Written by Sayli Khadilkar, a sophomore in the BHP program.
Kim Holstein, co-founder and Chief Chocolate Officer (yes, that is her official title!) of Crave Bars, visited the BHP sophomore lyceum course last Wednesday. Holstein greeted the class with Crave Bar samples, and needless to say, the sophomores were won over instantly. Tasting the decadent frozen treat was a great surprise, but after hearing Holstein’s stories and lessons, the students were even more captivated by the guest speaker.
Holstein, a Houston native, was one of many who fell in love with Austin after her time at The University of Texas. As a McCombs marketing major, she was always very interested in the creative side of business. After graduating from The University of Texas in 1989, Holstein completed her Master’s in Advertising from Northwestern University. She worked as an account executive for Ogilvy & Mather, a job that was very business-oriented. Wishing for a higher degree of creativity, she eventually chose to start her own business. Holstein co-founded her first venture, Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels, with her now-husband. The duo sold the company when it matured because they enjoyed the early, start-up phase of creating a business. Kim and Scott created Crave Bars almost a year and a half ago.
Starting a new business undoubtedly led to several unforeseen roadblocks. When asked about these discouraging moments, the fervent entrepreneur replied, “when you are passionate, it’s not about quitting; it’s about finding another way.” Holstein proved to the class that her relentless drive paid off. She encouraged the students to take risks and to act as if quitting if not an option.
The lyceum course places an emphasis on ethics, something that has always been important to Holstein. In her previous pretzel company, Holstein had a program called “Pretzels with a Purpose,” an initiative to give back to the community. Social conscience is certainly very important to Holstein, and she has carried over the idea for the foundation of Crave Bars. In addition, Holstein believes a company’s stance on social responsibility plays a huge role in determining the company culture.
Kim Holstein’s advice for budding business leaders is to seek out a mentor. She assured students that most people are very open to mentoring and passing on what they have learned. She says to “look for somebody who is currently doing what you hope to do in the future and to approach them.” Holstein encouraged the BHP sophomores to go after their passions. While she took a huge risk in creating her own path, Holstein also believes it was the greatest decision she ever made.