NY couple moves to Raleigh to start allergen-free snack business
Posted February 8, 2021 6:00 a.m. EST
Updated February 9, 2021 10:32 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Despite the pandemic, the Triangle area still attracts some new start-up businesses. That may be good news for families with severe food allergies.
Matt and Brooke Navarro’s new business, "Without-A-Trace Foods," is a family affair.
"We have two young children. We juggle that with the business," said Matt Navarro. "We’re making it work. We’re not sure how, but we are."
Making the move from New York to Raleigh just as the pandemic began was certainly a challenge. The Navarros were determined to establish their new business and get it off the ground.
Matt Navarro plans on hiring from the area, but for now the couple gets help from his parents in making, bagging and shipping the variety of allergen-free snacks. "We are very much people who want to be involved with their business," said Matt Navarro.
Both Navarros had been in the finance business in New York. Brooke Navarro said she had long dreamed of starting the snack business for personal reasons.
"My mom and I both had severe food allergies. We’re both anaphylactic and have been hospitalized, and my mom almost lost her life," due to the allergy, she said.
Brooke Navarro says about 10% of people in the U.S. have food allergies but even more actively shop for allergen-free items.
Of their two young children, the couple’s daughter has tested positive for allergies to tree nuts, peanuts and eggs.
The couple targeted the Triangle for their family and their start-up because, Brooke said, "Matt had gone to UNC and was itching to get back here."
They found help from entrepreneurs and venture capital firms in the area. "I don’t think there are many other communities where you have the depth of resources and everybody is cheering for you," said Brooke Navarro.
A lot of research went into making their allergen-free snacks which includes soft-batch chocolate chip cookies and "Rad Raspberry Power Bites."
Matt Navarro explained, "We want to make sure that when we take out all the allergens that we don’t sacrifice on taste."
Brooke Navarro said, "We wanted something that would be so delicious that everybody would want to eat it." She added, "Food is about everybody coming together in that food experience, sharing something together."
Her advice to families navigating food allergies? "You’re not alone. There are solutions. You don’t have to live in fear, but you do need to make sure that you have a voice," she said.