What do clean eating, the environment and the local community all have in common? The answer lies in Raleigh’s newest vegan protein bar, founded by husband-and-wife team Shane and Holly MacKinnon.
Small Seed Bar began as a passion project for partners who were looking for a clean, gluten-free, low-sugar protein bar, a craving that arose from Shane’s passion for health and Holly’s regard for animals.
“The more educated we became on both of those sides, the more we wanted to really dedicate ourselves to the vegan diet and become a part of the movement,” Holly says. “Not just to do it ourselves, but to somehow be involved in it.”
Unable to find exactly what they wanted, Holly started making bars herself in the couple’s home kitchen, experimenting with different flavors and ingredients. Her first success, and still her favorite bar, was the Cacao Brownie, made with almond butter, organic maple syrup, gluten-free rolled oats, cacao powder, yellow pea protein, brown rice protein, flaxseed meal, chia seeds and hemp seeds.
At first, the MacKinnons sold the bars at farmers markets in San Diego, their former home, until Holly scored their first wholesale account last September. The couple then decided to quit their day jobs and go full throttle with their Small Seed Bar business, only to find out that they were expecting a baby. After falling in love with Raleigh, its sense of community and ambitious, entrepreneurial spirit, Holly and Shane decided to move to the area in May to raise their baby, Opal, and grow the business.
“The more we’re in the company, the more we realize we want to make an impact, we want people to realize what ‘healthy’ is,” Shane says. “My biggest goal, personally, is to supply people with food that actually supports their immune systems and can sustain them while also sustaining our environment and reducing our ecological footprint.”
The couple has been able to do just that for Raleigh’s growing, health-conscious customer base. Each protein bar variety is handcrafted in small batches at Small Seed Bar’s kitchen on South Wilmington Street, with real, wholesome ingredients, including oats, nuts, seeds and spices, in delicious flavors such as Cookie Dough and Peanut Butter.
The bars are created with a nut base—except for Sunflower Cinnamon, which is made out of sunflower seed butter—and use four different types of protein: Sacha Inchi protein, pea protein, sprouted brown rice and hemp protein, all complete proteins that contain the nine essential amino acids needed in the human diet, making the bars an apt meal replacement. Additionally, all the bars contain around 300 calories, with 13 to 15 grams of protein and more than six grams of fiber, as well as plenty of micronutrients from their plant sources.
The MacKinnons are involved in every part of the process, from mixing the ingredients in their six-quart Kitchen Aid to hand sealing the bars in packages adorned with the Small Seed Bar logo that Holly designed.
“Traditional protein bars are never touched by loving hands,” Shane says. “Love, that’s our biggest ingredient.”
Small Seed Bars are loved by the community as well, garnering positive feedback from both vegan and non-vegan Raleighites who make the MacKinnons all the more excited about their product.
“Holly invented something that everyone seems to love,” Shane says. “It’s a great privilege that we have the opportunity to take it and provide it to as many people as possible.” smallseedbar.com