Last week we sat down with our friends Janine Zappini-Rosa and Sebastian Rosa from Simply Raw (the master minds behind the delicious raw snacks you’ve been receiving in your monthly GoodnessMe Boxes) to get the low down on how they turned a passion for healthy eating into their very own business.
Simply Raw is only 3 years old and you've already come such a long way! How was the idea of Simply Raw born?
Sebastian and I are very health conscious which developed from health challenges we faced and food intolerances we developed over time. It was extremely difficult to find food in supermarkets that would meet our dietary requirements, so we made it at home instead. Given our busy work schedule, it was getting harder to prepare food, as the time just wasn’t there. I have an absolute passion for health and food, it is fascinating to me. After 10 years of working for corporate companies, I was burned out and extremely upset how corporations treat their staff, so I decided to quit and start my own business. I had no idea what our future would look like, but I knew I had to start following my passion. I took some of my food creations, from dehydrated cookies over raw cakes and macaroons, to the local farmers markets to find out whether there were other people out there that loved those kind of ‘hippie’ foods. The market was extremely niche in 2011. We were the first Australian brand that brought out a Snack Bar in the raw superfood category and the rest is history.
What do you think about the options we have as consumers, when purchasing healthy foods?
Especially in the past 12 months, the Australian health food industry has grown exponentially and it’s fantastic. The sad news is that commercial brands are taking advantage of the movement. A lot of consumers believe that as long as something is labeled “gluten free” is automatically healthy. There is not enough education out there yet and consumers aren’t protected enough by misleading marketing campaigns. Most brands are taking advantage of the free use of words such as “natural” and “organic”, even if it’s not. My tip is to only buy food that has ingredients you understand, no numbers or chemical formulas.
So why Raw? What's all the hype about?
It’s not just about the fact that the ingredients are raw, it’s mainly about the simplicity of the ingredients, flavours and natural source of nutrition. The body is craving nutrition; we are hungry for natural sources of vitamins, fiber, proteins, carbs, fats, etc; not for “food” that fills up our bellies. If the body doesn’t get natural sources, it will turn on the alarm bells, turn into starvation mode and store the “food” we just ate into fat, storing it for a bad time just in case. However if we consume a natural source of ingredients, the body can absorb nutrition from these ingredients and turn it automatically into energy to feed our cells with what they need.
How are Simply Raw products different to other healthy snack food alternatives out there?
We focus on a wide range of dietary requirements. All our products are gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, contains no preservatives or additives and no processed sugar. We proofed that healthy food does taste good; therefore one of our main focuses is on flavour. All products in the Simply Raw range are aiming to make you feel healthy, energised and satisfied. It is food from people for people.
Lots of us are now moving towards raw, organic foods. Why do you think this is?
People are seeking a better quality of life. They want to be healthier, have more energy and feel satisfied after eating a meal. We’ve never had as many health challenges as we have now. Eating chemically processed food is unnatural. We are getting sicker, developing more food intolerances and diseases than ever before. Thanks to the Internet, consumers become more educated and conscious about why they aren’t feeling well. It all starts with food, the fuel for our home, the body we live in.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of setting up their own health food business?
It’s not just about passion. Passion is your drive, your energy and your fuel to keep it all going. Making your passion a business needs dedication, hard work, a whole lot of knowledge and willingness to learn. Don’t expect it to be easy. It won’t be easy sailing for most of the time, but the impact you have on people’s lives is so rewarding. With everything in life, challenges are only going to be fun when you can share it with others.
What are the 3 biggest lessons you've learnt so far on your journey?
- Don’t ever doubt yourself or your dreams. It is your dream, not someone else’s. I believe our passion is our lives purpose. Do what you love, every single day.
- You need to have as much financial knowledge in your business as sales experience. If you don’t have it, learn or find someone that does have it.
- Have a team that supports and believes in your vision no matter what. Be clear on your vision and share your thoughts. Make them part of your journey.
- No diet fits everyone EVER. There is no such thing as a diet that works for you, your entire life. Listen to your body and how you feel after eating certain foods.
- Keep your food simple. Understand the ingredients you are eating. Don’t mix to many ingredients at once. Some foods are harder to digest than others.
- Eat slower and chew more. Give your digestive system a break and support it as much as you can. Your gut will thank you and you’ll see the kilos dropping off.
So what can we expect from Simply Raw in the future?
We have some exciting products in the pipeline. There are new and extremely popular bar flavours on the horizon. On a more exciting note, we are introducing a new product to the market that has the solution to all your breakfast needs. Stay tuned!
What's the biggest impact you want to make to the health food industry?
Our aim is to provide natural food alternatives for the commercial market. Healthy food is supposed to be accessible and to meet a wide range of consumer requirements. These days we have to buy gluten free products for our partner, nut free products for our kids, no sugar products for our friend and the list goes on. How great would it be to buy one product that doesn’t just taste good, but also meets most dietary requirements? That way shopping won’t be stressful anymore, it’s supposed to be fun.
Are you thinking about expanding your product range into other exciting areas?
We are focusing on health and fitness at the moment, however are entering the commercial market to fulfill consumer demand. Who doesn’t want to be healthy, energised and satisfied? Healthy, delicious, convenient foods should be available at every corner store.