Wellness is a big industry, especially when it comes to food, and startups are at the forefront of this; they're able to innovate and fill niches the way more established brands and businesses can’t. We spoke to two entrepreneurs running healthy startups – Hannah March of ShoreBeing, and Leila Berlie of Blended Superfoods – about how they started their healthy businesses.

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How to start a healthy food business - ShoreBeing

Hannah March, ShoreBeing

ShoreBeing is a health and nutrition business providing nutritional consultations, retreats, and soon a health food shop too.

I have always had an interest in health and nutrition but it wasn’t until I was made redundant from my previous job that I thought about the possibility of making it into a business. My redundancy experience had put me off working for someone else, so I decided to qualify as a Personal Trainer and launched ShoreFit in July 2013. I quickly attracted like-minded clients, who were interested in improving their health over aesthetics.

Personal training gave me the funds to invest in more training, so I became a Health Coach. I started working with people both one-to-one and in group settings, and soon found that people found it hard to source some of the ingredients I suggested using. Tired of sending people to shop online or in neighbouring towns, I decided that we needed a health food shop here in Worthing, but one that was inspiring, a place where people wanted to visit and spend time. I saw a tweet about a “start and grow” campaign for new businesses, I made a phone call, and the ball started rolling quite quickly from there.

I knew from conversations with clients and friends that there was a need for a health food shop, but I knew I’d need more concrete information before I went ahead. Luckily, I have built up a large client database both within my immediate area and also further afield due to the online programs I offer, so I used these contacts for my market research survey. The general consensus was that people are starting to by the products I want to stock – however, the ranges are limited at supermarkets. People are happy to buy locally and separately from their main weekly shop, providing the range is right. With this information I had more confidence in my idea being successful. 

There aren’t any specific qualifications needed to open a health food shop - however I want to be able to offer my clients sound advice, so will continue to educate both myself and employees. I’ve continued to train and learn about health and nutrition since 2013.

My first customers will undoubtedly be my existing clients. As supportive as they are, I know that I can’t rely on these lovely people alone so I have a social media campaign in place advertising locally at first. I have also factored in a marketing budget to kick in once we open on April 1st. Excellent customer service will be at the top of my priorities to ensure our customers come back, we’ll also have a loyalty card scheme in place to encourage repeat custom. 

Blended Superfoods - How to start a healthy business

Leila Berlie, Blended Superfoods

Blended Superfoods create delicious smoothie kits containing fresh fruit, vegetables and superfoods, designed with specific health benefits in mind.

I left my corporate job summer last year to focus on Blended, and I thought the best thing for me to do while planning the business was to get my foot in the door of the healthy food industry. I have been working for companies such as Oppo Ice Cream, Doisy and Dam, Plenish and Pukka on a part-time basis where I help promote their brand and help customers understand what they are all about. It has been a great start for my business as I now know lots of people in the industry, and they have been so supportive and helpful!

First steps involved testing the idea and also getting certified - I needed to get a Food Hygiene certification as I was preparing the ingredients myself. There were a couple things I did to understand if there was a demand for the concept.

Firstly, I created a survey. There were lots of different questions to help me see if there is a gap in the market. I ended up getting just over 100 people taking this survey and it really helped! Then I made a few prototypes, gave them to a few friends and friends of friends (I thought it would be a good mix to get feedback from people I know and people I don’t) and got great feedback from them all! That’s when I realised I was on to something.

The business model is to sell in market stalls around London and then expand to a delivery service, so run it as an online business. The idea has always been for it to be really quick, easy and convenient for customers, and the best way to do that is for it to turn up on their doorstep.

Top tips from Leila

I think it’s really important to believe in your product and be passionate about it. I founded Blended Superfoods because it solved a problem that I was facing everyday and I wanted to share my solution with the world.

Network! In this industry, lots of people know each other and we are all very friendly and all want to help each other. So get out to some events and start chatting with people.

Stay positive and keep going! It can be tough and feel quite lonely in a start-up business but you have to remind yourself why you started the business and focus on the good parts.

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