Life as a start-up

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Independent drinks brand Flawsome! tells its start-up story. Credit: Getty/andresr
Independent drinks brand Flawsome! tells its start-up story. Credit: Getty/andresr

Related tags Business Product launches Beverages Health Food waste

In this exclusive Q&A, the founders of ‘wonky’ drink company Flawsome! disclose the ups and downs of their journey, how it all began and what’s next.

Q. Tell us about Flawsome! and how you got started

Let us introduce ourselves — I’m Karina Sudenyte. Along with my partner, Maciek, we put a lot of love into everything we do, from our family to our wonky company. In 2018, we started our independent juice brand Flawsome! to transform perfectly imperfect fruit into delicious drinks for everyone to enjoy. As advocates for preventing food waste, we wanted a tastier way to enjoy surplus fruit. Today, we craft over 16+ products — and we're just getting started.

At Flawsome!, we believe in making the world a better place, one drink at a time. That's why we started using "wonky" fruits to create our delicious drinks. After all, why waste perfectly good produce just because it doesn't look "perfect"?

We were inspired by our childhood memories of making homemade treats from the fruit they picked in our nans’ gardens. We put that same love and care into our company.

We started Flawsome! while we were still in university with just £800. Soon afterwards, we welcomed our twin daughters. Needless to say, it’s been a challenge — but we wouldn’t change a thing.

Our cold-pressed juices, sparkling juices, and health shots are not only delicious and packed with flavour, they're also healthy, sustainable, vegan, and gluten-free. We make sure to be fair to farmers by using surplus produce. Oh, and we don't add any sugar because the natural sweetness of fruit is all we need.

Q. Have you got any tips for entrepreneurs wanting to establish a F&B business?

Our advice would be to start with a clear mission. We knew that we wanted to reduce food waste and our values grew out of that vision. Once you have key pillars for your business, you can decide on your goals. For example, we chose our packaging and materials based on our sustainable values. We also decided to go B Corp​ as part of this journey. As long as you stay true to your core mission, you can better adapt to other challenges.

Relationships are essential to a successful food and drink business, from sourcing to distributors. We developed close relationships with our farmers, which allows us to create a unique, cost-effective product. Building a team you can trust is also important. A shared vision will always be better than a fragmented one.

Q. What’s been the most challenging thing to date in running a business?

For any new business, building trust among distributors and customers is always a delicate balance. The key is to get your product into their hands — once they taste how delicious our juices are, they can better see our vision and are more likely to support our aims.

Q. What has been your greatest achievement?

As a couple, our daughters will always be our greatest achievement. Other than becoming a B Corp, our greatest business success was securing contracts with big distributors. It took several years to achieve, but that just made the accomplishment feel even better. We’re also incredibly proud of all the Great Taste Awards we’ve earned.

Q. What does your role and a typical day encompass?

Mornings set the stage for a delicate juggling act as I embrace my role as a mother to twin girls. The alarm clock often competes with their playful pitter-patter, marking the start of a busy day. Amid this bustling rhythm, I tackle a whirlwind of tasks before stepping into my role as chief marketing officer (CMO).

Karina and family on the farm

In collaborative meetings, my close partnership with the team ensures our marketing strategies seamlessly align with our overarching business objectives. Contributing creative ideas to our marketing materials is a personal joy, and I dedicate time to engage with external partners like agencies and collaborators. My decision-making process is deeply informed by data analysis, and I maintain a vigilant watch on industry trends that play a pivotal role in our success. Adaptability is a trait I cherish, particularly when navigating unforeseen challenges.

As the day winds down, I pause to reflect on our achievements, identify pending tasks, and prepare for tomorrow's endeavours. This daily rhythm underscores the rich diversity of my role as a CMO, where I drive both our marketing endeavours and the broader growth of our business. What truly makes this journey remarkable is how my role as a working mother beautifully intertwines with my responsibilities. The flexible schedule allows me to embrace precious moments with my girls, often extending my work into the evenings. While this balance tests me, it's our shared mission that fortifies my resolve. With daily motivation, I gracefully navigate the intricate dance of being both a devoted CMO and a loving mother.

Q. Tell us about some of your products and how they’re made

We just launched our Wonky Fruit Water kids cartons, which are crafted with wonky fruit and spring water. We collect surplus and wonky fruit from our local farmers and quickly cold-press it into juice. We add it to spring water and fill up our cartons with juicy goodness. We then add a paper straw and paper wrapper (the first of its kind for kids in the UK!) and distribute them to our wholesale partners.

Flawsome's wonky fruit water

From the beginning, we’ve always believed that wonky fruit tastes just as good as ‘perfect’ fruit. We cold-press our juices and never add sugar or sweeteners, why would we? Flavour is our main selling point — our excellent sustainability credentials are a bonus. By saving wonky fruit and donating to carbon offset projects, we have a negative carbon footprint.

Over the years, Flawsome! has built relationships with local farmers that ensure they are fairly paid for their surplus produce. We transform their wonky fruit into delicious, cold-pressed juices that everyone can enjoy. Every year, we look for new ways to prevent food waste and trade in a sustainable way.

Q. What plans for growth do you have in the future?

 We have plans to further expand our wholesale business by specifically targeting restaurants and leisure centres. We’ve always been ahead of the curve with regard to avoiding sweeteners and using wonky fruit, so we’re in the perfect position to target a conscious consumer base.

By 2026, our aim is to save over 20,000 tonnes of wonky and surplus fruit, making a significant impact on reducing food waste. We strive to become the top sustainable juice brand in UK foodservice and the fastest-growing healthy soft drinks brand in schools nationwide. Together, we're driving positive change, one wonky fruit at a time.

STOP! Are you a start-up? New for 2024's Food Manufacturer Excellence Awards is our emerging business category! You can find out more about this award here, as well as all our other categories up for grabs.

Enter now for free at foodmanawards.co.uk​. 

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