Posted: Wed 1st Feb 2017
Following an eight year career as head of health and beauty at Whole Foods UK, Ines Hermida decided to become her own boss and run her own show. Protein shake, MACACHA, is the result and is selling across the UK and overseas. Ahead of speaking at the Wellness Exchange in London on 10 March, Ines explains how she got started.
How did you come up with the idea for Macacha and turn that idea into a business?
Working at Whole Foods, I would go running in the morning before work and started using protein shakes as a quick snack solution before I went to the office. It was extremely hard to find a natural and clean shake, so I would blend my own with other superfoods, greens, probiotics and herbal ingredients. My knowledge of these amazing ingredients came from my experience at Whole Foods, and developing my product at Macacha was a natural development from my work there.
What lessons and successes from your time at Whole Foods have you applied to running your own business?
Whole Foods was a great school for understanding natural ingredients, transparency of sourcing, and the importance of ingredients' provenance not only for its quality but for its environmental impact. I learned that when you educate your customers about ingredients, the switch to more natural products is easy. It's even easier when you know what good ingredients look like, so providing that ingredient knowledge is core to the MACACHA brand.
What start-up challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
The packaging for my product was definitely the most challenging. One of the first pieces of advice I received was not to deviate from standard packaging, but a year and a half later everything is non-standard.
Getting that right was really hard, but it was so crucial to the brand and how I envisioned MACACHA hitting the shelves. I learned so many lessons though this, and now I have a full understanding of manufacturing and packaging options and what is possible, so in a way it was the best preparation, going through all that trial and error. Even though I didn't take the easy route, knowing that side of the business so early on will inform how I make decisions on future product development in our range.
How did you find a manufacturer for your product and what's your advice for other entrepreneurs wanting to do the same?
I actually knew quite a few experts in the industry, so I found my manufacturer through people I had already worked with and their recommendations. In my view, working in the industry is the place to start. It's so important to build your network and your knowledge so choosing something like your manufacturer ideally comes from a place of some experience and recommendation.
What's your advice for pitching a wellness product to big retailers?
I was pitched hundreds of brands while I was at Whole Foods, and now I am on the other side of the table! The things that always stood out for me with new brands were clarity of vision. Your brand needs to be either beautiful or distinctive, it needs to have strong differentiation from its competitors, and you have to show that you can manage things at a commercial level.
What are your three top tips for starting a business in the wellness sector?
Work in the industry. Particularly in the wellness industry, the importance of that holistic approach is so important and the best way to learn it is from the inside.
Build your support network. Whether it's professionals around you to whom you can turn for advice or friends and family who believe in you. I powered my early start-up days with London Business School interns who were more amazing than I can say!
Understand your numbers. Planning how you're going to develop the business financially from the start is super important. How much investment you need, how much money you can lose, how much it will cost to develop your range. You have the idea? That's great, go with it! But you have to know how to finance it
Why do you think people should come to the Wellness Exchange?
It's a great opportunity not only to be inspired, but also to build your network by meeting new people in the same industry and with the same goals. It's your chance to ask questions and consult with experts who are going to speak. You never know who might have the recommendation you're looking for. I'm looking forward to meeting you!
Ines is a speaker at the Wellness Exchange in London on 10 March. Join inspiring retail buyers, entrepreneurs and experts from the wellness industry. Find out more here and book your place below.