Bare Life, Promoting Good Health
Ali Lazowski, CEO, and founder of Bare Life was a senior in college at John Hopkins University when she became more conscious of her health and everything that was not right with it. Weight gain and constant pain as well as a diagnosis of thyroid cancer was the beginning of a journey of visiting a rotation of specialists that led to other diagnosis such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Hashimoto’s disease, Lyme Disease and a host of co-infections. It took years for Lazowski to piece everything together. In addition to surgery and medication, what Lazowski ate had a major impact. Food became a large part of everything wrong with her digestive system thus manifesting itself in other ways.
While attending support groups for people with cancer and Lyme Disease, Lazowski always brought a thermos of her hot chocolate to share. “When they remove your thyroid, you have trouble regulating your body temperature,” says Lazowski. “Other people were having similar reactions and kept asking me where they could buy my hot chocolate, Lazowski knew she had a good business idea.
In 2017, Lazowski put her entrepreneurial mind to work, she crowdfunded $9,467 of the $55,000 she requested on Indiegogo to make an organic, dairy- and gluten-free hot cocoa. This seed money helped Lazowski launch Bare Life, an allergen-friendly food brand in West Hartford, CT, in September 2018. For Lazowski to meet product demand she needed assistance with an SBA line of credit as well as the one-on-one business advising from our SBA CT Small Business Development Center’s Business Advisor, Denise Whitford, to help her organize the retail concept of the business as growth came very quickly. All this evolution is happening through the COVID-19 pandemic in which the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance also came into play, allowing for continued production despite supply chain interruptions.
The story of how Lazowski turned her recovery from cancer and chronic illness into a business that now sells on QVC and Amazon, and graces the shelves of Whole Foods Market is a journey. Her award-winning hot cocoa is a true example of turning an illness into an opportunity. Bare Life’s recipes make for delicious crave-worthy, body-friendly foods that are convenient for everyone to enjoy, especially people living with chronic illnesses as they are all non-GMO, organic, gluten free, dairy free, xanthan gum free and refined sugar free. As Connecticut’s 2022 Microenterprise of the Year, Bare Life has expanded to work with over 100 locations across New England and has shipped to customers in all 50 states and has sold over 250,000 mugs of hot cocoa since their launch.