We had the good fortune of connecting with Brooke Navarro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brooke, how does your business help the community?
Without A Trace Foods believe kids are superheroes, scientists in discovery and rockstars in the making. We refuse to let them be defined by their allergies. Our mission is to make all kids feel included and never ostracized or left out because of food allergies. We created delicious, fun allergen-friendly snacks that allow kids and families navigating food allergies and other dietary restrictions to enjoy snack time – together – and have peace of mind.
One-third of children with food allergies report being bullied or feeling left out because of their medical condition. Families with food allergies in their homes often talk about the stress and challenges of finding safe foods that everyone can eat together. We set out to create allergen-free, gluten-free foods that are anything BUT free from taste. Our goal is to create snacks that everyone – food allergies or not – want to eat together. For kids, we want everyone to want to try their cool, colorful snacks. For parents, we want to make life easier by creating a trusted brand that offers a variety of snacks – from Rad Raspberry Power Bites to Soft Chocolately Chip Cookies – to streamline shopping and relieve the stress of finding safe foods. Because we believe that eating at the same time is not the same as actually sharing in the same food with those you love. We want families to be able to experience the joy of truly bonding over a delicious treat and for kids with food allergies to be the kid with the cool snacks.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m on my third career! I’ve been a journalist and worked in finance. Given my own personal food allergy journey, starting Without A Trace Foods was always a dream, but I never felt quite ready to make the leap into the unknown of entrepreneurship. When we discovered our daughter has food allergies, making her the third generation in our family to be diagnosed, it felt like the universe was telling me the time had come to make the company a reality.
It took more than two years to develop everything from the products to the production facility. I worked on the idea at night and on weekends while juggling two little kids and a full-time career. It often felt like I was barely scratching the surface of my to-do list everyday. What kept me going was knowing we have the opportunity to change the conversation around food allergies for my children’s generation.
The little girl in me still remembers the crushing sadness of feeling left out at snack time or birthday parties. I hear from our customers about how their children’s “friends” and teachers make fun of their allergen-friendly foods. I see my daughter wonder why certain snacks are off limits. At Without A Trace we are working to change the idea that allergen-friendly snacks are just for those with food allergies or dietary restrictions. The ultimate goal – by creating incredibly delicious, fun and colorful snacks that all kids want to try, suddenly allergen-friendly treats are what all the cool kids are eating. We believe in empowering kids and families to focus on being their awesome selves.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I turned to the amazing creative team behind Without A Trace Foods for this one. Sally and Paul are incredibly passionate about sharing hidden gems with their friends and family and I knew they would want to give some of their favorite places a shoutout!
For the outdoor lovers, a hike up to Griffith Observatory is a must. Be sure to grab a bite before or after the hike at the adorable café The Trails. For a change of pace – literally – check out horseback riding at Griffith Park. Another great choice for hiking is Kenneth Hahn State Park. Of course, you can’t forget about the beach. Spending an afternoon (or a whole day!) wandering along Malibu Pier is a great way to enjoy the ocean while doing a little shopping or eating at one of the cute cafes.
For the art lover, the arts district near DTLA should be on the itinerary. We’d recommend the area around Hauser & Wirth and then just wandering to your heart’s content. If it all gets to be a bit too much, heading over to the Descanso Gardens to take a breather is a great way to reset.
Finally, we’re a snack company, so food is always on our minds! Some of the best hidden gems in LA, in our opinion, can be found in Atwater Village. There are too many good eats to choose just one or two, but some favorites include: Proof Bakery, Individual Medley, Hail Mary Pizza, Dune, Morihiro and Wine + Eggs.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people and things that got me to where I am today that it’s hard to pick just one! That being said, I think much of my success is the result of being someone who relentlessly pursues goals and holds incredibly high standards for myself, while also keeping a very pragmatic perspective on the world. I credit that mindset to two major things in my life: my parents and my arts education. My parents are very matter-of-fact, salt-of-the-earth Midwesterners who have worked incredibly hard all their lives. They take a very “just get the job done and get it done right” mentality. No whining. Life isn’t always fair or easy; so just deal with it. They taught me how to grind through the tough spots in life.
Secondly, my arts education gave me the ability to love myself and give that same love to those around me. I started participating in acting in elementary school and wound up studying theatre at an arts magnet high school. Our teachers instilled in us the mantra that if you are going to pretend to be someone else, you have to know and understand yourself first. Being able to hone in on what makes me tick, my strengths, my weaknesses and how I interact with others has been fundamental to personal and professional success. I’m certainly far from perfect at it, but being in a creative environment where individuality and unique talents were celebrated on a daily basis provided me with a level of confidence and awareness that has been foundational to my success.