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Innovation & Startups

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers raise the Barre on vegan snacks

Who better to trust when choosing a healthy snack than two ballet dancers who have spent their whole lives maintaining their body?
For Julia Erickson and Aaron Ingley, their body is their career. Erickson is a full time principal dancer at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT). Ingley danced with PBT until 2008 and dances now as a freelancer.
The two have teamed up to create Barre, a nutritious, vegan snack for both the dance world and general consumers. Playing on the word barre, French for the ballet apparatus, Erickson cooked up the idea in her kitchen from whole, natural food ingredients. 
“It had kind of the perfect goldilocks just-right combination,” says Erickson who eats it during rehearsals. “It gave me great energy.”
Fellow dancers gave Erickson positive feedback on the experiment, and, joined by Ingley, went to work making more bars to sell at farmers markets, bake sales, and to fellow dancers. The bars are now made in Ohio and the duo is selling it, with the help of two part-time employees, within stores and online. 
Barre is currently selling at about 160 dance locations throughout the country, as well as in Whole Foods, and Giant Eagle Market District will begin carrying them in the fall. Erickson and Ingley plan to continue expanding to the general market.  
 “We’ve had incredible feedback from the dance world,” said Erickson. “They love the idea.”
The bar comes in 3 flavors. Each flavor's name is a play on a dance term or reference in pop culture. There’s pirouette cinnamon pecan, black swan chocolate berry, and ballerina spirulina. 
A portion of Barre’s profits are given back to charity, including Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.
“Pittsburgh has been an amazing place to start a business,” said Erickson. “It’s a great city I think for a businessman, because it’s small enough to have that community feel but large enough that--”  “it has all the resources,” finished Ingley.
Writer: Kaija Nealon
Source: Julia Erickson and Aaron Ingley, Real Food Barre
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