Sick of the amount of sugar she was feeding her kids, this mum-of-two decided to create healthier spreadable alternatives for her children to snack on.
Three years ago, Kellie Bath created a full range of jams, marmalades and chocolate spread from her kitchen table in Essex. Since then JimJams Healthier Spreads have been stocked in supermarkets across the country.
Business Advice caught up with Bath to find out about why the “average joe’s” of the food startup up world are her motivation and her five year plan.
Where did the concept come from?
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 57 sugar cubes in a standard jar and jams are no better, packed with cheap filler sugar and very little fruit). I want to make a difference by producing delicious alternatives to breakfast time favourites. Parents don’t want to create a war zone before the day has even begun by refusing kids their favourites.
How did you fund your business?
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.
What’s your biggest achievement to date?
It was a huge sense of achievement to be listed in two major supermarkets which finally allowed consumers a choice, but recognition is also important to us so receiving three Great Taste Awards for our chocolate spreads and jams was rewarding. I think people assume that because our spreads contain less sugar that they will somehow compromise on taste. When we created the spreads, I was adamant that I wanted them to taste just as delicious as the leading brands and I believed we achieved it (with bells on!). Winning these prestigious awards tells our customer that they are officially delicious which hopefully alleviates any qualms. We were also the first brand ever to be accredited by Sugarwise (International Authority for Sugar Claims in food and drink).
Did you know that the way you eat your JimJams Chocolate Spread can reveal a lot about your personality? 😉 Let’s take Jack, the youngest member of the JimJams Family. Jack is a ‘stick your finger straight into the jar’ kind of guy. He doesn’t care that he is too short for the camera shot, or that mum is freaking out because he hasn’t washed his hands. He just gets the job done. Who knows a Jack? How do you eat yours? 😋
What marketing strategies have you used?
We can’t afford big advertising campaigns so we have to be innovative! We utilise all channels available to us, both new and more traditional: Social media is a great way to engage with our existing customer base and also to gets the word out to new customers. PR is a great tool for getting our products talked about by the press and raising awareness and we also engage with plenty of bloggers to get our Google juice up!
Our comms strategy is always evolving, we feel very passionate about supporting parents in reducing their children’s sugar consumption, so I wanted that to be the theme of our campaigns. As part of this we commissioned our own independent research into the confusion surrounding government guidelines and we were stunned to discover that 90% of parents do not know the maximum daily amount of added sugar their children should be consuming. You can read the full results here I believe that by building our anti-sugar marketing platform we can reach more consumers.
In five years’ time, I’ll be…
Hopefully the brand will be in every UK supermarket and available internationally. We’ve got lots of new exciting product development coming in too: 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.
Who are your business heroes and why?
Richard Branson – I know that is a total stereotypical answer but my husband met him and he was so encouraging plus he loved our brand! He spoke about how important it was to just relax, enjoy the experience and never take yourself too seriously. He obviously has a lot of stress but he has learnt to manage it in a very healthy way – we all need a bit of that!
I also admire Anna Whitehouse (aka Mother Pukka) because I am completely on board with her work championing flexible working and the style in which she chooses to do it, including a lot of ballsy humour and intelligent social posts that parents really relate to.
I also have to take my hat off to many new and relatively unknown entrepreneurs of up and coming brands in the food industry. It feels like in the last five years there has been a shift in the food industry. Regular ‘Joe’s’ with no particular food industry experience have decided to do it themselves, usually because they have a strong passion for a product/ethos and just got fed with a gap in the market not being filled. They, like us, are doing it for the right reasons and it takes a real leap of faith to do that without any previous experience.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
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’s your favourite way to spend downtime?
Doing yoga and walking the dog.
Last series you binge watched?
The last series of Marcella.
What three things can’t you live without?
My family, my health and a curry and wine on a Friday night (ha! ha!) – I couldn’t care less about my phone/that shade of lipstick etc.
What app do you use the most?
Yoga Studio and Video Shop.
What song is always on your playlist?
It depends on whether I feel like chilling-out or something more upbeat. On my chill-out – Al Green – how can you mend a broken heart. I must be glutton for punishment because it evokes a little tear every time.
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