We interviewed Julie Bednarski, founder of The Healthy Crunch Company. We found out what makes one kale chip better than another, how to get your kids to enjoy a 1/3 head of kale at school, and how to sneak kale into your desserts.
Are all kale chips good for you?
For the most part, yes. Certain varieties of kale chips may contain ingredients that you want to be cautious of including natural flavours, preservatives, and refined sugars. Also, check to see that your kale chips are dehydrated and not deep fried. Reading the ingredient label is important to ensure that your kale chips are good for you. At The Healthy Crunch Company, we only use fresh, whole food ingredients in our recipes that we make from scratch. No natural flavours, no preservatives, and all organic ingredients are used in our recipes. We strive to make the BEST kale chip on the planet! (organic truly matters – for us, and to those growing our produce, and we are grateful for your commitment to using the best ingredients, thank you!)
We love that your blog features ways to incorporate your kale chips into every meal – even dessert! Who comes up with these recipes?
At The Healthy Crunch Company we love finding ways to sneak kale into all types of recipes. Our team is a group of true foodies, and we love reading cookbooks and recipes online. When we brainstorm ideas for our blog and social media posts, we often think of what foods we love (like pumpkin pie!) and how we can incorporate our Healthy Crunch kale chips. Our products are unique in that we can add them to almost any recipe, especially our Kale Krumb seasoning.
Do you ever get sick of kale?
Not at all! I absolutely love kale. Kale is unique in the sense that you can use it in so many ways. I love adding kale to my morning smoothies, salads, soups, sauces, and best of all when I want to snack. At The Healthy Crunch Company, I am known as the CCO – Chief Crunch Officer. As we like to say, I’m the expert in knowing how crunchy our kale chips should be. I love eating our Healthy Crunch kale chips. It’s the crunch factor, and knowing that I am eating a superfood that’s full of vitamins and minerals, that keeps me going. I never get tried or bored of eating our kale chips, and sometimes I have been known to have kale chips for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! (I keep your kale chips in my purse and send my kids on school trips with them – it’s like a full meal, it’s like a great shelf-stable salad!)
Our office poll (of all 3.5 of us) revealed our favorite Healthy Crunch flavor is Say Cheeze – was it a bold decision to make it spicy?
Say Cheeze was the first flavor of kale chips that I developed when I started The Healthy Crunch Company. I had just recently moved back from West Palm Beach, Florida where I was working in a vegan restaurant called Christopher’s Kitchen. When I was working at this restaurant, the cooks would add jalapenos to almost every dish, even if it was just a little bit. They taught me that adding jalapenos to savory dishes adds a little zesty flavor that makes things taste amazing. When I first developed our Say Cheeze kale chips, I knew that I wanted to add jalapenos to give it that extra little kick of flavor and zesty taste. As well, in researching all other cheesy kale chips on the market, no other product added jalapenos to their recipe. I knew that adding a little extra kick would make our Say Cheeze kale chips unique from our competitors.
Your kale chips are totally nut-free! Was that intentional?
When I first started The Healthy Crunch Company we used cashews as the base for our dressing. Six months into business, I decided to do a complete re-brand of our logo, packaging, and overall product. I researched all kale chip competitors in the world to determine what would make us unique and set us apart from our competitors. The one thing that all kale chip products had in common was that they contained nuts or were made in a facility that processed tree nuts or peanuts.
I decided to reinvent The Healthy Crunch Company, as tree nut-free and peanut-free business. Our products have always been gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, peanut-free, and vegan, but making them 100% tree nut-free meant that we had to move to a NEW facility that was 100% free of tree nuts. We built our NEW Tree Nut-Free and Peanut-Free facility with all new equipment to ensure that our products are 100% safe for individuals with allergies to consume. Going tree nut-free with our products was one of the best business decisions I made for our company. (I have many reasons to thank you, but as a mom of a child with an anaphylactic nut allergy, I adore you! We were so happy to add you to our list of nut-free snacks!)
Do you need to invest of lot of time creating content for social media?
We have a really great team that does all our social media. Connecting with our customers and audience through our various social media platforms is very important to us. We love to be connected to see what our audience likes and show them what we are up to at The Health Crunch Company.
Developing a social media plan does take work, and we usually plan 1-2 months in advance. That being said, things do change and we have to be able to adapt to include new content if there’s a big news story. We work with a great photographer that does amazing work for start-up business prices. Being a start-up and always tight for funds, our team thinks of ways to be creative without breaking our marketing budget.
This summer, I started posting content for my own social media feeds. I wanted to include what goes on behind the scenes at The Healthy Crunch Company and the day-to-day life of a woman entrepreneur in the food industry. The content that I share compliments all the activities that I’m involved with the business. I love connecting with our followers.
When did you know you were ready to grow your team?
I started The Healthy Crunch Company in July 2014. At that time, I was a one-woman show. I would be working in the kitchen all day – purchasing ingredients from the Ontario Food Terminal, washing kale, making the dressing, coating our kale chips, packaging our products, cleaning the kitchen, and delivering orders to customers. As our product is very labor intensive, I knew I had to get out of the kitchen and get help as soon as possible. I knew that my time would be better spent doing business development – meeting with new and existing customers. In the early stage of my business when I was working out of a shared collective kitchen, I hired two part-time kitchen assistants. This was great at the time, and it freed up a lot of time for me.
When I moved The Healthy Crunch Company to a much larger facility that we renovated specifically for kale chip production, I decided to go all-in with producing kale chips for national distribution. I knew that I had to hire key new team members to help with our growth, including a Plant Manager, Quality Assurance Manager, Marketing and Media Manager, and a kitchen product team. Growing this team has allowed me to focus on business development and sales of our products.
What’s your best advice for getting a retailer to try your product?
Persistence! I normally send out lots of samples of our products to retailers and buyers to get them to try our products. Finding ways to meet in person or connect via Linkedin with a retailer or buyer is key. [inlinetweet prefix=”” suffix=”- @JulieBednarski via @bordenteam”]You have to know your product and your competitors[/inlinetweet] very well so you can speak about your market. Having a great tasting products is also essential for when you do meet with a buyer. Sharing your story about how you developed your product and what makes it unique also gets the attention of buyers. Ultimately, if you have a great product and story that is unique, and you are persistent, you will eventually get your products into stores.
If you hopped in a time-machine and went back to school, what would you love to find your lunchbox?
It might seem too obvious, but I would have really loved to find our Healthy Crunch kale chips! They’re completely school safe, delicious, and great nourishment. One serving of our kale chips, has 1/3 of head of kale, which is great for children to eat, and for parents wanting to know their kids are eating vegetables.