- January 21, 2016

These Two Austinites Make The Best Organic Energy Bars Like… Ever

Bearded Brothers

The Bearded Brothers: Chris Herbert (left) and Caleb Simpson (right). Photo: Rebecca L. Bennett

Most of us Austinites are fluent in at least three languages: bands, barbecue, and beards. We maintain more than 250 live music venues throughout town, our BBQ has achieved legendary status among foodies nationwide, and we take No-Shave November very seriously. We’re friggin’ Beardlympians.

So when we discovered Bearded Brothers, a local snack food company that not only makes some seriously delicious organic energy bars but is also owned and operated by two Austinites with (you guessed it) impressive facial growth, we knew we had to share their story.

Founded in March 2011 by brothers-in-law Caleb Simpson and Chris Herbert, Bearded Brothers has spent the last five years cooking up a modest selection of organic snack bars that are raw, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, soy-free, non-gmo, and if you can believe it, utterly delicious all at once.

Peddling flavors like Radical Raspberry Lemon and Outrageous Orange Kale, the company targets athletes and anyone else seeking nutritious, natural fuel that will enable them to feel great while performing daily tasks — without a crash.

“We want to make wholesome, healthy snack foods that not only are good for you, but are also yummy,” said Herbert in an exclusive interview with Austin.com. “We want people to switch their typical bad snack for a good snack like a Bearded Brothers bar. We believe in making little changes to ones daily life in order to see big improvements in the long run.”

Read more of our conversation with Herbert and Simpson on the next page, and make sure you get to the end of the story for a special discount code just for Austin.com readers!

Caleb Simpson: co-owner

caleb simpson co-owner

Bearded Brothers co-owner, Caleb Simpson. Favorite flavors: Radical Raspberry Lemon & Mega Maca Chocolate. Photo: Rebecca L. Bennett

Husband. Father. Rock Climber. Ultrarunner.

Q: Please tell me a little about yourself, personally and professionally. How long have you lived in Austin and what were you doing before you founded Bearded Brothers?

I’ve been living in Austin with my wife Kristy for five years — she’s been here seven. We have two children: Abigail, who is 3 years old, and Joshua, who is 20 months. Prior to Bearded Brothers, I was the Marketing Associate for YMCA Dallas and moonlighted as a freelance photographer.

My family and I also recently moved into an RV full time in effort to have a smaller environmental footprint, be more financially responsible, and travel more. We just finished up a summer-long trip to Colorado and Utah, where we promoted the Bearded Brothers brand in Whole Foods stores and I ran the Wasatch 100.

Q: Where do you like to climb?

I’m a rock climber at the very core, but having started a family and a business, I have much less time for it. I spend most of my free time these days running trails and ultra marathons because the commitment level is far less than rock climbing. My favorite climbing destination, though, is the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. I used to live in Denton, so I would frequent the Wichitas for weekend climbing trips. It holds a special place in my heart.

Q: What are your favorite running trails?

I frequent the Greenbelt, and I recently fell in love with the new Lakeway Canyonlands trail system, which has similar elevation gains to what you would get on a run in Colorado.

Q: Why did you decide to start a business with Chris?

Chris and I had both been making our own energy bars for our active lifestyles. I was making them to fuel my long runs and rock climbing trips. The inspiration to bring them to market came out of not being satisfied with anything on the market. There weren’t many organic bars available, and the ones that were had added sugars and processed sweeteners. So, I made my own, and after teaming up with Chris, we brought them to market starting in Austin, and now we are nationwide.

Q: Why are you passionate about healthy organic foods?

I’m passionate about healthy foods because I saw what it did for me personally. I used to be a junk food junkie who ate nothing but meat and potatoes, and snacked on junk food and energy drinks. I saw how much better I felt when I switched to a plant-based diet and ate high raw for two years straight. My weight stabilized and my energy went through the roof.

Q: Why should people try Bearded Brothers’ bars? Will people who usually dislike vegan and raw foods still find something they like in your arsenal?

Everybody should try our bars. Anytime somebody has turned up their nose at our product, they have always said how great they are after actually trying them. We always try our best to coax people in to taste them, especially if they are turned away by the “vegan” label. We love it when people see that healthy food can and does taste good.

Q: Thinking about your experiences with starting your own business, what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Just do it. Don’t let fear hold you back. Set a goal and make a plan. Goals on their own are useless unless they have plans of action behind them. I let fear hold me back from starting my business earlier than I should have. If it’s something you are truly passionate about, you will find a way to make it work. Another big piece of advice I have is make sure you are smart with your personal finances. It will go a long way when you are in startup mode and living on rice and beans.

Chris Herbert: Co-owner

Chris Herbert founder

Bearded Brothers co-owner Chris Herbert. Favorite flavors: Outrageous Orange Kale & Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla. Photo: Rebecca L. Bennett

Husband. Father. World Traveler. Disc Golfer.

Q: Please tell me a little about yourself, personally and professionally. How long have you lived in Austin and what were you doing before you founded Bearded Brothers?

My wife, Kaye, and I have lived in Austin for the past seven years and have three healthy, active little boys — Elijah, Micah, and Ezra. My downtime is spent playing with them, taking family hikes, and now, I’m introducing them to sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, golf, and disc golf. Before and during Bearded Brothers, I work full-time for an herbal supplement company doing education and sales. In all, I have been in the natural health industry for over 15 years.

Q: What are some of your favorite travel destinations?

I have traveled extensively across the US with some of my favorite destinations being Seattle, WA, Boulder, CO, Portland, OR, Kona, HI, Ricon, PR, Santa Cruz, CA, San Francisco, CA, and New York, NY.

Q: Where do you like to play disc golf?

Disc golf has been my personal obsession for the past six years and I try to play a couple of times a week. Here in Austin, there are so many great courses to choose from, but my go-to’s are MetCenter, Circle C, Zilker, Searight, and Roy G.

Q: Why did you decide to start a business with Caleb?

I knew Caleb a little while before we started and I felt like he was a good partner to start a business with. He has a very strong work ethic, upstanding core values, a good heart, and he uses common sense. After talking about our interests, we realized we like a lot of the same things, especially when it comes to health and nutrition. He then married my wife’s sister and becoming brothers further solidified our connection.

Q: Why are you passionate about healthy organic foods?

Your diet plays a big role in who you are and how you heal. It can either give you energy to accomplish tasks or hinder it. Fast food and processed food can have the complete opposite effect by draining the body, leaving you too weak and tired to do the things you love. After having a sad diet for many years as a youth and then switching to a natural diet 15 years ago, I have felt and seen that what you “put in” greatly determines how you feel, perform, and think.

Q: Break down the health benefits of Bearded Brothers bars for me.

Our bars are minimally processed. We use whole ingredients from organic sources and never add harmful additives or chemicals. All of our bars have no added sugar, just sugar from the fruits we use. We add chia seeds to all the bars, giving you good amounts of Omega-3’s. In addition to healthy fats, our bars have a good amount of fiber and plant protein, which help slow the release of natural sugar from the fruit into the bloodstream, giving them a “low glycemic load.”

Not all “sugar” is created equal. Added sugar, processed sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, especially when paired with low nutrition simple carbs… now that is something to be afraid of. Wholesome, organic fruit like the fruit we use in our bars should be welcomed in the diet and has many health benefits.

Q: Thinking about your experiences with starting your own business, what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be brave and make the leap! If it’s something you think the world can benefit from and you have a passion behind it, do it. Expect long hours, hard work, little to no pay or recognition for awhile, and roadblocks and bumps along the way. But most importantly, always expect that you are going to succeed. Keep your eyes on the end game, keep a positive attitude, and work your butt off.

Almost there! Get Your Coupon code on the next page.

Alongside their quest to nourish and energize customers, Herbert and Simpson also strongly prioritize giving. They donate 1% of their earnings to Boneshaker, a local nonprofit that teaches kids about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, and they’re hoping to expand their donation pool to include many other deserving organizations as their business expands.

All in all, Bearded Brothers is run by some truly stand-up folks and we hope to see them succeed in their industry. If you want that too, head on over to Whole Foods, REI, or one of the 700 national retailers who carry Bearded Brothers products and buy yourself some yum.

Bearded Brothers energy organic natural non-gmo vegan assorted variety flavors

Bearded Brothers currently sells six energy bar flavors: Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla, Mega Maca Chocolate, Colossal Coconut Mango, Fabulous Ginger Peach, Radical Raspberry Lemon, and Outrageous Orange Kale. Photo: Rebecca L. Bennett

Austin.com readers: Get 20% off Bearded Brothers with the coupon code “AustinBeardLove.” The code is valid until March 31, 2016.

Happy snacking, Austin!


All story photos: Rebecca L. Bennett, Brave Bird Photography.