some of the largest companies, like General Mills and Kraft, reformulating their products so that they are cleaner, more natural and, ultimately, healthier. There is a change that has to happen in this country to get people to eat better. That change has to include the large companies, and we see Love Grown as part of that reason and motivation.”
Today, Love Grown — which is still based in Denver — has eight different product lines and more than 27 varieties, available in more than 11,500 stores across the United States and Canada, but for Maddy and Alex, success is more than just a product on the shelf.
They believe a large part of the change is educating children on the benefits of starting the day with a nutritious breakfast and getting them started on healthy eating habits early, so they carry those habits with them into adulthood. Education is now part of Love Grown’s business model, and they regularly speak to children in schools across the country.
“I think we really have a soft spot in our hearts for kids and kids’ health, recognizing that eating habits start at a young age,” Maddy says. “It’s so much harder to reverse eating habits in your 20s, 30s and 40s. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet so many kids don’t have breakfast or skip breakfast. We want to be a company that is making positive change by bringing health education and awareness to more kids, parents and communities.”