SNACKZILLA is a brand new healthy kids snack brand with a range of soft-baked oat cookies which have 50% less sugar than the average sweet biscuit, with nothing artificial, high in fibre and made in the UK. The perfect lunchbox and after school snack for kids.
Mum of two, Marieke Syed, created the brand in 2019. Prior to launching it, she was the COO of London Craft Week, her background being in leadership and management, mainly in the creative and education sectors.
The brand grew from Marieke’s frustration with never knowing what snacks to give her 10 and 8-year-old kids. They had grown out of the healthy baby and toddler brands, and just wanted junk. Why wasn’t there any products or brands that appealed to both older kids but also their parents who wished to reduce the amount of sugar their kids consume? A gap in the market was spotted and SNACKZILLA was born. Their mission now is to create a fun range of snacks, which make healthier snacking easier for both parents and children.
SNACKZILLA cookies are based on Marieke’s Granny’s oat cookie recipe, but reformulated to meet Government guidelines for healthy eating for children. They are made in Yorkshire in a family bakery and contain 50% less sugar than the average sweet biscuit, sweetened with chicory root fibre. They are vegan, high in fibre, and free from palm oil and any artificial flavourings colourings or preservatives.
It took 3 years of trial and error to create a cookie that met the health guidelines but was sweet, chewy and tasty. The brand was selected in 2020 to be part of the Good Food Fund, led by Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Charity as a brand identified as reducing childhood obesity. Recently the brand was successful in winning a trial listing in 70 Sainsbury’s stores nationwide, and is launching on Ocado in 2022.
As well as having created a unique product, SNACKZILLA is focused on creating a rebellious and playful brand with the authenticity of a brand made By Kids For Kids. Since the start, Marieke’s children have been a key part of creating the brand, coming up with the name, testing recipes and driving content strategy.
SNACKZILLA is led by Marieke, with support from other mums, who assist with Amazon sales and marketing.
SNACKZILLA cookies were shortlisted for the World Innovative Kids Product of the year 2020, and recently won Best Kids Snack in the Nourish Awards.
In terms of promotion, It’s still early days for the brand, with no marketing budget, the brand has been promoted via social media, word of mouth recommendations, working with influencers and some PR.
All startups have their challenges. The biggest so far has been trying to make an inherently unhealthy product into a healthy one! Biscuits and cookies by their nature are full of fat and sugar, it’s the combination of those things that give it taste, give it structure and give it a decent shelf life. When you start messing with the make-up it becomes a scientific innovation challenge which is why it took so long to develop the recipe.
Success-wise, the biggest so far is the response from children to the product, who love the taste, texture and packaging of our cookies. The founder has received such amazing feedback, from parents and kids far and wide which makes all the hard work worthwhile.
The proudest thing about the brand is the commitment to helping to impact childhood obesity. In 2021 the brand was awarded the Good Choice Badge by the Change4Life campaign, demonstrating the founder’s commitment to providing healthier kids products. It’s also partnered with the charity Give. Help. Share. This charity was set up during lockdown by two teachers, providing food hampers to families in need, and has now progressed to proving workshops in schools which provide children with the opportunity to learn about food, its provenance, diet and health together with budgeting skills in order to empower them to develop healthy eating habits and make informed choices. SNACKZILLA donations support their school workshops that focus on healthy snack swaps.
In terms of working with partners, so far the brand has focused on working with micro influencers and mum networks, such as Mummy’s Gin Fund, Mothers Meetings, A Mother Brand, Found and Flourish and Real Work.
There are big plans in store for 2022, with financial investment meaning ambitious growth plans, building a team and gaining some national store listings.
Marieke shares the following advice to other entrepreneurs:
Try to remain on an even keel, of course celebrate the wins in some way, but by keeping steady it means when the blows come you will be able to maintain perspective.
Talk to loads of people with a similar business before you start and try to calculate all the numbers in as much detail as possible, base your forecast on evidence rather than guessing.
Find a mentor, someone who in the early days can discuss your vision and help clarify your purpose. They won’t be so emotionally tied to the brand or entrenched in the day to day running, and so can help think bigger picture.
Building a business is all about building relationships, with both your customers and suppliers. Strong relationships will mean you are more likely to achieve success and compassion when things may go wrong.
Create a community of loyal brand ambassadors from the beginning. By bringing your customers with you on your journey and sharing the highs and the lows, you will create an authentic brand.