Start-Up Stories – Purely Plantain Chips
The snacking sector is bursting with innovation. New, delicious, products are cropping up everywhere from big names to start-ups. A business at the forefront of this is Purely Plantain Chips. This time we spoke to Stefania Pellegrino, the founder of Purely to see what she had to say about a branding, culture and more…
So, what are Purely Plantain Chips? What’s your mission?
I’m Stef, and I started Purely. It’s my mission to make the world less boring, one bite at a time. I’m here to push you out of your comfort zone, get you to embrace different cultures and be more adventurous. The world is full of flavours – you should try them all!
My journey of delicious discovery started in Southern Italy – a country famous for wonderful food. I was born in Apulia in a little town called Mesagne. I grew up with sea and sunshine, surrounded by my family and eating lots of wonderful, home-cooked meals. But the world was calling me. I felt an irresistible urge to explore every corner of the globe. My travels took me to places far and wide. But I lost my heart to South America. I loved everything about it – and I still do. The vibrant lifestyle, natural beauty, the positive, friendly people – and, of course, the mind-blowingly good food. My time in Ecuador changed my life – and my way of eating – forever. Ecuadorian cuisine is tasty, healthy and packed with flavour. I knew I had to bring a big slice of it home with me, to my new life in England.
“The next thing I knew, I was starting a business, along with my equally food-crazy friend, Mark. Scary times! But our sense of adventure helped us take the leap.”
Did you have any FMCG experience before starting the business, or was this a new avenue for you?
No. I had no idea how to get it started. It was a completely different avenue for me after 3 years in the import/export in the Fresh produce business. It was a completely different world, a lot to learn. Exciting though!
What would you say is the most valuable skill to have when setting up your own business?
One? I believe it’s a good combination of qualities. I think without ambition tough it’s hard to start or even think to go anywhere. And you need drive, passion, persistence, strategy and creativity to move forward. There are quite a few moments when you think you want to give up and that’s where you need to look at that big vision.
How important is it to establish a brand before bringing a product to market?
I think it depends what’s the vision for the product is. If you’re trying to build a brand lead business, it’s essential. Lots of people make great food and drink products but translating them into a great brand and create a dynamic where people buy into your mission, it’s a different game. With Purely, we want to leave a legacy, we want to make the world less boring by bringing exciting stuff from around the world and we don’t want boring people around us.
What’s the culture like at Purely Plantain Chips? What do you want it to be like in 5 years’ time?
At Purely, we are all enthusiastic food-lovers. We believe that food is a pleasure, so we are all obsessed with our desire to try all the flavours of the world and share them with others. Our culture is vibrant, fun and positive. It’s a place of endless curiosity about the world and a true love of great food. We are adventurous people who don’t do boring!
In five years, I will have made the lunchboxes of Britain a little less boring!
“I want to push people out of their comfort zone and get everyone to embrace different cultures and be more adventurous when it comes to food.”
We will still be travelling the world, discovering incredible new flavours and bringing a big slice of all that deliciousness back to the UK. But of course, it’s not just about Britain. Purely is a global food revolution! We can’t wait to explore more and more countries in our never-ending search for fantastic new flavours – and we will get snack-lovers across Europe and beyond trying something new and breaking away from their boring old food routines.
If you could have a celebrity advocate for the brand who would it be?
1. Adventurer Bear Grylls for his curious spirit and desire to explore our endlessly surprising planet – and plantain chips would make a delicious change from his usual cuisine!
2. Traveller Simon Reeve, because of his passion to discover the beauty and spirit of every country – and our plantain chips would fit easily into his ever-present backpack
Describe Purely Plantain Chips in 3 words…
Surprising, adventurous, delicious
Where can people find your tasty products?
We are currently stocked in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason as well as Planet Organic, As Nature Intended and Ocado (live in few weeks’ time) plus a number of independent chains around the country (more than 100). We have also started to export into Switzerland, Emirates, Germany & Hong Kong and we can’t wait to get into more places.
What’s next for Purely Plantain Chips?
We want to take the plantains chips mainstream so the launch into a bigger multiple will probably be one of the next big steps for Purely. We are planning to expand the range with 3 unique flavours over the next 6 months and adding some new exciting products to the range. We can’t wait!