Name: Nancy Kalish
Age: old enough to know better
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Chief Rule Breaker (aka founder & CEO of Rule Breaker Snacks)
Nancy Kalish wants to take over the world, one brownie at a time. This baker and entrepreneur created Rule Breaker Snacks as a way to express her sweet tooth and share treats that stay in line with clean eating… while still tasting delicious and like your mouth is breaking some rules.
Growing up in New York City, Nancy originally wanted to become a writer, but she spent most of playtime using the kitchen as her laboratory, whipping up a lot of her favorite snack: brownies.
“I always loved experimenting in the kitchen and my mom allowed me to be as creative as I could be. Coconut popcorn brownies, anyone?” she jokes.
As she got older, Nancy followed that initial dream and became a health journalist, working for the likes of Real Simple, O Magazine, Prevention, and others.
“But despite knowing exactly what to eat to be healthy, I have the world’s WORST sweet tooth… we’re talking dessert for breakfast,” she says. “I could never find anything at the store that lived up to my healthy aspirations and satisfied me. So I got busy in my kitchen, originally just trying to come up with something for myself and my family. I started with brownies because they’ve always been my favorite treat.”
As writing became less exciting for her and everyone in her life was telling her to sell her brownie recipe, Nancy thought she should maybe embark on selling the snacks themselves.
“I actually thought, Sounds like fun, I’ll try it. How hard could it be to start a food company? Well, I have found out exactly how hard — brutal, is more like it,” she says. “It has been a very steep learning curve. But I have to say that I still love it.”
All Rule Breaker Snacks are vegan, plant based, allergen-friendly, non-GMO, and gluten free. They are made with chickpeas sneakily masquerading as the usual naughty, nasty ingredients without any beany taste, thanks to Nancy’s relentless and perfectionist taste-testing. This means from birthday cake blondies to chocolate chunk brownies, you can pack them in your child’s lunchbox to take to school, or stand in your gym clothes eating more than one over the sink. Anything goes with Rule Breaker Snacks.
“When we first launched, we used cooked chickpeas in our recipe, which resulted in a very short shelf life,” Nancy recalls. “That made it impossible for us to sell to bigger stores or online. So I decided to step back and reformulate from scratch, which took almost a year. It was very important to me to keep chickpeas as the first ingredient. So we switched to dry roasted chickpea flour, and a whole slew of new, clean ingredients. The result is chewy and delicious brownies and blondies that stay fresh for a year without any preservatives.”
Whether it be working with designers to go over packaging, sitting down with the bookkeepers to go over accounts, representing the brand to bring the products to schools and stores, or packing up boxes of samples and supplies for trade shows, Nancy is busy and every day is different. She admits that certain aspects of being at the helm of a project she cares so deeply about can be a challenge, especially growing her business while staying true to her ideals of creating vegan, gluten-free, allergen-friendly, non-GMO treats that still taste scrumptious.
“Our ingredients are better and clean, which also makes them more expensive,” Nancy says. “It’s a constant struggle, but it’s also non-negotiable.”
When she’s not up to her eyeballs in running her business, Nancy can be found playing with her energetic goldendoodle, Oscar, or taking classical piano lessons. “I’m pretty awful, but I have a keyboard in my home office and playing is a great escape from stress,” she says.
So what advice does this Rule Breaker have for young girls out there who are looking to start something sweet?
“Don’t wait for inspiration to strike before you start something new, whether it’s creating a new recipe, writing a story, or starting a business. If you want to do something, just do it and you’ll find the inspiration — and joy — along the way.”
For creating clean, tasty tidbits and keeping true to herself and Rule Breaker Snacks, we think Nancy Kalish is one Cool Girl!