I hope you’re all having a good week. I thought we could all do with some mid-week inspiration. I’m here with a new Behind the Biz interview and this time we’re discovering the journey of a family foodie biz.
In today’s interview I’m chatting with Kevin Bath, the co-founder of Jim Jams – A range of reduced sugar chocolate spreads and jams.
Please tell us about your business.
Jim Jams is a family business that believes the future of the wider spreads category must be shaped by a gritty commitment to lower sugar recipes. With the exception of peanut butter which has successfully tapped into the current trend for pro-protein propositions, the wider spreads fixture appears a little lost in time.
Where did the inspiration for Jim Jams come from?
The short answer is our children. We were horrified by head-turning levels of sugar that reside within the best known brands of chocolate spreads and jams. As products with a significant kids’ following we struggled to get our head around the simple truth that a standard jar of instantly recognizable chocolate spread can contain the equivalent of 57 sugar cubes. Worse than that, deliberately ‘foggy’ packaging meant that to anyone not well versed in translating label nutritionals this truth wasn’t instantly clear.
In addition to our two chocolate spreads (milk chocolate & hazelnut spread) which contain 83% less sugar than the market leaders within this field, Kevin & Kellie also launched a great tasting range of great tasting, no added sugar, 100%, all natural fruit preserves that contain half the final sugars (naturally occurring) of regular jam.
How did you decide upon the name of your business?
Jim Jams plays nicely upon our informal, non-corporate stance, aligns us nicely with the leading spread occasion (breakfast) and includes the word jam!
What did you do before starting Jim Jams?
I worked in the City prior to setting up Jim Jams and prior to that the Royal Navy. With my kids growing up fast, I saw a perfect opportunity to work alongside my health-conscious wife Kelly on a bold new business that resonated with young families in today’s more health conscious times.
Did you always plan to set up your own business?
I’ve always been something of an inquisitive self-starter who wasn’t afraid to take risks. That said, if you’d have told me five years ago that I’d be immersing myself in better-for-you spreads I’d have probably deemed you a little ‘odd’ and crossed the road.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
Share of voice! When you have shallow pockets it’s never easy to take on the might of global corporates and national institutions. We began life in the health food sector (Holland & Barrett) who echoed our commitment to healthier eating, although news quickly spread (sorry!) and we soon found ourselves in Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Wholefoods, Booths, Morrisons and most recently Tesco.
Support comes from the most unexpected sources. One ‘golden moment’ tweet from Davina McCall mentioned how much she loved our spreads (alongside the hashtag #notpaidtosaythis) sent our twittersphere into orbit.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
On a tactical level we could talk about our two Great Taste awards which is a massive seal of approval from the well-informed foodie community, but in reality it was becoming the first spread to align with Sugarwise, a heartfelt charity tasked with championing low sugar alternatives.
We have also just obtained a Mumsnet accreditation which is the perfect commendation for a range with such a significant parent and child following.’ This said, cleaner eating isn’t simply a parent/child cause which might help explain why we’re increasingly being supplied to a growing number of universities, colleges and staff restaurants.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Only champion something you truly believe in – issues like child obesity and rising tooth decay amongst children are two subjects about which Kellie & I feel very strongly about.
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
Waitrose remains a short term goal as they would bring extra gravitas to our mission, as would cracking hospitality, airlines, leisure centre vending and the UK’s vibrant hotel scene.
From an innovation angle we want to put our weight behind more school-friendly snacking occasions.
Thank you so much to Kevin for getting involved with Behind the Biz. I’m delighted to have Jim Jams as part of the series and I hope you’ve all really enjoyed the interview.
With their children as their inspiration, Kevin and Kellie have broken into a market filled with big corporate leaders. Low sugar alternatives are important and being stocked on the shelves of Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado and Morrisons shows that it’s something the wider public not only want, but need.
I think Kevin offers wise words for aspiring entrepreneurs, it’s important to really follow and champion something you believe in. That way you’ll always have a clear mission to your work. I wish Kevin and Kellie the best of luck with Jim Jams and I can’t wait to see the business grow in the year ahead.
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