Hi Emily, please tell us about the brains behind Emily Crisps.
Actually, there’s probably more stomach than brains behind Emily Crisps. My partner Alex and I have always loved to travel and been lead by our appetites (he’s Italian and I’m Chinese so we are both from strong foodie cultures). When I came across a new way to create crisps from my favourite, fresh fruit and vegetables which only uses a fraction of the oil, I thought this was something that had enormous potential. Our aim is to inspire people to eat better, that means eating more plants but in a fun way that fits into their routines without ever compromising on taste and enjoyment.
What is the story behind the name of this amazing brand?
I wanted our brand to really embody what is important to me and that is being meaningful and honest. Being Italian, Alex is a bit of a romantic so he loved the idea of naming them after me and I wanted our customers to know that this is a product I believe in so much that I am proud to have my name front and centre.
You’ve launched not very long ago. How has the journey been so far?
It’s been quite the ride. We’ve worked extremely hard getting to this stage from selecting the perfect flavours to assembling the most incredibly talented people to work with us. It’s a pretty competitive market but seeing the demand for a nourishing snack from our customers who are looking for healthier products has really inspired us to keep driving forward.
The flowers and branding you created is just beautiful. What was the inspiration behind it?
We knew we always wanted to look to nature to help us make a real impact. Visually we needed stand out and create a bold statement on shelf. We also wanted to show that eating healthier and more naturally, could also be tasty and fun. This formed our brief and we then worked worked with our amazingly talented illustrator who was able to turn that idea into a reality.
Why do you think we are all more driven towards eating honest food?
I think most people can agree that it's much simpler, and more often, tastier to stick to what’s natural and honest. For us, it’s important that people are not only inspired to eat healthier but also tastier. Over the last few years, the market has been dominated by so many fad diets that we think our relationship with food has become broken as we eat so much food without any real nutritional value. Our aim is to encourage our customers to fall in love with food that is more natural, nutritious and most importantly, delicious.
How did you fund it all in the beginning?
Initially friends, family and our own savings. I had so much belief in the idea in our product but from a business perspective we had set a two-year target. Nearly three years on we are going from strength to strength. Having your friends and family as support was a huge help and I love the fact they have played such a personal part in shaping our story.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs wanting to get into the food industry?
The food industry is incredibly diverse and you need to have a good understanding of what you’d like to achieve within it. We always wanted to build a brand which inspired as many people as we could reach to eat more fruit and veg in new and exciting ways; for us that meant creating a crisp that had a wide appeal.
However, that shouldn’t be every entrepreneur’s goal. I know some artisan cheese makers and olive oil producers who want to stay small as that aligns with their personal goals and motivations Both paths can be incredibly rewarding but what’s important is that you know which way you want to go.
Your crisps are stocked in amazing stores, including Ocado, Holland & Barret, Whole Foods etc? Do you remember the first time you got a yes to stock your crisps?
I remember it vividly as it was with Selfridges as part of their ‘Meet the Makers’ campaign which is an amazing competition they run to find the best products in the UK to feature in their food halls across the UK. It involved a dragon’s den type situation where you had to pitch in front of their buying team. I think it’s one of the best routes to market for a small business, especially one that’s just starting out Selfridges Food Hall is one of the go to places to discover new products and inspiration. It was the listing which really got our business started.
What has been the most exciting and the most challenging experience so far?
The most exciting part of the adventure has just been to witness the speed at which Emily Crisps is growing. Over two years later we are now listed right across the UK and are available through some truly amazing retailers with much more to come before the end of the year. One of the most challenging experiences so far has been to convince retailers to take a risk and list a completely new product from a new company which had no track record in this industry. I think that’s what so fantastic about food in the UK that there are amazing companies, both large and small such as Waitrose, H&B, Ocado, Marigold and Cotswold Fayre to name a few, who could see the potential and were willing to take a risk on us.
What are your top tips on staying motivated?
For me it’s to always to make the time to close the laptop and have a good conversation with someone. As an entrepreneur, there will always be more work than hours in the day and the temptation is to work every one of these. Finding time for a personal life keeps my motivation, drive and inspiration up as I’m a person who gets my energy from the people I surround myself with.
How would you define being an entrepreneur?
I think an entrepreneur is someone who always looks to do something in a better way and to identify those opportunities to make that happen through hard work and the ability to be constantly adapting and learning along the way.
What plans do you have for Emily Fruit Crisps over the next 12 months?
Continue to grow our presence across the UK and become a permanent fixture on the snacking shelves. Our goal is to be recognised right across the country and be more accessible so a wider audience can discover our healthier crisps.