Author Archive for Lindsey Schulenburg



Lara Merriken, like many others, was frustrated with the quality of food at the grocery store, and especially frustrated with all of the deceptively unhealthy granola bars. After graduating from USC with a degree in psychology, Lara decided to create LÄRABAR.  LÄRABAR is a fruit and nut nutrition bar that contains very few ingredients. The bar comes in many fun and seasonal flavors. These ingredients are all fair-trade, natural, or non-GMO. Lara’s nutrition bars are completely different than other granola bars, which are full of bad ingredients. She started making these bars and giving them to friends, who then encouraged her to sell them.


Lara’s best advice for entrepreneurs: “Surround yourself with people who support you and your dreams. It adds value to shared opinions and helps to keep your spirits high, especially when the going gets tough, as it always does when you’re building something complex from scratch.”


People buy these granola bars because they advertise having little fat and calories. We, however, need fat and calories in our diet. Despite popular dieting theories to avoid fat, Lara created a food that is high in good omega-3 fats, which are healthy. While LÄRABARs may have a lot of calories compared to other granola bars, Lara understands that the quality of the ingredients are more important than the calorie count. Those who purchase these bars know exactly what ingredients they are consuming.


The Skimm

“theSkimm makes it easier to be smarter.

Join the millions who wake up with us every morning.”

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin met while studying abroad in Rome. They became good friends, and in 2012, they created an email newsletter to keep people informed about major events in the world. They wanted to create an easy and fun medium for people to stay informed now that few people read the newspaper. The Skimm provides a fun and easy way for millennial women to read the news, as they receive an email every morning and can read it over their morning coffee.

The founders of the Skimm are very passionate about news, and they want to inspire others to enjoy it too. They do this by providing people with a quick and compelling read. Their business is successful because of their passion that is evident in their writing. They also receive support from celebrities such as Oprah, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Michelle Obama. The Skimm receives good PR from these celebrities, but the celebrity support can also create a bias in their news.

The Skimm reaches new subscribers by incentivizing existing supporters to share the newsletter. Incentives include free products and vacations. Subscribers who share a certain amount are called “Skimmbassadors” and get special perks.

Jesse Diaz

Jesse Diaz is a coffee connoisseur who decided to start his own roasting company in Chicago after working for Nordstrom, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, and Starbucks. He wanted to create a coffee company that was different than both the mainstream coffee shops and the many hipster coffee shops. Unlike many of his competitors in the coffee-roasting industry, Diaz started his company without many expensive materials. His company, Dark Matter, has 31 employees who all help run the company.


Chicago has a substantial coffee industry right now, so Diaz had to find a way to differentiate himself among competitors including Intelligentsia, Bow Truss, and Gaslight. Diaz does this by aging coffee in cognac and bourbon barrels. This roast of coffee appeals to a very specific market, and many millennials in the city are intrigued by the idea because it mixes two drinks they enjoy.


Dark Matter sells its coffee in Whole Foods stores in Chicago, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The company, however, only advertises through its coffee shops, which minimizes expenses. This marketing technique works because they can also use social media for advertising.

Kiel James Patrick

Kiel James Patrick did not grow up in a wealthy family, nor did he go to college. He decided to use his passion for design and American-made products to create his own bracelet brand with his wife. They began making preppy bracelets with a nautical theme, and now their business has expanded to hats and clothing. However, they only make a few clothing products to maintain the quality of their product.


KJP has used social media to turn his life into a brand. They only advertise on social media, and they do a great job of getting their brand seen. Mr. Patrick’s wife, Sarah, also promotes their brand through her blog, Classy Girls Wear Pearls. Their brand embodies a classic lifestyle, and their good quality products meet expectations set by their social media.


These entrepreneurs also appreciate creativity, which is one reason why their brand is so successful. Their factory–located in New England–is decorated with vintage furniture, oriental rugs, and classic artwork. The factory also has a hammock where workers can nap throughout the day. These details all add to the integrity of their brand.

Rifle Paper Co.

Anna Bond always loved stationary and pretty illustrations. After studying graphic design and creating a few posters for her husband’s band, she decided to create her own stationary brand. Most of her easily distinguishable pieces are floral designs or illustrations. She has expanded her brand over the past few years, and it now includes fabric, calendars, books covers, phone cases, planners, and more.

Rifle Paper Co.

Rifle Paper Co. goes beyond an ordinary stationary company. Anna Bond seeks to create an experience for her customers. The stationary industry is currently full of elaborate designs, but Anna Bond attracts people with her simple–yet beautiful–brand and style. She unifies her brand with her classic floral pattern and hand drawn illustrations. This helps her brand stand out and makes her company great.


Anna Bond mixed her passion of design with her desire to innovate. She was not discouraged by the already saturated stationary market, but she found a way to create a successful and distinctive brand.

Check out her portfolio.

Flowers for Dreams

A few years ago, two college guys came up with a creative way to make extra money for food and to give to those in need–they sold flowers outside of graduation ceremonies. What they started as a small business on the side turned into a company called Flowers for Dreams.


These men saw an opportunity to create something beautiful in a sleepy market, and they revolutionized the flower industry. They took what used to be an old-fashioned and expensive industry and turned it into the next trend around the city. Located in Logan Square–a newly re-gentrified neighborhood of Chicago–they attract creative millennials (AKA hipsters) with their beautiful yet simple bouquets wrapped in burlap and their charitable mission.

f4d bike

Not only do they provide a cool product, they also hand-deliver them via bicycles for free. This adds to their trendy brand, and also allows them to partner with other small businesses in Chicago. Heritage Bicycles and Coffee–a hipster bike and coffee shop in Chicago–advertises Flowers for Dreams by decorating with the beautiful flowers, while Flowers for Dreams rides around on Heritage bicycles. They also take advantage of local events. During the Lollapalooza music festival this summer, they hosted flower crown workshops.


Flowers for Dreams also advertises with a flower truck that drives around and hangs out with the Chicago food trucks. It is the first flower truck in Chicago since the 1930s, and expands their business by bringing their product to people. Once people see their truck, they are immediately intrigued.