Pippa Murray took nutrition into her own paws when it came to refuelling after a run. Now she is the founder of Pip & Nut, a range of healthy nut butters.

BY ELISSA ROSE

What gave you the idea of starting Pip & Nut?

The idea for Pip & Nut actually emerged through my love of running. I am a big fan of peanut butter and it’s my post-run treat. However, I noticed that most of the products on the shelves were full of palm oil and refined sugars and this really didn’t sit well with me. It also struck me that the whole ‘spreads’ category was really traditional and, to be honest, a little bit boring. I decided to try and create a new range of products that focused on delicious, natural ingredients and a brand that people could have a bit of fun with. Essentially, Pip & Nut is based on the idea that healthy food doesn’t have to be dull or less flavoursome.

What kind of challenges are associated with running a food business?

As with any business, there are all sorts of challenges. Probably one of the most difficult was finding the right manufacturing partner, what we call a ‘co-packer’. It took me more than six months to find the right one for Pip & Nut!  Another challenge is the fluctuating commodity pricing. For example, shortly after launching the business the price of almonds rocketed, which had a pretty big knock-on effect.

How did you start selling your products?

Initially I was making nut butter in my kitchen at home at the weekends. I started going to Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey every Sunday with about 100 jars each time. I really wasn’t sure what people would make of the nut butters, especially the more unusual flavours, however it turned out people loved them and I would regularly sell out. This gave me the confidence to start thinking about how I could scale the business.

Was there a moment that you consider a turning point for your business?

Yes – when I won a competition called ‘Escape to the Shed’, run by Escape the City.  I honestly never expected to win and only entered on a bit of a whim. The competition was for (wannabe) entrepreneurs with a business plan and the prize was the opportunity to live rent free (in a shed!) for three months in order to get the business off the ground.  The moment I got the phone call saying I had won was the moment I realised I was actually going to try and make the business plan a reality!

How important is it that your products are as healthy as possible?

Really important. Pip & Nut is all about healthy, natural products that use only the best ingredients. We strip away all the unnecessary ingredients (such as palm oil, refined sugars, additives and preservatives) and let the flavour of the nuts to the talking. Our range of plain nut butters (Peanut, Almond and Cashew) are made only from nuts and a pinch of sea salt, while the other flavours use only natural sweeteners.

“Like most entrepreneurs you tend to want everything to move quickly but you can’t always expect people to work at the same pace.”

How did you work out the aesthetics of your branding?

I worked with a creative agency to come up with the brand. For me it was really important that we created something young and playful. I think this really helps Pip & Nut to stand out on the shelves and has allowed us to build a real personality around the brand.

How important do you consider networking to be in growing your brand?

As an industry, the FMCG sector is generally very supportive. It is always useful to make connections as you never know when you might need to run an idea past someone or ask for advice, whether that’s about a packaging supplier or a digital agency. It is always helpful to have a second opinion when making decisions.

How do you utilise social media to connect with customers?

Social media is a hugely important element of our marketing strategy at Pip & Nut. We have a really engaged audience, particularly on Instagram. Currently our combined total number followers is 57k. We use social media to engage with our customers and to build brand awareness. Social media is great for building the buzz around a new product launch, or getting people excited about an event we are going to be at.

In what ways do you see yourself expanding your brand?

We’ve got some big plans for the future! There is some exciting new product development in the pipeline, moving away from nut butter but still very much nut based. Within the next few years I also want to build Pip & Nut internationally. We have just begun exporting to Ireland, but have some other European countries in mind too.

Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting a business?

That things naturally take much longer to develop than what you plan. It takes time to develop a really great product and larger customers like supermarkets may take a while to come back to you and make a decision on whether to range your brand in store. Like most entrepreneurs you tend to want everything to move quickly but you can’t always expect people to work at the same pace.

What advice would you give someone looking to start a business in the food industry?

It sounds obvious, but make sure you have a really great product. It is such a competitive market out there so you need to be confident that your product is the better than anything else already on the shelves. If you don’t truly believe that, it will be almost impossible to persuade a buyer!

www.pipandnut.com