Today I had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Ali Bonar, founder of Oat Haus. The company makes spreadable granola butter that tastes like liquid teddy grahams: heaven in a jar, some would say. Join us as we talk about all things entrepreneurship, innovation, and granola butter.

Leyla Winston: Why did you create Oat Haus and what would you say it stands for?

Ali Bonar:The idea for Granola Butter came out of my eating disorder recovery. I struggled for over a decade with multiple disorders: orthorexia, binge eating, and exercise addiction. I finally hit rock bottom in 2016 and embarked on a journey of self-love and food freedom. A huge part of my recovery was reintroducing my fear foods -- nut butter being one of them. As I did, though, I struggled to digest them since my gut was a mess from years of restricting and bingeing. I didn’t want to give up on recovery, so I tried some of the nut-free spreads on the market. Unfortunately, they didn’t do it for me. I created my own, and granola butter was born!

LW: Can you describe some of the obstacles you've had to overcome to get to where you are today with the brand?

AB:So many. Being an entrepreneur is the most difficult(yet rewarding)thing I’ve ever done in my life. Just the sheer number of hours we’ve put into this business — my cofounders and I made over 150,000 jars by hand before hiring our first employee. We bootstrapped for the first 3 years, so money was tight and I didn’t pay myself for those 3 years. Lastly, being a founder is extremely lonely. The bigger we get, the lonelier I become. Sort of fundamental loneliness, like no one will ever know what I’m really going through. It’s part of it, I suppose — but it’s been really difficult. I’ve lost a lot of friends because I put the business first above anything else. Again, it’s incredibly rewarding but tough.

LW: What about the biggest full-circle moment you've experienced?

AB:Airing on Shark Tank and seeing our product on shelves at Whole Foods was pretty full circle. They were both always dreams of mine before Oat Haus was even a thought.

LW: What advice would you give to anyone who is excited by the idea of starting something but just doesn't know where to begin?

AB:Start talking about your idea to everyone and anyone. People are so terrified about that because they don’t want people to steal their idea — but you need to get the idea out into the universe. It’ll hold you accountable. If it stays in your head, it probably won’t happen. Try to get as much feedback on early iterations as possible, then keep tweaking and launch fast. Don’t wait until it’s perfect.

LW: Favorite Oat Haus combo?

AB:Cookie Dough GB and a spoon!

Check out on Instagram and @granolabutter on Tik Tok.