Kate Schade is not your normal business woman; in fact, she never started out thinking she would be one. Hailing from upstate New York outside of Rochester, Kate went to school at the University of New Hampshire as an English major. After graduation she and a friend hit the pavement and headed west for Victor, Idaho to explore and see family, it was an unassuming town that was to be her home for the next 10 years as her affection for mountain adventures turned into a full-time business.
Starting with only one purpose in mind: to fuel long adventure days on the mountains and keep hunger at bay; Kate has turned her homemade, delicious bars into a full-time operation now employing five people and keeping outdoor adventure seekers happy and healthy. She started Kate’s Real Food in the end of 2005 when she had sole proprietorship and sold her trail bars to a handful of stores in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where she spent most of her time on the slopes. At the time, making the bars were another way to make some extra cash so she could continue playing in the mountains. Five years later, her little business is booming and her bars are now carried in hundreds of stores across the Rocky Mountain Region in addition to New York and Florida.
As a newcomer to the business world, Kate admits to not being ready for the demand on her time. “Sometimes it was just really hard to give up my free time, I wanted to go out on the mountain, not sit behind a desk and get lost in the paperwork… but then I remember that we are becoming more well-known, we are creating a culture, and we are working on being able to support outdoor play and that is what we build on.”
And build on it they have! From a company that used to wrap its bars in Saran Wrap and hand them out to her friends, Kate has watched as the product grows and expands, often times far from where she thought it would. “Now we give bars to trail builders and we help support adaptive sports by giving them our products, it is amazing to watch.”
After working in Idaho for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), she’s expanded the business to support sustainable farming practices, what she says is the root of her business and the number one reason that she changed all of her ingredients to organic. “The farming community in Idaho is incredible. I have met so many amazingly helpful people who truly want to see everyone succeed and now I can pay it forward by supporting them.”
From the looks of it, Kate’s Real Food is just about at the tipping point of becoming a household name and she’s ready for it. “You can figure anything out and you can keep going forward. If things don’t work out, don’t stop, take a breath and move forward.” It’s exactly what she does in business and it’s what she does on the trail, too.
“Winter, despite some very crazy storms in the Tetons, is just so peaceful to me. It is so pristine and that is a part of the peacefulness, everything has gone to sleep and you’re engulfed by the wilderness of it all, sometimes you just have to stop and breathe it all in!” After years of chasing the trails and the snow, Kate admits that she has grown up a bit in the past ten years and that it’s sometimes the little things that excite her, like hiring a new employee, creating jobs in the community or just helping out where she sees a need.
Kate’s real goals have now expanded, as her business keeps doing, and Kate’s Real Food is committed to staying true to their roots, striving to provide great food products made with ingredients from responsible, organic farms, and promoting playability for all.
One thing is certain, the lessons Kate has learned in business and while playing and seeking out adventure all seem to intertwine, perhaps demonstrating that breaking the trail, whether in business, play or just in general can lead to great things!