Photo: Josue Acosta
Inspired by clients who wanted a healthy way to satisfy a carb craving, Besu developed a line of high-protein, low-carb treats. Her goods are now sold at 8,000 retail locations.
Developing healthy recipes had been Besu's hobby, but now it had a purpose.
Founder, Eat Me Guilt Free, Miami
Nurse and sports nutritionist Cristie Besu started her Eat Me Guilt Free line of high-protein, low-carb baked goods in her kitchen a decade ago when her clients would confess to cheating on their diets. Besu, a Miami native, realized there was a business opportunity in making healthier treats.
“The brownie was born as a result of hearing the same complaint over and over again. ‘I feel terrible. I ate this brownie or a piece of cake,’ ” Besu says. “I felt there was this huge discrepancy between what we wanted to eat and what we had to eat.” Developing healthy recipes had been her hobby, but now it had a purpose.
While still working as a nurse, Besu had taken to Instagram to market the brownies. When social media influencers asked for samples and posted about them, the business boomed. In Besu’s first year of online commerce, she generated nearly $800,000.
In 2019, Besu launched Eat Me Guilt Free in stores nationally, and the line has since expanded to a variety of brownie flavors, bread, tortillas and cake mixes. Business has grown to 8,000 retail locations, including Amazon, Winn-Dixie, United Supermarkets, GNC, The Vitamin Shoppe, Albertsons, Safeway and gyms such as Gold’s Gym, Planet Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness. The company now employs 30.
Besu is in the process of taking over the manufacturing plant for Eat Me Guilt Free to better control production costs and quality.
During the pandemic, she decided she could help other women entrepreneurs. In 2021, after a year of planning, she launched the You Glow Girl grant program with a mission to provide business guidance and financial and stress-management resources to new female-led ventures. By its second year, the grant program attracted more than 1,300 applications. Recently, the program awarded $10,000 to New York entrepreneurs Julie Griggs and Danielle Dietzek, the founders of the double-dating app Fourplay Social.
“I have had people say, ‘You are not in a position to do that yet.’ I feel like we can. It’s not a ton of money in the great scheme of things, but it goes a long way for a new entrepreneur.”