How a single product got Keira Rumble’s brand, Krumbled Foods, stocked in supermarkets nationwide
Today I’m joined by Keira Rumble, founder and CEO of Krumbled Foods - the home of Beauty Bites, Australia’s first and only collagen bars.
They’re tiny sweet treats that are packed with goodness to illuminate your skin, help with anti ageing and make you glow from the inside out.
During our talk, Keira shares her experiences in building a brand of this size and what went wrong when she first started out, how she launched nationwide in Australia into Priceline and Coles, what it's like to trademark a brand, getting into Sephora’s accelerator program and her advice to women who are just starting out.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
This is episode 20 with Kira Rumble. Hi guys, welcome back to another episode of female startup club. Today, I'm joined by Kira Rumble, founder and CEO of Krumbled Foods and the creator of beauty bites. Australia's first and only collagen bars.
00:01:10Edit They're tiny sweet treats that are packed with goodness to illuminate your skin, help with anti aging and make you glow from the inside out. During our talk. Kira shares her experiences in building a brand of this size, how she launched nationwide into Priceline and coals, getting into Sephora's accelerated program and her advice to women who were just starting out. If you're new here. Let me just give you a quick overview about what female startup club podcast is. It's a series of inspiring, insightful stories of female founders who have grown incredibly successful businesses. I place a big emphasis on strategy and learnings so that other women in progress like myself can learn and be inspired by. And at the end of every episode I asked the same six quick questions to every woman that I speak to and I often pick up tips and resources that I can use directly in my own personal life and in business. These are the pearls of wisdom you want to keep your ears peeled for, let's Jump in. This is kira for female Start a club. Let's go back to the very beginning.
00:02:17Edit I want to hear why you started crumbled and how it came about crumbled. So it began when I was actually going through my own health journey, I started documenting my health issues and I sort of had to rediscover eating healthy again after a number of sort of health diagnoses and I created my own website doing sort of food blogging, documenting my journey. And I had absolutely no idea about Wordpress and SEO but I got myself a Wordpress site and I started just documenting everything. I then got asked to do a charity event to create some products, Hand rolled protein balls and things like that. So I did that and there are a lot of cafes there and they asked if I could start making the products for them. And before I knew it, I had sort of 60 cafes around Bondi that I was supplying to. I started hand rolling out of my own kitchen which moved into a commercial kitchen.
00:03:23Edit I was working full time I was doing digital advertising. I was an E A. At the time and I was delivering before work during work after work. It was just consuming my work. So I then quit my job and had absolutely no idea what I was going to do and decided that I wanted to make a business out of this food business. I set out on what I thought would be relatively easy and it sort of took over the next five years of my life. We developed a range of protein balls which failed. We just learned a lot of what not to do and when I may wait my boyfriend was sort of helping me along the way. And yeah so I launched a brand called Crumbles and they didn't go so well I learn of what a lot of what not to do in a business which has really helped me to get to where I am there. And beauty bites have launched six months ago. So yeah that's so cool.
00:04:26Edit And what were the kinds of things you learned that didn't go so well, biggest thing I learned was no one knows your business better than you do. So I thought because I didn't know much about the industry I was getting into I needed to get a some consulting work or someone to give me advice and at the end of the day, no one can sell your business as well as you can. And I had to learn that the hard way, I didn't understand things because these people were doing it all for me, they were quite misleading and deceptive and what they were doing in terms of bringing me on board and it was just a bit of a really interesting sort of nine months. And yeah, I sort of decided that I need to go back to the basics, create a product that I was really genuinely passionate about and that I knew that there was a gap in the marketplace for, and so let's talk specifically about the beauty bites because if it's under crumbled foods, right, because you have the products as well for the beauty tools and everything as well.
00:05:34Edit Yeah, so crumbled Foods is about to go under a bit of a rebrand under crumbled. So crumbled is going to be the parent brand because we've got a few new brands that I'll talk about that are launching over the next sort of couple of months. So I've got my own personal travel and wellness blog and instagram that has really helped to fund my whole business. So that is going to be rebranded as crumble, which is kira rumble obviously and then crumbled will be this sort of parent branch that will sort of have ownership of all of these other sort of sub brands. So we've got beauty bites. So beauty bites really came because I noticed that I was spending a lot of time and effort and money in the morning, spending making my own protein smoothies, collagen powders, tablets, probiotics, and having all of these unnecessary expensive supplements and then having a snack. So I decided to go out with the idea of creating a snack and supplement.
00:06:37Edit And at the time there was not really anything in that field. I noticed that college and was quite a big trend overseas, but I hadn't really hit Australia. I got myself an amazing food scientist who still works for me and we went out and formulated this really incredible, unique product and it's just been really well received. We launched into Priceline seven months ago when we launched into cole's last week. So it's just been a huge, huge fees. And when you decided to hire the food scientist, did you have to have a lot of capital to be able to develop the formula and then to place orders and that kind of thing. Yeah. So one thing I learned very quickly is it's pretty expensive to have a physical product. Uh, so I was quite fortunate to fund everything myself through my online blog, uh you know, which obviously has been quite profitable to a degree. So it's really just been funding everything for the past couple of years and I haven't taken a wage and I'm fortunate enough to get gifted a lot of things and to travel for work.
00:07:44Edit So I haven't been able to, you know, I need to take money out of the business. So yeah, everything's just been going straight into the food business. Yeah, that's amazing. So in that beginning process, when you found the, you kind of settled on a formula, you were like, yeah, these are amazing. These tastes great. Two years of doing that. Oh my God, yeah, about a year and a half to fully perfect the formula. And during that time, I got my brand team to work on packaging and concepts and branding. And then the next big hurdle for us was to find the right manufacturer. Our products are quite specific and quite unique in terms of the formulation. So finding the right manufacturer that had the right capabilities was really important to us. So we had a lot of trial and error trying to go through the right manufacturer. We have to do some reformulation too, find the suitable manufacturer in Australia because the product had actually developed, there was no one in Australia that could actually do it, which was quite challenging at that time.
00:08:56Edit And yeah, so they're finding the right manufacturer and then going through the whole process of literally constantly following up with the right retail partner. So that was just me going into price. I'm saying this is my concept, they'd come back say show our samples, I would go get prototypes. I would go in, have a five minute meeting, I would have flown from Sydney to Melbourne to have like a 5, 10 minute meeting fly back home. It was just a yeah, it's a whole big learning experience for me in the first six months station or was Priceline kind of your foot? Like the one store that was your, you wanted that store to start those stores because there's a million of them. Was that kind of the goal to get that chain of stores and then build from there. It was, yeah. So I had always thought that price time was the right retail partner to launch with because while for a number of reasons, the online digital footprint that they sort of hold the right buyer and the right consumers that sort of walk through there on a daily basis or our target demographic and they've just been such an amazing sort of brand to be able to help launch.
00:10:04Edit They sort of saw the potential in what I was trying to do from an early sort of stage. And yeah, they really, we're really crucial in trying to launch the brand successfully because it gave us that credibility. Mm And do you think that's what helped you get coals and places like urban outfitters to stop the brand? Absolutely. I think Priceline was probably Like I was saying, it gives you that credibility going, you know, we're already in 440 stores international retailer. So I think there was less risk for calls to want to take us on board. So again, that was a big experience, you know, flying down from Sydney To Melbourne for a 20 minute meaning going into the cold head office was just such a eye opener for me, because you know, I was the only person, my only employee and going into somewhere where you had your nest layers and everything in. There was a huge eye opener, but it was a really exciting period for I sort of knew by the second meeting with coals that I had, I had a really good chance of actually being able to get ranged.
00:11:10Edit Yeah. And when, for example, Priceline placed their first order, I mean 440 stores is absolutely insane. So what kind of units were you doing of the brand? So yeah, that was definitely the biggest order that we've had. So we sort of were working off it, We've got 14 units per park. So we're looking at to sort of units or two packs per store per flavor. It was a big minimum order, which in itself you're dealing with retailers that don't pay you up front. So I have to work and I had the sort of the inkling that I was, I knew exactly when that purchase order was coming and I like to buy all of my ingredients up front. So I don't have credit, just try and stay cash positive. So I really had to just work my ass off and trying to ensure that I sort of had the right capital sort of put away to start saving. Amazing. And in the early days when you did just launch with Priceline, I know you have a quite a big following on your instagram, it's 450 plus, I think obviously that would have been a major help for you launching the brand.
00:12:23Edit But how did you go about finding your first customers on the side? And in the early days, I think my social media has been really crucial to the brand's success purely because I was documenting business and the brand development from a really early sort of stage and a lot of people started to be really invested in what I was doing and I kept on teasing them with, you know, something's coming, this is sort of a hint, and I think that that was a huge part in Creating that loyal customer base. We also have 50% of our revenue come from our online store, so we still drive the bulk deals on our online store. And that's why we've added in the new brand habitual beauty, which is a little bit more of an elevated brand that we're in development at the moment for. So it's all about sort of, for me, the customer really needs to be able to buy into the brand and I'm an Australian woman that's doing something in my opinion.
00:13:26Edit That's pretty cool. And there are so many other Aussie founders out there, so it's really easy for these sort of consumers to buy into this business and buy into the brand and feel part of it. So yeah, that's so cool. And you mentioned something there a moment ago with producing a brand like this. Do you have to do things like trademarks and kind of, that sort of side of thing? How do you do something like that? Well, let me tell you about a story. When I started out in business, I thought the best thing for me to do was to go to the best trademark attorney in Australia and with the best of the best comes, you know, a huge Sydney office that's over three levels and with that comes a really expensive price tag. So I spent so much more money than what was necessary to ensure that I had three trademarks. Uh and then obviously you want, I wanted to go international. So I went and got international trademarks and I think that was one of the issues with me getting a little bit too ahead of myself, because now I've got this amazing trademark attorney that works for me, she is a, an independent person.
00:14:41Edit She's got one of the girl working for her and she's just sort of doesn't over marginal is things and she's understands what I'm trying to achieve and works out the best cost effective way for me. But yeah, trademarking was a huge thing for me to ensure that I wouldn't have any trademark infringement. So that was a big thing. Another thing that is really crucial in my opinion, when you're starting out is to ensure that you have the right legal team or you know, you can go to some lawyers and go, okay, well I'm starting out in business, I need a an N. D. A. I need a credit application for anything that you think I'm going to need. Can you just do it for me? So that was extremely important because I'm doing all of this R and D and it took, you know, a year and a half to formulate these products. You know, I needed to have that protection. So having the right India, having the right R. And D. Tax specialists and advising you on all of the R and D. Grant process was really important to me. And then also the trademarking. Mm That's so cool. And I want to switch to talk a little bit about something you were telling me earlier, which is the Sephora seed accelerator program you've just gotten into, which is so exciting.
00:15:53Edit Congratulations. Yeah, thank you. I actually applied for it last year and I got my back, it was before we had launched beauty bites and I got my hopes up and I'd always wanted to launch this brand called habitual beauty, which was you know, for the modern day woman that wanted to create or wanted to utilize this incredible skincare and nutraceutical company that would fit into their lifestyle effortlessly and easily. So have it. Your beauty tried to go for the accelerator program last year, I don't know that. And then this year they email me going, hey we've seen you've launched your beauty bites because that was I was living and breathing one brand and I was trying to almost convince these people that I could do both of them and I couldn't, I knew I couldn't, you can't launch two brands at the same time when it's just one person. So they came back to me and they say, okay we're seeing you do beauty bites and you've done it really well. Let's start with habitual beauty. So I applied again and I got it.
00:16:55Edit So that's really exciting And I'm, It was meant to be in San Fran in awake but obviously with everything going on with COVID-19 that's just Donald virtually now. Okay, so it's still going ahead, but it will be virtual. Yeah, yeah. And so what happens in the seed accelerator, do they give you some money if you win it or is it just about like going through the process and then launching the brand into Sephora, what happens? So for me it's not about The money because I think the grant, something like $5,000, which for me probably just, you know, get used up pretty quickly, but obviously any money helps, right. But it's more about opening up the ability to have these conversations with Sephora buyers and planners and we've got access to media training, product development focus groups, we go through, you know, online social media and how to utilize the right facebook advertising and so forth, which I have done to a degree.
00:17:58Edit But I'm really looking forward to going back to basics because a lot of the things that I've learned with beauty bites is sort of all self taught. So it'll be nice to sort of go back to basics with that. And then in october I get to have a pitch day in Sephora. Hopefully that will go ahead to Be able to pitch to. I think it's something like 150 investors wow, Holy smokes, that's crazy. Yeah, let's not talk about that because I'm a little nervous already was thinking about that. And do you know, like what you'd be pitching for in terms of like the money stuff already or do you just kind of go through the process and then figure it out as you go what you potentially need and how big you want to go at the moment. One thing that's really quite interesting for just beauty bites is literally two days after I launched, you know, linked in is quite important to me. I do a lot of my connections on, linked in, I put out launching to prison blah blah blah blah and then I had a lot of the top investment companies just email me and calling me going, okay, well what's your exit strategy?
00:19:03Edit And for me that was something that was really unfamiliar because I have always seen myself to have a long term sort of career in my own business. I've called my business after my own name. So I sort of had always thought that You know, I would at least be within this business or a part in the business for the next 5-7 years. So it was quite interesting to have this conversation piece about what's your exit strategy and it sort of helped to shift my mentality about creating a business that I could actually build and then sell. So I guess the habitual beauty is something that I'm always open to having a conversation with the right person about getting capital, getting investors and so forth. So I've learned never to say never always just be open and to hear about the conversation. Yeah, absolutely. It's such an exciting journey and you're really at the beginning of it, it seems, I know I thought it was quite worried someone saying what's your exit strategy and I'm like, well, I've got two products at more three flavors at the moment. So let's just develop some more products first and then we can talk so yeah.
00:20:09Edit Um, so let's talk about your marketing for the beauty bites I know you mentioned before you hadn't done too much of the facebook ads and that kind of thing before. Are you working on the marketing and everything by yourself? So really launched? It was just me, I've got a publicist and it was just doing a combination of me, you know, working by ourselves, trying to figure out the right influences in the right seeding strategy and a combination of traditional press. And then as I started to get busier, I brought on a agency. I also learned that an agency probably in my business infancy probably wasn't the right decision to do because at that time I was paying account management fees and so forth. And the ri that we're getting online sort of wasn't really justifying that obviously because we are 50% online and 50% in store, we have to sort of do that brand awareness plus the facebook advertising where we wanted to see the right are alive.
00:21:12Edit So now I've got a girl that works pretty much full time with me on my facebook and content strategy and social media and she's just incredible. So cool for a quarter of the price for your agency, big cost, that's for sure. My time, you understand their worth. But I think at the moment I've got three flavors. I've got a food product. Once I start bringing in, you know, multiple products then it will be worth bringing in maybe an agency. But yes, another experience. What advice do you have for other women who want to start a business and especially a food business slash beauty business. Trust your gut. No one knows your business is better as well as you do and to know your legal rights and be able to be well versed in protecting your legal rights. How do you find the right legal representation? Did you have a recommendation or did you just start like contacting people to get a vibe?
00:22:19Edit I yes, I have only ever used legal representation where I've had a referral. I find that the people that you don't actually have a referral for are the people where have actually come into some issues with and I almost kick myself for not actually going and seeking that referral or seeking sort of a recommendation or even just asking them going, do you have a client you're currently working with that? I could speak to and see how you've handled it. So that's sort of my best practice that I'm doing at the moment. If you know, I'm wanting to go to an external agency, I always ask for their testimonial book or referrals for someone that I can contact. Yeah. Um and I want to talk lastly about the current pandemic for COVID-19 and whether that's having an impact on your brand and if you had to innovate or do anything differently during this time we've definitely had to pivot our social dialogue online.
00:23:23Edit I saw the extent of what was going on overseas quite quickly. I'm not really, I don't read Australian news. I read sort of international news on a regular basis. So I thought that, you know, we brought out a free 14 day social distancing e book quite quickly. It was about trying to support our consumers and customers through this time rather than having a blatant sell sell sell. So we're trying to add value to the consumer and are sort of audience. We've had to, you know, our colt, we're literally launched at the worst possible time into coles for the beauty bites. So that was something that I really had to change. You know, we had a huge launch events that we have to do. So instead we utilized my design and my stylist for the event. We created these beautiful care hampers to go out to people to help nurture them and help support them through this time. And it was just really about trying to change that dialogue and give my customers as much support as they could. Yes, I could care for you. Yeah. And I think that's when the DNA of the brand really shines through and you can see that brands do care and they are thinking about the greater good versus that sell sell sell message.
00:24:37Edit Yeah, yeah, definitely. It's important to feel the brands kind of are in it and care about the consumer try to Yeah, they should. Yeah, yeah. You can see for it though. Yeah, you can see through when it's fake, that's for sure. Yeah. So I usually ask six questions to every woman that I speak to and they're always the same. So let's get started. # one is, what's your wife? It's really to create a product that I'm proud of and to really help shift this healthy snacking. Uh, you know, Australian movement that we're seeing a lot of the products on the market are actually showing trying to promote themselves as being healthy when they're actually not. So it's really trying to help re shift and reshape healthy food movement really, at the moment we're just food products. I'm going to stray from my regular, like quick fire question and ask you another question, How do you determine what is a healthy brand and what's not, how do you differentiate the good between the bad?
00:25:42Edit My biggest thing is sugar content. So, well, okay, so a huge thing for me is all of these people claiming to be healthy and all natural in skin care, not necessarily food because the food standards are quite high in skin care, you can have something that looks like an organic bag and you can call yourself an organic product. And so that's sort of something that really triggers me because I want to be as authentic. And um, you know, I get quite peeved when I see quite misleading people. So for me, the sugar content is my number one thing, you know, there's no point selling something that's meant to be a healthy product, It's full of sugar or hidden sugars. So that's my number one, you know, tell I think in the business and even with college in bars, the, I didn't even know this until I started formulating the products, if you've got a higher sugar content in a collagen bar, it actually nullifies the absorption of collagen. So you're essentially buying a date bar or high sugar bar saying that you're going to be having college and, but you're actually not going to be able to absorb the collagen.
00:26:51Edit So just little things like that. It's just quite frustrating. Yeah, wow. I think I'm definitely a sucker for packaging that says like healthy or natural and I'm like, oh yeah, it must be fine. Yes, by the way. And it's a big eye opener. It's actually now because I live and breathe food labels. It's a huge eye opener to see how many brands out there, misleading and deceptive. There are some amazing brands out there, especially in Australia and the food formulation in just sort of food in general, but there's a lot of dodgy ones mm Number two is what's the number one marketing thing that made your business pop online, social media paid or organic organic, I haven't actually paid an influencer yet. So we are going to be doing our an influencer campaign, but at the moment, yeah, it's just being people that are genuinely believing in the product and I've got a lot of friends in the industry to, which helps.
00:27:55Edit That does help. Number three is, where do you hang out to get smarter linkedin? I think linkedin is a really great tool for any young business or business owner to sort of get involved in and podcasts. What are you listening to at the moment? You owe Thanks. Now, at the moment, to be completely honest, I'm actually giving my podcast, I'm finding that I'm really, really stimulated at work, so I'm actually a true crime buff at the moment. But yeah, I, I like to listen to a lot of the sort of health and wellness podcast to get sort of ideas in case studies for food trends and things like that, I've been really addicted to the lady vanishes podcast and um, they just finally released a new episode, which has been like since December 22 or something and I was like, yes, finally I'm such a sucker for a true crime.
00:29:02Edit Oh, it's unbelievable. Australia has so many good ones as well. Yeah, you know, sadly, but yeah, yes, sadly, um, also just back to the linkedin thing. Yeah, so when you're connecting with people to just, you know, slide into their linkedin inbox and be like, hey, like, let's connect or are you following people, what's your strategy uh, to reach out to as many people in the industry, So that's how I found my coals buyer and it was literally me just going, hey, I've got a product, I'd love to send you some and it's, you know, literally just about following up being persistent. Yeah, I just think it's a really amazing way to be able to learn about people and what they've done in the past and what they're doing in the future. Uh, yeah, I love London so much time on it. Probably more than I know. That's probably a lot. I used to be at the moment. I'm on my instagram and facebook a lot, but I would normally be outside of this pandemic on linkedin more so than my facebook.
00:30:05Edit And instagram number four is, how do you win the day? And that's around your AM and PM rituals and the things you do religiously, that kind of keep you productive and happy and thriving. My morning routine is pretty much the same every morning. So I thrive off having a routine. I am a big to do list person. So I feel very achieved and very fulfilled when actually take everything off and being able to get outside at least once a day is sort of a huge. Um, it's important for me to be able to be able to walk outside. So take the dogs for a walk or something. Oh yeah, you're really cute dogs, Little sausage dogs. Uh, Number five is if you only had $1,000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it? Yes I saw this question and I have got some questions for you so it depends on where my business is at.
00:31:11Edit So at the moment a lot of our money is going into product development but I think if I was trying to get sales and to draw in revenue, I think the biggest thing for me is content creation and sort of online social media. I think that at the moment that's where we are best spent. Yeah. Yeah. The question is really around like how you kind of what your most important revenue driver is, where you see like direct direct impact actually you know what else is quite important is our database is rapidly growing actually. So we see the best ah rely on um our idioms. Uh huh And how are you growing your database or why is it rapidly growing value add? So that e book that we did, we are I pumped that through my social media and the crumbled foods account and uh you know just by getting Free books offering 15% sign up discounts offering a reward programs and things like that.
00:32:15Edit Amazing. And last question, how do you deal with failure and it can be a specific example or just your general mindset and approach when things are going wrong. I am incredibly stubborn. So I think I think that I've got a very unique ability to see the positive in every situation. So I'm extremely stubborn and you know, we had a huge issue before about to launch into coles from my side and I always, I kept on saying it's okay, it's all gonna work out, I know it will and I couldn't figure out quite exactly how it was going to work, but you've just got to adapt, shift and pivot to sort of get to the right, you know, outcome that you do. And at the same time, you know, I had a product that completely failed and I just knew, you know, I'm going to give it one more go and yeah, I've been, I think you learn from your failures. Yeah. And that persistence to keep going when you get knocked down.
00:33:20Edit Yeah. Where can people find you at crumble. So K R um, ble secure a rumble and crumbled foods with a K. It's amazing. Well thank you so much for being on the podcast today. Thank you. It's been a fun to chat.