Jan. 23, 2015. From her home in Horse Show, N.C., Lees-McRae College alumna Ally Stacher ’10 is building an empire powered by sweet potato flavored bars simply named Ally’s Bar. In addition to operating a thriving energy bar business, Stacher is also a professional cyclist riding in multiple disciplines. It was her love of training married with a love of cooking that spawned this delightfully tasty treat and business venture.
“I’m a dreamer,” said Stacher, “and if you don’t dream then your business can’t grow.”
With a personal philosophy that “nothing ever gets done slow,” Stacher seemed destined to create energy bars. After spending much of her athletic career relying on prepackaged bars that had questionable health benefits, she finally had enough.
In 2010, she took to the kitchen and after only a few test batches, she had created what would become known as Ally’s Bar, a certified organic, gluten free, vegan-friendly, kosher and non-GMO product. Don’t fear the litany of healthy buzz words, this bar packs a delicious punch with ingredients such as sweet potatoes, dates, bananas, dark chocolate, cranberries, cinnamon and agave syrup.
“I want to produce a product that tastes great but is also good fuel for your body,” said Stacher.
“After Ally’s Bar officially became an LLC in February 2013, we started making 250 bar batches in my kitchen. Then we moved to a commercial kitchen making 1,000 bar batches. Then, with the help of my two business partners, it was finally time to make the move to a manufacturer. We spent a lot of time researching because it is really important to us that all the ingredients are highly-quality and sourced from organic farms.”
Ally’s Bars and associated apparel can be ordered online, but the bars are also available in many cycling shops and coffee houses across twelve states. With her sights set on Whole Foods, Stacher is determined to grow her business.
“I plan to spend 2015 racing bikes and slingin’ bars,” Stacher joked.
The first Ally’s Bar fans were none other than Stacher’s own teammates from her former professional team Specialized lululemon and her husband, fellow professional cyclist John Murphy. After making bars for years, Stacher brought a batch to the Specialized lululemon team camp. After that, Stacher had a slew of new customers and all the encouragement she needed to make her dreams a reality.
Growing up in California, Stacher, who spent her time completing in rodeo and women’s wrestling, never imagined she would one day plant roots in the South as a professional cyclist and business owner. However, the day she got on a bike, her fate was sealed.
“Even though I was a beginner Lees-McRae offered me a small scholarship,” said Stacher.
“They took a chance on me. Once I was there, I worked hard and earned my spot on the team. In 2009, I was offered a spot on the women’s national team. My professors worked with me to make sure I could stay successful in the classroom as well as on my bike. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Lees-McRae.”
After riding on the U.S. Women’s National Team, Stacher was offered a contract with Webcor Builders, before progressing to HTC-Highroad and then Specialized lululemon.
“It’s definitely hard to balance riding and running my business,” said Stacher. “I’m on the road so much that it was hard to keep up with all the orders. Thankfully, having large enough orders to move to a manufacturer solved that problem! I use training as my time to unwind and even when I’m exhausted I am always happy I trained. I’ve also learned to prioritize, not overcommit, be realistic and, most importantly, drink excessive amounts of coffee!”
Having earned her bachelor’s degree in History from Lees-McRae, Stacher has also thrived in her international travels. She takes time to research each location and then give a small history lesson to her travel companions.
“When I was in Rome, they shut down the road so we could race around the Coliseum,” said Stacher. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t amazing. Sometimes it’s very surreal to visit and race in these locations surrounded by so much history.”
Ally Stacher embodies entrepreneurial spirit. With her positivity, ambition, and drive, she will surely grow Ally’s Bar to be a household name.
“I spent so much time researching similar products so I could see what worked and didn’t work, and hope I didn’t make the same mistakes,” said Stacher. “My advice is to do research, spend conservatively and not be afraid to fail. If you don’t have the credentials to achieve your dreams, I believe that if you work hard and prove yourself someone will give you a chance.”
For more information about Ally’s Bar, visit allysbar.com.
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Lees-McRae College is a private, four-year college offering diverse baccalaureate degrees, strong athletic programs and outstanding faculty. With 950 students hailing from 31 states and more than 8 countries, Lees-McRae’s broad core curriculum is enhanced by field-specific career preparation and experiential learning. For more information, please visit www.lmc.edu or call 828.898.5241.