How a personal health challenge led one woman to create a successful company
story by Liza Long
photography by Heidi Hansen
Imagine if you could enjoy the rich, creamy taste of butter this holiday season—but without the guilt. The quest for that culinary Holy Grail propelled one Idaho woman to found a successful company. When she faced health challenges several years ago, Cygnia Rapp never thought she would become an entrepreneur with a healthy, tasty product so popular it was featured on the Dr. Oz show. Placed on strict dietary restrictions that prohibited butter, Rapp decided to look for alternative solutions. After researching nutrition and healthy fats, she discovered virgin coconut oil, and Melt was born.
“Melt helped me to enjoy my food again,” Rapp told me when we spoke by telephone about her experience. “And it did even more: it gave me the energy I needed.”
Rapp thought that if her healthy alternative to butter worked so well for her, others might also enjoy its benefits. So the Hailey, Idaho resident cashed out her retirement accounts and took a leap of faith, creating Prosperity Organic Foods in 2008 with additional funding from the Boise Angel Fund, which focuses on funding promising Idaho companies. Today, Prosperity Organic Foods has expanded beyond its original butter “improvement” spread (Rapp calls it “Butter 2.0”) to offer luscious honey and chocolate flavored toppings, perfect for holiday parties.
The delicious spreads, produced in a plant outside of Boise, are made from lactose-free, gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, certified organic plant and fruit-based oils that can be used just like butter in cooking and baking. But Melt has half the saturated fat of butter and fewer calories, making it a healthy alternative to butter and other butter substitutes that can contain harmful fats.
Though Rapp is still heavily involved with the company she created, Meg Carlson now leads the Prosperity Organic team and has taken the product nationwide. “We are in Safeways and Whole Foods nationally, and we are expanding into Canada,” Rapp told me. Locally, health-conscious Boiseans can purchase Melt at the Boise Coop, at Whole Foods, or at Rosauers.
Rapp expressed appreciation for the supportiveness of other women entrepreneurs, noting that the challenges facing a start-up company can seem infinite. “It’s like climbing a ladder through clouds,” she said, describing what it takes to move from start-up to national growth. “You can’t see what’s behind you or ahead of you. You just have to keep climbing. Entrepreneurs view obstacles as opportunities for better outcomes. You just keep climbing and moving forward, and hopefully, you have new challenges and obstacles to overcome.”
Rapp’s commitment to her dream of creating a healthy alternative to butter has the potential to change lives and improve health nationwide. “I accomplished this with a whole lot of personal growth and sheer grit,” she says. “When you are developing an authentic solution for yourself, based on a personal need, there’s a good chance it will be a solution for others. I’m grateful I can share this amazing solution.”