In a time when we are all trying to live a little healthier while juggling WFH, at-home schooling and beyond, a smart snack is a more than welcome addition to our daily routine. Sure, you could reach for another protein bar, pack of chips or any other ho-hum “convenience” food, but where’s the fun in that? With Daily Crunch‘s exciting and innovative products, they are redefining the snack category. No longer do snackers need to compromise flavor, fun and convenience in the name of good health.

Launched in March 2020 (just before the pandemic hit), Daily Crunch’s line of sprouted snacks are organic, vegan, paleo, keto, gluten, dairy and grain free, checking all the boxes today’s health-conscious consumers are looking for. The product line currently includes varieties: Cherry Berry Nut Medley, Cacao + Sea Salt Almonds, Plain Sprouted Almonds, Golden Goodness Almonds (with turmeric), and Coffee Soaked Almonds.

Read more about the company’s products, story and mission here. Now, let’s get snacking!

Read on to see how Laurel has been managing a healthy work-life balance, as well as guiding a health food startup amidst a pandemic. 

Before starting Daily Crunch, what were you up to?

I worked on the Unilever business for 13 years before leaving the corporate world to become an entrepreneur (better late than never!).  While on Unilever, I worked on flagship brands like the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, where I saw firsthand the impact companies can have on social causes – in this case, changing the conversation on female beauty standards.  

What does distribution look like now? How do you identify retail partners?

 We launched on Amazon in June, and continue to leverage digital to build our customer base.   We are part of KeHE Elevate, which helped us get into 300 Independent and Natural Retailers around the country and are now launching into 3 national retailers next month (still a secret but follow us on IG to hear the announcement in the upcoming weeks!). We serve the health conscious consumer, so identify retail partners who fit that mold and who also look for mission based and sustainable brands.

Any other brands in the industry that you think are killing it?

OLIPOP is absolutely killing it!  OLIPOP is a fizzy tonic that combines the benefits of prebiotics to support your microbiome and benefit digestive health but taste like the delicious sodas I grew up with. They have a really successful subscriber rate, which is  hard to achieve in the CPG world.  It’s nice seeing them pop up in my favorite stores around Nashville.  For a lot of brands in the industry that I admire, I sign up for their newsletters to get updates on what they are doing. There is so much creativity happening right now in the CPG space, so I enjoy following those brands to see what they are doing next!

As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health, “turn off” work? Self care is something I talk about a lot. As a mother of 3 kids ages 10 and under, it’s really important to carve out time for yourself.  If I don’t put it in the calendar, it will never happen.  So I make sure it’s in the calendar just like any other meeting.  I go hiking, take yoga and weight training 1x/week and will splurge 1x/month for a massage.  There is also nothing like catching up with a good friend over lunch or reading a good book.  While I know it’s hard (trust me!) – it’s really important to disconnect from work and engage with other things that make you happy.

What has been your proudest moment so far on your entrepreneurial journey?

Being included in the 2020 Good Housekeeping Best Snack Awards was one of my proudest moments so far since we launched.  We were only 6 months into launch and still struggling with the challenges of the pandemic when we decided to participate in Expo East Virtual.  I reached out to Good Housekeeping and they responded that they wanted to jump on  a call.  We spent an hour talking about our story and the rest is history.  The article highlighted us by saying “We’re calling it: sprouted almonds are the next big thing. Daily Crunch has created these uniquely tasty and crunchy almonds that are soaked in purified water and then slowly dehydrated.”  It was THE BEST to see our brand in Good Housekeeping.  What an honor!  

What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?

Here is my top 5 advice and what I learned for anyone launching a startup:

  1. Remember it’s ALWAYS going to be 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Don’t let this get you discouraged.
  2. 2) Packaging of your product (see our packaging below) and creating a brand identity are imperative before you launch. Don’t rush the pre-launch process and make sure you go through all the steps no matter how big or small your company is (ie consumer insights, competitive research, understanding your target, etc
  3. Ask people for advice, even CEO’s and advisors you wouldn’t think would speak to you otherwise. You will be surprised how many people want to mentor and give you advice. Remember, you can’t do this alone and will need help from everyone including your 1,000 true fans who want to be a part of your company every step of the way – let them, they are your brand ambassadors for life!
  4. If you have other co-founders, make sure you all have the same short term and long term goals for your company. Sit down and go through an exercise together to make sure you are on the same page.
  5. If you have a wife/husband or partner, make sure they support your endeavor. There were many times during pre-launch that I wanted to give up and my husband reminded me why I wanted to do this in the first place and helped keep me on track.

How have you been managing business during COVID-19?

Launching right before the onset of a global pandemic posed a challenge in and of itself. Unable to provide samples in grocery stores, attend trade shows, and with retail strategies shifting across the country, we’ve experienced firsthand the struggle of pushing food trial in the ever increasingly digital world we live in and had to shift to an ecommerce model.  Now that retailers are opening reviews back up, we are expanding into retail.

What food and beverage trends are over-hyped and which are here to stay?

While I absolutely love Kimchi, I don’t understand the fermentation trend.  I know it’s good for you, but in general I don’t think it tastes good (that’s just my POV!).  I’m also not 100% sold on fruit and veggie jerky but I do think that plant based foods and upcycled foods will be here to stay.  As more and more options in the plant based and upcycled space become available, consumers will have more options to choose from to meet their needs. 

What can we expect next from you and Daily crunch?

We want to keep on being as sustainable as possible as we move into year 2.  From sourcing our almonds from bee-friendly farms to using post-recycled materials for our packaging, we are acutely aware of our environmental impact and always thinking of ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Something little known is the necessity of bees to the global food supply + our ecosystem at large. The almond industry is particularly reliant on bees … and also responsible for killing billions of honey bees each year due to industrial farming practices. To protect the bees and our ecosystem, we source our nuts exclusively from bee friendly farms in the US. To eliminate waste in our packaging, we use post-consumer recycled film. PCR packaging matches the quality of regular flexible packaging and doesn’t rely on the consumer to recycle or compost the package after use, making it an extremely user-friendly and eco-friendly packaging option. Looking forward, we are searching for a manufacturer closer to our almond source to reduce transportation and thus pollution. 

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