In Her Own Words: Selling energy balls online propels Kate Flynn's business – Bizwomen – The Business Journals

Ellen Sherberg, Bizwomen Contributor
Jan 12, 2022, 9:19am EST Updated: Jan 12, 2022, 9:44am EST
Photo submitted by Kate Flynn
Kate Flynn, CEO & Co-Founder, Sun & Swell, Ventura, California

As Omnicron continues to spread all over the country, women look for ways to stay healthy. Kate Flynn’s sustainable food business flourished during the pandemic but it took some time.
“I founded Sun & Swell in 2017 with a mission of making healthier, sustainable food more accessible. Our wholesale business took off quickly after we launched, and our organic, plant-based energy balls (our first product) could be found anywhere from coffee shops to fitness studios to corporate offices. We were excited about the momentum and trajectory for our brand as we entered 2020.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, things took a major turn as most of the wholesale accounts we sold through closed temporarily. Not only did we lose 75% of our wholesale business overnight, but I was also 6 months pregnant with my first child due in June. So we had a short amount of time before my daughter was born to figure out how we were going to pivot and keep our business going in a dramatically different world.
We immediately turned our focus towards building out our ecommerce presence. We had been wanting to do this prior to Covid, but never had the time since our wholesale business was growing so fast. Covid created space for us to finally do that. In addition to selling the energy balls we sold through wholesale on our website, we also were hearing from our customers that they wanted even more from us — more healthy, fresh, sustainable foods. So we started selling the raw ingredients that we used to make our energy balls (cashews, dates, oats). What makes these products truly unique when we sell them (vs. what you’d find in a typical grocery store) is that most of them are sourced directly from U.S. farms, thus super fresh (and delicious!). Also, we package them in plastic-free (compostable) bags, offering a more sustainable alternative than foods you typically find in grocery stores wrapped in plastic.
We quickly saw our online business take off, and we slowly started to add even more healthy and organic pantry staples to our offerings (organic dried fruits, nuts, grains etc), so that we could give our customers the option to stock their entire pantry with healthy, farm-fresh, plastic-free foods.
While we were originally worried about what would happen when the pandemic hit, we quickly realized it was a blessing in disguise for our business. It gave us the freedom to build out our online business, which is now flourishing, and to expand our product assortment, which allows us to make an even greater impact.
I am a firm believer in the fact that the universe has a plan for each of us, and that every setback is truly just a stepping stone to point you in the right direction for where you are meant to be. To me, this is another perfect example of that holding true. The business shifts we endured because of Covid, while not easy by any means, helped our business blossom and allow us to make an even greater impact in creating a healthier, more sustainable food system.”
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