Gem Misa on launching food brand Righteous

Gem Misa started natural food company Righteous in 2009 and turned over £120,000 in 2011. talks to her about funding, marketing and future plans.

How did you come up with the idea?

I worked for eight years as a brand manager at Unilever but I wasn’t able to create and develop products as I wanted. I am a big foodie and I knew if there was a product I wanted to work with day in day out it would have to be around food.

I have experience of running a successful salad business in the Philippines but in the UK it takes almost a week to get a product from a central warehouse of a supermarket to the stores, which would have affected the quality of salad products, so I decided to pursue the dressing side.

How did you finance it?

For the first two years I grew the turnover on a shoestring using personal funds. In the second year, when I got into supermarkets, I realised that supermarkets expected us to perform as well as any of the bigger brands, so I needed funding to step up the marketing. We approached Crowdcube and within five weeks raised £75,000 in exchange for 20 per cent of the business.

How did you approach the marketing push?

We decided to do TV advertising with our product being aired twice a night per channel for a month. TV advertising is traditionally quite expensive, but we feel it will be efficient to go with two or three digital channels which are a fraction of the cost of terrestrial and can be better targeted for our market of foodies and mums.

What has been a big challenge you have overcome?

Usually small, artisan brands are quite expensive, but we feel people shouldn’t have to pay a premium for healthy, quality foods. We wanted to get the price down from £2.99 to £2.49, putting us in the same price bracket as some of our competitors, which we achieved by moving to a bigger manufacturer.

What’s on the long-term horizon?

We want to become entrenched in the UK salad market and we have had some interest from distributors in the US and Australia. Then we can look at market expansion.

I am a working mum and people think if you have kids you can’t pursue dreams like this but if you are clever and efficient you can manage it.

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