Some people watch Netflix or go to the gym when they aren’t occupied with schoolwork, but one senior at the University of Cincinnati is using her free time to jump-start her own business instead.
Benita Munnerlyn is a full-time student studying international business, marketing and entrepreneurship. She is also the founder of Wholistic Brands, a local food company that focuses on creating healthy vegan snacks.
Munnerlyn started her company in July 2017 after her homemade granola recipe was a hit among her friends at church. Her goal was to create a filling snack that would keep her friends energized between games of volleyball after church service.
Wholistic Brands uses only natural and organic ingredients in its products. Many store-bought granola bars contain added sugar, but Munnerlyn believes natural flavors are all that’s needed for a tasty product.
Inspiration for her recipes stemmed from Munnerlyn’s desire to satisfy her own cravings on a vegan diet. She found that using ingredients like banana, vanilla, agave and cinnamon offer sweetness without adding extra sugar. Not only are the servings low in fat and oil, but they are also good sources of protein and Omega-3.
Wholistic Brands currently offers two main products: signature granola mix and the community cookie. The community cookie is a vegan twist on a classic treat, using oats and dairy-free chocolate chips for a low-calorie sweet fix.
It also gets its name from Munnerlyn’s desires to have a positive impact on local citizens and the Greater Cincinnati economy. After she graduates in the spring, Munnerlyn hopes to expand her business and offer jobs to people who may have a harder time finding work, including ex-convicts and those with lower education levels.
“Benita envisions facilities based in urban developments so that those in re-entry programs can immediately start working again,” reads a description on the Wholistic Brands website. “People without cars can access facilities through major bus lines, at-risk women have a flexible and consistent way to support themselves and their families, and urban teens have something productive to do after school while learning fiscal responsibility.”
Munnerlyn showcased her products at the UC Farmers Market last month. She received positive feedback and caught the attention of students who are looking for simple steps they can take to instill healthier eating habits.
“I want to help others,” Munnerlyn said. “I have a passion for food and its wholistic and healing properties.” She hopes to enhance the health and well-being of her customers and employees.
Munnerlyn’s next step is to spread the word about her company beyond campus with the help of social media. Products are currently available for purchase at wholisticbrands.com.