How it all started...
The first seed of the idea for Pip & Nut was planted in 2013 when I started making my own nut butters at home, blitzing my way through many a food mixer in the process. At this stage it was mainly to fuel my own love for the product; I was training for a couple of marathons at the time and I would always treat myself to peanut butter on toast as a post-run snack. Natural peanut butter is packed full of protein and healthy fats, which makes it the perfect recovery food.
Towards the end of the year I decided to see what other people thought of my nut butters, so I started selling them at London’s Maltby Street Market every weekend. Outdoor markets in the UK winter are very chilly places indeed! When I started getting positive feedback from the general public, I really started to think seriously about how I could make something more from this hobby of mine.
In 2014 I entered a competition called ‘Escape to the Shed’, run by Escape the City. It was for entrepreneurs who had an idea and a business plan, but lacked the time or funds to get the ball rolling. The prize was the opportunity to live for 3 months rent-free in their garden ‘shed’ (more like a cosy wendy house) to focus on launching the business. When I got the call telling me I’d won, I couldn’t believe it. I knew I had to take the leap, so I handed my notice in (I was working as a Theatre Producer at The Science Museum) the very next day.
CROWDFUNDING & SETTING UP
I lived in the Shed that summer, which gave me the time to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube. When I reached my target in less than 10 days I had to pinch myself; things were getting real! Having the investment in the bank meant I could spend the rest of the year finding a production partner (the hardest bit), working on the brand with B&B Studio and hiring my first employee, Tom.
The first Pip & Nut jars launched onto the shelves of Selfridges in London in January 2015 - which is still one of my favourite moments of this journey so far. We launched with three flavours in jars and squeeze packs: Smooth Peanut, Smooth Almond and Coconut Almond. I’m still very grateful to Selfridges for taking a punt on us and giving us that first opportunity.
From then on, it was hustle hustle hustle. Tom and I would march around the streets of London with bags full of nut butter, trying to sell them to independent stores. I still believe that it’s really important to try and build your brand in this type of store, and we were proud to have a long list.
Possibly the most exciting news of 2015 was when we got the news that Sainsbury’s were going to list our products. The thought that Pip & Nut was going to be on the shelves of Sainsbury’s stores all over the country was in equal parts terrifying and amazing. We’d never anticipated we’d get into a supermarket in our first year so it really was the best email to receive. Sainsbury’s have continued to be an invaluable partner of ours, and we are really thankful to them for all their support.
OUR FIRST LIMITED EDITION
In 2016 we launched our first Limited Edition flavour: Crunchy Maple Peanut Butter (which, due to popular demand has remained a permanent flavour ever since). People loved the variety of flavours I had when I was selling at the market, and this was something I had always been keen to bring to the core range once I’d launched the brand.
During 2016 the team grew from two to seven full-time squirrels. This was the start of our Friday team lunch tradition and we had our first ‘proper’ Christmas Party! Our range also got bigger (literally) with the launch of 1kg tubs in November. We finished the year on a high and ready for an even more exciting 2017.
I’d never imagined myself as a published author, but when we got approached by publishers Hardie Grant about writing a Pip & Nut cookbook it was an offer too good to refuse! After a LOT of recipe testing and nut butter consumption, our Nut Butter Cookbook was published in January 2017. We launched it with a pop-up Toast Bar in Selfridges’ Food Hall (which felt fitting seeing as we had launched there 2 years before) and had loads of fun serving up Pip & Nut toast for 6 weeks.
In May 2017 we moved to The Nest - our lovely office next to Spitalfields Market. A proper growing up moment for Pip & Nut! Since then the team has continued to grow and we should be up to twenty Squirrels (& a dog) by the end of 2019. Bringing in expertise across the business has been vital and I’m very lucky to get to work with such a motivated group of people. We are all as ambitious as ever, and have very big plans for the next few years.