Westchester entrepreneur works to create best possible snack bar

Everyone’s business could use a little help these days, so every month we’re featuring companies owned by local residents or located in Westchester/Playa to help promote shopping locally and supporting community members. 

Here’s the scoop on Super Pop Snacks, owned by Westchester resident and entrepreneur, Melissa Wessely. Her tasty all-natural snacks were recently named a top protein bar pick by Good Housekeeping. 

Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. A. I am Melissa Wessely, the founder and creator of Super Pop Snacks, a family-run health food brand in Westchester. I am also a wife and mother to two little girls, ages 2 and 10! I grew up in Agoura Hills and went to UCSB for college. Before Super Pop, I had a career in operations and public relations. I took that past experience to ultimately help me build Super Pop. We have lived in Westchester for more than 15 years, and my husband Jeremy went to Loyola Marymount. 

In 2015, I wasn’t satisfied with any of the current on-the-go options for my family. As a mom working full time, I understood the daily juggle of family and work. I felt like our nutrition was lacking. I realized that our family diet could use some help. Both my husband and I are former athletes, so nutrition was very important to us. I worked on the recipe for about six to eight months and came up with our nut butter crispy bars. 

While working full time, I started making the bars in our tiny apartment’s kitchen, and then would bake them at night in a bakery after work. I taught myself photoshop to make the packaging labels and sourced all the ingredients. It started out as a hobby, but then my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in! 

My husband and I ran a booth at the local farmers’ market and started to get into local health food stores. We loved being at the farmers’ market because that is where families congregate, and we loved seeing their reactions when they tasted our snacks. Word spread, and we started to get into more stores, coffee shops and juice bars. With a lot of hard work and wearing multiple hats–sales, operations, marketing and shipping–our bars are now nationwide!

Super Pop flavors include Almond Blueberry, Churro and Peanut Butter Chocolate. Courtesy Super Pop Snacks.

Q. Please tell us a little bit about Super Pop Snacks. A. We make nutrient dense, clean, all-natural nut butter bars that have an authentic crispy, creamy texture that everyone can enjoy! They are free of gluten, soy, dairy, refined sugar, sugar alcohols and fiber syrup. They also taste amazingly delicious.

There are many bars on the market that are low sugar, high fiber, keto, paleo, etc., but I have yet to find a bar that matches our taste and texture.

I am proud that we have stuck with our values of using real food and never use artificial ingredients or succumbed to some of the “fad” diets out there. 

We work very hard to create and produce the best possible snack bar for you and your family. I oversee every bar production to ensure you will be receiving high-quality snacks. Sometimes that means waking up at 3 a.m. to get into the bakery! 

Q. What do you like about running your business and being an entrepreneur? A. I love the freedom of being my own boss and also being able to make my own hours. Most importantly, I love having a product that people truly enjoy and consume every day. I get emails from our customers just reaching out to say how much they love the bars and that truly puts a big smile on my face. Running a business is also very stressful because you “are” the business so there isn’t really any downtime. But as a type-A person, I kind of thrive on pressure and always want to make sure we are producing the best product possible and taking care of our customers. 

Q. How has COVID impacted your business? A. It has impacted our business a lot. Before COVID, we were selling to outlets like hotels, coffee shops, juice bars and gyms, which ultimately were closed for months.  We lost almost 90 percent of our wholesale business. We had to pivot quickly and push our online business, which is our website, and Amazon to stay afloat. We were planning on launching some new products, but that has been put on hold until we can get through this pandemic. 

 Also, as a mom to two young children, the juggle of parenthood, especially distance learning and working from home, has been difficult. With no daycare or in-person school, trying to get work done has been extra hard while trying to entertain and take care of the kids. My backyard has turned into my new office.

During this time though, we have had the opportunity to help our community by donating our nutritious snack bars to hospitals, homeless shelters and food banks. Our goal has always been to help feed a healthier future, and it is important that we do what we can to help feed those in need and on the front lines. 

Q. What else would you like the community to know about your business? A. We would love for people to follow us on our social channels @superpopsnacks and if you have any questions or want to learn more, feel free to email us at info@superpopsnacks.com.

Q. What are some of your favorite local businesses? A. We love Cafe Solar, Truxton’s, Playa Pharmacy (the best!), the farmers’ markets and Good Pizza. Support local!

Visit superpopsnacks.com for more info.

Posted September 2020.