Pip & Nut are the name behind the nut butters, which are currently dominating the health food market. Nut butters are packed full of protein, vitamins and healthy fats, a wonderfully healthy and delicious addition to your diet. They are a great way to keep your energy levels up throughout the working day as well as to fuel you through your training or gym routines. Pip & Nut butters are completely free from palm oil, e-numbers, preservatives and additives. You will only find pronounceable ingredients in Pip’s pots!
The Interview (London) talks to the founder Pip, on what inspired her to start her own nut butter business, forming the brand image, keeping up with the growth and demand of her products and always keeping things creative. Health nuts, read on!
HI Pip! Please can you introduce yourself and your company Pip & Nut?
My name is Pip and I’m the Founder (and chief squirrel!) of Pip & Nut, an all-natural nut butter brand that launched just over a year ago.
What were you doing prior to starting your own business?
Before starting Pip & Nut I worked in the cultural sector at the Science Museum in London. Completely unrelated! Pip & Nut was very much a passion project of mine which evolved into a business … needless to say the move into the world of FMCG was a bit shock to the system and has been a massive learning curve!
Did you expect yourself to be an entrepreneur?
Funnily enough, running my own business was never something that I thought that I’d do, yet, in many ways, it’s a natural fit for my personality. I’m pretty determined, fiercely independent and have a creative streak which comes out in every aspect of running the company. It’s the best ‘job’ I’ve ever had!
What inspired you to start making your own nut butter?
Initially it was a simple love of the product. I ate nut butter as I used to run a lot and always enjoyed it pre or post training. However, I’d noticed that a lot of brands contained palm oils and refined sugar which, as someone interested in health, just didn’t sit all that well with me. On the other end of spectrum, the healthier versions always seemed, well, a bit too healthy. I wanted to create a brand that was nutritionally credible, with no palm oil or sugar, and had a great brand to boot to really bring the products to life.
What were your initial next steps after having the idea?
After I had the initial idea I did a fair bit of market research which involved reading market data reports as well as small scale product trials that I took to markets to sell in order to get direct customer feedback. This research was a key step in going from concept to launch as it informed me that nut butters were a growing category, that they were hugely on trend and that the products which I wanted to bring to the market were something that people actually wanted to eat and buy! Both these things gave me the courage to look at scaling the product in order to get it into national distribution.
You’ve got some really great, fun branding. What was your creative process?
Thank you! I’m particularly fond of our branding!
To create the brand I worked with a very talented design agency. They helped crystallise what it was that I wanted to communicate through the brand and developed a strategy which they then used to create the identity you see today. It took over 6 months to get from that initial kick off meeting to the final physical packaging, so a lot of time and care went into making sure we had the brand spot on.
Your product is stocked in over 2300 stores. How did you approach your first stockists?
We launched into Selfridges in January 2015 and we were really lucky as they actually approached us. The buyer spotted me at an event the Summer before we launched, so I went to their head office to formerly meet the buyer and pitch the products in. I still remember how nervous I was for that meeting!
The rest of the stockists came through a mixture of field sales, and by that I mean going door to door to all the top independent stockist, and the larger supermarkets came about digging through contacts and reaching out via email.
Did you ever expect Pip & Nut to take off as quickly as it did?
It’s so difficult to know how your brand will be received by consumers and buyers, but I can not tell you how exciting it is to watch the brand come to life. Whilst I’ve always whole heartedly believed that Pip & Nut can become a household brand I have been really delighted about just how quickly the brand has grown. It’s a bit of a pinch me moment!
What strategies did you use to cope with the high demand?
It’s definitely difficult managing a business that’s scaling quickly but one of the most important things is to make sure that you are set up with all the right partners before you launch so that when you do start you can really run at it. For instance, there’s nothing more frustrating when you are running your business than if you haven’t sorted out your supply chain properly and can’t fulfil the demand!
Before the brand launched I made sure that we had the right commercial partners, and for us that’s a good manufacturing partner, that we had enough capital to help get our brand to breakeven point and beyond, and then a good team to help you get the brand out there.
We’re a small company but we work with the best and I think that’s really enabled us to scale the brand quickly.
Can you tell us about the core values behind your brand?
At Pip & Nut we believe that health food should never be boring and we’re here to challenge the perception that when you eat something that’s deemed as being ‘healthy’ that you don’t have to sacrifice flavour to do this. In order to deliver upon that mission we like to take a creative approach to everything we do whether that’s coming up with interesting flavours, right the way through to the way we market the brand.
Can you tell us about the health benefits of eating your nut butters? And the health benefits of nuts in general?
Where to start…nut butters, and nuts in general, are first and foremost filled with mono unsaturated fats, or good fats as they are otherwise known, which have been proven to help reduce cholesterol as part of a healthy, balanced diet. As well as this is nut butters are naturally high in protein which means that they keep your fuller for longer and stop your blood sugar from dropping as they release energy slowly. So they’re great if you’re doing a work out and need a bit of a boost!
You have some delicious sounding new flavours of nut butters. What inspires you when coming up with the recipes? And how long does the tasting process go on for?!
I take inspiration from all over the place whether that’s ice cream, restaurants and cook books. Our coconut almond butter was inspired by macaroons for instance! When developing a recipe, I take a lot of care about making sure that the flavour profile of all our products are just right but also importantly have the commercial capability of being a product that will have a broad appeal without being too niche. In terms of the tasting process, I trial every product out on my team to get their final sign off.
What are your future plans for Pip & Nut?
We’re an ambitious company and this year it’s looking to be a pretty big one for Pip & Nut. We’re growing our existing customers like Sainsbury’s by adding more products to their shelves and growing our store count and in doing so building our brand in store. We have a couple big product launches (all top secret I’m afraid) one that lands in June and another in September. And then the second half of the year we’re looking at starting to export to some territories in Europe, which is really exciting!
And what key pieces of advice could you offer to others starting/running their own businesses?
I think it’s really important to have a solid group of advisors who you can reach out to in order to make sure that you’re on the right track and who can support you if/when things are tough. Ideally they should be entrepreneurs themselves and have experience in an area where your skills may be lacking. For instance, one of my mentors is a guy called Giles Brook, CEO of Vita Coco EMEA, who is incredibly commercially savvy and shares his advice and experience from growing his business.