You wouldn’t believe us if we told you… a decadent, drool-worthy and guilt-free banana bread exists. And you have GoNanas to thank for that!
With hopes of sharing their love of baking and healthy eating with the world, college friends Morgan Lerner and Annie Slabotsky launched GoNanas in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, GoNanas has become a pantry staple for many (as well as a SipC team fave!).
GoNanas is on a mission to end diet culture. In order to do that, they’ve reimagined the fan-favorite baked good into a “healthified” treat that everyone can enjoy. We sat down with Morgan to find out more about how GoNanas is changing the banana bread game and more on their mission to dismantle diet culture. Plus, Morgan shares her tips for success for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! What experiences led you to the world of entrepreneurship?
You could say it’s in my blood, as my mom founded and ran Houston’s premiere event and food business for 30 years, and I’ve also always had the traits in me. I was always a curious and independent person. I asked lots of questions in the classroom (yes, I was that girl), and enjoyed being on my own and doing my own thing. I just didn’t know what that translated to until I left home and started exploring my passions and applying myself in the working world. Little did I know that could mean being my own boss and having a job where I learn new things every single day.
Why banana bread? What sets Go Nanas apart from the competition?
Annie and I both had familial ties to and love for banana bread and shared a common frustration with the lack of healthy and tasty food options on the UofM campus. That’s why we decided to try our hands at creating a better-for-you banana bread as freshman in college at the University of Michigan, where GoNanas was born.
How is GoNanas different?
GoNanas is #notyournanas banana bread. You know the traditional banana bread that we all know and love, filled with butter, sugar, flour? Ours still delivers that indulgent taste, but just so happens to be vegan, gluten-free, and top 8 allergen-free. This means everyone can truly enjoy our products and banana bread. A product like this does not exist on the market, not one that meets all of those dietary restrictions and delivers on taste. Not to mention we’ve removed all barriers to enjoying this beloved treat by making the baking process as simple-as-can-be. All you need are common ingredients on hand – bananas, maple syrup or honey, oil, and milk – making them super easy to make and great for the whole family.
But, we don’t stop there. We come out with limited edition flavors every month like Red Velvet Banana Bread, Salted Caramel Banana Bread, Blueberry Crumble Banana Bread, and more to come, so we are spearheading innovation in the health-food and baked good space overall.
You started this business with your friend Annie, tell us about that female power duo!
Annie is my inspiration, best friend, partner in crime, and partner in business for me. Annie and I have worked on this business for almost 5 years now, so this business means everything. We joke that it’s our “baby” as we’ve watched it grow and are so proud of where it has come.
We also think very differently and have different areas of expertise, which I think is a KEY to our business. She has a very operational perspective and I’m very customer focused, so with both perspectives we get really strong outcomes with well-rounded logic. We have a division of operations, but also work together so much of the time. We got very very lucky, but we don’t go a day without sharing our grattitude and working to constantly improve!
Part of your mission is to empower women and dismantle diet culture, one banana bread at a time. What does that mission mean to you?
Our mission means a lot to me, as I myself struggled with an eating disorder in college and disordered eating patterns for a lot of my young adulthood. Our banana bread and our company is all about balance, and we reject the mindset of “eat this not that.” Instead, we embrace eating according to what our bodies want and need. That’s why we made something that is good for your body and soul, so you can live a healthy balanced lifestyle with joy and ease.
Starting a new business, especially during COVID-19, has its challenges. What hurdles have you faced as a female entrepreneur? What lessons did you learn from that experience?
For so many years, we were viewed as just two young girls running a small bakery business as a hobby. Many didn’t take us, nor our idea, seriously, especially with our upbeat and positive personalities. Despite the doubts around us, we kept going, with full faith in what we were doing.
Seeing where it is today, compared to where it was sophomore year of college, gives me such a sense of accomplishment. Yes, we are two young and bubbly women, but we run a tight ship. We consistently analyze all of our business activities and have a very clear, data-driven strategy. We work our butts off day-in and day-out. None of this happened accidentally in my opinion, but rather, through hard, smart work and determination – not letting any of the doubters impede that. And it’s proven itself in our consistently high growth since July 2020.
What’s one piece of advice that has helped you the most in your career?
Other entrepreneurs could learn that growth doesn’t have to be big and fast. Ours was slow, strategic, and steady for so long, and I truly believe that slow growth was key to our more rapid growth and success today. During the few years of testing, we learned so much about our customers, improved our product by leaps and bounds, put the right systems and analyses in place, and grew as leaders and business owners. Too many rush this process, but this, in our opinion, is the most important part of starting a business. It’s what builds the foundation for long-term growth and scaling. It’s not all about how many stores you have and how big your brand is. It’s about how fast your product is moving off the shelf, how happy your customers are, and how profitable your business is. None of this can happen if you don’t nail down your unique value, your unique mission, and your unique strategy, which takes a lot of time and effort.
How do you like to get cozy?
I love to snuggle up with my journal, cook a good meal with some fresh banana bread for dessert (of course), and be with the people I love! Good food, good people, and time to unwind is truly crucial for me to stay sane.
Visit GoNanas.com to shop their delicious banana bread mixes and learn more.
Xo, Team SipC