As the president and owner of Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter company, Kimmi Wernli noticed a snacking trend and took one of her family’s favorite recipes and launched a new product. Wholly Rollies™ all natural, frozen protein balls are available through e-commerce, sold at retailers nationwide and will soon be in the freezer case at more than 3000 Walmart stores.
Ryan Lepicier, the National Peanut Board’s Chief Marketing Officer, explores innovation with food entrepreneur and brand owner Kimmi Wernli.
Ryan: Wholly Rollies™ were born out of your role as mom to four children. Your home kitchen recipe was a favorite in your family and among friends. What led you to take the leap and figure out how to launch a new product for Crazy Richards?
Kimmi: My kids loved it whenever I would make these peanut butter protein balls at home. By the time I had finished making a batch, my kids were circling me like hungry vultures and they were gone in seconds! And then I was left with a sticky, messy kitchen and hardly anything to show for it. Not my favorite. I knew there had to be other moms who were looking for easy and nutritious snacks for their families, but like me didn't have the time to make them or to clean a sticky kitchen.
Ryan: As the second-generation owner of your family business you know peanut butter. I’m sure a completely different kind of product was a challenge to develop and launch. What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome?
Kimmi: The peanut butter category which we had a long history with, was beginning to explode and I knew that we would need to branch into a new category to stay relevant. But, I also knew that we would need to stick with our core clean food principles and product - peanut butter. I had a great idea for Wholly Rollies™ and a ‘crowd pleaser’ homemade recipe, but I didn't really know where to go after that. So, I reached out to the National Peanut Board and pitched my idea and luckily they believed in the concept and agreed to fund the recipe development with an extraordinary food scientist. With the incredible collaboration, we were able to take this scalable recipe and begin to source ingredients and search for a manufacturer. It was so exciting!
Ryan: E-commerce is relatively new to your business for all of your products. How did e-commerce play a role in this successful product launch?
Kimmi: It’s huge and is continually evolving for Crazy Richard’s. When I took over the company from my father, I knew that establishing a presence online and creating an e-commerce platform would be important for the future growth of our company. We focused on organically growing our digital platform and establishing solid and authentic relationships with our customers and social media influencers. When we launched Wholly Rollies™, we were able to tap into a large, national network of influencers and super fans to help spread awareness and generate initial interest and sales. We gained important feedback and candid reviews which we were able to repurpose to further the reach to more customers.
Ryan: In 2019 Wholly Rollies™ won the Nexty Award for Best New Frozen Product at the Natural
Products Expo East. What do you think makes Wholly Rollies™ so appealing?
Kimmi: I think people are tired of bars. They want new and innovative snacks not the same old same old. I also believe that the clean ingredient list in Wholly Rollies™ makes them appealing at first, but then they actually taste really good so that helps too. Our goal at Crazy Richard's is to provide great tasting, high quality products that are affordable and accessible. It's difficult to find many products in the natural foods industry that can actually meet this combination of high standards.
Ryan: What advice would you offer other entrepreneurs in their product development journey?
Kimmi: Seek out the advice and help of experts in your field or a similar field. There is a lot of free information out there if you search and there are wonderful people who have been there before who would be willing to help if you sincerely ask. Don't ever be afraid to ask a question or admit that you don't have all of the answers. Instead, be humble and grateful and ask all the questions!