Hannah McCollum is the founder of ChicP, a sustainable food brand producing nutritious Hummus and Veggie Bites, inspired by the quintessential flavours from the English garden. Driven by a passion to change people’s attitudes to food preparation, consumption and waste, ChicP encourages individuals to think differently about the way they eat. Championing local ingredients, ChicP brings healthy and colorful plant-based dips and snacks to the plate. Each product incorporates British flavours, taking people on a journey into their back garden, one bite at a time. Founded on a passionate commitment to reduce food waste and eating healthier food, ChicP products are Vegan, Gluten-Free and 100% natural.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I began my company, ChicP, in 2016, as a direct result of my concern with food waste; this was finally starting to be addressed on a larger scale, a hugely encouraging development that gave me the confidence to build my business. I was determined to raise awareness about just how bad food waste in this country was, at every stage of the food chain. I was most inspired to start a food business because of how much food waste I was witnessing. I saw food waste at large corporate events, parties, sports events, supermarket bins, on farms and in the home. Food waste at home is one of the largest contributors to this vast problem that is contributing up to 1/3 of global greenhouse emissions (internet not working where I am and need to check this fact). I absolutely love hummus and making dips. I am a private chef, part-time, and have catered all over Europe and the UK cooking for large families or friends gatherings. I love cooking creative dishes using local, seasonal produce and what I find in the cupboards. As a chef, I hated throwing food away, so I would always turn leftover vegetable dishes into dips and hummus for lunch the next day. This was one of the reasons I decided to produce hummus. It’s a hugely versatile product and a great way to incorporate surplus vegetables!
How did you achieve awareness?
I went to a lot of events to exhibit and I also attended as many food networking events as possible, slowly this adds up and really helps with awareness in the early days. I had PR that I achieved myself and then only in my second year did I take someone on to help with PR.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We have grown organically through sales. Only during Covid did we take out a bounce back loan to help with a new employee and marketing.
What are the key successes?
Our first key success was getting a listing with Wholefoods in our first year. Then supplying Wimbledon was always an aim for me and we also achieved that in our first year. Ocado was a great 3rd year success and the Coop’s have been a wonderful 4th year success. Gaining new wholesalers and employees along the way as well as successful events has also all been a key part of the journey.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Our shelf life was the first major challenge. Finding a better manufacturer who could help keep the air out of the pots was the first step to overcoming this. Later on we found a natural vinegar that helped extend the shelflife further.
Finding a good manufacturer is also never easy and took such a long time at the beginning. You think you’re never going to find one and then it happens! Keeping them on board and maintaining a good relationship to make sure both sides are happy is also a challenge but rewarding at the same time.
Being delisted from a retailer can be a challenge and can feel like a real bump in the road. Keeping going and not letting it get to you is the best way to overcome this because something positive will come along next.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We have new branding launching next month with a slightly new mission statement which is exciting. We also have a new larger sharing pot of our beetroot hummus launching.
We have some other new products in the pipeline and are also looking to export this year. With both these in mind, new listings with UK retailers and potential new wholesalers, we’re hoping for some exciting growth across the board.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I think it’s important to be 100% passionate about what your idea is. You’ll get very bored quickly if not. If you’re someone who loves a challenge, is happy to deal with the hi’s and low’s of the journey but is ready to get your teeth stuck into a project… Hopefully one that will benefit the environment, go for it! If it doesn’t work it doesn’t matter, at least you’ve given it your best shot.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Don’t get disheartened by a No. They happen all the time. If you rise above them, other better offers will come your way.
- Speak to people in your industry as much as possible. People are happy to help and getting advice, contacts etc from others can really help you on your way – it also gives you confidence that you’re doing the right thing (or not) but people will hopefully tell you the truth and all these pointers really help.
- Go to events – industry networking events or exhibitions etc.. It’s a great way to gain brand awareness as well as make new contacts and meet potential buyers or investors when you may least expect it.
- Make sure you spend your time working on the priorities. It’s easy to be really busy doing things that aren’t actually going to win you sales. I learnt this in my first year when I realised I was super busy but responding to people who weren’t actually going to help my business grow.
- Enjoy the ride! Celebrate the wins and also give yourself a break. This is a journey, not a race. It’s ‘your baby’ so don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t work all hours of the day. You’ll be more productive and enjoy it more (as well as a lot more healthy!) if you take enough holiday’s, breaks and have a good social life.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall – Hugh inspires me through his continuous projects that are focused on making the planet a better place. He is a fantastic ambassador for sustainability, local and seasonal food and I stand with him with all his beliefs! I’m a huge supporter and have been to River Cottage many times to exhibit. He’s an inspiration and his food is great 🙂
- Thomasina Miers – Thomasina is a wonderful inspiration for women in food. She has so many successful projects throughout her culinary experience, from the restaurants to her cookbooks. She’s very hardworking and a great free spirit.
- Paula Radcliife – I always think of her as one of the most outstanding and impressive sportswomen. To run marathons as a profession blows my mind and her endurance, personality and success throughout her career was truly inspiring.
- Birdy (the music artist – Although I don’t know a huge amount about her, I absolutely adore her music. I saw her live at a festival and was in awe. I find her incredibly inspiring. Her calmness, incredible musical skill and highly emotional songs are just wonderful to listen to. She inspires me in a different way, through her music and way of being.
- Otto & Ludo Brockway – They produced the film ‘Eating our way to extinction’. It’s an incredibly powerful and beautiful filming that I wish everyone would watch, showing our world today and what we’re facing. They were so passionate about the planet. They made this film to show the world what we need to do to make change and spent 10 years travelling the world to produce it. Sadly too many people shy away from watching it because they don’t want to see the reality. Getting my friends to watch this is such a challenge.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
- You only live once
- Failure is a lesson
- Live every day like it’s your last
- Anything is possible
What are your Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin social handle and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chicpfood/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/chicp
- Website: https://www.chicp.co.uk/