Nutrition Bar Startup Created to Give Back And Raise Awareness on Mental Health

Together Bar is a Richmond-area startup nutrition bar business with a purpose. Even though they are a young business, they have big plans. Their bars are made solely from raw, whole foods, and have been created to provide specific nutrients, like the amino acid, tryptophan, from their organic pumpkin seed protein, which naturally converts to serotonin. Their mission is to use their bars, and the help of partners, to give back to local mental health programs that raise awareness for mental health and improve access to quality care.

Together Bar’s founder, Chris Carlton, was diagnosed with PTSD over ten years ago and struggled to pay for mounting therapy costs, but he and his wife found a way to make it work. He was lucky to receive years of counseling and necessary treatment, but it wasn't lost on him that not everyone is so lucky. As the years went by, his recovery seemed to improve more quickly as his diet improved, and he began to study the impact of quality food on mental health. In addition to changing his meals at home, he started making nutrition bars to snack on at work, loaded with the types of foods he knew supported mental health. After dozens of not-so-delicious attempts, the current recipes eventually evolved and were so good, they needed to be shared. That is how the idea for Together Bar was born.

Together Bar had just joined the local food business incubator and commercial kitchen, Hatch Kitchen, on March 1, 2020. They were ramping up production, looking for part-time help, when they were forced to stop everything due to COVID-19. Chris needed to home school his two kids full-time while his wife was busy paying the bills with her job as Strategy Director at Shockoe Slip creative agency, Tilt Creative + Production. Together Bar is delivering bars directly to local customers while planning a return to the commercial kitchen once the kids are in good hands.

What makes this company different is that everything done at Together Bar will be through the lens of supporting mental health, from their bar recipes to their company mission of fundraising for mental health programs. They don't really think much about any competitors - their company is different and their bars taste different because they were developed from a different perspective. Together Bar believes their laser focus on making a difference for mental health will carve out a nice little place for us to coexist.

With the previous support from their partners and mentors at Startup Virginia and Hatch Kitchen, they had an exciting growth plan developed at the end of 2019 and early 2020 that included retail sales and a direct to consumer strategy. For Together Bar that's collecting dust right now, so they're currently re-evaluating growth plans based on the current situation with COVID-19. They believe they will make it work.

The way they want their company to operate is, if Together Bar succeeds at selling bars, they want Richmond community mental health programs to succeed as well. They'd like to give everything they can, but until Together Bar is a big company selling a lot of bars, those donations from Together Bar sales won't amount to much. The need is for local corporate and community partners to jump in and help them by, for each Together Bar they sell, pledging to donate to local mental health programs. Any corporate partners can reach them at info@wearetogetherbar.com.

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Founder, Chris Carlton

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