I love a good refreshing smoothie or smoothie bowl. So, when I found Bare Blends in Albany, NY I was instantly hooked. Soon after I fell in love with this place, a friend referred me to the founder who is not only the creative genius behind their delicious menu but is a true inspiration to entrepreneurs and her community. Her background, passions, drive and achievements are truly impressive and I know she will continue to be successful in years to come. So, let’s meet the founder and #girlboss behind the awesome small business Bare Blends, Ann-Marie Berdar!
Name: Ann-Marie Berdar
Business Name: BARE Blends
Established Year: 2018
Tell me more about YOU, the dedicated and hardworking Girl Boss behind the business.
What a loaded question! I guess I’ll start with, I was born in Whiteplains, NY to two immigrants from Budapest, Hungary making me a first generation American who didn’t fully learn english until grade school.
Seeing my parents struggle, I realized early on that success wasn’t a given and things aren’t always handed to you. My upbringing made me an ambitious hard working kid who loved science as much as she loved food and when I was asked to identify my passions in school, I struggled in deciding between biological sciences and the culinary and fine arts.
I pursued an undergraduate degree in cell molecular biology and chemistry thinking I would pursue a career in medicine one day. I found that I enjoyed undergraduate research and had an insatiable thrust for understanding how and why things happened. I applied this mentality to my work and was one of the only students at The College of Saint Rose to complete three independent undergraduate research projects by the end of my junior year, which landed me an internship position at the Albert Einstein Institute in the Bronx, and an induction into the Sigma Xi Research Society.
During my time at the Institute I realized that I didn’t actually enjoy research once in a professional setting, and I had difficulty deciding at that point where my true passions lied and what I wanted to pursue next. I took a 2 month leap of faith leaving behind my responsibilities to pursue a stand up paddle board (SUP) yoga teaching position in Noord, Aruba, where I ultimately wanted to stay forever, but couldn’t because I had to finish my senior year of college. While in Noord, I frequented a smoothie shack called Eduardo’s and even assisted from time to time. For the first time, I was truly excited about what I was doing and I came to the realization that as much as I admired science, pursuing what others deemed as a “worthy/ prestigious” career in the medical field didn’t mean much to me.
I decided there that I would follow my passions and pursue a Master’s Degree in Nutrition with a focus on nutritional biochemistry and public health and somehow combine that with my love for creating healthy nutritious food. And that’s exactly what I did -I returned to the Capital Region, finished my undergraduate degree, applied and got accepted to Stony Brook’s Masters in nutrition program, met Jessica Fuller (my now business partner) originally to have a conversation about teaching at her Hot Yoga Studio, and next thing you know we’re talking about putting a small smoothie shop in Stuyvesant Plaza and the rest is history.
I wrote all of that and realized I completely missed the point of the question haha… my hobbies include yoga, running, drinking coffee, buying an unnecessary amount of candles, donating and giving back, combating food insecurity, educating the public about food, the yankees, watching football and drinking the occasional mug at Kings Tavern with my friends!
Tell us more about your business and how you became a Girl Boss.
I kind of shed light on this in my long introduction, but my who is definitely Jessica Fuller. Without her, I don’t know if BARE would be what it is today. My role in the business is the entire operational foundation, menu creation, recipe development, nutrition, nutrition education and content creation so I’m sure all of that would have been relatively the same, but it wouldn’t be the same without her that’s for sure. She has been my mentor through this entire process and I’m sure I would have made many simple business mistakes if it wasn’t for her insight.
The what is passion, that’s simple. I am genuinely passionate about promoting a healthful whole food plant-based diet and lifestyle and that’s what keeps this machine going every day. BARE also focuses on promoting environmental sustainability by utilizing environmentally responsible methods and packaging, and we focus on giving back by doing a lot of philanthropy work like donating to the Free Food Fridges, leading nutrition lectures, donating to the South End’s Children’s Cafe and more.
Where and when would be Stuyvesant Plaza in November of 2018 when i was only 22 years old. We’ve since expanded to the Fresh Market Commons in Latham, NY, Clifton Country rd in Clifton Park, NY, Glenville, Glenmont, Saratoga Springs, North Greenbush, Centennial, CO, and Florida. (all of the ones from Glenville – Florida will open later this year / early next year)
What does it mean to you to be a #GIRLBOSS?
A girl boss is not limited by specific characteristics or personality traits aside from hustle. In my opinion, the definition of a girl boss is any girl doing exactly what she wants to do to make herself happy and how she can use that passion to make a positive impact in her community. Anyone following their passions, looking beyond conforming to the idea of what the stereotypical girl boss should be is doing something right.
I think in the media driven world we live in today, it’s hard for girl bosses, especially younger ones, to realize their own capabilities and passions because they’re so busy comparing themselves to what they see through a screen. Emphasizing the fact that a girlboss is defined as someone who has a lot of money or is always wearing fancy clothes or driving a Range Rover and posting it all over instagram and Tik Tok is problematic because all we’re doing is driving consumerism and not focusing on what the person is actually contributing to society.
A girl boss is the single mom taking care of two kids while juggling a full time job and saving for their college funds. A girl boss is a hungry passionate entrepreneur who didn’t spend her first paycheck on a new Rolex, but instead reinvested it into her business to watch it continue to grow. A girl boss is the girl who ate ramen noodles for 3 years to save up while struggling through law school to become a successful advocate for those in need one day. The media doesn’t typically glamourize a true girl boss, and yes, success is unequivocally a factor, but the parameters by which that success is defined shouldn’t be measured by how much money you have or how many Chanel purses you have in your closet. It’s measured by how many days in a year you wake up feeling giddy inside that you’re doing exactly what it is you’re passionate about knowing that you’re helping someone else in some way too. Every single woman has what it takes to be a #girlboss, they just have to dig deep enough to find what it is they are truly passionate about. Figuring out how they can apply that passion to support the planet, others in need, or even just their neighbor and then doing what they have to do to get themselves there with a smile, now that’s a boss!
What do you love most about running your own business and being a Girl Boss?
BARE was built on the foundational pillars of environmental sustainability, healthy eating and giving back -brining our community together and helping those in need as it relates to food insecurity. We are the only female owned franchise in the United States focusing specifically on making whole food plant based eating delicious and accessible, and environmental sustainability, and I would say that gets me going every day! My incredible team also makes work enjoyable and fun and it’s extremely motivating when you work with others who share the same passions as you do.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in being a business owner?
I would say my biggest challenges are my own organizational behavior, asking for assistance when it’s needed and never saying no to anything. I agree to almost anything and it takes away from my abilities to stay organized and on task.
Is there a moment during your career that stands out to you and validates your decision to become a Girl Boss?
I touched on this in my opening story, but I think for me it was mainly when i was finishing up my undergraduate career and realized that as much as I loved science, the research realm wasn’t for me. I also realized during that time that in order to be the direct link between what I was coming to understand about the benefits of a plant based diet and nutrition, and the consumer and sharing that knowledge with the consumer, I had to create a brick and mortar business. If i had pursued a career in nutrition research or biochemical nutrition, the likelihood of the average consumer coming across the data I was producing or the paper’s I would have been writing would be far less impactful than the connection I can make with my customers on a daily basis by simply serving them a product I know is good for them.
What advice would you give to aspiring Girl Bosses?
BE YOU. Be proud of who you are, don’t be afraid to share your passions, don’t get down on yourself or feel belittled by those who seem to have “more”, don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t, don’t limit yourself, manifest, do yoga, breath, listen to your gut, and always take the risk. My favorite philosopher, Aristotle, once said that “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I have always lived my life by this quote and it really is so powerful when you focus on manifesting what you truly desire. The universe delivers for those who try, so always try your hardest and you will prevail.