Proof Eyewear

McCall Lacewood Gray

McCall Lacewood Gray

Eyewear is having a moment – even people who have perfect vision are wearing frames! There are plenty of stylish brands out there, but Proof Eyewear sets itself apart from the pack with a focus on eco-friendly design.

Proof Eyewear was founded in Eagle, Idaho in 2010 by three brothers who were inspired by their Grandpa Bud’s strong work ethic. He’d opened a sawmill 60 years ago that, despite setbacks, prospered thanks to his hard work and tenacity. CEO Brooks Dame told us that he and his brothers grew up with “sawdust in their veins,” working in the mill. Today they continue to work with wood, incorporating wooden frames and details into their collection of handcrafted, innovative and environmentally friendly eyewear.

Read on for a Q&A with CEO Brooks Dame about their experience on popular show Shark Tank and just what makes this rapidly growing company tick…

Q: What motivated you all to try out for Shark Tank? 

A. We were fans of the show first and saw the success of other companies that had been on it. We really saw it as an opportunity to find a good partner and raise some additional funds to grow the company.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in developing eco-friendly eyewear? 

A. We wanted to develop the most eco-friendly line in the world. With that goal in mind, it got us really focused on the design. Every decision we make on our line has to pass the “Green” test. If it harms the environment, isn’t eco-friendly or biodegradable it doesn’t make the cut. Putting that stake in the ground early on has made decisions much easier for us. It gets us really focused and we’ve had to work hard to find quality manufacturers and suppliers. We’ve had to travel around the world to find the best of the best, but once we find them things move pretty smoothly.

Q: Where is inspiration for designs found? 

A. Nature obviously inspires us. So you’ll usually find wood or wood accents in most of our products. A lot of our models are inspired by vintage frames that we pick up in boutiques or on Ebay. All of our models are also named after places and people that are near and dear to us. The Bird model for example is named after our Grandpa. His nickname was Willy Bird. The model has a flat top and our grandpa was in the military and always wore a flattop. So the inspiration comes from a lot of different places.

Q: What is something readers would be surprised to know about you or your business?

A. It started in my garage with an idea to make bamboo ski poles and quickly morphed into an international company. Or the fact that we still are a small company run by a handful of people but most people believe we are a lot larger than we really are.

McCall Stained Bamboo Gray

McCall Stained Bamboo Gray


Video: Hammonds Candies

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Video: Andrew Schuman, owner and president of the Hammonds Candy Factory, tells the history of Hammond’s candy. Some of the recipes date all the way back to the 1920′s! Watch as candy is rolled, shaped, baked and packaged at this Denver location. The Hammonds Candy Factory manufactures over 150 types of candies. It was among the first candy factory to manufacture all-natural hand candies, which uses tapioca syrup instead of corn syrup. The company is also making moves when it comes to sugar. “We are changing from beet sugar to cane sugar, because cane sugar is non-gmo.  This is where the market is telling us to go, so we are listening,” says Schuman.

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Video: Hammonds Candies

I had the chance to catch up with Andrew Schuman to learn more about the legacy of Hammond’s Candy and how the company manages to stay competitive in the ever changing business world.

Q: Tell us about the Rich History- including using recipes from the 1920′s as well as the older machines.

A: Hammond’s Candies was started in 1920 by Carl Hammond.  He had come home from school and told his mother he did not want to go back, she said he needed to find a trade then.  He became the apprentice to a candy maker, and soon opened his own company.  Today, we are still using the recipes and equipment Carl used when started Hammond’s Candies.  We do everything in small batches, with extremely well trained cooks, that are all linked to people that learned from Carl.  The machinery at Hammond’s is all from the late 1800s, early 1900’s, including out copper kettles, candy pullers, ribbon crimpers and batch rollers.

Q: What makes Hammonds Candy Different than other Candy operations? Hammond’s is the largest handmade candy company still around today. 

A: The way we make our candy takes more time, but it is definitely noticeable in the final product, every piece is like a work of art.  There is no way to achieve the colors, styles and craftsmanship of the candy by making it any other way.  In a time where everything is becoming automated, Hammond’s has stayed true to its roots by making quality candy.

Q: How has Hammond’s Candy had to evolve over the years to stay competitive?

Hammond’s is known for its nostalgic candy, but it has been important to freshen up the line with new flavors and colors.  Another large part in evolving the company, is branding.  We have brought Hammond’s into the 21stcentury, with a hip, nostalgic look.  It is fun and appeals to all generations.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of the business? 

The 3 most rewarding parts of the business are watching how the company has grown, how they employs have grown, and the how the customers react to the candy.

Q: Tell us more about your background.

Have you owned a business before? Before Hammond’s, I was in the photo business, I owned a bunch of mobile photo centers on the east coast.  That business was dwindling with new technology and I was ready for a change.

Q: What is something readers would be surprised to know about Hammond’s Candy? 

We eat, sleep and breath candy.  Always thinking and trying new flavors and ideas.  People are always surprised to know that we are still making everything by hand, if you don’t believe us, come check out one of our free tours.  We have also had some employees still working here that were around when the company only had 4 employees.



Q&A With Founder of Boulder Based Bobo’s Oat Bars

Bobo's Oat Bars

Bobo’s Oat Bars

A few of Colorado’s own are working to develop wholesome nutrition bars for those on-the-go. Convenient for traveling or grabbing a snack on the run, locally-made nutrition bars pack a loaded punch of whole foods and hearty nutrition. Learn why Boulder is the perfect spot to launch a natural food business in our Q/A session with Bobo’s Oat Bars owner/founder, Beryl Stafford.

Carri: How did the idea for Bobo’s Oat Bars come to be?  

Beryl: Bobo’s was actually the brainchild of my 14 year old daughter, nicknamed Bobo. She began baking these decadent oat squares at home, using corn syrup and refined sugars.  They were so delicious, but not very healthy. I changed the recipe a bit and started making them with brown rice syrup, non-refined sugars, and vegan butter.  We decided to take them to the local coffee shop and then a local co-op in Boulder.  When they started reordering, we knew we were onto something.

Carri: How are flavors decided? What is the most popular?

Beryl: The ideas for new flavors usually come from customer requests, but occasionally one will be a staff pick. The most popular flavor is and has always been Coconut; although, Original is a close second.

Carri: Tell us a little about your background. Have you owned a business before?

Beryl: I have a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Colorado. I had never owned a business before Bobo’s, and had zero knowledge of running a business when I started. I did have a small catering business while Bobo’s was hatching, so that introduced me to the food world. To be honest, it’s a work in progress and every day is an amazing learning experience with its ups and downs.

Carri: Why is Boulder the perfect spot to launch the business?

Beryl: Boulder has grown into a mecca of entrepreneurial businesses, specifically, natural food businesses. There is a plethora of resources from which to tap into – the University, of Colorado, Boulder Innovation Center, Naturally Boulder and LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability), to name a few. Also, I have a lot of friends in the industry who are entrepreneurs, and we share ideas, successes and failures…it’s a very nurturing environment with a lot of creative energy and encouragement from peers.

Carri: What has been the biggest challenge in launching the company? And biggest reward?

Beryl: The biggest challenge in launching the company was bootstrapping the financing of equipment and sales force to grow through distribution, which can be expensive at the onset. I had a line of credit and took a second mortgage to start Bobo’s, so cash flow was a bit of a problem in the beginning. The biggest reward? No longer seeing that cash flow problem, AND walking into stores everywhere and seeing our Bobo’s Oat Bars on the shelves and in grocery carts!

Carri: What do you most love about Colorado?

Beryl: I live for Colorado summers and all that comes with them. I do believe we have some of the happiest people around during the summer.

Carri: What is something readers would be surprised to know about you or your business?  

Beryl: I eat a Bobo’s Oat Bar every day for breakfast.



Q&A With Owner of Nude Foods

Q&A With Founder of Nude Foods

Q&A With Owner of Nude Foods

Chance to Win Win a Box of Nudefood Nutrition Bars!

Easy Entry!

 1. Like Catch Carri on Facebook 

 2. Email and tell her what question you would most like to as the owner of the company. (Emails kept private and are used so we can notify the winners).

A few of Colorado’s own are working to develop wholesome nutrition bars for those on-the-go. Convenient for traveling or grabbing a snack on the run, locally-made nutrition bars pack a loaded punch of whole foods and hearty nutrition. Learn where Nudefood got its catchy name in our question and answer session with owner, Luis Barandiaran

Carri: How did the idea for “Nude Food” come to be?

Luis: NudeFood was originally ‘NuDe’Food, cleverly drawing on several underlying meaning; Nu-De was meant to stand for ‘Nutrient-Dense’, while also alluding to our raw, pure, and transparent approach to food.  We removed the capital D, but we’re all about using the highest quality raw organic nutrient-dense ingredients with no filler. That means no brown rice syrup and no oats. Almonds and sunflower seeds are the first two ingredients in our bars and Ultra-Dense Boost.

Our Ultra-Dense Boost line is an innovative, absolutely delicious way to add nut-based, whole-food nutrition to your smoothies, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, ice cream, and on and on.  It is packed with vitamins and minerals, fiber, omega-3 acids, loads of protein, and without any soy or whey at all!  Also, it is certified gluten-free.

Licious Organics was acquired by us over a year ago, and has expanded our platform of products to now include the Licious Organics line: wonderful raw honey and oat-based cookies that are certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and kosher.  These cookies are based on a generations-old family recipe from the original founder, who is also a passionate bee-keeper.

Carri: How do you find inspiration for flavors? What is the most popular? 

Luis: The flavors are both pairings of classic flavors and nutrient-dense food sources.  Some of the pairings are intuitively wonderful, like peanut butter or artisanal roasted coffee and chocolate, which is over 60% dark, organic, free-trade, and dairy/soy free.  Peanut Butter Chocolate is the best seller, followed by Cherry Vanilla Macadamia and Mocha Coconut Cream.  We currently have six bar flavors available.

Carri: What has been the biggest challenge of the business? And biggest success?

Luis: The biggest challenge is finding space in a very crowded bar and protein powder market.  Our biggest success was when King Soopers approached us for a placement in their stores.

Carri: Tell us a little about your background. Have you owned a business before? 

Luis: I actually don’t have formal training in business… I fell in with the original group of investors and became a part of the management team.  Over time I’ve covered virtually all aspects of the business and now find myself as a partner and Operations Manager in a very exciting business and community!

Carri:  What do you most love about Colorado? 

Luis:  I don’t imagine that our family will ever leave Colorado.  My wife and I moved here in 2001 to attend grad school at CSU in Fort Collins and have fallen in love with the place.  It’s the place where our two kids will grow up and enjoy!  From a business perspective, I really love Northern Colorado because many of the people are very aware of what they eat and how we should interact with our environment.  Also, there’s so much mutual support and goodwill in the natural food business in and around Boulder; that is also very special to be a part of.

Carri:  What is something readers would be surprised to know about you?

Luis: Your readers may be surprised that I studied piano in college and have a Masters in Music for Orchestral Conducting.

Q&A With Founder of Nude Foods

Q&A With owner of Nude Foods



Video: Denver’s Oogave Soda Factory + Q&A With Founder


Chance to Win A Case of Oogave soda.

Easy Entry!

 1. Like Catch Carri on Facebook 

 2. Email and tell her what question you would most like to ask the founder of Oogave soda.  (Emails kept private and are used so we can notify the winners).



Denver based Oogave soda, which manufactures soda just of I-70 & Colorado Blvd., makes soda sans high fructose corn syrup by using agave nectar from Mexico. Curious how this soda company operates, we head inside to showcase you the operation! Here’s the video and a Q&A with co-founder Gannon Merrell. Enjoy! 

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Inside Denver's Oogave Soda Factory

Inside Denver’s Oogave Soda Factory

Q: How did the idea for “Oogave” come to be? How is different than other sodas? 

A: Oogave was born out of frustration at not being able to find fountain soda without High Fructose Corn Syrup.  All of our products, bottled and fountain syrups, are certified organic, HFCS Free, sweetened only with agave nectar, and low-glycemic.  Oh, our sodas also contain 35% less sugar than traditional sodas.

Q: How do you find inspiration for flavors? What is the most popular? 

A: We went through well over 20 flavor ideas, including garlic soda, acai, pomegranate, to name a few…  We settled on a mix of expected soda flavors like cola and root beer and some life-altering alternatives like Watermelon Cream and Strawberry Rhubarb.

Q: What is the biggest challenge of running this business? And biggest reward? 

Biggest challenge is being a small player in a big-company world.  Everything on the retailer and distributor side is set up to guarantee their success at the expense of the producers.  Large scale producers can absorb these costs and challenges, but they can easily kill a fledgling startup.

 The biggest reward is receiving direct feedback from customers telling us how much they love the soda and how excited they were to discover it.

Q: What Colorado ingredients do you use? 

A: Our heaviest ingredient is water, and that comes from Colorado :)   The agave nectar comes from Mexico, which is our next largest component.  The cardboard cases we bottle in are made right down the street from us, in Denver.

Q: What do you most love about Colorado? 

A: Mountains, lack of humidity, great people.

Q: What is something readers would be surprised to know about you? 

A: I vacillate between eating super healthy kale shakes one day, donuts the next.

Denver's Oogave Soda Factory

Denver’s Oogave Soda Factory