How We Started a Flavoured
Butter Brand Whipped with Natural Ingredients
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Alice: We’re Alice and Selina Krespi, sisters-in-law and butter enthusiasts! For sisters-in-law we’re really close, having lived together in 2014-15. For some, the idea of working with in-laws makes them curl up in fear, but for us, it works! We love working on the business together and our different career experience and skills complement each other.
Selina’s background is in finance, mine is in food. Selina’s idea to launch a flavoured butter business has been bubbling inside her for years. From early on Selina told me all about her ideas, plans, and early journey. As soon as the time was right, I came on board in Spring 2019. It was then we founded and launched Posh Cow together.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
Alice: Selina studied Maths and has a career in finance, where she works as a fixed income trader. I studied History of Art and err on the more creative side. I have worked in food for my career, on varying sides of the industry – as a chef and as an account manager, working with supermarkets & retail businesses. We both work on Posh Cow as a side hustle but one day would love to make it our full-time careers.
Selina: In terms of where the idea came from, Posh Cow started from a love of butter. I used to have butter on toast with some kind of condiment every day for breakfast. It would usually feature as a mid-afternoon snack on most days for me too. That’s where the seed was planted – thinking how cool it would be to have an all in one product.
The more I thought about it the more I wondered why flavoured butter wasn’t a thing. It’s so versatile, so useful and really quite delicious. If I would ever go to Europe or Turkey (we’re both half Turkish), I would see that butter would feature much more as a staple on the table with all meals. In the UK, it felt like butter, for a while, had been forgotten as a product in itself and cast as a backup dancer in the food world.
So we created Posh Cow with 2 things in mind: first, to create a delicious product. Easy to use straight from the fridge as a quick snack or meal. Second to celebrate butter and bring it back to our tables at home.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
Selina: It was relatively tough and a very steep learning process to get to where we are today. As with any start-up, we had a lot of moments where it felt like it was one step forward, two steps back. Although Alice & I both have different, applicable experiences in business, neither of us could have anticipated what was needed to start something like this from scratch.
We were always conscious that as a small brand we would need to be scalable when the time came. This was hard to prepare for, as you almost need everything lined up at the same time. From recipes and suppliers to branding and all sorts of logistics. However, some things are co-dependent so it was hard to figure out where to start.
For example, scaling from kitchen to manufacturer posed a bit of a dead-end at first. Without large orders, it’s hard to engage with a manufacturer. At the same time, you can’t secure a large order if you’re still only producing on a small scale. In the end, we were really fortunate to find a manufacturer who took a risk and believed in us.
Our biggest hurdle, in general, has been finding the confidence to pick ourselves back up when faced with any setback, of which there have been a few! Our passion for the product and brand has ultimately been our saving grace.
Alice: From concept to prototype, it was a slightly slow process. Selina was working on the business alone, whilst juggling her job and the birth of her twins. Selina and I are close sisters-in-law, having lived together in 2014-2015. From the moment she told me she wanted to forge a flavoured butter business and foray into the food FMCG world, the industry in which I worked, I knew I wanted to join her. I came on board with Selina last spring and together we pushed forward with excitement and new momentum.
We soft-launched last summer with our website and social channels. We then reached out to various wholesalers and retailers but struggled to get cut through as a new brand and a niche product concept.
Our biggest hurdle, though, was taking it from small-scale kitchen to mass market. There aren’t many dairies or packers who were willing to work with flavoured butters in the UK. It’s hard, therefore, to engage a manufacturer when you don’t yet have orders from customers. When we met with our manufacturers, we knew straight away that they were the perfect partners for us. They believed in the product as much as we did, so we’re blessed to have their backing.
From there we were really lucky in that things started moving much more hastily. Marks and Spencer approached us via our manufacturers. This gave us the kick we needed to get it off the ground for an imminent launch. It was a steep hill to climb to get everything ready in a matter of weeks, but we’re ecstatic it happened so quickly after meeting M&S to launching in stores nationwide.
Who is your target market?
Butter is a household staple, and therefore Posh Cow is enjoyed by many. Millennials, mums & families, empty nesters, anyone really who loves butter on toast and is willing to try something new!
As our consumers are wide-reaching we have preferred to think about their behaviours and lifestyles rather than their demographics. Our product appeals to food lovers, as well as those looking for an easy hack in the kitchen or something to show off with pride on their table.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
As a start-up at the beginning of our journey, our budget has been small so we’ve had to get creative with our spend to reach the widest market. We have invested in 3 marketing routes:
- Press – we work with a PR freelancer. To coincide with our M&S nationwide launch we ran a 3-month campaign. She has been amazing in securing some fantastic features for us. We’ve featured in The Sunday Times, BBC Good Food, The Sun, The Independent, The Metro, Sheerluxe, Woman Magazine amongst others. See our press page for the full articles: https://www.poshcowdairy.com/press
- Social Media – this free tool is amazing as widening your community and reach. We have enjoyed getting creative and shooting photos for it, and being able to receive real-time feedback through Instagram and Facebook. We did some work with one of my old colleagues, Amie, who now works as a freelance marketer. She taught us so much about social media, connecting with your consumer community and content creation.
- Sampling – we distributed 4,500 samples at Liverpool Street Station in London to commuters on their way home. The aim was to get new customers trying our butters, seeing and hearing about our brand, and learning where to buy us as we also handed out a flyer. Selina and I were there handing out the samples in the pouring rain one Thursday for almost 3 hours. It was freezing but so worth it! We also worked with a sampling agency to help implement & sort logistics who were great – MG Promotions.
We would highly recommend those we have worked with on marketing, so happy to share contacts if you reach out on [email protected].
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
We work hard to ensure the quality of our products remains high and consistent so that customers continue to want to purchase and enjoy our butters. We take all feedback seriously and use this to improve and advance our products.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
At the moment it’s just the two of us, and we juggle Posh Cow around our careers and families. We chat daily on Whatsapp, email and the phone, and pre-COVID, in person on a weekly basis. We have a catch up at the beginning of each week about our priorities for the week ahead and then work on them separately or together when we both have time.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
- Microsoft Office for everything – Outlook, Excel, Powerpoint
- FreeAgent accounting software
- Whatsapp for daily communication
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
Selina: I first embarked on creating Posh Cow on my own, and whilst I got some distance in creating a product and brand, when it came to pulling the cord, I held back. It probably didn’t help that I had to take a little break to have twins in between! It wasn’t until Alice came on board that we actually launched the business, and started to get things in motion. If I could have done it differently, Alice & I would have teamed up a lot sooner.
It’s really easy to overthink everything in your business. On a personal level, I find that taking a step back every now and again really helps mentally. It also helps you come back with a refreshed view, on a business level too. It’s important to work with someone you trust and can be honest with too, especially when you need help with some of the pressures of the business. Alice and I are sisters-in-law and very close, so we work well to support each other.
Alice: If I wasn’t shackled by my monthly outgoings I would have dedicated more time to the business from the outset to get it moving more swiftly. As with so many founders of start-ups, it has been a process of juggling other jobs to pay my bills and invest my time into the business where I can. I’ve loved the variety so far, but as we grow Posh Cow I can’t wait to work on it solely and build out a team.
I’ve learnt to manage my own expectations better, remind myself how long things can take or how slow things can be at times. Reflecting on the small wins and tiny incremental gains or actions that move our business forward on a frequent basis, as well as keeping an eye on our long-term goals and plans. I try to always keep focused and not overwhelmed with a list of priorities to be working on. The satisfaction of ticking things off when they have been completed brings me joy.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Working on something you enjoy, believe in and want to succeed. We also love the freedom of running our own company and getting to decide where to take it and what next to do. Ultimately you are not implementing other people’s vision and dreams, but your own. And that is extremely satisfying and pleasurable!
You have to straddle every function of a business – accounting, marketing, sales, logistics. This can be challenging but is also so rewarding, and has meant that we’ve pushed ourselves to get to grips with so many facets of running a business that we just didn’t know about before!
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The fact that everything lands on your plate, and you are responsible and accountable for the entire business. It’s both a blessing and a challenge!
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
Before we took the plunge, we listened to various podcasts that piqued our interest and desire to up our own business. These included Good Foodies Podcast, How to Fail with Elizabeth Day and Talking Tastebuds, where those interviewed had followed their dreams and carved out a career that was totally unique or started a business.
We completed a business model canvas quite early on, which was incredibly thought-provoking, strategic and useful to guide us on where to prioritise our efforts, how to break into the industry and get our feet off the ground!
We also did some work on defining our consumers and used a tech user persona model which we adapted to suit our food product. This proved useful to try to understand our consumers better, motivations for buying our product, and therefore inform how we should speak to them in our marketing.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
Hopefully we have developed our product range further (We have plenty of ideas for this, bubbling away) I also hope that we have gained peoples trust, that we are and that we are profitable!!