Turning a love for seeds into a healthy business – Behind the Biz with Cathryn of Simplyseedz

I’m delighted to be back with another Behind the Biz interview.

Today I’m chatting with Cathryn, the founder of Simplyseedz. I first discovered the brand through their Dragons’ Den pitch and have followed their journey and purchased their products ever since.

I’m so happy to be sharing Cathryn’s business story with you today.

Please tell us about Simplyseedz

At Simplyseedz we’ve set out to create truly healthy, easy-to-prepare and enjoy, breakfast cereals and snacks that have not been compromised with ‘hidden’ nasties, unnecessary sugars & salt or low-grade ingredients. We’re passionate about transparency in the food industry. There are many supposedly ‘good for you’ labelled products out there, which when you check the ingredients, are shockingly full of sugar and salt. Simplyseedz is bringing clarity & integrity to the porridge aisle.

With big oats and pumpkin and sunflower seeds our fruity porridge is high in fibre, heart healthy and a low sugar footprint, by focusing on a less-is more ingredients philosophy (maximum of 5 ingredients).

Our range has a totally natural taste secured by well-balanced flavours and textures. 

What sparked the idea for your biz?

I needed to change my lifestyle and eating habits as I had got used to skipping breakfast and snacks while out on the road in my previous corporate life. Having survived a pulmonary embolism (which wasn’t diet related), I started making my own breakfast cereals and toasting seeds for my own and family’s health frustrated by the dearth of credible offerings in the supermarket.

Following redundancy, and not knowing how long it would take to get another job back in the corporate world, Simplyseedz became a project to keep the grey matter from going any greyer. Little did I know, that this would become a full-time job and occupation!

Where did the name Simplyseedz come from?

The brand name came about because I’m addicted to seeds and as all my simple recipes include seeds, it became Simplyseedz – the Z being the first initial of my surname!

Simple really! 

Take us back to the start, how did you approach your first customer?

Oh, golly I remember those first customer experiences well!

Our very first customers included friends and family, and I did weekly Worcestershire Farmers’ Markets in all weathers! Packaging was simple, with a hand-printed label that smudged if it got wet! 

I started approaching local farm shops and delis and production began to increase in my home kitchen. Everything was mixed by hand which made my arm ache, I often referred to it as my “porridge elbow”.

Tell us more about life before Simplyseedz

I worked for American Express Corporate Card as a Business Development Manager, so totally unrelated to the world of food production. It’s been a huge learning curve, and we keep learning! Its passion and porridge that keeps me going!

I’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen and fortunate to be able to make a healthy meal from scratch with a few store cupboard ingredients. My taste buds know the difference between good and bad food.

Did you always plan to be self-employed?

No, not at all! I miss the corporate perks of course, but I am so much happier creating products than being a number in a huge organisation. I’ve really seen a little ‘seed’ of an idea grow!

What is your biggest day-to-day challenge in business?

The biggest challenges any small business faces is cashflow. Keeping on top of suppliers, orders, stock, warehousing, deliveries, packaging, labelling, administration, accounting and of course sales keeps me busy!

Once production moved out of my home, it released some time and space.

What has been your single biggest lesson from COVID19 and lockdown?

It’s been such a difficult period for us and so many. The virus and it’s knock on effects have been indiscriminate. We had a family bereavement amidst this, so that’s been difficult. 

Life is to live – live it well, be kind, enjoy each moment with nearest and dearest.

Is there anything in the world of business that makes you cross?

I find it frustrating when I see cereal products branded as being good for you. Sadly, many consumers don’t tend to inspect the ingredients or nutritionals but rely on the big bold wording on a product to enable their shopping choice.

An example of this is a No added Sugar Plain Porridge Pot. Yes, they may not add any sugar, but the sugar is hidden in milk powders or flavourings yet it contains 15% sugar!

And the consumer thinks ‘Oh it hasn’t any sugar in it, so I’ll add a couple of spoons’. 

And therein lies the problem…

Share a business high with us

Having our porridge pot given the vote by Dr Clare Bailey in the Mail on Sunday in January, for its nutritional qualities.

Featuring on Dragons Den on Boxing Day

Both the above saw spike in new customers who are still with us on our journey today.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Passion, passion, and more passion. Embrace and learn from any mistakes. Be human!

Check out the Simplyseedz website and order some healthy treats for yourself. You can also support the business over on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Thank you so much to Cathryn for taking the time to be a part of Behind the Biz. I really enjoyed finding out about the business journey behind Simplyseedz and hope you did too.

I hope today’s interview inspires you to follow your dreams and to support small businesses wherever you can.

If you fancy getting involved with Behind The Biz please leave a comment below, send me an email or drop me a message over on Twitter