Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of our Jewish community. Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected].
Last week week we got to know Ariella Forstein. This week meet Leslie Fhima! Leslie is an entrepreneur, a fitness instructor, and she toured the world… on ice!
TC Jewfolk: Are you from the Twin Cities?
TCJ: You own a business. PowerBark?
Leslie: PowerBark is my business that I own with a partner that I used to skate with in the Ice Follies. We started it about five years ago. I had the idea and the recipe, but I didn’t really know what to do with it. She took it and made it into a bar.
TCJ: And it’s… dog food?
Leslie: Basically, our tagline is, “Meal on the run for the dog on the go.” It’s a meal in a bar, and it’s 100% complete, balanced, AAFCO approved dog food. It’s vegetarian, wheat- and corn-free, and one bar is enough to feed up to a 30-pound dog.
TCJ: And the dogs like it?
Leslie: Yes, the dogs love it!
TCJ: Where can people find it?
Leslie: We’re in about 25 stores across the country. It’s also available online through our website, Powerbark.com, and Amazon.com My partner lives in Alabama; she’s gotten some local press, and I’m getting local press, so our plan is to get recognized in our own hometowns and then branch out from there.
TCJ: How did you come up with this idea?
Leslie: I’m a personal trainer. I’m in my car all day long, and I take my dog Sadie with me. One day I was having, like, a Clif Bar, and my dog had missed her meal again. So I was thinking it would be so great if I could have something like a Clif Bar for my dog! I wouldn’t have to remember to pack and bring her food every day. She wouldn’t miss her meal that way. And the idea just kind of hit me. Then I thought of the name, PowerBark, and I applied for the trademark. From that point it took us about five years to get a product into stores and onto shelves. It’s actually a really long process getting a dog food into a bar.
TCJ: What exactly was the process that went into it?
Leslie: My partner Beth formulated the bar working alongside a dog food scientist. The whole process was a lot of hard work, we had many obstacles, but we never gave up. We were supposed to be on Shark Tank, but they cut us a week before we were supposed to leave… And then our competitor got on. That was a tough one.
TCJ: Do you still do personal training?
Leslie: I do. I go to clients’ homes, and I teach classes at Lifetime, The Firm, and the JCC. I choreograph dances for certain events, I teach kids hip-hop, and figure skaters off-ice. I have to support myself, as well as my business, so I have to work full-time on top of PowerBark.
TCJ: And you mentioned Ice Follies and figure skating. Does that mean you started as a figure skater?
Leslie: Yeah. I was a figure skater my whole life, and when I graduated high school, literally a week after, I tried out for the Ice Follies and made it. I skated two years in the Ice Follies, and then spent a year skating in Europe with Holiday On Ice.
TCJ: Can you briefly describe what the Ice Follies are?
Leslie: Ice Follies is the professional figure skating show, which now is basically Disney on Ice. So we toured all over the United States and Canada.
TCJ: Awesome! Switching gears, what’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?
Leslie: Being with my kids and family. I have a grandson, so I find it really important to have family dinners, and do Shabbat, and make sure he grows up doing that.
TCJ: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Leslie: Passover! I love cooking, and I love having my family over. I also get to make my matzo ball soup, which is famous with my children.
TCJ: On that note, what’s your favorite Jewish food?
Leslie: Kugel. It’s just such a comfort food. It reminds me of celebration, family, etc.
TCJ: What’s your favorite thing to do around the Twin Cities?
Leslie: Go listen to music. I love live music! My whole family is full of musicians. My sister-in-law is a singer, so I hear her a lot.
TCJ: What else do you for fun?
Leslie: I’m with my grandson a lot, I love doing that. I love being with my friends. Even though I work out for a living, I love to work out. And I like to just be outside a lot. I’ve been active my whole life–skating, obviously. I’ve also run ten marathons, I took up snowboarding so I could do that with my son, Zack Chazin, when he was 14. I’m very active and I think that keeps me young.
TCJ: Finally, give us one more reason why you’re folking awesome!
Leslie: I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished in my life and try everyday to be a good role model!Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!