What do cake, entrepreneurship, history and astrophysics have in common? A lot, according to Alice S. Han ‘16 and Nina L. Hooper ‘16. They are the co-founders of The Holistic, a healthy baked goods startup that is two years in the works. Oh, and history and astrophysics are their respective concentrations.
The Feel Good Cake is their signature product– it is vegan, gluten free, and has no refined sugar. The philosophy behind this cake is to embody “a health bar in a cake,” says Han. Creating this cake was no small feat for the two Australian juniors. The recipe for the chocolate cake has gone through at least 50 iterations, with many tweaks to each ingredient along the way. For example, the addition of apple cider vinegar to their recipe was a way to mimic some of the functions of ordinary baking soda. And nope, incase you were wondering, neither Han nor Hooper has taken Science and Cooking, but they have met the professors, who are very supportive of their initiative.
Hooper, who has been a vegan for two years, and Han, who is not a vegan, decided to make their product free of eggs, sugar, dairy and the like in order to appeal to Hooper’s dietary restrictions and the lifestyle choices of their friends.
Juggling classes, homework, and college life, the two have come a long way from taste-tasting their cake amongst their friends and at weekly PAF study breaks, to now catering Harvard Business School events and hosting a pop-up market at the Harvard Square Anthropologie. They are currently selling their 190-calorie product as an individually-packaged chocolate cake for $1.99 at Broadway Market.
With every batch of cakes baked, Han and Hooper learned how to grow and manage a business. Han states that she has learned many “real world lessons,” from marketing and brand awareness to composing emails. The greatest lesson she has learned throughout the whole process however is “the ability to bounce back from failure.” This perseverance has allowed them to exhibit their product in unconventional spaces, such as within goodie bags at this year’s New York Fashion Week.
Looking ahead, Han and Hooper hope to launch their cakes as an in-flight dining option, in addition to increasing their flavor range of cakes, such as almond butter and banana, matcha and red bean paste, and blueberry vanilla.
Just last week, Han and Hooper launched their Kickstarter, with the hopes of raising $15,000 as seed money so they can begin to outsource production, distribution, and delivery. While their video depicts them traveling the world baking their Feel Good Cake, to Han and Hooper, it represents more than just the two of them as business partners. They are also best friends who bonded over not only baking and healthy eating, but also their love of travel.