This week we interviewed our lovely founder Gaby to give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it’s really like to run a food business. Including why she started Nut Blend, the ups (nut butter on tap anyone?), the downs, and everything-in-between. We hope you enjoy this honest interview and please get in touch with Gaby via our Instagram if you have any questions or would like to know more.
1. What inspired you to set up Nut Blend?
In 2015 I tried - and very quickly got bored of - almond butter and went in search of a healthy Nutella, but couldn’t find anything similar on supermarket shelves. I (impulse) bought a food processor and decided to blend just nuts and a pinch of spice. No unnecessary sugar, salt or oil - what a lot of online recipes suggested and other brands add.
The resulting texture and taste was overwhelmingly satisfying and I fell in love with how great it made me feel; I couldn’t put the spoon down! One day I proclaimed to my mum, I think I could sell this… That was the light bulb moment, the inspiration to set up a nut butter business and share this feeling with the rest of the world.
2. What’s special about the business, isn’t it just like peanut butter?
Our blends are created to ensure they boost your mood and energy in every single spoonful - and because we always combine ingredients you’ll never get just one plain nut butter in any given jar, unlike peanut butter. For example, our award-winning Maca, Pecan & Almond Butter was inspired purely by my intrigue of a healthy praline; made with buttery roasted pecans and substituting sugar for Peruvian maca to give it a caramel twist. Plus, we believe in 100% product transparency; our nut butters never add a type of sugar, salt or oil, including naturally sourced sugar, such as coconut syrup or dates, and palm oil.
3. Has running a business been what you thought it would be?
Absolutely not, I hate to say it but it’s much harder than I anticipated. At the beginning I was blindsided by excitement and running off adrenaline, I just wanted to get Nut Blend in front of as many people as possible. Nothing scared me. As time went on, combined with making nut butter at home (a very hot, time-consuming and cleaning-heavy process), the constant hustle and having to persist - often with no reward or outcome, not even an email response - got challenging. It’s hard to find constant motivation when you’re doing everything alone. The latter also played a bit on my mental health, as I found it too easy to blame myself for the ‘wrong’ decisions or why I wasn’t as far along as so-and-so I saw on Instagram.
I’m a very upbeat and optimistic person and my passion for Nut Blend (our nut butters are genuinely the best) fuels me, quite literally, every day. No two stories are the same and I’m still learning to date. I have to frequently remind myself that growing a business takes time and it’s not a race nor a competition; it took Green & Blacks nine years (whether that’s motivating or not... ), so there really is no such thing as an overnight success.
5. What’s the best part about running a business?
It’s very humbling and satisfying to see others enjoy or post about a product I created, it reinforces the reason I started this business in the first place. That goes for all achievements - a new stockist, PR email or Facebook ad that proves super successful - those moments never get less rewarding nor exciting.
I’m also very grateful for time flexibility and management. I love what I do (80% of the time) and being able to juggle work around social events and move things around to suit me is a real privilege.
Of course, ultimately, I’m still my biggest customer and so having nut butter on tap is probably the best thing ever…
6. What has been the most challenging part about running a business?
I find it hard to switch off, constantly worrying or overthinking about what more I can or could be doing. (These questions alone probably took me a day…). Although I don’t work the odd morning or afternoon, I rarely block out solid days as holiday and so end up checking emails or doing the odd bit here and there. Cash flow is also hard to manage and when growth is a necessity - not just a want - that pressure is really hard to sit with. Also supply chain, seriously - apologies to anyone who does this as a job but logistics is my least favourite thing to do! Finally, on a more personal level, Nut Blend has probably been my priority since 2015 and so I often feel sad about the choices I’ve made to get here that may have had detriment to other aspects of my life.
6. What do you enjoy doing outside of NB?
I love escaping reality and getting lost in a narrative - films and books make up half my life. I’m also an avid bruncher and cinema-goer; I love swimming, walking, seeing friends and painting my nails.
7. Biggest high so far?
Seeing Nut Blend featured in The Sunday Times The Dish - I knew it was coming and was literally counting down the days; a real pinch me moment! (Oh and Helena Bonham Carter trying and buying our range at a market was pretty spectacular, I was a giddy child…)
8. And the biggest low?
I still feel sick when I think about an email I sent out to advertise our new Winter Blend back in 2016. Without knowing or thinking about BCC, I sent an email to all (yes all) PR contacts, buyers and foodie friends I had on file. Only once I'd pressed send did I realise my error but by then it was too late. Honestly this memory still gives me chills - and now makes me quadruple check any group email I have to send.
9. What are your long-term goals for Nut Blend?
The end goal is to expand into the US. Along the way I want to secure UK supermarkets - Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods - and develop new products and merchandise (hello personalised spoons). We used to sell baby 30g jars (almost to cute to eat) and my dream was to get them on aeroplanes but, since discontinuing them, I’ve had to bookmark for now #watchthisspace.
10. Most importantly, what’s your favourite way to eat nut butter?
Oats, every single day (head to our reel section to see how I make them) and also after dinner with dark chocolate, dates and brazil nuts. Nothing beats it!