Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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A DOUGH-se of Slender Seven

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 9:55 pm

Exciting news! Slender Seven’s cookie dough is now officially in 13 stores in the DC area! This is a great improvement for the company considering we were in just 9 stores at the start of the summer. This is evidence of just how fast successes and failures can come your way in the entrepreneurial food industry. As Slender Seven hopes to continue to expand Nikki has to start thinking of ways in which she can keep up with the production rate. About 3 to 4 days a week Nikki and I are in the kitchen making the product ourselves. Clearly, as production increases this will not be an effective means of making the cookie dough. Therefore, we are starting to acquire some knowledge regarding co-packaging as we know this will be a step in the company’s near future. Dipping into the co-packing industry is an exciting and nerve racking step. Nikki will have to relinquish the production of her cookie dough to other individuals. Moreover, Nikki’s time is inevitably more valuable outside the kitchen. Therefore, this would be a very exciting step for Nikki as she would be able to have more time to market her product and manage her company outside of the kitchen.

Despite Slender Seven’s expansions to more stores, we experienced a fairly low sales month in June. Looking back at sales, they were almost half the sales during May. Nikki and I both realized that, as a start up, if you are not on top of your game every week than it is very easy to fall behind. To compensate for June’s sales we have started doubling the about of demos which we do. As a company, we are putting a lot of effort in having more of a presence in the stores which we are sold and to engage more with our customers. Through the company’s many ups and downs this summer I have learned that these come hand in hand with being an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur I believe that you have to be fearless and willing to take major risks. Stability is not something which is found in the entrepreneurial world and in order to be successful in the business this has to be accepted.

Slender Seven SUCCESS!

Friday, July 10, 2015 3:00 pm

It has been an exciting week for Slender Seven and a lot of progress has been made. One of my main goals this summer has been to increase Slender Seven’s social media presence. In order to accomplish this goal I have been continuously reaching out to popular food bloggers and instagrammers to see if they would be interested in promoting our product. In addition, I have been contacting relevant food brands, which closely align with Slender Seven’s philosophy, in order to gauge interest in a cross promotion or recipe collaboration. This project has opened my eyes to the ins and outs of the food start up industry. I was amazed at how many healthy and gluten free food brands there are and at how willing each company and entrepreneur is to help each other. I have also learned about the importance of a social media presence and how effective social media is at generating buzz about companies and products.

Another summer goal for Slender Seven is to start shipping our cookie dough! There has been a lot of demand for this as people are interested in trying the dough but do not have access to purchase it (since we are only sold in the DC area). Nikki and I had some initial trouble with the shipping process because it is difficult to ship a perishable product that needs refrigerating. After some test trials, we are hoping to open up a pre-order for shipment within the next couple weeks! Shipping our product is yet another way to generate more revenue and increase the popularity of our product across the country.

For the past two weeks Nikki and I have been working hard to get our product in more stores; this week it finally happened! After some research and the exchange of multiple emails, South Block Juice Co., a micro juicery in Arlington, VA said they wanted to sell our product in their store. We are continuing to think outside the box and find stores, like South Block Juice Co., to sell our product and help us increase sales! In addition, Whole Food has reached out to us and asked us to sell our product in two of their locations in the DC area. Nikki and I are very proud about the progress which we have made and hope to hit even more shelves by the end of August!

 

 

Slender Seven’s Journey!

Thursday, July 2, 2015 4:13 pm

CEO, Nikki Azzara, started Slender Seven in her dorm room at Wake Forest University in 2013. Nikki’s love for food and enthusiasm for health and fitness both inspired her to launch the Slender Seven website. Slender Seven began as an online cookbook which Nikki used as a way to share her favorite healthy recipes. Upon completion of an entrepreneurship class and a degree in marketing from Wake Forest’s School of Business, Nikki decided to launch Slender Seven as a site featuring various recipes including seven ingredients or less. The recipes included on Slender Seven’s website provide simple ways to eat clean and maintain a healthy lifestyle. During the summer of 2014 Nikki launched the Slender Seven App as an extension of slenderseven.com. Nikki received help and ideas from friends and family and created the app to function as an aid in healthy grocery shopping and cooking skills. Effective marketing strategies and creative recipes both contributed to the growth of a loyal Slender Seven fan base. Following the craze of black bean brownies, Nikki was inspired to incorporate chick peas into the mix. Friends and family surprisingly enjoyed Nikki’s chick pea cookies and she began baking them for various occasions. One day in the kitchen, during August 2014, Nikki realized that a healthy and eggless cookie dough (with no gluten, flour, dairy, soy, or peanuts) did not exist. After testing her product, as raw dough and baked cookies, Nikki received overwhelmingly positive feedback and was inspired to launch Slender Sevens first retail product! In order to raise funds for her cookie dough Nikki began a Tilt campaign. The campaign raised almost $10,000 which provided Nikki with enough funds to continue her endeavor. In the blink of an eye Nikki was moving into Union Kitchen, in January 2015, where she is located to this day. After a little time in Union Kitchen, the cookie dough finally hit the shelves of nine stores in the DC area. The demand for Slender Seven’s cookie dough is only growing as Nikki and I work together to expand to more stores and cities in the US.

Nikki faced various complications and road blocks throughout Slender Seven’s growth and introduction into the retail market. In the beginning Nikki had to come face to face with deciding whether beginning her own company was something she passionately wanted to pursue. Ultimately, Nikki’s passion for food, a healthy lifestyle, and the support of her parents lead her to pursue Slender Seven as a full time job. During my time here at Slender Seven I have learned that something new comes your way on a daily basis. For example, Nikki had to overcome packaging issues only weeks after the cookie dough finally hit the shelves. While checking on the cookie dough in the stores Nikki realized that a packaging problem had caused the dough to mold and to have a shorter shelf life than expected. Once Nikki realized this problem she had to take all her dough off the shelves of each individual store. Nikki was able to solve the problem before a bigger one arose and now uses a different and more successful packaging system. It seems as if growing pains come hand in hand with being an entrepreneur. I believe that the ability to handle and learn from these experiences lead to steps in the direction of a successful company!

CEO, Nikki Azzara, sampling at the first Yes! Organic Market.

CEO, Nikki Azzara, sampling at the first Yes! Organic Market.

Spreading the Slender Seven Love!

Monday, June 22, 2015 7:17 pm

Slender Seven was started by Nikki Azzara during her senior year at Wake Forest. She created a website and app which includes over 550 recipes using 7 ingredients or less. Nikki is a major foodie and health/exercise nut. She is always in the kitchen creating new, unique, and healthy recipes. Currently, I am the only employee working for Nikki. Consequentially, this ends up being extremely beneficial since I get to work right by Nikki’s side everyday! Working in the food and start-up industry causes us to face new obstacles on a daily basis. We work together to problem solve and come up with efficient solutions along the way. Being able to work by Nikki’s side gives me the opportunity to learn in a hands-on environment and to experience the ins and outs of how she runs her business! Nikki is the definition of a #GIRLBOSS. Her work ethic, commitment, and innovation are all very inspiring!

Slender Seven works out of a culinary incubator, called Union Kitchen. Union Kitchen houses about 55 other food start up companies (including Swizzler, a fellow Wake Forest Alum company!) The kitchen provides a very supportive community. Each entrepreneur is very willing to share ideas and lend a helping hand.

Currently, our main missions at Slender Seven are to expand our cookie dough product to more stores and to increase cookie dough sales. We are working on coming up with potential new distributors. In addition we are creating a contact list of various retail stores, exercise studios, and bakery’s (who align with our motto) to do an event/collaboration with. Creating a partnership with other businesses requires a lot of communication. Each day we are coming up with new ideas and are continuously thinking of how to expand our business. To aid in the increase of our sales I have been hosting demos. These demos take place in the Yes! Organic Markets in which we are sold. During the demos I offer cookie dough samples and converse with the consumers (in the hopes of selling the product!) In addition, Nikki and I are working to increase our social media presence. Our goal is to better promote our lifestyle brand through an increased social media following. In addition, a greater social media presence can help increase cookie dough sales by continuing to spread the word. In order to accomplish this goal, I am on social media on a daily basis. I research health and wellness brands and reach out to them in order to gauge interest in a co-sponsorship or even to pick their brains about their company!

During week two of my internship at Seven I began my first individual project. I was assigned to spearhead a Brand Ambassador program in order to promote brand awareness and spread Slender Seven love. To get the ball rolling I had to make a contact list. The contact list consisted of those who are enthusiastic about Slender Seven, believe in the brand, embody the philosophy: “Cook simply, eat healthy & feel happy,” are passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, and are active and proficient on numerous social media networks. In addition, I reached out to loyal Slender Seven followers through many social media outlets. Those who were interested were able to apply to become a Brand Ambassador through our website and newsletter. Slender Seven now has an official group of Brand Ambassadors and I am currently working on coming up with creative and productive responsibilities for the Brand Ambassadors to fulfill. Nikki and I came up with the first task for the Brand Ambassadors. We asked the Brand Ambassadors to incorporate the Slender Seven motto into their everyday life. Whether it be cooking, exercising, traveling or simply enjoying the summer sun. They were asked to share the Slender Seven love by posting an Instagram photo with the hashtag #aslendersummer. Ideas for possible Instagram photos included rocking the Slender Seven logo, adventuring in the summer sun, or making a Slender Seven dish.

Each day at Slender Seven is a new adventure! It is very exciting and promising to see the companies growth that has occurred just over my first two weeks. I am very optimistic about Slender Seven’s potential and the rest of my summer internship!

“Cook Simply, Eat Healthy, & Feel Happy”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 9:09 pm

This summer I am interning for an entrepreneurial food start up, called Slender Seven! Our philosophy is “Cook Simply, Eat Healthy, & Feel Happy.” We create healthy recipes using seven ingredients or less and just recently launched a healthy and eggless cookie dough, which is being sold at nine stores in the DC area. We strive to promote a healthy lifestyle to all of our followers which can be achieved through the foods which we put into our body. Slender Seven’s philosophy is one that aligns closely to my lifestyle. I am a major foodie and truly believe that eating and exercise habits can have a true impact on happiness. I have been given the privilege to work for a Wake Forest alumni, Nikki Azzara. Nikki began Slender Seven during her senior year at Wake and upon graduation she decided to take the idea into action and make it her full time job.

Building a successful start up company requires creativity, innovation, and determination. The environment is extremely fast-paced and my responsibilities and tasks change on a daily basis. Flexibility and quick thinking are two skills which have to frequently be put into action. I am currently in the midst of spearheading a brand ambassador program in order to spread Slender Seven love and help increase brand awareness. Over the weekend Nikki and I worked a booth at the Green Festival in Washington, DC. At the Green Festival we sampled and sold our cookie dough. The festival served as a great learning experience where I was able to learn how to successfully pitch our product and gauge the consumer’s reaction in order to individualize each pitch. I will be hosting demos of the cookie dough on a weekly basis. At these demos I will be marketing the cookie dough and interacting with the consumers. In addition, we are working on establishing companies in order to do co-promotions with. I believe that reaching out and establishing relationships with potential co-promoters is going to be a beneficial learning experience. Moreover, the endless responsibilities which align with creating a successful start-up- developing marketing strategies, brand awareness, website design, etc- are all skills which I wish to develop and improve throughout my internship.

As we dive deeper into the summer I am overwhelming excited for what is to come for Slender Seven. We are continuing to spread the word and hope that our cookie dough hits the shelves of more stores in the weeks to come!

Slender Seven set-up during a demo in Union Kitchen Grocery Store.

 

Slender Seven set-up during a demo in Union Kitchen Grocery Store.

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