From the outside, there doesn’t seem to be much in common between Shari Leidich’s two brand launches.
Two Moms in the Raw, now called Soul Sprout, began as a line of raw granola bars and has since grown to include grain-free cereal, crackers, truffles and nut bars. Know Brainer, founded by Leidich in 2016, is an individual-serving coffee creamer made from organic, grass-fed clarified butter and non-GMO MCT oil—and it’s already shaking up the coffee industry. Just months after launching, Know Brainer was the recipient of the People's Choice Award for Best of Show at Coffee Fest, the industry’s largest trade show.
If you ask Leidich, while the products themselves are much different, the good news for brands looking to make a similar leap is that the formula for success is the same.
You found success in the granola and bar space. What prompted your interest in the coffee creamer category?
Shari Leidich: I had been taking MCT oil for years and never liked how I had to take it. I drink green tea, unsweetened chai and a lot of green earthy drinks, but never liked how they tasted with MCT oil added.
At the same time, I don’t drink coffee, but my husband is a ridiculous coffee drinker—we’re talking every two hours. Plus, so much of the population skips breakfast. Then, you have a $3 billion coffee creamer industry. So I thought, if you have all these people skipping breakfast but we know that they are drinking coffee and using creamer, and we know that organic clarified grass-fed butter has all these benefits, like it’s more potent than grain-fed, is loaded with CLA, and can help maintain a healthy weight—all these things put together can add up to something good. But, it’s inconvenient to add clarified butter and make your own creamer.
So this is my way of delivering a very important fat into the diet, in a convenient way that’s pre-portioned for on-the-go.
How was developing and launching Know Brainer different from your experience with Two Moms in the Raw?
SL: At Two Moms, we knew absolutely nothing when we started. And, I’m still making mistakes. But the difference is that we truly were learning as we went with Two Moms. Today, we have support. We have great relationships with stores, and many partners that believe in us right out of the gate. We know to demo right away—that makes a big difference. And we know, this time around, to seize every opportunity.
How were the two launches similar?
SL: First, they both fill a need in the marketplace. At the time I launched Two Moms, there were no Kind bars. I feel like I’m doing the same thing now with our creamer. Secondly, I’m very good at making very complicated food convenient. Raw foods are difficult to work with, in that it takes three days to make a bar. We were one of the first to package that conveniently. Yes, creamer is a different category, but it’s the same in that we’re stressing nutrition and wellness, and we’re conveniently delivering something to the consumer that would be time consuming for them to create on their own.
What lessons did you apply to the development and launch of Know Brainer that you garnered from your first brand launch?
SL: When we started Two Moms in the Raw, we found small brokers that really believed in the brand, and pushed the heck out of it. We had relationships with stores, and using small independent brokers was the smart decision for us. What I learned is that, for a company our size, larger national brokers aren’t a fit. They simply have too many brands. And our product requires education.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the natural food space who are considering making a similar leap to a different product category?
SL: I think you really have to believe in the product. I don’t believe in pushing things out there. I believe in letting things grow organically. There was a gap in the marketplace when I started Two Moms and there’s a gap today in the stagnant creamer industry that hasn’t changed since the 1940s. It’s not innovative to just offer a dairy alternative anymore; it’s not innovative to replace one ingredient with another. Know Brainer is truly innovative in that it’s fuel and that it’s not just a creamer, it’s a breakfast alternative. There’s a function behind the food. And I believe in it.