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Founder Feature: Sarah Chalos

Sarah Chalos founded I Heart Keenwah with three friends from school in 2009. The company started as an experiment, with early batches of quinoa clusters baked in an apartment kitchen. Early sales to local artisan shops hinted that they might be on to something with this nutritious little seed.

From those original clusters, I Heart Keenwah has expanded its product line to include six flavors of puffs, two versions of toasted quinoa for cooking at home, and two kinds of quinoa hot cereal. That’s a lot of quinoa to love!

And there’s a lot to love about quinoa. It’s a South American seed containing all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. In addition, it’s gluten-free, low-glycemic, high fiber, and high protein – and pretty heavy in the vitamin and mineral counts too. Sarah chose to use organic Bolivian Royal Quinoa for I Heart Keenwah products because it’s a trademarked commodity that gives traditional quinoa farmers product distinction and fair pricing opportunities.

I Heart Keenwah’s first commercial kitchen was in Portland, OR. Subsequently, they’ve added a larger manufacturing facility in Chicago, where Sarah is based. I Heart Keenwah’s products are available in the US, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, the UK, Switzerland, and the Middle East. Online sales are through the company website, Amazon, Vitacost, and a number of other health-food-focused platforms.

With a decade of hard work behind her, what advice does Sarah offer newcomers to the healthier snack food space? Four words. Just go for it!


Katelyn Murphy-McCarthy

Katelyn is a writer and editor specializing in creative nonfiction. She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, and loves hearing and sharing the stories of women who are making a difference.
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