Chiwis Chips founder Sarah Goodman, like many a backcountry enthusiast, has always been a fan of using her dehydrator to make snacks for expeditions. And as a nutritionist, she’s an even bigger fan of healthy snacks.
One day, she had a bright idea. Why not try to make chips out of kiwis? When they came out of the dehydrator, they were everything she hoped for: a candy-flavoured, crispy snack that easily fooled her sweet tooth into believing she was eating a bonafide treat.
“At the time, I was running a tech company. But seven years in, I knew I needed to make a change, and I’d started to think I could make a brand out of this kiwi snack I’d created.”
Cue the weekends and evenings of research while working a full-time job. As a serial entrepreneur, Sarah was used to the grind. She ran a contest on 99designs in order to get a prototype bag and brought her kiwi chips out on adventures with friends.
“Because they were in a bag, they looked like a real product. That allowed me to product test with my friends, who thought I’d just brought along this cool new food product. I collected feedback and felt encouraged to keep going.”
There was more encouragement right ahead of Sarah. After learning as much as she could about the food industry from talking to people and taking a course, she got in touch with a small distributor in BC.
“I was telling this distributor that it was my first time going commercial, that I wanted to go slow. Two days later, they told me that I had gotten my first account: Whole Foods. That was pretty overwhelming because I didn’t know how I would pull that off.”
Then, a month later, COVID-19 hit. Sarah managed to use this massive disruption to her benefit, buying a little time to reconfigure her business.
“I took a pause and everyone I worked with understood because of the pandemic. I knew that making these chips in a commercial kitchen in Squamish, where I live, wasn’t feasible, wasn’t scalable. I found partners who could help with production and finally launched last February. This allows me to focus on the business rather than spend 14 hours a day in a kitchen.”
It’s been worth the wait. Since launch, Chiwis chips has gone from being carried by zero stores to 1,000 as of this coming July. Definitely not bad, especially considering the fact that Sarah’s (ambitious) goal for the year was 750 stores.
Sarah just hired her first two staff members and is revelling in the feeling of having teammates. She’s also focused on marketing because Chiwis is a line of products—that now carries orange, pineapple, mango, and assorted tropical chips—with a lot of amazing talking points.
“It really is a new kind of product, and there’s a lot that’s really unique and interesting about it. The fact that we leave the skins on the kiwis. The fact that our chips are made from upcycled fruit that reduces food waste. We need to communicate all of this. We do that through influencers, through displays at grocery stores.”
To that end, a corrugated RSC shipper that Sarah made with Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC) has been tremendously helpful. This brightly coloured container also acts as a display, with an ingenious tear-away window.
“Everyone loves them! They are so cute and eye-catching. Plus, our GLBC packaging specialist lives in Squamish, so she comes by our facilities to visit often. We love the quality and the fact that our packaging supplier is local. Plus, the turnaround times are excellent, and we’re finding we really need that in the food industry.”
We love helping Chiwis realize their mission of providing healthy snacks to all. If they aren’t at your local grocery store now – we bet they will be soon. Enjoy the sweet, crispy treat!