It’s safe to say that when Lucy Woodhouse and Meriel Kehoe won the PitchUp with Sainsbury’s competition and were asked to supply 16,000 lollies to 250 stores, they weren’t totally prepared. In fact, up until then, they hadn’t sold one single ice-lolly.
Kehoe, a producer and director on shows like Location, Location, Location, and Woodhouse, former Head of Marketing at TalkTalk, first met at their children’s playgroup.
Sharing a mutual obsession – in common with many young mums – with what their children were eating, and well aware that there weren’t many healthy snack options on supermarket shelves, the two women started to experiment with making lollies out of 100% natural ingredients. Their children, Claudi and Fin, after whom the company is named, were their first taste testers.
After being chosen from 400 entrants, and winning the 12-month contract with Sainsbury’s, the two businesswomen had to act quickly to find a manufacturer in Holland to start making the lollies.
Finding a suitable supplier “was really hard!” says Woodhouse. “There aren’t many ice lolly manufacturers around because the equipment is very expensive and we needed a Grade A BRC approved factory. After a number of fruitless searches (and, I’m embarrassed to say, a fair bit of Googling!) we asked Sainsbury’s for help and they were brilliant and gave us details of three factories.
“Luckily one very kind gentlemen working for one of the manufacturers really got what we were trying to do and agreed to make them. It was a big risk for them and I will be eternally grateful for their early support and belief in us.”
Claudi & Fin lollies are stocked in Tesco, Waitrose and Londis
The two women spent about £7,000 each, in addition to a £14,000 loan from StartUp Loans. Now two private investors hold 10% of the firm and Claudi & Fin lollies are stocked in Tesco, Waitrose and Londis. Lucy says the key to attracting big retailers is: “Give them a reason to stock it. What is your USP? There must be a point of difference for their customers to chose it and ideally the holy grail is to drive new customers to the category so they see growth and not just a shift in buying habits from one product to another.
Healthy food for children is definitely an industry with room for growth. In March, the BBC reported that Public Health England introduced more guidelines for reducing sugar in food and challenged businesses to cut sugar by 20% by 2020, and by 5% this year. It follows news that parents are getting more concerned about ingredients in their children’s food. Last year, the market research company Mintel showed that “over four in five parents with children aged four and under say they feed their child homemade food.”
Claudi & Fin is now looking to capitalise on this growing awareness with new product development and new routes to market to be announced soon.
The team moved into their first Workspace office in Park Hall in West Dulwich, in February 2015. As Woodhouse says, “There are only so many freezers you can fit in a house!"
More space for their team, and flexibility to change offices as their staff numbers grew, came with the ability to slot seamlessly into an already existing business network:
It’s a friendly environment with a great café and Nick is a brilliant manager who really encourages engagement and community amongst us
Lucy Woodhouse, Claudi & Fin.
“For us to all be in one room with all our stuff and employees is brilliant. Also, if you need a lawyer, PR, graphic designer, fashion designer or a nutritionist they are all here and much more! It’s like a one-stop shop for business. We’ve collaborated loads with other businesses and run competitions with them. The really nice thing is we’re all in the same business of trying to make something work that we’ve created from scratch and it’s wonderful to have that support.
"It’s a friendly environment with a great café and Nick is a brilliant manager who really encourages engagement and community amongst us. He’s also really helped me out a few times! Come and visit us for a lolly sometime. We do an Open Door Day when people can come get a free lolly.
And if you feel like jazzing up your free lolly, Lucy has a top tip: “Add a Claudi & Fin lolly to your smoothie! Not only is it delicious you get 30% of your RDA of vitamin D. Sunshine in your smoothie and less than 55 calories a lolly… yum.”
If you’d like more information about Park Hall please click here.