Claudi & Fin
1st May 2016
Founder: Lucy Woodhouse and Meriel Kehoe
Inspired by a trip to New York, Claudi & Fin began on the kitchen table. 1.25 million frozen yogurt lollies have now been sold.
It was a trip to New York that started Lucy Woodhouse and Meriel Kehoe on the journey to frozen yogurt success. “When I got back from the U.S., I stood in a supermarket aisle and wondered why there were no frozen yogurt options and that’s where the idea came from — wanting to create something new, something different”, she says. That was in 2012. Four years later, Claudi & Fin Greek-style frozen yogurt lollies are available across the UK in more than 1200 stores, with more than 1.25 million lollies sold to date.
That’s where the idea came from — wanting to create something new, something different
Lucy and Meriel began testing out recipes in their own kitchens, pouring yogurt and fruit compote into shot glasses and freezing them. Starting the business at home gave them extra time and the flexibility to look after their children and chief taste testers, Claudia and Fin. It also eased the financial pressure – particularly vital in the early days – “We had every belief that Claudi & Fin would work but we didn’t want to put any more pressure on ourselves than we needed to”, she says. It was only when the business got bigger – two years after it was started – that Claudi & Fin felt the impetus to move out of home and into an office.
Lucy met her business partner at their children’s playgroup: “We share a passion for great tasting food and we both have backgrounds that were indispensable in the early days.” Mine was marketing and branding and Meriel worked as a TV producer and director.
The original plan was to grow organically, make local contacts and begin selling at farmers’ markets. However, on a whim, Claudi & Fin entered a Sainsbury’s competition and soon made it to the final round, where they were invited to pitch to the supermarket’s buyers. Success at the pitch led to a first order of 16,000 multipacks, which only left the team from September to May to make the necessary changes: “We needed to find a factory, tweak the recipe, tweak the box and even rebrand the name after a copyright challenge”, Lucy recalls.
After successfully fulfilling the order, Claudi & Fin moved out of their London base – a city home can only fit so many freezers. Lucy says the product’s success since the initial Sainsbury’s order is partly down to wider-market trends, “Claudi & Fin has less sugar and lower calories than most lollies on the market so it addresses a lot of issues — the sugar debate and the children’s nutrition among them — that aren’t going away any time soon. We are filling shelf space that was not there five to ten years ago.”
Looking back on her home business journey, Lucy says that they regret trying to do too much themselves at the beginning. “You can get so stuck in the trenches during the early days that you become overly focused on keeping lean and fail to bring in the right people as a result.” She emphasises the importance of getting out and about as a home business owner: “you can go the whole day without speaking to anyone and not even realise.” Her advice is to take a step back and look at all the sources of help on offer, from freelancers to outsourcing. “Do your research and you can tap into a really talented pool of people. They want to keep their clients happy so you get a great service from them.”
Stocked in major retailers and with new products on the way, Lucy is feeling optimistic about the future. “Believe in your product”, Lucy insists, “Parts of the journey will be unexpected, some challenging and maybe even scary – but if you have that belief then you will convince others, you will succeed and you will love it.”