A juice company, online. Sure, there’s a few of them around now, but they still face a hell of a problem: how do you sell your wares online if they only have a shelf life of just a few days? Some would see this as a logistical nightmare, but others would eye it up as a growth opportunity.
Those ‘others’ are Emma & Tom’s, a proudly home-grown brand who have been in business for a decade and make a mark the size of 35 different products, 30 delivery trucks, two entrepreneurs, and a very strong team. Headed up by Tom Griffith and Emma Welsh (the business’ namesakes and childhood mates) and stocked by big-name players like David Jones and Virgin Australia, the business boasts premium, preservative free products. The idea stemmed from years of friendship, the desire to go into business together and, oddly enough, a ski trip Griffith took to North America. There, he discovered the local trend of “super premium fruit juices” – juices that, at that stage of the game, didn't have a presence Down Under – and developed quite the taste for them. Thanks to Griffith’s thirst – and all the hard work it takes to build a brand and survive those start-up years – that’s no longer true. And, now, their game is no longer just juice.
A product that brings your business online
And, perhaps, it’s just as well: their range of dried fruit and raw nut bars have not only proven to be a hit with their already-loyal following, but allowed the business to move beyond a simple online presence to using online as a sales channel. It’s a line – and there are more still in development – that doesn’t require refrigeration and has a significantly longer shelf life. It’s yet another niche where the potential for growth is massive. "Health bars are growing exponentially,” says Griffith of the time-poor, cash-rich, health-conscious customer. “They get enormous feedback on our Facebook and info email account. People who buy them really get it, they understand.
There are four or five ingredients, no added sugar, no numbers, it's full of nutrition and fibre and it's a little energy bomb."
Competition is nothing new for the business. In the juice game, there’s a certain time of year that “spawns new drink brands,” says Griffith.
"They will normally give out a lot of free stock – because people like free stuff – and normally it doesn't sell that well.”
As the health trend becomes more and more front of mind, this competition is on a permanent upward swing. But Griffith remains undaunted.
"In the perfume world, there's Chanel No. 5. And then the next year, there's Kylie and Mariah and so-and-so and so-and-so. And, in five years time: there's Chanel No. 5. So that's our aim: to maintain the premium and the service so we are the chosen ones.”
Work at it, always
"For me, it's about having a go. I don't want to sit back and be old and tired and think that I didn't have a really good swing at something. I was told once that business is like keeping fit, you've got to work at it."
And, boy, do they work at it. I’ve chatted to Griffith on a number of occasions and each time he’s telling me about something bigger and better on the way. When he was last in town, he recounted running the Bondi to Bronte … But only got as far as Tamarama. Why? He saw a new café – or, in his eyes, a new potential stockist.
"You sell and sell and sell and then you get your foot in the door, and then it's all about service. You need to maintain that service." The goal, says Griffith, is a “pull-through in trade … Having a great tasting product that people want to buy and servicing the customer" who in Tom's case, is the shopkeeper. This is what Griffith calls “the last mile”. Their new-found and ever-growing presence in the online space, though, makes that last mile a considerably shorter distance.
If you’re online, make the most of it
When it comes to an online footprint, Griffith recommends bigger and better. Of Facebook, “There's a billion people on it and it's free, so why wouldn't you be on it? It's a no-brainer.”
Emma & Tom’s has a strong social media presence which resonates in real life. Says Griffith, "People look for many, many touch points of businesses and brands these days.”
Supporting community events, like the Sorrento Swim Classic, and promoting new stockists increases their brand profile and allows the business to reach new potential customers – customers who can then buy Emma & Tom’s online.
The business is also about giving back: they donate a sizeable amount of stock to Second Bite, a charity ensuring access to fresh, nutritious food for people in need across Australia, are great supporters of the national Breast Cancer Foundation’s Pink Ribbon breakfasts, among other initiatives.
“We do what we can … It’s great to do something more.”
Take-away tips: what you can learn from Emma & Tom
1. Think outside the square: if the logistics are too great to sell your product online, what other brand extensions can you offer in their place?
2. Stay true to your brand: think Chanel No. 5. Do what you do and do it well – this will make you a classic.
3. Have a presence in the community – on social media and in real life!