Meet Roman Jewell, the co-founder of Fix and Fogg based in Wellington. He transited from his life as a commercial lawyer into his entrepreneurial journey in late 2013. They have grown vastly and are now selling their delicious nut butters in Singapore, Philippines and a few more countries. Read on to find out what sparked his curiosity into the food industry and inspiration behind his business.
How did you come up with the idea for Fix & Fogg?
My wife Andrea and I started Fix & Fogg six years ago when we were expecting our first child. Previously both lawyers, we made the choice to leave behind the corporate life and dedicate our time and energy to creating something meaningful, sustainable, and delicious. We had wanted to ‘make’ something for quite some time – we didn’t know what it was. I actually tried a bunch of different things like brewing beer, making cheese, pottery before we stumbled on peanut butter. We love peanut butter, so it seemed only natural to give it a go.
Did you start the venture alone?
No, I was lucky enough to have my wife by my side since day one. I couldn’t have done it without her. There are so many challenges in those early stages. The first grinder we ever invested in cost a fortune and came all the way from India. We waited weeks for it to arrive only to find it was a complete dud. We literally took it straight to the recycling! It’s moments like those where you really need someone in it with you to remind you not to give up. Andrea would always say to me “You’ve gotta get through hard to get to easy.” and this still applies to everything we do today.
What was the hardest part in the early stages of the company’s growth?
Being a lawyer, I had no experience in food, manufacturing or running a business for that matter. Things like cash flow, recruiting staff, setting a clear strategy and new product development are tricky concepts to embrace and manage properly. One thing that really helped me was to compartmentalise everything into small manageable chunks – a significant undertaking all of a sudden seemed kind of doable. I made a simple list of everything I needed to accomplish – finding a glass jar supplier, designing a label, etc., etc., and went about trying to tick everything off as fast as I could which in some ways is still how we operate today.
Do you think luck played a role in the success of Fix & Fogg?
I don’t think so. I like to think our success has been down to our commitment to our values and quality. As we’ve grown over the years, we’ve held on to our core values and maintained an uncompromising commitment to quality. In some ways, this has slowed our growth and the speed of our production. However, it’s shown to us that it pays off in the long-term. We have been donating to charities well before we could afford to, but I always wanted Fix & Fogg to be a force for good, and believe that these things always come back to you in the end, and bring good things your way.
How has the Food industry changed in the last year?
That’s a really good question. In Singapore, in particular, I’ve noticed a massive growth in demand for healthy, natural, plant-based food- which is great for us! People are a lot more interested in where their food comes from, how it’s made, and who by. I think our popularity has been hugely driven by the fact that our products are all handmade with the best quality, ethically sourced ingredients we can get our hands-on. It’s always something that has been important to us, but it’s very enlightening to see it become a focus across the industry too.
What advice would you give to a Food company just starting their business online?
The best thing you can do is just start – there’s nothing wrong with starting small (like I did). I’m a good example of someone that had no clue what I was doing at the start but just kept chipping away at it. Also don’t be afraid to fail (so long as it doesn’t send you broke) – it’s healthy to make mistakes, learn from them, and sharpen your game for the next thing. We’ve made a lot of errors at F&F over our time but they’ve also helped shape us into who we are today.
We hope you enjoyed it and we thank Roman Jewell for this interesting interview.
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Website: Fix & Fogg