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These Loving Parents Went Into Debt to Build a Seaweed Snack Company That’s on Track to Do $10 Million in Sales This Year

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In this ongoing column, The Digest, News Director Stephen J. Bronner speaks with food entrepreneurs and executives to search what it took to get their products into the mouths of customers.

Jin Jun says her daughter, who turned into three years ragged on the time in 2009, “started devouring seaweed love it turned into candy.” Nonetheless she says that each the packaged seaweed brands on hand had been high in sodium and incorporated unhealthy corn oil.

“I made up my thoughts that I needed to construct a seaweed snack with much less salt and something that I felt factual about feeding her each day,” she says. “It turned into born out of take care of for our daughter.”

After some tinkering within the kitchen, Jun's daughter popular of the mix of seaweed and olive oil. Jun hurried on the introduction. The first-time entrepreneur, who had factual gotten licensed in Chinese medication that year, chanced on a manufacturing facility that can per chance perchance also build seaweed snacks and needed to “twist their hands” to construct it the style she wanted, with olive oil and minimal sea salt.

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“They if truth be told plan we had been loopy and that we had been wasting our money and time,” Jun says, in conjunction with that she and her husband maxed out their bank card to pay for these first orders.

The bet paid off: About Four months later, their crispy seaweed snack, SeaSnax, turned into offered on the local Total Meals after Jun showed up with out an appointment. She persevered to promote door to door, and for the interval of SeaSnax's first year in industry, it acquired into 600 shops nationwide, in step with Jun. Now it's in 6,000 shops world huge, in conjunction with Sprouts, Albertsons and Fairway, and has expanded to encompass flavors love chipotle, toasty onion, wasabi and lime. SeaSnax has additionally presented seaweed flakes and a salad mix, alongside with Chomperz, crunchy seaweed chips the same to potato chips. The corporate is now heading within the trusty path to raise out $10 million in sales this year, a year-over-year enhance price of Forty five %.

“We started the industry without a money, no industry plan, on the tip of the recession,” Jun says. “We in actuality started the industry in debt, and after two years it turned into winning.”


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A post shared by SeaSnax (@seasnax) on Sep 2, 2017 at 10:05am PDT

Seaweed has been fragment of the diets of Asian peoples, in conjunction with Japanese, Koreans and Chinese, for thousands of years. Many look a range of enhance doable in this market, concerned with the accurate upward push of user interest in seaweed — mostly attributable to the effectively being benefits. (It’s a long way high in protein, fiber and vitamins.)

Entrepreneur spoke with Jun about building the mark, staying appropriate to your self and her favourite marketing tactic.

This interview has been edited for size and clarity.

When assemble SeaSnax turned into in actuality a industry?

It turned into our first year in industry; my husband and I had been at our headquarters in Los Angeles and seen a ridiculous upward push of on-line orders coming in, around 790. We plan that our computer malfunctioned. A friend known as us later that evening and told us that we had been on the entrance page of Yahoo and listed as regarded as one of the most 10 healthiest snacks. That's once we knew we had a industry, because my husband and I spent three days within the warehouse packing and shipping orders ourselves.

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Why raise out you mediate you acquired into Total Meals so rapid?

We had been rejected from the entire farmers' markets in Los Angeles. They acknowledged there turned into a two-to-three-year waiting listing. We plan we had been going to must peddle this on the aspect freeway and put it on the market till in some unspecified time in the future maybe three to 10 years later a supermarket chain would in actuality maintain in thoughts bringing us into their retailer. We had no ambition, no imaginative and prescient, to have this exit into the mainstream United States. Nonetheless it turned into because we had been rejected that I went door to door to shops.

I actually turned into on the phone for six hours a day and most effective napping three hours a day for the previous eight years, while being a mother. It turned into totally guerrilla marketing — no funds for marketing or sales. It turned into factual out of my desire to share something with the Western world that has continually been sacred to our Korean culture. Seaweed has a deep and profound connection to life. It's a sacred food.

We won shops over with our story, substances and the authenticity of our mark and mission.

What marketing tactic has been basically the easiest for the logo?

I don't if truth be told know if I would call it a marketing tactic, nonetheless what has labored for our mark is our sincerity and our willingness to share and give. We don't exhaust thousands of cash on like reveals or net sites or paying for Fb likes. All the pieces we've ever performed is no longer marketed, it's performed quietly and humbly.

We've donated to schools; I don't mediate we've ever acknowledged no to a school donation. Folks have told us that now we have basically the most earned media of any mark. Our second year of industry, the producers of Dr. Ounces19459011] contacted us, and on that segment sooner than talking about SeaSnax, he acknowledged it's “my absolute favourite.” Sarah Jessica Parker told US Weekly she carries it in her make a choice up.

We're factual sticking to our guns and being real. One in every of my most extremely popular purpose models is the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard. He talks about how he constructed his company from the bottom up with out compromise with sincerity.

Is there a story within the reduction of your packaging?

We had two alternatives that had been designed by my husband and an artwork student. One turned into this sharp ravishing, perfectly designed seaweed strands, and it turned into love the color of mint green and pistachio and the ocean. Then we had this quirky shark in a tiki hut. We requested my daughter and chums, and all people loved the shark. His name is Socrates, and he's a vegan shark that believes in quiet coexistence. We've been approached by so many these that must work on our packaging, nonetheless we factual saved it that formulation. Maybe it is time for packaging learn.

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What's basically the most uncommon thing about working in food enviornment of interest?

Within the starting set, I plan that it turned into the edifying, most magnificent yelp to be. We're all about bettering the food system. That is quiet appropriate, nonetheless things are altering. The food industry now is about rapid enhance and now so out of the ordinary money is being poured into it. It's a diversified panorama already. I hope that companies will put money into sustainable enhance vs. hyper enhance and proceed to act responsibly and from the coronary heart.

What's your objective for the industry for the next three years?

I will present you with the common cookie cutter response, which is to construct our infrastructure and build better our customer corrupt. Nonetheless if truth be told it's to dwell the main innovators in our category and proceed to disrupt — whether it's about popping out with new products that excite or coming up with better ways of doing industry. We deserve to inaugurate a basis and deepen our mission. We deserve to get younger folk to substitute of their potato chips for SeaSnax.