Veronica Bosgraaf, 40
The Goods: A stay-at-home mom concocts snack bars full of fruit and nuts for her vegetarian daughter—and countless others.
Her Inspiration: Six years ago, when Bosgraaf's daughter was 6, she connected the chicken on her plate to the animals at the local petting zoo and became the family's first vegetarian. "I wanted to support her decision, so I researched what she should eat for proper nutrition," says Bosgraaf. For lunches, she started playing around with dates, almonds, and cocoa powder, mashing them together and cutting out shapes. "I brought them to school and sports events as snacks, and soon I was getting requests," says Bosgraaf. "A business idea was born."
Her Motto: Persevere. "So many manufacturers laughed at me and said, 'That's cute, but our minimum runs are 50,000,'" recalls Bosgraaf. She eventually found a plant in Oregon willing to make 4,500 bars, which she financed with $15,000 of her savings.
Her Stroke of Luck: Bosgraaf asked a friend at the Grand Rapids Press to write "a little blurb." Instead, she got a full-page feature in the business section. "That's when the CEO of the Midwestern supermarket chain Meijer decided he wanted the bars," says Bosgraaf. "Suddenly I needed 20,000!"