Being a nutritionist, Suzie Walker was always going to be more conscientious than most when it came to ensuring her young daughter, Grace, ate healthily. But Suzie was genuinely shocked when, with Grace starting pre-school, she first went shopping for a healthy snack bar for Grace’s lunch box.
“I just couldn’t believe there wasn’t more choice for parents looking to provide their children with a healthy snack. Everything was either slathered in chocolate and full of additives, preservatives and colours or low calorie diet bars aimed at those looking to lose weight, with no real nutritional value to them, not anything I would want to feed to Grace.”
So Suzie decided to take things into her own hands and instead of buying snack bars for Grace started making her own from dried fruits and nuts at home – only a few simple ingredients mixed together with no need for anything artificial.
Grace loved the bars and Suzie realised they might have a wider appeal. Many of the clients she was seeing as a nutritionist were following paleo and raw diets – with Suzie recommending they cut out processed, added sugar foods, additives, gluten and dairy. She realised that ‘Grace’s bars’ would be ideal for these people and started handing them out in her consultations.
The feedback started coming back that these were the best bars her client’s had ever tried and so the idea of starting a business was born.
Two months later and Suzie had the first commercial samples of The Primal Pantry bars ready to go out to supermarket and health store buyers.
The good feedback continued and less than a year after the samples went out The Primal Pantry bars are now available in Tesco, Superdrug, Ocado, health stores and gyms. The bars have even attracting attention from abroad too and they are already being sold in 18 other countries around the globe.Suzie is still balancing motherhood and being a nutritionist with running the business, but feels she’s managed to keep everything in perspective:
“The whole business was conceived whilst trying to provide a healthy lifestyle for my daughter and it’s amazing that I can now help provide for her future through the company, but I never want to lose sight of her overall health and wellbeing. Paramount to that is Grace’s bond with Stuart my husband and me, so I always try and make sure that I put down the lid on my laptop at the right time and give her the attention she deserves. I think I’ve got the balance right.”
Things haven’t been plain sailing for the company throughout Suzie’s first year as a business mum however …
“I’ve had some massive hurdles to get over, not least finding finance for the business, but just when I’ve thought the last door has closed a solution has come along. That seems to have provided the mantra for the first year ‘keep working hard and looking in the right places and the answer will present itself’.
One of the things that concerned me the most was a trade mark issue, which has meant we’ve recently had to change our name from The Primal Kitchen to The Primal Pantry. I was petrified that changing our name would have a negative impact on sales, but it seems the quality of the bars has shone through and our customers have been amazing in supporting the brand and spreading the word, through social media, that we’ve changed our name, but are still the same product.”
With the business looking set to turn over a 1.5m pounds in 2015, in only its second year, things have certainly been successful to date and Suzie’s advice to mums wanting to follow in her shoes is …
“Don’t just dive in head first. I know that may sound a bit counter intuitive and I don’t mean you shouldn’t work hard, but before you go taking out a business loan or sinking all your time and money in to a venture, research things well, produce some test products and get people to try them out. I think, especially being a mum, it’s also important to introduce yourself gradually to the work load that comes with being a business owner. I had to totally relearn time management and how to best utilise the time I had. If I’d just been thrown into the business as it is now there is no way I could have handled the work load, but having gradually build up to this stage I’ve put in place processes that mean I can manage my time as effectively as possible and ensure I get my priorities in the right order, don’t tire myself out too much with work and ensure that at the end of the working day I still have the energy I need for my family.”
For more information on The Primal Pantry snack bars then please visit www.primalpantry.com.