Natalie Ramsland, founder of Sweetpea Bicycles, started with a singular mission: to create the best possible riding expe…
A Heartfelt Hunch
The Story Behind the LUNA Brand
Sometimes the simplest idea can become the most revolutionary, depending on the right kitchen-crafted mix of inspiration, drive, and energy. We’re proud to say that LUNA is an example of such a transformation. What began 17 years ago as a seemingly questionable dive into the women’s nutrition market is now an industry standard, symbolizing female empowerment through film, sport, business, and beyond. LUNA sustains women so they can play harder, work harder, break barriers, and—most importantly—help one another shine.
LUNA is far more than just a delicious snack —it’s a full-blown movement, ladies! “People kept asking – women kept asking – for a specific kind of bar,” says Clif Bar & Company co-Chief Visionary Officer (CVO). “So we decided to make one, which no one had done before. We were the first on the market. Then once we opened that door, the brand itself had a life of its own.” With a traveling festival featuring short films by, for, and about women and the longest running professional mountain biking team in history — we’ve championed women for over 15 years. And we have no plans of slowing down.
In the beginning, like most innovations, the idea of a women’s nutrition bar seemed like a big leap of faith. “People said, ‘you’re crazy, you’re going to cannibalize CLIF Bar—women don’t need their own special bar’,” remembers Kit. However, spurred onward by female employees, female athletes, Kit, and their daughters, Clif Bar & Company founder and co-CVOpushed forward—one experimental, nutritious recipe at a time.
The idea behind the first LUNA bar was simple: women needed something kitchen-crafted that was a little smaller, a little different, and a whole lot yummier than what was out there: “There was this whole idea that women wanted a bit more decadent experience for their more sophisticated palate,” says Kit, with a smirk. “But at the same time we made sure to consider what needed to be different nutritionally, so we made sure there were vitamins and minerals important to women.”
Within six months of the first LUNA bar launch in 1999, it was clear that we had our finger on the pulse of a movement the rest of the industry didn’t even know existed. “At one point we even thought LUNA would surpass CLIF Bar, it took off that fast,” says Kit.
A year later, we began looking for a way to showcase the LUNA brand in a unique way that also empowered women—and LUNAFEST was born. It began as a single film festival in Berkeley, CA showcasing female filmmakers and eventually, through the guidance of visual and performing artist Kit and inspired by the Vagina Monologues, LUNAFEST became a traveling festival celebrating and connecting women through film. “It’s about giving women the opportunity to tell their stories and opening the door for filmmakers who might not otherwise be given the chance to show their art,” says Kit, who currently serves as the festival’s strategic advisor.
The net proceeds of each festival go toward the Breast Cancer Fund, as well as to local women’s causes in each of the festival locales. “I love that part of LUNAFEST because I think women are really attentive to community,” says Kit. “And, LUNAFEST is thought provoking - believe me we’ve had some stories over the years. Sometimes people walk out of the theatre saying ‘Oh my. That was intense.’ But that’s because the films are told from a female perspective in a way that maybe the audience hasn’t experienced before. It’s powerful.”
This season - the 15th anniversary of LUNAFEST- six films will be shown in more than 180 cities to more than 30,000 people. Since 2000, our “film festival in a box” has raised over $3 million benefitting the Breast Cancer Fund and over 1200 local non-profits nation-wide. We’ve given a platform for issues as complex and emotional as race, politics, and cancer—and we’ve brought women together to do what we do best—combine our own individual superpowers to change the world.
The next chapter of the LUNA story started on a family vacation in 2001. Gary and Kit were watching their daughter, Lydia, run and play in the waves and together wondered about what her future could be in sports. “We wanted to try and find a way for women to be able to compete in the sporting world in a legitimately professional way, because there just weren’t that many opportunities out there. This was especially important to Gary, being so involved in competitive sports himself."
That simple conversation launched the LUNA Pro Team, which over the last 15 years has become the most successful, longest-running team in the history of professional mountain bike racing. These eight women don’t just kick ass (members have won Olympic medals, the UCI World MTB Championships and the UCI World Cup title several times, both as a team and as individuals, as well as countless national and international MTB and cyclo-cross championships), they also open doors—usually by riding right through them.
“The LUNA Pro Team has opened the door to all the possibilities that women can have in sport if they are supported financially and given all the resources that male pro teams usually get,” says Kit. “And they are out there representing women and doing workshops – all while training. It’s so incredibly inspiring for young girls to see women doing that and being successful at it. It’s huge.”
Kit, and the rest of the LUNA team, are excited to continue growing, evolving, and most of all— championing women. What began as a heartfelt hunch has now turned into so much more, and as long as we continue to listen to our communities, we will continue to improve and move forward. “I’m proud that we’ve remained relevant all these years,” says Kit. “We’ve never been afraid to tackle new issues or speak to new audiences; it’s about paying attention and having the guts to move in new directions.”
“The future of LUNA is exciting because we have a lot of opportunity. We’re listening to what women want, what women need, and what women are doing. And putting that all together. We have so many things we can do for women still. There are so many possibilities."