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Meet Claudi & Fin
Claudi & Fin make natural, delicious frozen desserts for adults and children.
Lucy and Meriel started their business lives as two mums at a kitchen table with a ravenous desire to make a healthier ice lolly for their families.
Having spent a year and a half making the perfect frozen yoghurt lolly, they won a contract to supply 250 Sainsbury's stores just six months later, having never sold a single lolly in their lives. Co-owner, Lucy Woodhouse, shares her story with us here.
What motivated you to start your business?
We love ice cream and lollies, but Meriel and I had become tired of the sugar-laden, calorie-heavy lollies that were available in supermarkets and wanted desserts that we felt happy and guilt free to feed to our families. Our lollies are 100 per cent natural, contain less than a teaspoon of sugar, and are only 30 calories each!
What has been the most memorable moment in your business journey so far?
Definitely going into Sainsbury's the day the product launched. I was with my husband and the children and was so excited about seeing our brand on the shelf, but before I got to the frozen aisle, I saw a little girl with her mum and a packet of each flavour under her arm at the till and got a bit watery eyed! It had been quite a journey to get it on the shelves!
When did you realise your company would need a barcode?
The day Sainsbury's head of grocery called us to say we'd won a contract! I thought, right, the really hard work starts now: the fun bit about creating a product and brand is done, now we've got to jump through the technical hoops and get it shelf ready! I just like how easy it is to create barcodes and how everything is laid out so you can see your history very clearly in your personal account.
Where else do you sell your products?
As well as Sainsbury’s, Claudi & Fin products can be also found in Waitrose, Co-op, Ocado and Booths in the UK, and Jumbo in the Netherlands. This year, we are launching in Albert Heijn and Plus Retail in the Netherlands, and Delhaize in Belgium.
What challenges did you experience getting your product listed with large retailers?
I don't really remember them as challenges, more as part of the natural process of launching a product. Sainsbury's were really helpful and supported us loads, but because we hadn't sold any lollies anywhere before, their technical teams were extremely thorough in checking our product and treated us like an own-label product. This was brilliant for us, because it meant we'd jumped every hoop to get to the shelf and everyone was very confident in the product by launch.
What is a typical day like for you?
I normally write a list of the things I am going to achieve that day, and prioritise specific items. I then check emails looking at sales, production dates and stock.
At the beginning of the week I'll check to see how the previous week’s sales have compared with the previous year. I then have a call with our operations manager and often the factory in Germany to deal with any outstanding issues then need resolving. I then try and focus my energies on sales and new product development. This can mean anything from contacting potential customers to competitively looking at products selling in UK or aboard, to visiting factories or tasting samples.
No day is ever the same, and often there is a challenge which keeps it exciting and fresh. We get very popular when we've got new samples to taste and test, and we open this up to a tasting panel of children and their parents. I love doing those sessions. Very revealing and always rewarding! We all love ice cream, after all!
What lessons have you learnt running your own business?
Be prepared for your business to be like another member of your family! I think about it constantly but not in a negative way, just in a how-can-I-do-this-better sort of way. I love business and I love seeing business and business people succeed, so even when I'm not thinking about mine, I'm thinking about businesses around me! It can be a bit exhausting, but I grew up with my Dad being like that and it's infectious!
What’s the biggest challenge for your business - what keeps you up at night?
I call it the second-album effect! You've launched one set of products but the hardest challenge is repeating it with something else and growing your portfolio because you can't sit still. We're all obsessed with new – so pretty soon after your first success, you've got to get something new out there that sells.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I really, really love swimming pools!
Who inspires you?
Oh, so many people and things! I am really inspired by people who are just very good at what they do. So, that could be Laura Kuenssberg doing a brilliant news report or a talented sporty friend just inspiring me to get out of bed to run at 5.45am! If someone's very good at something, I'm fascinated and inspired by them.
What top piece of advice would you give to other brands?
Make sure you have other people outside of the business you can talk ideas through with, but, ultimately, trust your instinct. If something feels right, do it. If it doesn't, step back.
Where do you turn for business guidance and support?
Enterprise Nation was great for us when we launched, and Emma Jones really supported us.
We also got support from StartUp Loans, and a mentor through that scheme. It really helped us to talk things through with people because, most of the time, you are learning on the job and just very busy. It really helps to stop and talk through ideas.
I can also really recommend talking to other start-up businesses. They’ve often been through what you are going through, or have tried marketing/PR processes you are thinking about using.
What top piece of advice would you give to other businesses like yours?
Make sure you really want to do it and have the stamina to get there and do not suffer from motion sickness, as it will be a very bumpy ride!