Meet the co-founder of Jim Jam
Hi Kellie, thank you so much for joining me. To kick things off, tell me a little bit about the founder of JimJams.
I have always been quite entrepreneurial, I used to run my own complementary therapy business, so I’ve always been fairly health conscious and I don’t mind taking a risk or two!
It was my dream to get involved in the food industry, especially children’s brands.
Inspiration is always a great indication of why people launch businesses. Who or what inspired you to get started?
Our children were the inspiration behind the brand. We struggled to find breakfasts spreads that weren’t full of sugar (leading brands of chocolate spread contain the equivalent of up to 57 sugar cubes in a standard jar and jams are no better, packed with cheap filler sugar and very little fruit). Children today are eating too much sugar and I want to make a difference by producing delicious alternatives to breakfast time favourites, no one wants to create a war zone before the day has even begun by refusing kids their favourites!
How do you set yourself apart from other businesses in your industry?
We are a small business based out of our kitchen in Essex, all that we do comes from a desire to give parents and children an alternative to sugary spreads. Our chocolate spreads contain 83% Less sugar than leading brands and have won two Great Taste Awards. Our jam range is packed full of fruit and we have reduced the sugar to a minimum. We have also just obtained a Mumsnet accreditation which is the perfect commendation for a range with such a significant parent and child following.
What’s the single most important decision that you made, that contributed to your business?
That our products never compromise on taste, it has always been our mission to create spreads that are even more pleasurable to eat than our competitors.
How did you fund the launch of your business and what creative strategies did you use to execute a minimal cash flow?
We funded the launch with our own personal savings which just about covered product production and branding. We didn’t have money to outsource so we had to get our hands dirty and take baby steps. We rented a small storage unit and initially sold our products at shows.
Then we started selling through farm shops, speciality stores, local Co-Ops etc. and we’d pack and deliver the products ourselves. However, any brand owner will tell you that, at some point, you will need to raise funding. We decided to enter ourselves onto an Entrepreneurial Development Programme and were chosen from 250 start-up brands to secure a place upon it. The programme consisted of six months of mentoring and the opportunity to pitch for investment (which we secured).
How did you conquer those moments of doubt that so often affect entrepreneurs or stop many with great ideas – what pushes you through?
Doubt is natural but the key is not to give it any power. It’s not your intuition trying to stop you from making a bad mistake, it’s just negative chatter in your head which you need to ignore. Fear comes from worrying about possible negative outcomes – but 90% of our worries never come to fruition. You have to take a leap of faith, many people forget the ‘faith’ bit in that sentence. You have to trust that whatever happens, it will be the best outcome for you. Even if you don’t get what you want, you always get what you need. What I am trying to say is, when you stop trying to control the outcome of everything, life is less stressful.
Who is your target audience?
Our core target audience is parents who want to give themselves and their families a healthier alternative to sugary spreads. That said though cleaner eating isn’t simply a parent/child issue which might explain why we’re increasingly supplying a growing number of universities, colleges and staff restaurants.
What would be your number one tip for young entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their own business?
Stay authentic and true to your values. It’s natural for young start-ups to imitate established brands, copy their strategy, say what they say. My advice would be to walk your own path and find out what works for you.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
Share of voice! When you have shallow pockets it’s never easy to take on the might of global corporates and national institutions. We began life in the health food sector (Holland & Barrett) who echoed our commitment to healthier eating, although news quickly spread (sorry!) and we soon found ourselves in Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Wholefoods, Booths and Morrisons.
Support comes from the most unexpected sources. One ‘golden moment’ tweet from Davina McCall mentioned how much she loved our spreads (alongside the hashtag #notpaidtosaythis) sent our twittersphere into orbit.
What first in the mornings, phone, book, laptop or me time?
Ha! Ha! I do a bit of Yoga or walk the dog each morning before sitting at a computer.
What plans do you have for (company name) over the coming 12 months?
We’ve got a new proposition of jams – a range of 100% natural fruit purees with no added sugar – perfect for kids. We are also working on new product development (83% less sugar Choc spread dippers for lunch boxes) and our little 15g portions are attracting a lot of attention in the service industry.
What’s the most important question entrepreneurs should be asking themselves?
Who am I? What do I stand for? What do I want my brand to say?
What habits do you think helped you to become successful?
Being positive and having the ability to get back up when you get slapped down … and you will get slapped down .. a lot!