Hi Pippa, tell me a bit about Pip and Nut?
I’m the Founder of a new and exciting food brand called Pip & Nut. We make a range of all natural nut butters removed of things like refined sugars and palm oils, so they are a healthier option to what’s on the supermarket shelves, but more importantly they taste utterly delicious. The whole premise behind the brand is that our products are all about flavour and then they have a functional, nutritional, benefit too. And through the use of our fun, playful brand we aim to make health(y) food a more accessible and enjoyable thing for all.
How did your running inspire the creation of Pip and Nut?
I’d always eaten peanut butter and particularly when I was training for marathons it was my go-to food for eating post run in order to get a hit of protein (great for muscle recovery). However I’d noticed that many peanut butters were filled with palm oil and sugar which just didn’t sit well with me.
And when looking at healthier alternatives I was equally dissatisfied as I’d often got a bit put off by the fact that they looked, well, just too healthy and a bit boring. It was at that point that I came up with the idea to create a brand that’s far more emotive, and genuinely connects with consumers, in order to bring this amazing product to life.
Who are your main competitors at the moment?
I’d say our direct competitors are other nut butters like Meridian and Whole Earth. It’s an incredibly competitive category as the products are very on trend.
Being a young entrepreneur – what do you enjoy the most about running your own business?
I love the freedom it gives me to decide what to do with my day. It’s also one of the most incredibly satisfying things seeing something that 2 ½ years ago was simply an (crazy!) idea become a reality, and more than that, really take off!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?
To try not to react to things too impulsively and by that I mean when a problem crops up (and there are many that will!) my instinct reaction isn’t to get angry or upset but instead to take stock, sit back and think logically about how to solve it. 9 times out of 10 the issue isn’t really that bad and certainly not one to lose any sleep over!
How did you secure a manufacturer?
It took me a long time to source my manufacturing partner, lack of experience was partially to blame but also the fact that this product is actually quite difficult to make on mass due to the fact that most factories don’t handle nuts on site (as it’s an allergen).
Remarkably I actually found my factory through searching online and approaching them cold. Once I knew they could make the product it was then up to me to pitch it into the MDs to persuade them to take a punt on the business.
Think back to when you’d just started out – what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
A few things. Firstly that success doesn’t happen overnight and that building a brand, that’s well loved by consumers, is a long game. Secondly, that it’s also very expensive, much more so than I’d ever anticipated, and really as a result keeping an eye on every bit of expenditure right from the start is key. Thirdly, to fundamentally have confidence in my own abilities. Building something from the ground up is something that not everyone can do and it requires a relenting amount of energy and belief to keep things moving.
What was your first customer feedback?
I spend 3 months when I was market testing the products in the very early days at Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey, South London, and whilst I can’t remember that first bit of verbal feedback exactly I do remember that feeling the first time someone actually spent their hard earned money on something I’d made!
Where are your produce sourced from?
We source our almonds from California, peanuts from Argentina, Coconut from Sri Lanka and Cashews from Vietnam.
What is your best tip for starting a business in the food industry?
Make the product incredible first, then work on creating an awesome brand. Only if your products tastes fantastic will someone buy it again, no matter how pretty the packaging is!
What advice would you give other young entrepreneurs like yourself struggling with marketing their business?
I had no marketing experience whatsoever before starting the business but like most things it’s a case of trialling what works, analysing it, then reiterating. If something doesn’t give you a great ROI, don’t do it again!
In terms of activities, we have lots of different techniques to get the brand out there like having great brand partnerships, sending products to people that we want to be seen eating our products and creating consistent content that we feed out across our social feeds.
Furthermore if budgets are tight try to focus on supporting your customers as much as possible, as you are most likely to see a benefit in sales the closer you are to the point of purchase.
What does the future hold for Pip and Nut?
Mega busy! We have a few pieces of NPD (new product development) lined up for year 2, we’re working on growing our existing customers like Sainsbury’s so that we continue to sell well and, of course, going after some new listings.