December 30, 2018

Many of our entrepreneurs started their businesses because they were solving a problem. Sharon’s journey was a deeply personal one…

Can you tell us about the special spark that lead you to launching Bonafide Provisions?

In 2006, I was a mother at her wit’s end. I had a six-year old son who had been on and off antibiotics since birth, suffering from chronic sinus infections, ear infections, and respiratory infections. I knew there had to be another way. I began searching for alternative solutions, and, finally, I came across the concept that bone broth could help strengthen the gut lining, and, therefore, heal the immune system. I removed all processed foods from my family’s diet and incorporated bone broth into every meal we made. After three months my son had not needed antibiotics once. Six months went by. Then nine. Then a year. The healing power of real food and traditionally-made bone broth had changed my family’s life.

I had to do something with this knowledge and experience, so I became a certified Clinical Nutritionist, and opened a nutrition practice in Del Mar, California. Within a year I had a four-month waitlist. Bone broth was a cornerstone of my healing protocol. But, unfortunately, traditional bone broth is hard to make and even harder to buy. No one was selling bone broth that met my standards, so, I convinced my husband, Reb, who is a professionally-trained chef, to create a recipe from my ingredients, and a preparation method that most closely mirrored what I was doing in my own kitchen. In 2011, we launched Bonafide Provisions with the mission of making traditionally-prepared bone broth available to all those who need it.

What makes Bonafide bone broth special?

We are committed to making a bone broth that supports healing and most closely mirrors the bone broths our ancestors made for thousands of years. Our recipes use minimal ingredients, so as not to upset sensitive digestive systems. Our bones are sourced from small, local farms and are grass-fed and pasture-raised. Our water is triple-filtered. We are certified organic, which means that we have to adhere to strict organic guidelines – from our ingredients to our packaging to our production facilities.

When we make our bone broth, we ONLY use bones – we do not add meat or filler broth to our recipes in order to minimize costs or maximize output. We obsessively tested simmer times for each type of bones to ensure that our bone broth contains the maximum amount of nutrients and collagen – none of our broths are simmered for less than 18 hours. You can tell that our bone broth is full of collagen, minerals, and other amino acids because it takes on a gelatinous texture when it’s cooled. This is because collagen turns to gelatin when it’s cooled. Finally, we store our bone broth by freezing it. For us, freezing is the only way to preserve broth without adding preservatives or using high-heat processing to make it shelf-stable. Freezing not only preserves nutrients at their peak, it is the way our ancestors preserved their food for hundreds of years and we see no reason to change that process.

Were there any obstacles along the way? Learning curves?

The biggest obstacle was – and still is – getting people to look for bone broth in the frozen aisle of the store. When we started our company, almost every “expert,” advised us to make our product shelf-stable, because it’s cheaper to ship and people are used to shopping for broth on the shelf, in the center of the store. But we knew that to make our product shelf-stable we’d have to compromise on the integrity of our bone broth. We were never in this to have a business, we started this company to help people heal their bodies. The only way people are going to reap the healing benefits of bone broth is if it’s made correctly and we weren’t willing to compromise in order to make things easier on us from a business standpoint. It might not be convenient, or the fastest path to growth, but we don’t believe in fast-food, so why would we practice fast-business?  We know that if we stay true to creating products with integrity, the right buyers will find us, and, I’m happy to report, that it seems like they are! We’re currently one of the top 5 brands across all frozen foods (including very popular items like frozen pizza and entrees!) and we are the #1 selling frozen bone broth in the country.

 What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

The trick is to understand that, when you own your own business, there is no such thing as balance – especially in the early stages. Getting a business off the ground requires everything you’ve got. One hundred and ten percent, all day, every day. You have to set your own expectations. If you understand this reality and plan on it, you won’t grow frustrated or be disappointed. Eventually, you might get to a point where you can have some semblance of work-life balance, but don’t expect it – at least not for a long, long time.

What’s your favorite/unusual way to use bone broth?

I love teaching people that bone broth is not just for soups or soup season. Bone broth can and should be incorporated into your daily wellness routine – all year round. You can literally have bone broth at every meal by using it in place of water. At our house, we put bone broth in everything. From waffles to smoothies and cocktails – seriously! My husband, Reb, makes a mean Bloody Mary using our beef bone broth. Any recipe that calls for liquid, use bone broth.

Is there any thing else you would like us to know about bone broth?

Currently, there is no USDA regulated definition for the term “bone broth.” This means that many brands, especially manufacturers who have traditionally made meat stock, are re-branding their product and calling it “bone broth,” but not changing their recipe or are selling “bone broth” made with some bones combined with filler broth; essentially selling watered-down products that are not real bone broth. This is concerning, not because it takes money out of our pocket, but because people are looking to bone broth to help them heal from serious conditions. When they buy this “fake bone broth,” they’re not going to reap the same benefits. The business of wellness is a big one and it’s important to educate consumers so that they actually get what they pay for and are able to experience the benefits they are looking for.

We are happy to include you in the Erewhon community. What does being at Erewhon mean to you?

We are honored to be a chosen brand in all of our retailers, but, Erewhon holds a special place in Reb’s and my heart. Years ago, when we lived in West L.A., we used to shop at the original Erewhon location. It was one of our favorite places, because we knew that every single product sold in that store was chosen for a purpose and with integrity. We knew that anything we would pick up in Erewhon was going to be something good because this company cares so deeply about their customers – they would never sell something they didn’t believe in or use themselves. Never, in all of our wildest dreams, did we think that, one day, we would be one of those brands with the Erewhon stamp of approval.

Integrity is our number one core value at Bonafide – every ingredient we use is chosen with care and for a purpose, and we too would never sell a product that we don’t use ourselves. This is why our partnership with Erewhon is so special to us, it’s about aligning and supporting like-minded brands that put their customers before business and refuse to compromise.

Thank you, Sharon for sharing the story of your lovely family and your beautiful bone broth!