Nuoi Foods, a small Norwich-based food start-up is hoping their products made without refined sugar; palm oil or additives help inspire the world to live a healthy, active and happy lifestyle.
In the meantime, after perfecting their nut butter recipes, the one year old company founded by twin sisters, Lauren and Sophie Chittock is hoping their four popular flavours: Pecan Pie, Superfood Coconut, Chilli Peanut and Hazelnut Cocoa can help bring variety to the nut butter market in the UK.
Hi Sophie, thanks for agreeing to share your story on YHP. Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I’m an enthusiastic, people person with a passion for life and an aptitude for everything creative. I spent a year travelling around the world and love experiencing new cultures and surroundings. I live in Norfolk where I run Nuoi Foods. My twin sister, Lauren and I started the business last year after finding that you couldn’t get interesting nut butters in the UK. During my time in Australia, I ate a lot of different flavours and wanted to bring this back to my home country.
Tell me about the early days, the type of challenges you initially encountered?
One of the biggest challenges we faced with Nuoi Foods was perfecting our nut butter recipes. We had too many ideas and flavours and experimented with a range of different machines to get the perfect nutty consistency. We started with 12 flavours and have now cut them down to a more sensible 4 after much deliberation and late night tasting sessions.
We also had no idea how to run a business and just learnt as we went along, facing difficulties during busy periods due to our small size. We both worked full time jobs when we started Nuoi so we’d work until 4 in the morning to produce enough nut butter to meet demand. However, we wouldn’t change it for anything and received lots of support from other local businesses.
What is Nuoi Foods? And what are you trying to solve with it?
We are Nuoi Foods, a small Norwich-based food start-up that sells local handcrafted, artisan products. Our mission is to inspire the world to live a healthy, active and happy lifestyle, starting with all natural foods that taste great. That's why Nuoi Foods products have no refined sugar, palm oil or additives and are packed with all the goodness of nature.
Our mission has begun with a unique range of tasty all natural nut butters that have never been seen on the UK market before. There is a flavour for everyone with our four popular flavours: Pecan Pie, Superfood Coconut, Chilli Peanut and Hazelnut Cocoa.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
Nuoi Foods was initially funded by my business partner and twin sister’s student overdraft and we surprisingly made that stretch a long way. We also put in some of our own savings, but it didn’t take long for Nuoi to cover its own costs with an extremely positive response to our products and four stockists secured in the first four months of trading.
How did you initially get traction?
We are both social media enthusiasts so knew that we wanted to push the online presence of Nuoi Foods as much as we could. In particular, we used Instagram as a key marketing tool to expand our reach and engage our customers as well interacting with like-minded businesses on the platform. We were able to secure some excellent collaboration and soon had our customers tagging us in posts, so this was great!
Tell us about the months that followed after the idea, what happened, how excited were you, especially launching the product?
January 2017- March 2017 was a whirlwind of brain storms, post-it notes, product experimentations and packaging designs and it only really took us 2 months to launch the first version of our products at a local sustainability market. We were very excited and very nervous as we thought that people might not even like the taste of our unusual range.
However, we sold out during our first market which is the point when we realised Nuoi Foods could actually go somewhere.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Investing in bigger machines to make the nut butter was a huge step for us as it meant being able to meet the growing demand for our products. Although this was expensive, it was a necessity to facilitate growth and actually improve the quality and consistency of the products as well.
Also, a little bit of PR helped us along the way; getting our story and name out there to local and national publications certainly raised the profile of Nuoi Foods and contributed to our growth.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
I think probably near the beginning of our journey when we were handing out samples of our products to local businesses and potential stockists, just to get a little bit of insight into what they thought of these new nut butters. The response was totally overwhelming and really positive with people asking when they can start stocking them and we didn’t expect this at all.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the Nuoi Foods team for 2018?
We are hopefully looking at launching an online platform on the Nuoi Foods site where we can sell our products across the country.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
- Just go for it. Starting a business is actually easier than you think and the first version of your idea doesn’t have to be perfect; we are still changing small elements of Nuoi Foods even now.
- Be passionate. We certainly wouldn’t have been able to do all those late nights and stressful weekends without a lot of passion for our idea. It really gets the business further and helps to persuade other people to get behind you.
- Have a strong financial plan. This is an area where we fell a bit behind and it was a lot more difficult to pick this up later on.