University of Michigan senior Annie Slabotsky is not just a stylish student — the Bloomfield Hills native has a strong passion for baking. During her freshman year, she started a health-conscious banana bread company called GoNanas. Read more about her in 20 questions below!
By Rachel Schostak
Photography by Viviana Pernot
1. Tell us about your background and where you’re from? I grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, just outside Detroit. I have a very close family and am the youngest of three siblings. I always loved dancing, baking and the University of Michigan. I’m so lucky to have all those things remain a huge part of my life to this day.
2. Why did you start GoNanas? Growing up, I always loved to bake. In high school, I would frequently bring in cakes and cupcakes on my friends’ birthdays. When I started college, it wasn’t as easy to bring my baked goods to a communal cafeteria. I began making goody bags and delivering them to friends. My cousin loved the banana bread — I was using my mom’s recipe — and suggested I start selling it. Not long after, I became friends with my dorm room neighbor, Morgan Lerner, after we bonded over a shared love of baking and healthy eating. Fast-forward a few weeks, and together we launched GoNanas.
3. How did your company come about? I mentioned my neighbor in the freshman dorms and eventual business partner, Morgan Lerner. After we started talking about banana bread, I invited her to my parents’ home in Bloomfield to bake with me. During the ride home, I mentioned that my cousin suggested I sell my banana bread. She loved the idea with the twist that we create a healthier banana bread that would still be delicious while appealing to the health-conscious. I wanted a partner and was instantly drawn to Morgan’s enthusiasm, organization and vision. The two of us got right to work, and that’s how GoNanas was born.
4. Do you have any plans for expanding your company? Morgan and I hope to continue expanding within Ann Arbor before looking at new cities. From there, we want to try and enter larger grocery store chains with packaged varieties of our frozen banana bread that can be heated on the go. If all goes well, Morgan and I would love to open up a banana bread bar!
5. What’s it like to own a company as a college student? While I have no other experience in the matter, I would say starting a company while in college is the best time to do it. College kids have ample free time and have endless resources at their fingertips. Quite frankly, I don’t know what I would do without GoNanas. I don’t find it at all difficult to find time for friends, school and work.
6. Do you have any advice for college students trying to start a business? Just start! You can weigh the pros and cons, do as much research as you want, but at the end of the day, no one can teach you the ins and outs of your particular business, and nothing can prepare you for all of the challenges you are going to face. Jump in head first, and figure it out as you go. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources out there!
7. GoNanas prides itself on being a wholesome banana bread line. What advice can you give on eating healthy? The best advice I can give is that eating healthfully means eating real, natural foods and indulging your cravings on occasion. For example, cutting out carbs from your diet is a ridiculous trend in my opinion. Oats, wheat bran and other whole grains are so good for you! Never “cut out” foods from your diet. If I want a piece of warm bread before dinner, I will have one, and if I want a panini at home, I’ll make one. I just use bread with really whole grains instead of processed, blanched flour.
8. Favorite flavor of your banana bread? I love all of the flavors so much, and it depends what kind of mood I’m in! If I want something dessert-y, it’s definitely the chocolate chip. If I want something more hearty, I go for the vegan crackly.
9. We should assume banana bread is your favorite food? If not, what is your favorite food? Banana bread is actually my second favorite food. My actual favorite food is bananas!
10. Favorite Instagram food account to follow? I love @Whole30Recipes. They have really delicious, clean recipes from a variety of different people. I especially love their “buffalo” chicken stuffed sweet potato. 10/10 would recommend!
11. Who inspires you and why? My business partner Morgan inspires me daily. First off, she really has her priorities in check, and she has the most balance in her life in regards to working hard, making time for friends and family, and finding time for herself. She eats clean but treats herself when the food is worth it. She has the kindest heart, but is strong enough to say “no.” I am so lucky to have a partner like her.
On to your Local Love List…
12. What is your favorite restaurant in the Ann Arbor area? My favorite is Spencer; its a farm-to-table restaurant that changes its menu weekly. I especially like how their dishes are creative and unique.
13. What is your favorite local Ann Arbor coffee shop? While I’m not a coffee drinker, I love Mighty Good Coffee. They have an amazing and unique tea selection.
14. Favorite local store to shop in Ann Arbor? Bivouac has some cute pieces and the best jeans. It’s probably the only store I’d shop at for clothes in Ann Arbor. I used to work there before GoNanas started to take off.
Now on to your style…
15. In three words, how would you describe your style? Minimalist meets trendy.
16. Best fashion advice you’ve received? It’s best to put your clothing budget to a few good pieces rather than many less expensive pieces.
17. What can you not leave home without? A Swell bottle — always stay hydrated.
18. You’re never fully dressed without…a cute pair of sneakers and a cross body bag!
19. In regards to finding inspiration for your personal style — do read any fashion blogs, magazines or follow any stylish “Instagrammers?” I’m lucky enough to have a sister and mom with great style, so I mainly get my inspiration from them.
Head-to-Toe Outfit Details
20. Favorite quote or words to live by? “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” — Dalai Lama