Artisanal foods seem exclusive, or atas, as they say, which translates directly to “above”.
“It sounds like artisanal food is for aspirants, but the simple truth is that the artisanal food movement is about getting back to basics,” suggested Jasmine, the founder of an artisanal butter company. walnuts, The Good Fat Company (TGFC). “It’s about knowing how your food is made, its quality and the freshness of the ingredients used.”
Unlike most startups, TGFC was not born out of a passion for nut butters, or nuts for that matter. A year ago, Jasmine hit a wall with her previous business during the pandemic and was stuck in a situation most business owners have faced since: letting her staff go.
Take one for the team
The past year has been tough for many, and with ever-evolving SOPs and on-again, off-again OLS, it’s like the light at the end of the tunnel is melting.
“My previous business shut down, I was devastated because we had invested so much to build it,” Jasmine told Vulcan Post. One of the bright spots of this experience was the opportunity to work with a tight-knit team that supported her through troubled waters, pay cuts and all.
The company was already at the end of the road and Jasmine was upset trying to figure out how to break the news to her employees. After a lot of tears, Jasmine’s husband told her, “No need to cry over the spilled milk, either you think of something to do to be able to keep your guys or face them and tell them they haven’t. no work.”
Knowing that she had won the lottery with her team, she just couldn’t let them go. It didn’t matter what affairs they found themselves in together, as long as they weren’t dissolved.
It got her thinking about market trends and customer needs, wondering what great business she could build with her team from scratch. At 3 a.m. one night, the realization hit her: the answer was quality food.
Grow from the ground up
Most of what Malaysians buy is imported, which means the food is preserved and has very few nutrients by the time it arrives at our table. This is why the idea of creating nut butters immediately came to Jasmine’s mind. “Having traveled a lot before the pandemic, we would love to take advantage of all the varieties like almond, hazelnut, pecan, and the list goes on… but at home all my kids can find is peanut butter. It was my light bulb moment!
Within 48 hours, Jasmine wrote her business plan and presented it to the entire team. “I was very lucky, one of my employees who was in charge of operations had a culinary background so he understood the technical side of the food and that made it easier. ,” she said.
Without skipping a beat, they got to work and experimented with various recipes until they were happy with their own version.
To produce good quality nut butters it is important that a food processor is not used as the heat from the machine will destroy the nutrients in the nuts. It’s also a method shared by the healthy snack company we talked about before, Nourish and Nibbs. With strict requirements, the biggest investment for TGFC’s capital has been the purchase of machinery such as nut mills and roasters.
Supported by her husband, Jasmine used their savings to finance her new business. The couple were convinced that if they lost money, it would be seen as a cost of learning; if TGFC grew and succeeded as planned, then its mission would be accomplished.
In addition to providing capital for the business, Jasmine attributes a large portion of the investment to the team. At first, staff were hired with partial salaries because Jasmine could not afford to pay them in full. “I will always view their sacrifice for partial wages as part of the investment when we started this business,” expressed the entrepreneur with gratitude.
I’ve tried homemade nut butters from brands like Amy’s BREAKFIRST, and I always wondered if it was safe to consume the layer of oil that was floating upwards. It’s something you’ve probably seen in Nutella jars too.
And that was the first major challenge for TGFC: production. Because nut butters do not contain preservatives, the oil separation formed in an unopened jar, while edible, tends to scare customers. Jasmine explained that the reason this happens is because nut butters have a high fat content, which acts as a natural preservative so they don’t go bad quickly. Once a jar is opened, it should be finished within 90 days.
Therefore, Jasmine advises her customers not to purchase TGFC products in bulk. “While this is good for business, we would prefer our customers to buy what they need and consume it before buying the second pot,” she tells us humbly.
This is where the TGFC team had to find the balance by making the proper amounts per batch, to maintain the quality and shelf life of the nut butter.
“There were months we oversold and there were months our families had to eat a lot of nut butters,” Jasmine explained. Today the team has found a constant flow of customers and has a better idea of how to produce according to the demands of consumer consumption cycles.
Catering for the health conscious
These customers currently include health conscious people who also care about the environment by reducing their consumption of meat for protein. Jasmine shared that she was actually surprised at the millennial age group buying her products, assuming TGFC’s customer base would be baby boomers instead.
Since its launch in October 2020, TGFC has sold over 8,000 jars and already has 10 variations of nut butter. Each jar costs between RM 29.90 and RM 65.90 each (depending on type) and can be purchased from the TGFC website or their dealers like KitaKita, Qra, and Fittle Sense.
We have seven months at the end of April and we are grateful that our sales have grown steadily month by month. This is a more important metric to me than profit because it means we are delivering more and more of our nut butters to people. I’m less concerned with profit at this point as we focus more on building our brand.
Jasmine Mohan, Founder and CEO of The Good Fat Company.
Compared to her previous business being restructured, Jasmine is confident that the lessons learned will help her team do better the second time around.
- You can read more about The Good Fat Company here.
- You can read other F&B articles we’ve written here.
Featured Image Credit: Jasmine Mohan, Founder and CEO of The Good Fat Company
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