In this episode of The Physical Product Movement, we’re joined by Clara Paye, CEO & Founder of UNiTE Food as she reveals how she recognized an opportunity through her dissatisfaction with the nutritional bars in the grocery aisle… and how this inspired her to start a line of nutritional bars with culturally diverse flavors.
Clara launched her food brand right as the pandemic began and immediately had to rip up her marketing plan and cancel trade show booths due to the pandemic.
Given these points, Clara views the pandemic as a great equalizer for up-and-coming food brands like hers and shares all about how she was able to thrive and grow her company in the middle of such a difficult and unprecedented time.
Ken: Welcome to the physical product movement, a podcast by fiddle, we share stories of the world’s most ambitious and exciting physical product brands to help you capitalize on the monumental change in how, why and where consumers buy. I’m your host, Ken Ojuka.
In this episode of the Physical Product Movement podcast. I talked with Claire Paye, CEO and Founder of UNiTE foo. Her story is awesome. As an immigrant, she was dissatisfied with the nutritional bars in the grocery aisle and how that inspired her to start a line of nutritional bars with a culturally diverse flavor profile.
Clara launched her food brand right as the pandemic was starting. And immediately had to rip up our marketing plan and canceled trade show booths due to the pandemic. She talks about how she views the pandemic as a great equalizer for up and coming food brands like hers and how she was able to thrive and grow her company in the middle of such a difficult and unprecedented time.
Clara was a great guest. I hope you enjoy this interview. All right, Clara. How are you doing? Yeah. Hey, welcome to the podcast. I appreciate you taking the time to jump on. Um, I, I’m actually pretty excited to talk to you. Um, just understanding that you launched your brand, uh, United food about a year ago. Um, and I, and I think it’s a very interesting year to launch a product.
And I think that, uh, that you’ll have some interesting things that you could share with us about it, for sure. But first let’s, let’s kick it off with a quote. Uh, is there, is there, um, a quote that you could share with us that’s been impactful to you?
Clara: I do have a good one. And I think for me being like a 40 something first time entrepreneur, it’s really, you’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream by Les Brown.
And I think, yeah, and I think so many people getting the track so early in life, like in your twenties, you don’t realize it, but that first job that you choose really sets you are your life on a trajectory. And it takes a lot of, um, Self reflection and that’s so to speak, to really change the trajectory of your life, you’re in a career path or feel that you don’t necessarily love.
It’s never too late. And I think that’s a lie. A lot of people tell themselves is it’s too late. I’m too old. I don’t know enough. Like you can always acquire the knowledge. You might have to take a pick up and you might have to like start from the beginning, but that it would be so worth it. If it’s something you’re truly passionate about rather than just like owning it in.
Ken: Yeah, that’s awesome. And in fact, um, I think contrary to what a lot of people believe, um, uh, entrepreneurs in their forties, that’s actually the norm, you know, that’s, that’s where most people start businesses. Sometimes we get into our head, you know, thinking that you have to be 20 something to start a business, but, but that’s not true.
Um, and then kind of along the same, the same lines. Uh, I was just listening to the story of the KFC founder and, uh, he was in his, in his sixties when he started kissy
Clara: Was in her forties when she started narrowing.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. Perfect. That’s a great quote. All right. So why don’t we, um, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about Unite food and what makes you guys unique for those who’ve never heard of your brand?
Clara: So unite is the world’s first, globally inspired protein bar. Um, it was really born out of my own, um, frustration and wellness in that I didn’t really see flavors that I wanted to eat in health food. So like, you know, when you want to eat healthy, there’s all these flavors that are offered to you. And like the predominant one being, you know, like Apple pie or blueberry or.
Yeah, I’m talking about protein bars or like peanut butter and chocolate. And it just seemed like a lot of the flavors out there were just run of the mill same flavors and being from a different culture myself. You know, I just didn’t really identify with those slaveries and I didn’t think that, you know, others in my same situation would identify with them.
And that’s why I kind of created the United food. It’s, um, a total inspiration in the world and the world around me and the cultural heritages that have impacted me the most and created this. Um, new category and better for you kind of ethnic wildest, you know, it’s been, uh, it’s been an interesting flavor journey for me coming up with the flavors.
And then, you know, we also introduced her peanut butter and jelly at our launch. And people don’t understand how that fits into the set and really it’s about the mission of the brand, uh, to invite everyone. And I, American heritage and culture is just as important to me. So I didn’t want to leave anybody behind.
So we always said we’re building a bigger wellness table, one where everybody can have a seat.
Ken: Yeah, that’s awesome. So you, so you mentioned coming from a different culture. What’s your background, where you’re from?
Clara: I was born in the Sudan in Africa, some student knees and my parents were born there and like multi-generational and, um, in the early eighties, my dad and mom didn’t, you know, Sauna, there will be no opportunity for us, for our kids in Africa.
And so they picked up and moved to America and then they had three kids under the age of five, which is that’s to me. I can’t even get, you know, across the country with three kids under the age of five, right. There’s new cultures. And we immigrated here and, you know, we’re on political and religious asylum and started over in Los Angeles.
So that’s kind of where I grew up.
Ken: And how old were you at that time
Clara: When you guys were four years old.
Ken: Okay. Okay. All right. And so I love the mission. Um, I love the mission. Um, and so maybe you could describe a little bit more about, you know, what you saw in the grocery aisle and you know, what about it wasn’t really resonating with you?
Clara: Well, it was really just personal experience. I wasn’t one of those people that sat back and said, okay, what’s missing in this space and how can I like fill this need? It was a personal journey. So I relied on protein bars to kind of feel my day as I was a busy executive working crazy hours, traveling all over the place.
Protein bars were really like a crutch and my fuel. But I just didn’t like it them, and I didn’t know why I didn’t like them. And so I would go to the market and let’s try to find one that I would like, but they were all the same. They all were the same flavors over and over. And it kind of just like hit me.
Like there isn’t any variety, true variety here. He was like, which is, I wanted to say it in the space of so crowded, but there isn’t a variety, but there truly wasn’t like culturally relevant. Um, flavors to choose from. So I grew up in LA, so we have access to every type of cuisine and, um, ethnic background that you can think of.
You know, if you wanted a grateful Pino food or you want a great Vietnamese food, or if you want a great Japanese or of course the Spanish and Mexican food, you can find it. And so I, you know, it’s like, I think what makes. Where I live in this country. So amazing. It’s just like fabric of culture is an influence.
Um, and I just didn’t see that reflected in wellness at all. And you know, kind of like the big realization where like, it’s really hard to stay on a healthful path wellness. If none of the flavors are being offered, really you can relate to or things you normally would eat or normally want to eat. So it’s fine to say, yeah, if you don’t like kale, you’re not going to eat it.
Ken: All right. So, so you were talking just a little bit about LA, um, LA being a huge hub, you know, for a bunch of different cultures, lots of different cuisines. Um, could you take it from there?
Clara: Sure. You know, like I’m super thankful to have been brought up in Los Angeles where, you know, ethnic influence is everywhere.
[00:08:08] And so whether you want to go eat Filipino food or Vietnamese food or great Japanese or great Spanish or Mexican food, like there are plenty of authentic places to choose from. And really. You know, maybe I’m, you know, I have this perspective because I too am an immigrant, but I think that’s what makes this country great is just like that melting pot of variety that we have that gives us diversity of thought and diversity of culture and new.
You know, new opportunities to try and understand the world around us. So, you know, I took that inspiration and saw that wellness really needed that diversity. And, you know, we want to be that brand that stands for diversity and wellness. You know, we want to bring in the global flavors for those that want a taste of home or those that are just adventurous eater is and want to try different things.
Ken: And so for those who haven’t seen, uh, what, what flavors do you have? Um, so you mentioned peanut butter and jelly. Um, I see you have a chiro flavor as well.
Clara: Yeah, we launched in March for the chiro flavor and a Mexican hot chocolate as well, you know, ensure it gets its inspiration from Spain and Portugal.
Um, and you know, it was just delightfully, you know, send cinnamony any and sweet and got little bits of like crunch in it and then got Mexican hot chocolate. It was rich chocolate, dark chocolate with almonds, and it’s got like a sprinkling of chili in it. So it’s got like a little bit of a lingering heat.
But not much because like kids are actually the biggest fans of that one because it’s like, basically looks and tastes like a candy bar. But I think when it gets super healthy, because the first ingredients almond butter and all have seeds in it and super, um, full of omegas and, you know, things that help boost your immunity and keep you full too. Cause they’re high fiber.
Ken: That’s great. Yeah. Um, could you talk just a little bit more about the nutritional profile?
Clara: Yeah. So the bars are all gluten free and have 10 grams of protein, which, you know, is a great amount of protein to keep you satiated. And there they have prebiotic fiber in them, which, you know, we hear a lot about probiotics, but providers don’t work unless you’ve got prebiotics in your system already in prebiotics are what caused the probiotics to work, um, in your tummy.
And, you know, the first ingredients always in that better. And it’s got, um, usually a variety of nuts and hemp seeds, um, sweetened with dates and it’s just super, um, healthy and helpful. So we get a lot of nutritionists that reach out to us and tell us that like our macros are perfect and we’ve had like lots of articles written about us because we’re under 200 calories, we’re high protein, high fiber, and kind of the ideal nutrition deck for wellness, which was really important to me.
Ken: Yeah, that’s great. And you mentioned you, you’ve got a couple little kids too, and so you you’re, you’re obviously developing this with them in mind
Clara: And co-developing it, right? Like they’re my case testers. So kids are great. They’re a great barometer of honesty because they won’t eat something that doesn’t taste good.
So, you know, you have, I kind of like formulate with that in mind.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And I’ve got a few kids myself and yeah, they’re definitely not shy about telling you when they don’t like something. So, okay. So I want to rewind just a little bit, um, you know, you mentioned that you’re, uh, you’re a busy executive.
What, what were you doing? What were you, uh, what was your work?
Clara: So for 17 years I ran my family business, which is plumbing, manufacturing, and distribution, which is like totally different. Um, but really there’s a lot of parallels in distribution and logistics that there are in food. Um, but we, uh, sold coming supplies nationwide, internationally.
Um, you know, it’s rough plumbing, so it’s not like the sexy, beautiful shower heads. It’s kind of like the stuff behind the walls that makes it all work. And we did like appliance connectors and things like that.
Ken: Okay. And so, so you’re, you’re working in that business and you are dissatisfied with what you’re finding in the grocery store.
Uh, I, I want you to just kind of tell us a story of, you know, when did you know that you wanted to create a bar? Um, what were some of the first things that you did in order to validate the idea to see if this is even something that that was possible? You know, just the, the very early days of coming up with this idea,
Clara: Well, I’ve always been a problem solver.
Right. And I think that if there’s a problem, like I want to solve it. So before actually I did the protein bars, I also launched a line of kit swimwear, which was to basically trick my kids into wearing their son house so that Ryan is tiny crowds. And, you know, I noticed that like, kids didn’t want to wear their sun hats.
And so I was. You know, perplexed as to why, because that was easiest way to protect them. We have skin cancer in our family, so I wanted to protect their scalp. And there really isn’t a great way to do that. You can put sunscreen, but it will run into their eyes. So the best solution is just to wear their sun habit.
Of course, kids don’t want to wear them. And it was just like very frustrating thing at the pool or the beach or just being outside. And so I checked them by making them into costumes. So I put crowns on hats environment. I mean, environment hats and princess hats and, you know, corn hats and Ninja hats and made like UPF 50.
Um, rash guards and shorts to go with them so that it was important to just being protected. Oh, very cool. And so, yeah, I’ve kind of always just seen obstacles, want it to solve them. And I was, you know, very happy in my family business and grew the business, you know, but it was a lot and I was a mom and wanted to do something that also was a little bit more authentic to me.
I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Um, and I turned 40 and, you know, like kind of like my quote that we went over, you know, it’s never too late to, you know, cast a new dream for yourself. Basically. You never see it all of a sudden, another goal or dream, a new dream. Um, I thought, yeah, this is something that needs to be done.
And I got really passionate about the mission, um, of offering diversity, diverse flavors in wellness because there. Are lots of people who want to eat better, but don’t relate to health food. And if we can create that bridge, then we can really have impact.
Ken: Yeah, very cool. So, okay. So what was the first thing that you did, um, towards launching this?
Clara: So the first thing I did was I go into my kitchen and say like, what would I make? I was like, you know, making an ideal nutritional profile, um, snack to eat for me and my kids. And like literally went to trader Joe’s. Know, bought a bunch of ingredients and just started experimenting and, you know, played with flavor and like had my best friends.
I’m lucky that I have best friends from all over the world. So, you know, one best friends from Mexico city, once ProVia one’s Japanese and one’s Filipino and just have them all taste the things that I was coming up with in my kitchen. And when they really liked it, I knew okay. That close. And then I found a fit scientist to help me kind of make it manufacturable.
And, you know, kind of convert my kitchen formula into a production writing formula and then found a co-packer and launched the brand. So, I mean, that sounds like it’s so easy. It becomes like a million little steps in between all of that. Um, but you know, probably worked on it for a year and a half before my launch in March.
Ken: Yeah. That’s that’s what I was going to ask next is, you know, what was the timeline from idea to, to actual launch, to product in him? Yeah,
Clara: It was about 18 Bally, about a year to have product in hand, and then launching, you know, we had our first run in January of last year and, you know, with the intention as launching at expo West, which, you know, we had our trade show booth set up and you’re ready to go and ready to make our impact.
And then obviously the entire world shut down at that same moment. And so it was in one part of the blessing. I, you know, people didn’t see it that way. So a lot of people were coming up to me saying, Oh, I’m so sorry that this is happening right. When you launched your brand. And to me, it wasn’t equalizer. So everybody was going through COVID right.
The entire world. It was like, my competition had edge on me other than they already had retail relationships. And they already had, you know, things maybe further along, but we were all in the same boat. So we all had to pivot. And there was this great network of natural. I was new to natural products and I didn’t know anybody in the industry, but a lot of leaders out there rallied around emerging brands and gave us a voice and gave us a chance to tell our story.
And like that would never happened in the plumbing industry where I came from. Right. So I even fell in love more for the industry. After that, I got to go on startup CPG with Daniel Sharp and, you know, Ray Latif put us on elevator talk and we just got a chat platform and a chance to, you know, for me to tell about bar and bath mission and, and things went well for us.
Last year, we got into retailers, we opened up distribution, so we still were able to move the business forward, but we’re really excited about what’s to come this year.
Ken: Yeah. So you mentioned, you know, startup, CPG, um, and that you found a community, um, what are, what are some of the other communities, um, that you plugged into or ways in which you, you found other people who were kind of going through this as well?
Clara: Oh, there’s so many great ones. So the tardigrade program with Eliot vegan food, Betty with Jordan, um, you know, even platforms like sack magic and SnackNation. All creative, kind of like a community for us. And then, you know, like in a female CPG food founder group, um, network of executive women, there’s so many literally to choose from.
Ken: And so, you know, for somebody who might be going through something similar, um, trying to get plugged in, you know, what’s, what’s the best way to, to find these types of groups. It seems like, like, you know, you’re connected to so many, but is there any specific way that you even found out that they existed?
Clara: LinkedIn. So LinkedIn is such a powerful tool for learning your industry. This industry specifically like lives on LinkedIn. So a lot of people use it. A lot of founders use it, a lot of . So it’s a great opportunity to learn. What’s kind of going on in the industry, follow people that you admire. That’s what I do, you know, I see what they’re commenting on and I.
Then I follow more people. And you know, at the beginning of this probably last March, no, I might have brought all LinkedIn, like once in a while, but like, you know, in my previous industry, it was just like a place where you just got solicited. It wasn’t like really where my industry interacted, we interacted more at trade shows.
Um, and then natural food. I was like, wow, this is like, there’s a flurry of activity on LinkedIn. And so when I got on there and you know, now I probably have like 3000 connections.
Ken: Okay. Yeah, that’s a great tip for people. Um, and so it sounds like, you know, you had to, to, you know, like, like everybody else you had to pivot, um, your plans, uh, for, for launching your brand.
I’m curious. What else, what else changed? So you, you mentioned, um, um, uh, what was it, uh, Natural foods. Um, uh, is that expo West? Is that the one that you mentioned or
Clara: Yeah, expos it was in March. Yeah. So everything got canceled. And so, you know, we just started now where I just started networking with people in the industry and, you know, got a chance to pitch some retailers and had some wins.
And so, you know, we went into Bristol arms in June. Um, of last year and how just like great success there at a time when like the industry was down, our velocity was so high with Bristol and we never promoted it even there. So it was just, you know, our everyday price. And we sold so many bars and people really loved the product.
And so that getting me the encouragement to just keep going right. And trying to, you know, also develop our direct consumer business. To help because you’ve had to pivot. Um, and just, you know, we opened up KCI and unify warehouses. So it was just, it was all, it was a building year. So it was like laying the foundation, meeting the right people, hiring the right team members to kind of help, um, help with the growth.
Ken: So for those who don’t know Bristol farms, can you describe that a little bit?
Clara: Bristol farms is a chain of grocery stores in Southern California. It’s higher end. Really high quality produce and high quality meats and seafood. And, um, it’s just, it was a great test for us. Great way to see how our brand would do at retail.
Ken: Yes, it’s a great store. And so, um, how did you get connected with them? You know, did you, did you reach out to them? Did you send them samples? Did you meet their buyers? How did that work? I went
Clara: Into the local store in pitch, the store manager. And so that’s how it started, you know, you kind of like. Not on the door is right.
And it will be open. And so pitch the store manager, connecting connected me with the buyer who brought it in and it was awesome because it was a chance to show, you know, I local, I live in the area and so it was a way for them to highlight their local, um, local residents. And so having a local brand, there is something that’s important to them to engage with their community.
So it was a win-win for both sides.
Ken: Right. Right. And in fact, I think that’s something that, um, that’s more and more common is a lot of grocery stores. Um, and different chains are trying to highlight, um, smaller up and coming brands, um, local brands, um, healthy brands. Um, and so, and so they’re actually more open to, to talking to you then than I think most people would realize.
Clara: Yeah. I think it’s about connection. And so you can’t be afraid to go after what you want. And so, yeah. In COVID actually emerging brands or hurt because people were pandemic, panic shopping. And so emerging brands actually lost market share for the first time. And big national brands were able to reclaim shelf space that they had lost to emerging brands.
But now that the pandemic is more under control, um, I think we’ll see emerging brands kind of reclaim. That shelf space. And so that’s where the real innovation happens. That’s why, um, you know, people are always watching Virgin companies because we’re innovating.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that the buyer has changed, you know, um, that the average shopper, um, You know, actually your story of being dissatisfied, you know, when there’s a, you know, a million different, you know, it’s a pretty crowded space, there’s a million different types of bars out there.
And yet, you know, it’s still not, it’s still not necessarily meeting your needs. And so I just think brands, uh, or buyers are just, you know, just, just much more open to trying new things and wanting exactly what they want instead of settling for what’s there.
Clara: What you’re making is actually a really important when you can.
And the buyer almost has to suspend their own prejudices to be able to think outside the box. Right? Because if the platelet flavor doesn’t relate to you because of your upbringing doesn’t mean it won’t relate to somebody else in their upbringing. Does that make sense? So like, that’s why the I, and unite is intentionally small because we believe that in order to actually unite and bring people together, you have to diminish kind of your own.
Suspend your own beliefs a little bit, but try to understand the world you’re in, I’m a world around you. And so it’s when the buyer isn’t reacting from a personal perspective, but is looking at it from a macro perspective that we think that there’s a great opportunity.
Ken: That’s awesome. Um, and so, uh, I want to kinda get back to this, uh, you know, the, the conversation about, um, you know, what you, what you had to change, you know, so obviously, you know, when you launch a new CPG brand like this, you know, most people would consider trade shows like, like you were, but obviously those, those weren’t an option.
Um, at least, at least for last year, um, you mentioned that, you know, you had to, um, figure out direct to consumer. So did you already have your websites developed, uh, you know, for launch and were you already planning on, you know, having your own Shopify site and driving, driving, um, you know, buyers directly to your site?
Or was that something that you developed once you saw what the pandemic was doing?
Clara: No, we already had it developed, so we launched our website in February, right before expo. Um, but I, you know, there was an opportunity to buy direct there, but that was never, it was never built purpose-built for the direct to consumer space.
It was really built for yes, we will. You know, if somebody wants to replenish and buy it directly from us, we’ll definitely service that customer. But really it was built from a perspective of like, we’re going to be in retail and retailers become, see that you’re a real business and like, what is your offering?
And be able to research the business. So. I actually spent the last six months kind of tweaking the website. And so we’re actually getting ready to launch on a new site anytime in the next couple of weeks. Um, and so it will be more optimized for direct to consumers. It will have more information on it and really, you know, it’s an evolving thing that we’re going to continue to innovate.
Ken: Sure. Sure. What about Amazon? Did you launch on Amazon? Pretty much right away.
Clara: We did launch on Amazon probably in April. So yeah, like the next month. Um, and it’s. Something, you know, we, we struggle to like really be super successful at, but I feel like we’re getting our fitting there.
Ken: Okay. And what about other marketplaces, like fair marketplace or thrive? Did you go into any of those?
Clara: Yeah, we did. We did, um, fair, which has been a great partner. We’re in the other store who were on Hubba before they shut their doors. It’s just very sad. Um, we are on a snack magic, which we do really well on there. So there have been some alternative kind of marketplaces where we’ve been able to create brand awareness.
Ken: Okay. That’s all. If you had to kind of break down your percentage of business from direct to consumer versus retail, you know, what, what would your numbers kind of fall out?
Clara: Um, it’s probably 50 50 at this point, but next this coming year, retail will overtake direct to consumer because we’ve been focused on it.
Ken: Okay. Got it. And so do you have any upcoming, um, you know, retail partnerships that, that you want to talk about?
Clara: I do, but I can’t talk about them just yet. We are launching with a major retailer in June, um, which we’re very excited about.
Ken: Oh, that’s awesome. Congratulations. Um, and the interesting thing too, that I’ve seen, um, you know, along this point is that a lot of retailers actually look at your direct to consumer.
Um, business and, and that actually can help you to get into retail. Right. And so that’s, that’s actually a very common path. Um, few, a few of, uh, you know, the brands that I know real well actually had, you know, people like Costco or target that approached them because of how well they were doing with direct consumer.
Clara: It definitely is a great testing ground.
Ken: All right. So then the other thing I wanted to ask about is did you launch with the three flavors right away or did you just launch with one flavor? Okay. And so, you know, obviously you guys are very passionate about the flavors and it’s, you know, pretty critical to your mission and to your brand. Um, how are you guys thinking about additional flavors and going forward?
Clara: So we want to crowdsource our flavors and really build a community around unite. So I don’t want to, I want to make this brand like all the people and, you know, I would say like, you know, United, we snack, but it’s really about understanding what our community wants and developing those flavors.
So anybody can go on our website and submit their flavor. Um, that they would want to see you that would represent them. And so we get great ideas from that, but we want to make, you know, global flavors or, you know, we’ll have like an Asian inspired flavor and we’ll have, you know, other flavors from other regions of the world that will round out the brand and we’ll continue to test. Yeah. We’ll continue to test flavors.
Ken: All right. So, um, did you, do you have a business partners with this? Um, you know, what about your team? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Clara: Uh, I’m a solopreneur, but I do have a great team behind me. So I’ve got a great CFO. We’ve got great, um, our great marketing team and a great like outside sales team.
Um, and then we’ve got a great. Um, operations consultants. So everyone kind of works around the brand, um, and we’ve been able to really create some interesting growth through that model. And my husband also is part of my team
Ken: Pretty much whether he wants to, or not pretty much.
Clara: Yeah. Like he’s, you know, sometimes he’s wrapping pallets and sometimes we’re going through a brand strategy.
He’s actually, um, head of marketing for the LA Clippers. So he comes from the NBA and before that he worked in NASCAR. So he’s got the sports marketing side. So we just weren’t marketing geeks. We actually met in the MBA program studying marketing. And so we just let him, we kick out.
Ken: Okay. Yeah. So that’s what I was going to ask. It seems like you, you, you, um, You know, focused a lot on marketing and, and, um, even just some the way you’ve positioned your product, you know, there’s a level of sophistication with, with marketing. Um, and so that’s, that’s your background? Um, is that what you were doing with the family business before?
Clara: Yeah, so marketing is my background. Um, I ran the business there, so it was like operations and marketing and sales and everything else, HR, but with marketing, you know, I’m extremely passionate about the consumer. Right. I think businesses should not try to guess what our consumers want. They should just ask them and they should tell, you know, kind of create their KPIs.
What’s important in their company, based on who’s actually paying the bills, which are your customers. Right. And so I’m. Relentlessly we’ll pursue the consumer insight. And so we do lots of surveying. We do lots of, you know, just, I like stop people at the grocery store and ask them why they’re buying the board that they’re buying, you know, and I’m friendly.
So people won’t think it’s creepy. I’ll ask you, you know, I’ll be, I’ll be like, Oh, why, you know, help me pick one. Like, which one do you pick? Which one do you like? Right. And so just come at it from it. Um, and being an open canvas. And so just really understanding the voice of the consumer. That’s super important to everything I do
Ken: Ask you for an example of, uh, of doing that, um, with unite.
Um, and so, okay. Stocking people at the grocery store, how does this, this workout, um, and is this about your product, you know, as they’re looking at your product or is it any, any product and you’re just trying to get in their head.
Clara: And get in their heads. This is like probably earlier on before you were on shelves.
And, you know, I would be at whatever grocery store and I would just, I would just like sit there and wait for somebody to come down the aisle. That would be creepy, but, and somebody was in the aisle too, you know, I’m pretty chatty. And, um, people like, you know, I can interact pretty easily with people and I don’t have that, like, um, I dunno, you know, like insecurity around talking to people.
And so I think it’s comes from being like an immigrant and moving around so much, just being little, like I can, like, I went to eight different schools before high school, so I am always just making new friends. And so I will naturally just start out the conversation, just try to understand. But then I also, you know, use survey companies to try to survey people.
So it’s not like, you know, me asking specifically, but like a third party. Um, we get insights from like our SnackNation. Um, partnerships. So I really want to understand the objective because your friends and family will just tell you what you want to hear, what you want is like the cold, hard truth. And, you know, I love them when I stumble across a video or something that somebody who’s uploaded a review of ours.
And I’m like, yes, no. Awesome. So to me, it’s, it’s invaluable.
Ken: Yeah, no, that’s great. Um, and, and so, um, other other things with, with marketing, are you guys, um, are you currently driving traffic to, you know, directly to your site? Are you guys, um, you know, on Facebook, um, you know, buying ads or Google ad words, are you doing anything like that?
Clara: We do social media buying on Instagram and Facebook.
Ken: Okay. And is that working okay for you guys or, you know, there’s so many mixed results with these?
Clara: Yeah, I feel like, so the bar category got hit hard during COVID because this is an on the go product. So you eat it when you’re on a plane, on a train at your soccer game, you know, when you’re traveling, not necessarily when you’re just sitting stuck at home.
And so the bar category as a whole took a big hit last year. And so we were lucky in that we. Didn’t know any better. So that was our baseline, but we are seeing it pick up this year. So now that like, things are opening back up and people are getting back to somewhat of a normal state, um, we will hopefully see that continue to improve.
Ken: Okay, great. And you mentioned that you are looking to launch a new website. Um, what about trade shows? Are you guys planning on attending any trade? Shows that when, when they start up here,
Clara: Probably not this year, but in 2022, for sure.
Ken: Okay. Um, and, um, I guess, any, anything else that, that you, that you’re, um, that you’re working on right now that, uh, that you could share with us, uh, you mentioned a new retail partnership, a mysterious one that you can’t tell us about, but, you know, it’s, it’s pretty exciting, but w you know, w what else are you, what else are you working on? And, uh, you know, what’s, what’s the future look like for you? We’re
Clara: Working on two new flavors, this whole flea launch by the end of the year. And we’re also working on, um, just expanding our footprint in retail. We do have some good wins here to celebrate and then building brand awareness. So helping people hear about unite, um, inviting them into the story and biting them into partner with me.
And let’s bring, you know, Flavors that you guys care about. So I would love, I love connecting with people. Um, the best way is through LinkedIn because I’m always on there, you know, I’m just Claire. Okay. So if anybody wants to connect or has any questions feel free to reach out.
Ken: Okay. Cool. And, um, you mentioned, uh, submitting flavors is, is the best way to contact you on LinkedIn or is there a place on your website that they can do
Clara: That you can fill in?
Ken: Okay, great. And your website again, uh, for, for those who don’t know, what’s your unite thing.com wrapping up here. Um, I just wanted to go through a quick, a quick fire round, ask you four questions and tell me the first thing that comes to your head. All right. What’s a one tool or resource that’s helped you the most in your current position.
Uh, any books in particular, that was actually the next one, which is what one book that’s helped you nail it, then scale it. Yep. Okay. Awesome. Um, and what is a one piece of advice that you’d give to your 21 year old self
Clara: And you already have everything inside you to succeed?
Ken: And who is one person, um, that you’d love to, to take the lunch.
Clara: That’s such a good question. There’s so many, um, I would love to take to lunch, probably Gary Hershberger from Stonyfield
Ken: And how come that I don’t know him.
Clara: He just has a really interesting founder story. So I love when entrepreneurs create things from scratch. Or actually also the Chibani sound or hung the ukulele. I always thought she was named like, I just, you know, I relate to his immigrant story too, as you know, Stonyfield Johnny kinda launched around the same time. So they would be good to take them both to lunch.
Ken: Okay. That’s awesome. All right. Well, I think that this is, this has been great. Um, you know, particularly I liked your point about, um, the blessings of, of COVID to a brand new brand new business, you know, trying to find its way and how it equalize things. Um, I think that’s, that’s pretty awesome. Um, do you have any partying. Partying words for anybody that’s out there. Just kind of working in the, in the world of physical products, you know, maybe they’re they’re they have a new brand or they’re considering launching a brand. Do you have any words of advice for, for that person
Clara: Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you, because you’ll go from there and then lead with optimism, lead with abundance.
You know, there are always opportunities, even in the dark. Darkness.
Ken: Okay. Well, that’s awesome. That’s inspiring. Well, you have been a great guest. I appreciate you hopping on. Thank you so much.
Clara: Thank you so much. I appreciate that.
Ken: All right. Take care. Bye-bye the physical product movement podcast is brought to you by fiddle to find out more about fiddle and how our industry leading inventory ops platform is giving modern brands and manufacturers all visibility into their inventory and operations.
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