[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
YOUNGSTOWN — Chad and Hanna Nasci, co-founders of Nash Nutrition, started a line of protein bars called Nash Bars in January 2019 as a way to use natural and simple ingredients to nourish the body.
Hanna and Chad are Mahoning Valley natives who recently tied the knot. The couple strives to make protein bars that contain ‘the good for you,’ as they are labeled, by combining Hanna’s background as a nutritionist and Chad’s background in professional powerlifting and fitness coaching.
Hanna said the initial inspiration for Nash Nutrition’s protein bars was in 2018, when she started making homemade protein balls to feature on her wellness and health blog in college.
“We kind of just thought that there wasn't anything on the market like the protein balls, because they were made with really simple ingredients. They were all natural,” she said. “Then we put our heads together and realized that more people would want a product that is high in protein, but also really natural, and that's kind of how the Nash Bar came about.”
During that time, Chad owned Nash Dog Gym in Youngstown. So not only was he eager to find a clean protein option for himself, but his clients were interested, too.
“There was nothing that I could say [to my clients] like, ‘Just eat this, and you'll be fine.’ So there was like the ‘Aha!’ moment where there's definitely a gap in the marketplace,” Chad said.
After nearly 10 years in fitness coaching, Chad decided to dedicate himself full time to Nash Nutrition in September 2020.
Chad told Mahoning Matters one of the first initiatives was integrating the slogan ‘better health equals better performance.’
“That's kind of where [Hanna’s] side of the health and nutrition and all that, and then my side dealing with athletes my whole life, we saw the parallels as far as it's not just a protein bar for athletes because, you know, better performance could be better performance in work or as a mom or anything you do. Better health is gonna help enhance that,” he said.
Nash Bars have 20 grams of protein and come in four flavors: Blueberry Coconut Cashew, Dark Chocolate Chunk, Peanut Butter Bliss and Peanut Butter Chocolate. According to Hanna, Nash Bars are dairy-, gluten- and soy-free, and do not contain any artificial preservatives, sweeteners or ingredients.
“From a nutrition standpoint I tell my clients, and Chad used to tell his clients at the gym, 20 grams [of protein] is like a good set point for a meal. So you can have the Nash Bar with a piece of fruit or some veggies, and it can act as a meal if need be,” Hanna said.
Nash Nutrition is mostly a direct consumer business, and Nash Bars can be purchased in packs of 12 for $25.99 online.
Locally, Nash Bars can be found at private gyms and coffee shops like Culturehouse Coffee Co., High Octane Coffee Co. and Branch Street Coffee Roasters.
“We don't want to necessarily get into the major chains, like CVS or Walgreens or Whole Foods and all of that. With the nature of our product, we'd rather be direct to consumers and deal with people who really value what we’re doing,” Chad said.
“In the near future, we really don't see [adding] anything else because we want to make sure our products can be utilized by everybody,” he added. “We've had teachers, athletes, stay-at-home moms, stay-at-home dads, you name it — everybody has found a way to enjoy what we've created, which was kind of by accident, as far as that wasn't like the grand vision. At first, we just want to put out something that we could utilize and hopefully other people see the value in it.
“We always want to make sure our products are something that everybody can enjoy.”