How Australian Entrepreneur Keira Rumble Gave The Health Food Industry A Much-Needed Flip

Here, she chats all things owning your own business and navigating the new world order

While the world of health foods is by no means new, it can be a daunting one to navigate. From products that sell themselves as *healthy* but don’t actually live up to the name, to a saturation of options in supermarkets that leave us scratching our heads, it can be a scary, and often confusing, one to dabble into. 

Which is where Australian entrepreneur Keira Rumble comes in. 

Almost a decade ago, after injury forced her to give up her career in professional skiing, Rumble turned to food and quickly found herself diagnosed as a pre-diabetic. On a mission to get back to her healthier lifestyle, she began studying nutrition (which is where she shockingly discovered most ‘healthy’ protein snacks contained the sugar equivalent of two cinnamon doughnuts) and quickly discovered a glaring gap in the market. 

Just years later, Krumbled Foods, and their now iconic Beauty Bites, were born. Both were met with dizzying success, and the Beauty Bites, Australia’s only edible collagen snack bar, sold out in just three weeks from its launch date, and are now stocked nationally in Priceline and Coles. 

Speaking to the certified nutrition and wellness advisor, marie claire asks Rumble how she began her wellness journey, how she navigates owning a small business (and how that looks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic) and grappling with personal struggles while staying on top of a growing brand. 

How Did The Krumbled Foods Journey Begin?  

I was diagnosed as insulin resistant or pre-diabetic, so basically I was on my way to getting type two diabetes pretty quickly. I was just told that I needed to make a radical shift in my lifestyle and the way that I was eating if I didn’t want to be a diabetic. So, I started wanting to learn more and overnight I really made this conscious decision that sugar was the number one culprit that I really needed to tackle – I had a full-on sugar addiction! So, overnight, I made a change and halfway through, after about three to six months, I started realising that a lot of these healthy products that I’d be going down the health food aisle in the supermarket and picking out, all these protein balls, protein bars, and all of these healthy products were actually loaded full of sugar.

I decided I wanted to go to study nutrition and the effects that nutrition and sugar can play on your mental health. After I realised that a lot of these companies were being really misleading in the fact that some of these protein products have more sugar than two cinnamon doughnuts, and I’d be trying to eat these thinking they were the healthy option.

So I thought, well, if I’m having these issues, I’m sure a lot of other people are, and I just decided that I needed to make a change. The whole concept of starting a health food company, that’s actually health-focused, is obviously easier said than done.

How Did You Bring The Idea To Fruition? 

A lot of trial and error! I came up with the idea of the Beauty Bites because I was taking a lot of collagen powders and vitamins in the morning to help with my gut health, my overall health and my skin health, and I’d be spending a lot of time in the morning making these powders and taking all these tablets. I thought I could create a health food brand, but also a functional health food brand, that included this all in one snack supplement. I had to go find the right food technician team, find the right sort of formulation teams, find the right branding team, find the right manufacturer, go through trial and error and then obviously tackle the retailer space too.

Why Do You Think The Beauty Bites Had Such Dizzying Success So Quickly? 

I think because there was nothing on the market that did what we do and the whole concept of creating this new category of a snack supplement was just so unheard of. You’ve always got the collagen bars, but no added benefits, or you’ve got these protein bars with no added benefits. So creating this fine line between a vitamin and a food product was sort of quite new. But I also think that it was very strategic, what we did. I was planning everything from a year out. I lined up the retailers, I created hype on social media. We did the right sort of marketing strategy to really create this product that people recognised as this credible brand.

How Do You Think People Recognise, Or Become Aware Of, What’s Actually In The ‘Healthy’ Foods They’re Consuming? 

As much as I would love to say ‘go with your gut’ and have a look at the packaging, it doesn’t always happen, and there are a lot of brands that are really misleading. I don’t like to encourage people to look at labels and look at the packaging because I think that that’s sort of the wrong mentality, but unfortunately, it’s sort of what we’ve got to do. Dates are a huge thing in health food products that are a cheap way to bulk out a product, and there’s not much science behind formulation with dates, and dates are a huge hidden sugar component. Dates have their purpose in some respect – if you’re running marathons or you’re working out twice a day – but for the normal person, especially going through COVID, everyone’s sitting at their desk, we’re less active, so having these products that are high in sugar are sort of tipping us over the recommended daily sugar intake really easily.

I think just being conscious of the sugar content, be quite conscious of what that packet’s trying to promote. So for us, we’re trying to suggest that there’s collagen and there are probiotics and prebiotics and vitamin C and vitamin E. Have a look at what the call outs are on the front of the packet, and then look at the back of the packet and see if it’s actually doing what it says.

Owning Your Own Business Comes With Its Major Challenges, What Have Been Some Of The Most Difficult Ones You’ve Faced So Far? 

I think trial and error has been the only way that I’ve been able to succeed. I mean, I launched a protein business before the Beauty Bites and I just got a lot of things wrong from the get-go. I think the biggest thing that I learned from that is no one knows your brand better than you do, and if you don’t know it at the start, you can learn. I think that that was my biggest weakness, is not having enough confidence in myself.

There were also a lot of things I didn’t know, but it was just, ask, research, learn as you go, and gain the momentum. And it took forever! 

Owning Your Own Business Also Comes Those “Pinch-Me” Moments, What Has Been One Of Yours? 

Being in Coles! It was a really big decision for me because we’ve got this amazing ability to be in health food stores and be this boutiquey product, but also be mainstream and still keep its boutiquey element. It’s pretty surreal, seeing my product on the shelves of major retailers.

What’s The Best Piece Of Business Advice You’ve Ever Been Given? 

Trust your instincts and just have faith in your brand and your why.

You’ve Also Been Very Open About Your Fertility Struggles On Your Personal Social Media. How Has That Journey Been While Also Trying To Navigate Owning A Business? 

It’s really hard. There are days where I am very fortunate that I have my business to throw myself into because without having the distraction and my career, I really would have struggled. I’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis, too. So, I’m living with chronic pain and it’s really hard to stay motivated, but I think it’s a blessing in disguise having the business and being so busy because, at the end of the day, I’m so exhausted. I’m now in a really beautiful position where fertility is something that I’m really wanting. I’m really wanting to become a mum, so I’ve got the staff that know what’s going on in my life and are really supportive. 

How Do You Not Let Those Challenges Faze You In The Moment? 

I’ve got a really good technique of being able to address it, figure out a solution and then move on. I used to get quite flustered as I’m very emotionally invested in my business, but I’ve now sort of worked out a strategy to move on really quickly. Once you find a solution and outcome, that’s it, and you can tick it off and then move on. I think that’s the only way that I can keep sane and sleep at night, is to be able to sort of compartmentalise it. So long as everything’s true to that, everything’s going to work out and you’re just going to be just as proactive as reactive.

And Finally, What’s Next For Krumbled? 

We have a heap of new flavours that just launched, which is really exciting. I also got accepted as part of Sephora’s Accelerated program, working on a really exciting brand called Habitual Beauty, a line to really compliment the inner and the outer beauty.

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