There are few times in one’s life when hundreds of reasons to do something literally fall onto your lap. One day as Margaret Barrow sat at work, a student dropped off a mountainous stack of surveys with affirmations as to why she should pursue a business producing healthy granola snacks. "See!" They told her. "People love them!" A year later, in 2018, Margaret had taken her favorite snack and transformed it into a business that puts health and wellness on the front burner.

Margaret has been a professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College for more than two decades, driven by a desire to be a mentor to young people. She loved sharing a snack with her students, and finding traditional granola bars lacking in nutrition, she began experimenting with her own concoctions. Margaret started making little granola balls made of gluten-free organic rolled oats, real nut and seed proteins, dried fruit and spices. They were tasty, healthy, and left her much more satisfied. As she shared them with her students, she quickly acquired a following. Her students loved them and constantly asked for more.

It became evident that these little granola balls had potential to transform from a tasty homemade snack into a lucrative business. But as a tenured English professor, the idea of starting a new business required serious planning, “I called myself the reluctant entrepreneur…I know that your foundation can't be shifted unless you let it, unless you're ready for it.” So, when the time was right, Margaret took her tasty, healthy and vegan snack to the market and brought to life It’s Nola. Now, three years later, Margaret is excited about the idea of making It’s Nola into a career. “I feel success within us. I feel it happening every single day.”

Margaret’s story is one that is intertwined with resilience, connection, and heart.  Margaret grew up in the foster care system and was met with many instances that could have, and arguably should have, knocked her down. Mental and physical abuse led to a low self-esteem but with the guidance of mentors, she was able to realize her worth and radiate self-love. With this history, Margaret carries a deep recognition of the impact of mentors. It’s Nola donates ten percent of its profits to community college mentorship programs and empowers the future generation of students to recognize their worth, learn to love themselves and never stop short of achieving anything less than their goals. 

Shop Margaret's store on TheWMarketplace here:

Margaret Barrow: The Two-Way Impact of Mentorships

Margaret Barrow: The Two-Way Impact of Mentorships