FlapJacked: How this Denver mom’s special-needs son led her to start a successful company
posted by: Amber Johnson
Yes, it’s true. A local mom named Jennifer Bacon did, indeed, start a Denver-based company named FlapJacked which makes high-protein, macro-friendly indulgences that satisfy cravings and keep you on track with your fitness goals…and are easily available in King Soopers, Walmart, GNC and Safeway in Colorado.
Their family is a melting pot full of challenges that they hurdle daily. Their five children are the inspiration, not only for FlapJacked but the passion and personality behind the FlapJacked brand. Josie and Ellie (freshly 16), are their artistic twins who love to dance on their high school varsity POM’s team and are avid downhill skiers. Jace (16) has Autism and can’t read or write but makes them smile and laugh every day and loves to swim. Jett (18), battles Epilepsy and deals with seizures every week but loves being around people and is a fantastic bowler. And finally, Owen (12), is a very active, vibrant boy who loves all things sports and participates in competitive basketball and football and fantastic skier. Owen was recognized by the Nuggets and Eddies Kids Foundation last March as Jr. Nugget of the Year, a humanity and kindness award for constantly being there for his two special-needs brothers. Literally, their family turns full-circle.
Jennifer and her husband, Dave, are mostly calendar managers and chauffeurs, but between managing their children’s school, sports, and social lives, they work full- time at FlapJacked and when they have time they love to simply relax and spend quality time with their family. Respectively, Dave is a pilot with American Airlines while he also is CEO of FlapJacked and Nicole is a photographer and designer at heart and in her pre-FlapJacked life had a career as an executive in a large CPG company now CBO of FlapJacked. We sat down to talk to Nicole about her family’s journey.
What led you to start FlapJacked?
Our five children inspire us to continue with our dream, but the initial inspiration spawned from a simple nourishment need for our son Jace, who has Autism. If you know someone with Autism, they are typically very picky eaters. Jace was malnourished because of his dislike of texture with food. He would only eat 5-7 foods and did so for several years. We tried everything. We started fortifying his meals where he wouldn’t notice and since pancakes were his favorite, we started there. We were fortifying our pancakes with protein and noticed he was open to slowly try new things. We also noticed that our other children weren’t as hungry and were satiated much longer. Seeing the physical differences in our children through more balanced eating continues to inspire and delight us every day.
Our belief is simple: maintain the quality in our product that emerged from our kitchen. With every product that we produce, we promise ourselves that the product is pure, thoughtful, delicious, and of course, good enough to feed our children. We want to do for other families, what we have done for our own.
Tell us about your products and where they’re sold in Denver?
FlapJacked™ Protein Pancake & Baking Mix is a delicious, protein-packed and fiber-rich mix made with quality gluten-free ingredients such as whole oats and coconut flour. Naturally sweetened each mix boasts 20g of protein and just 200 calories per serving. Simply add water to make pancakes or use as a flour replacement in recipes.
FlapJacked™ Mighty Muffins are a delicious, protein-packed, high-fiber muffin developed with scrumptious flavor, balanced nutrition and convenience in mind. Mighty Muffin packs 20g of protein and under 240 calories in each serving (1 container). We’ve even added the benefit of probiotics to help support immune health as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Just add water, microwave for 35–55 seconds and enjoy a delicious meal or snack on-the-go.
FlapJacked™ Soft-Baked Cookie Bars (Just launched in May) are a grab-n-go soft-baked bar that tastes more like an ooey-gooey cookie than a protein bar. We’ve baked up an indulgent treat that rocks 10g of protein and added Prebiotics and 1 billion CFU Probiotics to support digestive health.
FlapJacked offers a various line of products in stores such as King Soopers, Walmart, GNC and Safeway in Colorado! Be sure to check out our store locator for locations. (Note that the Cookie Bars can only be found in Safeway in the Breakfast Bar aisle and won’t show up on the store locator yet!)
What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today?
The biggest obstacle is learning about an industry we knew nothing about. Dave and I knew we had a great product and a great idea but knew NOTHING about putting a food product on the market. it’s not as simple as putting a widget on a website and selling instantly. The learning curve was real, but we found the right people and resources to learn from and caught on quickly. There is nothing more rewarding than launching a new product that people love and talk about.
Another obstacle is the competition. They always say that the biggest form of flattery is being copied. After we launched our brand and started coming out with new products, the number of protein pancakes and muffins multiplied. You must have a fantastic product with your own personality. Being a fit-food brand, we need to deliver on taste. Unfortunately, in the 6 years of business, we’ve seen dozens of products appear and disappear just as quickly because the product wasn’t delicious. As long as we stand ground on our brand promise and ring true with the message to our consumers, we continue to rise above the copycats. We welcome competition, but be yourself, don’t try to be someone else or it won’t work.
What advice would you give to your fellow mompreneurs?
Quitting a good job is like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane to skydive. It’s a little scary and yet exhilarating. I would say that taking the initial leap to do what you love to do, whether is a new service or product is a key step and be prepared to take risks. Don’t be afraid to fail, and if you must, make sure you fail fast and cheap. By taking risks we challenge ourselves to think differently about our business. There are a lot of levers to pull and without knowing the outcome of each, we must choose wisely which risks we are willing to take. I know that’s harder said than done and requires planning, but you must dive in head first. Being an entrepreneur is not a 9-5 job, it’s a 24-hour job and requires dedication and hard work. You can do it.
What are your favorite Denver activities to do as a family?
We love living in Colorado as there is always something new to see and do. Unfortunately, we need to split up our family activities as the kids get older, we can’t always bring all 5 of them but also don’t want to hold anyone back from their favorite activities. For example, Jett has Epilepsy so can’t go on beach vacations, ski, backpack or do anything dangerous just in case he has a seizure. There are too many activities we enjoy to list, but here are a few of my favorites:
The Wild Animal Sanctuary – Our entire family enjoys visiting this place. We are animal lovers and admire that they have rescued so many wild animals and put them back into their habitat and given people to the chance to observe on their 1-mile catwalk. Lions, Tigers and Bears, oh my! What a great cause!
We enjoy The Denver Art Museum, The Denver Aquarium, and Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Most of my kids really don’t get tired of looking at fish or artifacts and love learning about things. I could browse all day long. Jace REALLY enjoys the aquarium. They offer low-sensory days for people with sensory issues, which we appreciate.
Every Summer, I pick 1-2 new locations in the mountains for 4-5 of us to explore. Last week we accomplished a 19.3-mile trip in 3 days starting at Green Mountain Trailhead in RMNP. This is an awesome experience for the kids (and us) to step away from technology and enjoy the scenery, the wildlife and each other. We reserve the Backcountry Wilderness Sites early (February) before they book up. Our favorite backwoods backpacking trip though, years ago before starting to take the kids, was a 3-day, 27-mile 4-pass loop of Maroon Bells, Colorado.