THE BEGINNING: Like so many intriguing brands, Seriously Low Carb was born from personal circumstance. Andy was a ‘busy mind’ who wasn’t happy with the way his career was heading. Whilst the pay cheques remained enticing, his ‘work joy’ barometer had reached a new low ebb, whilst his sense of belonging and ‘personal worth’ was literally flat-lining.
In retrospect, it was Andy’s last corporate life foray within a particularly megalomanic environment that proved to be the step too far. Andy collapsed on a corporate flight home but this in truth was only the beginning as his life spiralled out into an unchartered world of depression and self-doubt.
REDEMPTION THRU FITNESS: In an unconventional bid to help keep his personal demons at bay Andy decided to enter one of the world’s most gruelling Iron Man races, which in turn meant revisiting his dietary regimes, which was the very moment he discovered keto.
WHAT THE HECK IS KETO?: Keto in its simplest terms is a high fat/low carb regime that induces a state of ketosis in one’s body enabling one’s body to efficiently burn fat for energy rather than glucose. The argument goes that traditional dieting is fundamentally flawed as one-size-fits solutions don’t acknowledge the simple truth that people are so metabolically diverse.
Yes, some of us can happily exist eating fattening carbohydrates, but many of us fall short, largely as a result of sluggish metabolisms. The advantage that keto has is that it recognises that many of us are stuck on a treadmill of imperfect diets because we suffer from a metabolic disorder of fat accumulation, which means some bodies are predisposed to squirreling away fat that should be being burnt for energy. At its most stringent keto is not a short-term, faddy fix, it’s a longer-term commitment because bodies need time to re-adjust to a very different mindset.
It’s during these inevitable moments of self-doubt that a number of us will start to crave the things we miss most and who in their right mind wouldn’t yearn for plump rolls and soft fluffy bread?
BREADY URGES: Andy for one simply couldn’t accept that committing to a new diet which was turning his life around positively should also mean denying himself natural cravings for bread, pizza, pasta….. Yes, a small number of low-carb alternatives were already in circulation, however they had the appetite appeal of dusty leather. In some parts of Europe heavy, stodgy bread remains very much in vogue, however on this island we like our bread light, fluffy and with a subtle hint of sour.
This was Andy’s ‘eureka moment’ because he now had a cause, creating a far-reaching portfolio of full-bodied, indulgent necessities that excited his taste buds whilst adhering to strict, low carb parameters.
THE WORD GETS OUT: Andy committed himself to a 9 month voyage of discovery, working alongside an array of knowledgeable bakers until finally he had a tasty scalable bread. Initial sales of 2-3 loaves a day were to put it mildly underwhelming, but then, out of the blue (on July 7th 2020) 130 orders materialised in a single hour. A helpful micro-influencer had been at work and suddenly Facebook reviews were pinging here, there and everywhere. In no time daily orders of between 300-500 products became the norm. In the blink of an eye 6,000 loaves a week became 12,000, which is about the time Andy’s team were being inundated by a wave of positive chatter from inquisitive export customers and influencers.
THE LOCKDOWN FACTOR: By now Lockdown was in full flow yet interest in this fledgling Hertfordshire operation wasn’t diminishing. Andy’s small yet well-honed team had dispatched some 104,000 orders to 15 different markets. Better than that he’d proved that his food vision had real legs and merited new technology, fulfilment and logistics capabilities to keep its snowballing customer base content. This was also the moment that Andy’s curious team started exploring new product avenues (pasta, pizza, preserves & truffles) to further broaden their appeal.
THE WHEELS COME OFF: Yet, like any well-balanced story, this is not a one-dimensional diatribe of unmitigated success because that would be neither a good read or an honest account of a business that was in serious danger of over-stretching itself.
Andy had already experienced 1st snippet of bad news at the beginning of the pandemic when one ‘more than interested’ bricks & mortar multiple decided out-of-the-blue that these unchartered times was not the right moment to experiment with new cutting-edge food ranges.
Initially Andy was frustrated but not unperturbed because the business’s B2C fan base was still gathering pace as growing numbers of healthier living souls took to surfing the internet for new eating experiences.
CASHFLOW: The kryptonite of so many aspiring, over-reaching businesses was now starting to bite. ‘I certainly wasn’t the only wet by the ears entrepreneur not to fully appreciate our ballooning overdependence on B2C,’ admits Andy, ‘because like so many of my food & drink peers I perhaps hadn’t fully appreciated the transitory nature of our evolving fan base or the possibility of an online shift as the world slowly returned to normal. We literally went from our best ever month to being in a position that we couldn’t pay bills or wages. Out of nowhere our e-commerce revenues slid by 32% at the same moment our longer-term investment commitments were peaking.
Fortunately this was the same moment I discovered that I had the right team behind me. I had earlier decided to step up and fill the financial void but such a move wasn’t without consequence as I lapsed into a period of depression, medication…… But my team stuck with me, joined me in burning the midnight oil and ensured that our business survived the storm. Today, many months on, I can look forwards and appreciate that Seriously Low Carb might well turn out to be my most inspired business decision but there were countless dark moments when I feared that I might once again slip back into the murky shadows that had plagued the latter months of my corporate career.’
SO WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Fundamentally we’re in a great space! We’ve forged an enviable reputation as a low carb pioneer in a vibrant food space (fastest growing keto low carb bread Co in UK/own Amazon’s fresh bakery slot), we have access to an ardent 250,000 strong consumer base that continues to swell on a weekly basis and we have ever-growing numbers of prominent retailers and foodservice operators who want to talk to us. Perhaps most excitingly of all, we’re currently enjoying incredible success, embracing increasingly indulgent lines most notably our ‘to die for’ pizzas, which is incredible because it acknowledges that food must also be fun and capture the heart whatever your personal dietary leanings.
Now here’s a great stat: there’s more protein in our pizza bases than steak
IN CONCLUSION: It’s true that the leading drivers for consumers to adopt a keto diet/track us down is a heartfelt commitment to lose weight (80%) coupled with an overlapping desire to tackle Diabetes Type 2 but keto is so much more than diet, it’s nutritional psychiatry, with growing numbers of studies outlining how keto has helped tackled depression, bi-polar, Parkinson’s, epilepsy….
‘Keto certainly isn’t a fly-by-night fad, (the NHS now employs 40+ ketogenic clinicians) it’s an ambitious food movement that’s currently tracking as the No.1 global food trend AND YET, here we are, a small, fiercely independent business from Hertfordshire fighting our corner in the eye of a truly exciting storm!’