Oct 112011
Authors: Justin Hill

Much like the rest of Fort Collins, biking, climbing and the outdoors are a few of the activities that drive local business owner, Charly Clifford.

His homemade CharlyBar is an all-natural nutrition bar made by hand with raw ingredients and no preservatives or processed ingredients, made to match the all-natural, local Fort Collins scene.

“There are so many active people here,” said McCabe Callahan, the owner of Mugs Coffee Lounge and longtime friend of Clifford. “This is the perfect market for it.”

Clifford said he is a very active person and enjoys biking and hiking, and before he sustained an elbow injury, he also enjoyed rock climbing. Before he started the business, he made the bars for himself and his friends for their outdoor adventures.
He was also involved in the coffee business.

“I used to be a partner at Mugs for six and a half years,” Clifford said. “I needed to get out of coffee after being in it for almost 11 years.”

Clifford also did some freelance design work for Mugs and the Colorado Climbing Coalition in multi-media, but he didn’t make a career out of it.

It was then that he considered taking his homemade energy bars more seriously, and in 2009 he incorporated the business, starting by making the bars in Callahan’s basement by hand.

The bars are still handmade, but now Clifford has a space that is up to health and safety regulations.

“At first he was just selling off the website,” Callahan said. “Mugs was one of his first wholesale accounts.”

CharlyBars are now sold at nine local vendors, including Full Cycle bicycle shop and the Fort Collins Food Co-op. They are available at Mugs for $2.75 after tax.

Jessica Haas, a friend of Clifford, said in an email to the Collegian that, from her experience with other energy bars, it is “superior, not only in nutrient content, but in quality of ingredients and taste.”

Clifford said he is also interested in helping out charity organizations with his business. One percent of all CharlyBar sales goes toward Ciclismo Youth Foundation, which is dedicated to providing underprivileged youth with cycling opportunities in the community.

Clifford said CharlyBar raised $200 for the charity recently.

When Clifford is not working on making 20 to 40 dozen CharlyBars by hand for the month or gallivanting outdoors, he’s back at his roots working 35 to 40 hour weeks at the Mugs downtown.
With so much on his plate, Clifford said the growth of CharlyBars has been slow and steady, but he likes it that way.

“I want to grow, get bigger,” Clifford said. “There is huge intellectual property in Fort Collins, and I think we need to keep it here, keep it local.”

Soon he plans to partner up with Loco Distributors to help him share his products with Denver and Boulder. The product will still be branded as Fort Collins local, and he said he hopes the expansion will bring attention to that “huge intellectual property” here in Fort Collins.

“He knows he has a good product,” Callahan said. “Right now, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get the word out there.”

Clifford said the growth of his business has been due to the promotion of sales by local businesses, personal hard work, sharing and word of mouth.

“Most people I know have at least heard about CharlyBar, if not had one,” Haas said.

In the end, Clifford is just a man enjoying life and loving what he does.

“I really just want to benefit my roots and have a job,” Clifford said. “I want to provide quality food for an affordable price and just have a fun company.”

Collegian writer Justin Hill can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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