Some Background on Glonuts
For today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the opportunity to interview Glonuts Co-Founder & CEO, Kristin Charbo. Glonuts are donuts that aren't a day ender –– they are raw vegan, gluten-free and less than 1 gram of sugar each. Healthy, but who cares because they are cute, mini and sooooo good!
The beginning of glonuts started with a focus on a different product. Kristin and her partner Grover both worked full-time jobs and had wanted to find something as a side hustle. They decided to start a coffee cart to pop-up on the weekends in Los Angeles. Accompanying the coffee were mini-donuts. One day while experimenting in their apartment kitchen, Kristin told Grover, "I don't know what I did or how I did it, but these are amazing." In 2019, their coffee cart and donuts were fully operational. Kristin explained that at a local farmer's markets they had trouble getting space because the coffee space was so populated, but the farmer's market wanted the donuts!
The initial feedback was extremely positive for glonuts. Customers would ask where can we buy these, where can they be found, but there was not an answer. Kristin and Grover contemplated their next move given the customer demands. They realized that there was a real opportunity to pursue creating this product at a larger scale for customers. They decided to pivot the business to focus solely on donuts and enter the CPG space with their product, glonuts.
In December 2019, Kristin and Grover started their company. Glonuts are made with clean ingredients to help you glow from within. They were created as sugar free and gluten free because Kristin suffers from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which comes with insulin resistance. To meet her dietary restrictions she created a solution to a product she loved but wanted to enjoy without feeling tired and sluggish after. When they started selling them at the local farmer's markets they almost instantly went viral in Los Angeles and shortly after landed on the shelves at Erewhon and popular LA coffee shops like Alfred.
The pivot to fully focusing on glonuts and selling them involved making the donuts everyday in the home kitchen of their 1-bedroom apartment, packing each donut themselves, and delivering within a 20 mile radius. In their first year of business Kristin & Grover made, packed, and delivered 100,000 glonuts just the two of them. The traction was undeniable and the demand was increasing, and as Kristin told us, "We saw the product market fit for glonuts, there was nothing like it on the market. The word we hear most often is 'obsessed' –– customers are OBSESSED with glonuts!"
Their product being highly differentiated sets them apart. As Kristin mentioned, their product market fit was so obvious once they had the initial traction. She said customers love that their products taste fresh, not like they are produced in a factory. Having the trifecta of being raw vegan, gluten-free is so difficult to achieve at scale, let alone sugar-free as well. Glonuts are mini so you can practice mindful indulgence, but whether you eat one or three (an entire package) it doesn't end your day because glonuts do not spike blood-sugar. Kristin mentioned many new products check the boxes for macros or benefits, but the taste is lacking. Fortunately for them, their customers tell them glonuts taste SO good that they ended up using that in their marketing. Kristin explained the overall benefit is inclusion, she continued, "Because of my past with PCOS and struggling with weight, it was either eat these types of indulgences that everyone else was enjoying and sacrifice feeling good physically or mentally after, or skip them altogether. Glonuts is about being included, fitting in, and being able to have a donut, enjoy it, and feel great after. It's the feeling of eating a donut without the feeling you get after eating a donut."
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Kristin mentioned that she has always been a foodie and loves cooking. She comes from an Italian family and was always surrounded by food growing up. She shared she was an overweight child and growing up didn't understand the impact of diet and lifestyle to health. It came to a head when at 22 she had to have an ovarian cyst removed that grew to the size of a football. She asked how she can prevent this from happening again and the medical professionals did not provide anything in regards to diet and living a healthy lifestyle. Kristin took it into her own hands and started creating sustainable changes that over time produced beneficial results for her. She saw the impact on her own personal health and how she had the potential to feel great.
Incredibly when they started out with the coffee cart, Kristin mentioned she didn't feel any fear. They each invested $3,000 into that start up and were working out of their home kitchen. As she described it was a side hustle. But when they went all in with glonuts it changed. Having overhead with the commercial kitchen and hiring individuals and dealing with investors changed the stakes. While there is risk including their own personal investment, Kristin maintains that she wasn't fearful because she believes in the mission of the company and the product. "I truly believe in what we are doing. I know there is a giant opportunity that exists. We created a better donut for people and I believe it is something the world really needs especially with all of the health issues in our country," Kristin mentioned.
She credits their community being so supportive to what they are creating for her trust that they are on the right path. Kristin reflected on an email she got that made her so proud, she shared the story with us, "A college student was running in the San Francisco Marathon. He was avoiding gluten while training. He told us whenever he had a glonuts the night before training he would have his best run. He ended up finishing in the top 5% and was so grateful for our products. It really touched me and made me emotional knowing we are on the right path."
For four years it has been Kristin and Grover with a small team making each and every donut they have sold. Kristin told us that the hardest challenge for them was finding the right partner to take on the manufacturing abilities. The concerns of attention to detail, keeping the integrity of the product, and a unique process has prevented them from securing a partner. This has also been the biggest hurdle for glonuts to overcome because they couldn't produce enough volume to take their company to the next step.
Scaling has been on the forefront for Glonuts. Kristin explained how taxing it has been on them both, "Most people start a company for freedom. For us we haven't experienced that. We have lived and breathed this every day for four years straight. Hand making every donut has been grueling these last four years." But Kristin was happy to announce they had just returned from their new co-manufacturing partner who will take over the production starting in January.
With the ability to scale and grow the company entering 2024, Kristin is planning on changing her focus and getting more into the sales aspect which she truly enjoys. She said it will take a little to get used to not being in the kitchen every day, but she is eager for the new challenges presented for Glonuts. She said her and Grover have been asking themselves, "who are we without making donuts every day?" It has been their lives for four years straight, but she is relishing the opportunity to reinvent herself. Kristin shared how excited she is to see what kind of leader she is, to direct her company to new unchartered territory, and to devote time, energy, and resources to continuing to build their fun donut brand.
After not having days off, waking up at 4 AM to make donuts, Kristin is appreciating the next chapter to be able to work on her brand and company but do so in different environments. While she still most likely won't have a day off, she can at least do the new duties of her job in new settings outside of the kitchen.
Piece of advice
The conversation with Kristin ended with her sharing her piece of advice.
"We started this by accident in my kitchen and because we wanted to do something chill and fun together. We wanted to spend more time together and create something fun. I think it is important to not lose sight of what drives you and not to take everything so seriously. You must have fun doing whatever you choose. Remember you will hear a lot of "No's", but with the mindset that it is just not the right time or that this might come to fruition later on, when we take that approach to life, it seems we stay more balanced. But you have to start. Whatever it is you want or your mind is on, just start. Do one thing each day to put it in motion and start."
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Klimson Logistics Solutions - Together Talks with Glonuts feature #80
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