Nestled cozy in the nekter deli case are Mariko’s Protein Poppers – a bite size ball of protein bursting with all-natural goodness. The woman behind these healthy treats is a former ballerina (she was on a 32 cent postage stamp!) who overcame odds to become a thriving business owner inspiring good health to all her fans.
Mariko of Mariko’s Protein Poppers started her business in 2012 with an idea for a simple and easy snack she could have pre and post workout.
“I remember when I was in ballet class and my mom would make these peanut butter balls and stick them in my bag. I could eat them right away and then dance and not get sick,” said Mariko. “It was healthy and exactly what I wanted.”
Mariko decided to slightly tweak her mom’s recipe and start making them herself. She gave them away to friends and colleagues, but her big break came when a gym she worked at wanted to sell them. She went from teaching 35 classes a week to just 9 from the success of her newly loved snacks. Mariko’s Protein Poppers come in 7 different flavors including gluten-free versions, nut-free, almond and vegan ones. “Protein Poppers are a sweet treat but are super good for you,” says Mariko. “It will keep you satisfied without the sugar crush.”
A FEW LESSONS I’VE LEARNED FROM STARTING A BUSINESS BY MARIKO
- I’ve learned that I will just about kill myself to get things done.
- I’ve learned that I can keep pretty cool, that I’m humble, but determined. If something scares me I will still just go for it.
- I love working with employees. I love treating them like they are my family.
- You need to believe in something. Keep going no matter what people say. I had no money, nothing when I started, but I had a really supportive family and friends and that is all I needed.
- Be prepared to work your tush off. It is your business, your baby. Watch it grow. It’s like a kid – you can never take your eyes off it and it will never let you sleep.
- I love being able to make decisions even if they freak me out. I love learning so many new things everyday. I love the freedom to go in any direction.