By: Avery Gordon, D.C. Community Cultivator
Stephanie Westhelle has a passion for ugly fruits. While studying the environment in relation to tourism at the George Washington University School of Business, Stephanie realized the huge amount of ugly fruits and veggies that get left behind on farms. She set out to solve this enormous problem with food waste through Halona Foods.
Halona Foods is making delicious snacks out of food fortunes. Food fortunes are produce left behind due to misshape, overproduction, or distribution errors. Stephanie buys these food fortunes from farmers, and uses these fruits and veggies to bake crisps out of a commercial kitchen. Because her current manufacturing costs are low, she is able to keep her product affordable.
Society Needs a Competitor for Potato Chips
Stephanie recognized a niche in the market for Halona’s crisps: “Society needs a competitor for potato chips – there is a need for alternative salty snacks. We are entering a crowded market in alternative snacks, but I think we’ve found a niche in that market.”
Halona Foods is uniquely positioned in the alternative snack market due in part to their healthy, fun flavors including Spicy Paprika Carrot, Himalayan Salted Zucchini, and Honey Cran-Apple. It took awhile for Stephanie and her team to find the perfect baking formula, but they have discovered a baking method that preserves the nutritional integrity of their ingredients: “our dehydration cooking method ensures our crisps don’t lose the nutritional aspects of the fruits and veggies.”
Remember to Celebrate Your Successes
Stephanie hopes Halona Foods’ crisps will be in gourmet sandwich shops across Washington D.C. by this fall. Ultimately, Stephanie hopes to distribute Halona Foods products on a much larger scale: “We envision Halona Foods to be the full platform for finding food fortunes across the globe, not just the U.S. We envision a world where all food makes it to a plate, and each farmer is paid for their entire harvest.”
For Stephanie, “SEED SPOT has provided mentorship opportunities and access to experts in fields where we don’t have staff yet.” Perseverance is helping Halona Foods succeed, and Stephanie is proud that her team at Halona Foods has remained dedicated throughout the difficult times.
Stephanie recognizes the importance of perseverance in her field of work, and encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to “remember to celebrate your successes and never give up.”
Follow along with Halona Foods’ journey on Twitter, and don’t forget to RSVP for D.C.’s first DEMO DAY on July 13th to hear Stephanie pitch alongside her full-time program cohort!