“It’s always been a small business and it’s always been cashflow,” said Crowther. “That was always an eternal challenge and it still continues to be a challenge as we grow – it’s always there at the back of your mind.
“We’re self-funded, we’ve never taken any investment, so that’s always been there as a challenge and I think for anybody starting out in business that’s always a great challenge.”
However, the decision to remain self-funded wasn’t always on the cards. Crowther had always planned to seek investment, but challenges in the wider world put those plans on hold.
“About three years’ ago we said, ‘okay, we’re really at a great point in the business and we’re ready to start looking at angel investment or a way to fundraise’,” she continued.
“Then we had the past 18 months of huge challenges, so we went back to the drawing board to find our way through the challenges that were coming at us thick and fast – like most businesses and individuals. We realised we needed to get to the next level, market us in an appropriate way and look for investment. That’s something that’s on the cards now.”
While confident that her business will receive to investment it seeks in the future, Crowther wasn’t content to rest on her laurels. To this end, she planned to keep pushing ahead by capturing the untapped potential of the confectionery sector.
“We’ve never fought for the same space as others in confectionery, we’ve always believed we can do ‘something else’. We don’t all have to fight for the same space,” Crowther continued.
Flower and White’s focus on new product development and tackling a corner of the market that has remained largely untouched by other players has allowed Crowther and her team to expand their plant-based offering as well.
Already keenly versed with the potential of plant-based thanks to the recent launch of Flower and White’s vegan meringue bars, she advised businesses to not pass it off as just another fad.
“I think we have to pay attention to [plant-based],” she added. “When we look at the vegan opportunity, if the product is right and delivers on the taste, indulgence and contains no ‘nasties’, it is for everybody – it’s not just a product for vegans. It shouldn’t make a difference what the product is made up from.
“Vegan can’t be ignored and it’s definitely something we will continue to try to innovate in.”
The commitment to more vegan products in the future also plaid into Flower and White’s sustainability strategy.
As Crowther explained: “We try to do everything we possibly can within the business to tread lightly on the planet – whether that’s recycling packing that’s sent in to us and reusing that, we use paper packaging for all of our bars and pouch products.”
Crowther also offered some words of wisdom for entrepreneurs trying to make their way in the food and drink industry – especially against a backdrop of COVID-19 and Brexit.
“You’ve got to write the plan and scrutinise the plan,” said Crowther. “We hear a lot of people telling us they’re going to start a business, and I think that unless you’re crystal clear your idea really does have legs and you’ve tested that with people in the industry already, don’t give up the day job straight away.
“With COVID, it’s more important than ever to be crystal clear on what the costs are ...and the rising costs coming out way – whether they be transportation, packaging, ingredients, labour – it’s coming from all different directions.
“One key bit of advice I’d give is to get a mentor, someone you can run your ideas by to make sure you’ve completely bomb proofed your idea before you put your life savings into something that may be priced incorrectly for the market as it stands currently.”