In the most recent episode of the “Anything is Possible” podcast, Holly Moore sat down with Segun Akinwoleola, founder of The Gym Kitchen, a thriving FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) brand. The episode unveiled remarkable insights into the business, its commitment to diversity, and the challenges of being a black-owned brand in the industry. Here are the key takeaways from the conversation:
- Holistic Branding with a Focus on Diversity
Segun emphasised the importance of branding. The Gym Kitchen’s journey began with functional packaging that focused solely on nutritional information. However, they understood the need for a brand that transcended categories and spoke to a diverse audience. The tragic murder of George Floyd heightened their awareness of the lack of black-owned FMCG brands. As a result, they decided to make their brand super inclusive, featuring people from various backgrounds and incorporating diverse sports. This commitment to diversity went beyond visuals; it also included the use of colours to highlight nutritional information, making healthy living accessible and appealing to all.
- Challenges Faced by Black FMCG Founders
This episode sheds light on the unique challenges faced by black FMCG founders. Few black owned brands are listed in major retailers, and even fewer receive venture capital funding. The lack of diversity within the FMCG sector is a long-standing issue that traces back to a lack of generational wealth, investment, and networking opportunities within the community. Overcoming these challenges is a work in progress, and there’s a need for collective efforts to level the playing field.
- Initiatives to Promote Diversity
The founder discussed several initiatives and partnerships aimed at increasing diversity in the FMCG industry. Retailers like Tesco have launched a black action plan to create a more diverse shopping experience, including supporting black suppliers. Other retailers, such as Sainsbury’s, have introduced programmes like Thrive, which give black-owned businesses the opportunity to launch their brands in retail stores. Additionally, the Co-op has set up an incubator for small businesses with a commitment to diversity. Such initiatives are pivotal in addressing the inequality in the industry.
- Creating Purpose-Driven Brands
Segun’s journey to success was driven by a clear sense of purpose. The “Anything is Possible” podcast reinforces the notion that businesses with a purpose are the ones that stand out. The Gym Kitchen exemplifies this, as it’s not just about selling products; it’s about making a positive impact, creating authentic connections, and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
- Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
For those looking to embark on their entrepreneurial journey, Segun’s advice is to start by identifying your purpose. Understand what you want to achieve and how it aligns with your values. It’s about finding your passion and making connections with people who share that passion. Learn from those who have already paved the way, and don’t be afraid to create new opportunities and brands that address unmet needs in the market.
- The “Anything Is Possible” Attitude
The founder’s belief in the “anything is possible” mindset is a testament to their relentless pursuit of success. They advise against setting limitations on yourself and encourage embracing challenges as opportunities for growth. Despite setbacks, it’s the positive mindset that drives solutions and ultimately leads to achievements.
The story of The Gym Kitchen showcases the power of determination, purpose, and diversity in
building a successful FMCG brand. It’s a reminder that businesses can be both profitable and
meaningful, and that real change is possible through collective efforts and a commitment to