Working in the health food industry takes grit.
It’s an exciting market that is continuously growing and developing.
New health food products pop up every week, and the health foodie-preneurs behind it are building their brands based on collaboration. Because their ‘health food fam’ are the only ones who really get them.
As part of an ongoing Interview series, I get to chat to these inspirational young grafters and see how they turned their spontaneous ideas into their own successful realities.
The first of this series is no other than Miss hummus herself, Hannah McCullum, Founder of Chic P.
Speaking to Hannah McCollum over Skype, whilst she attached labels to her colourful pots of yummy looking dip, made me giggle from the familiarity.
She reminded me of a younger me doing exactly the same thing whilst on the phone to journalists and event organisers about my street food business ( back in my early twenties ( Hey! I am only 27 but it seem’s like forever ago!)
The busy buzz and excitement, Hannah, Founder of ChicP exudes, is why I work in the health food industry.
As part of an interview series based on health food startups, I chose a company I could relate to. My mission right now, is to learn about how health food startups are still growing so rapidly in such a saturated market. And how these usually young founders, are coping to keep afloat in an over crowded social media space, let alone stay healthy.
I first discovered Hannah’s young business ChicP, over on Instagram. Her brightly coloured pots of vegetable dip stand out against all the smoothie bowls and turmeric mylk’s ‘at brunch’ snaps by various millennial bloggers. The surplus veg ‘hummus’ company was founded by woman-preneur Hannah in september 2015 following her role chefing privately. She was known for her ‘dip of the day’ that she creatively served up, made from thee leftover veggies and fruit often chucked out in restaurant kitchens.
Creating the ChicP brand
Hannah created her hummus dips because she couldn’t cope with all the sad-looking food being wasted at the end of her shifts. As you can tell already, food waste really gets under her skin. So the veggie started playing around with various ideas that would help prevent such a large amount of surplus vegetables and fruits. Ultimately she needed to find a way to show others, that hey, it’s really not that hard to use up your ‘waste’ foods, in fact, it’s pretty tasty.
Having an entrepreneur Dad and being a bit of a hustler herself, Hannah started ChicP whilst she was working full-time, as her side project. She slowly began to clearly mark out her target audience and structured a plan on how to reach them, what they needed the most and how to start with funding, stockists and distribution.
ChicP currently has quite a large market, ranging from insta-savvy Millenials, to health conscious foodies, to families who need tasty, healthy food on the go. They’re also great for sneakily adding in extra nutrients to meals, for unaware fussy children ( or adults!)
So where did she get her flavour inspiration? Trial and error, her personal likes and dislikes and testing them out with lucky people at farmers markets.
She also utilised a strong focus group of friends and family. Those are the people who have really helped to shape the current range.
Finding a manufacturer, at first was difficult, but she quickly learnt the ropes and discovered which ones would be easiest to work with. The biggest hurdle was actually finding distributors and stockist who would support such a short shelf life. Currently it’s 12 days, but she’s working hard developing her products to make them last longer.
Being a solo-preneur myself, surrounded by fellow freelancers, I am always interested in how others deal with being a one man ( or woman ) band. I, like Hannah, find it difficult on long days sometimes, especially the loneliness that can creep in working alone. I occasionally miss the inability to just ask someone what they think of my continuous random ideas. Hannah, in some ways is the same. Luckily, she surrounds herself with supportive influences, collaborative businesses and good friends. She also has a business advisor she speaks to monthly who keeps her on track. This is so important we both agreed, for re-confirming that ‘yes, you’re still doing the right thing.’
Staying on top of health
Hannah has always been health conscious. She has been into veganism and vegetarianism from a young age and wants to help others to understand the benefits. But, she is in no way ‘preachy’, eat meat or fish? Add some dip to it!
She’s also a pretty active and fitness gear wearing person, who can’t sit still for long. As I write this, she’s currently refuelling undernourished, sun-baked Glasto go-ers with her sweet and savoury, nutrient packed dips.
What’s the future for ChicP?
Her long-term dream is to change people’s lives, educate them and enable them to be healthier by changing how they see, use and consume food. She’s not just about her products, she wants to help her customers make small changes to their lifestyle that will impact their lives and the planet more positively.
Her mission is to help them be more sustainable, for example, using recyclable shopping bags, freezing food, being creative with food, to even just walking more and driving less. She also wants to ensure her customers are really paying attention to exactly where their food is coming from and ensure they understand why it makes such a big difference to the environment, and their health.
This gal is an incredible fellow entrepreneur and I’m excited to see her business grow in the next few years.
Thanks for taking the time to chat Hannah, you reminded me just why I love this industry so much!