Rebel Kitchen

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They’re delicious, rebellious and seriously good for you! We speak with founder and CEO of Rebel Kitchen, Tamara Arbib, about their popular coconut drinks, and to find out about the many hurdles and life lessons she has overcome and gained since the launch in 2014.

Can you introduce us to Rebel Kitchen and where the inspiration for launching your business came from?

With pleasure. At Rebel Kitchen we turn simple ingredients direct from nature into mylks, coconut water (the newest addition to our portfolio!) and snacks that are tasty, genuinely healthy, and don’t ask you to change your life. All of our products are free from refined sugars, additives and preservatives, and we always lead with great taste first.

Growing up, I spent most of my time in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother. I’d watch them cook, experiment with new recipes, and generally make a mess. Consequently, I spent most of my childhood covered in food! But enjoyment, socialising and love sat at the heart of everything connected to food.

I launched Rebel Kitchen to show that you can combine great taste with health, and be a responsible food brand.

Then, as I got older, I saw disconnect between the way food was being prepared at home, and the convenience foods available to people. Healthier options were limited or just didn’t exist. I launched Rebel Kitchen to show that you can combine great taste with health, and be a responsible food brand.

Our long-term vision is to become the health brand that’s available to everyone, everywhere. And we want want to ensure people don’t have to compromise anything to enjoy great tasting, healthy products.

Rebel Kitchen

What hurdles have you had to overcome along the way – and what lessons have you learnt from them?

Everyday the business presents new issues, which makes for a brilliant journey albeit it a tough one. The decision to launch Rebel Kitchen from scratch, with no prior FMCG(Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) experience, was always going to be a challenge! But I always view obstacles as learning opportunities.

My best advice? Don’t be afraid to ask. You don’t ask, you don’t get! Before Rebel Kitchen I knew nothing about food manufacturing or packaging processes but I listened and asked questions, did my own research and used my common sense. Now, I feel comfortable dealing with this on a daily basis.

My best advice? Don’t be afraid to ask. You don’t ask, you don’t get!

Understand that you can’t do everything, either. When it’s your baby you want to hold onto it tight and do it all but you have to learn to relinquish control. You don’t have time to do it all. That’s where having a great team comes into play. Hire people with the skills to do what you can’t do (and even the things you can do), show them trust, and be okay with letting go.

Your branding and marketing is excellent. Can you talk us through some of your key strategies and beliefs?

Well, thank you! First and foremost, you have to have an excellent product that tastes great. We’re not going to get anywhere if people don’t like what they’re buying!

Then you need an authentic brand that people will gravitate towards because the story is true, and people feel that. This spans across the packaging design, to how you communicate on social media, to how you execute your marketing strategy. The devil is in the detail. Always. The soft drinks market is a crowded place so you need this to stand out.

Finally, simplicity is key. If we can’t define our idea in three simple steps, generally it’s because we’re overcomplicating things. Strip it back. Avoid the frills. They’re tempting to have but our best-executed ideas have always been the simplest.

Rebel Kitchen

How have you defined your audience – and convinced them that coconut mylk is the way forwards?

I think we appeal to a broad demographic. We definitely have an audience in those looking for delicious, tasty free-from alternatives (i.e those with dairy, gluten, or nut allergies, or who are lactose-intolerant) but plenty of people who buy Rebel Kitchen don’t fall into this group.

I think we’ve allowed ourselves to be accessible with products that male, female, young, old, and everyone in between can enjoy. Primarily, we want people to choose Rebel Kitchen products because they taste delicious. The fact they’re healthy (or free-from) is a bonus. Our aspirations take us beyond coconuts, although of course we do love them. We’re more interested in convincing people that healthy foods can – and should – taste great. It just so happened to start with coconuts!

Rebel Kitchen

What advice would you have for budding entrepreneurs and young businesses?

Go for it. Don’t be afraid. Jump in! You can spend forever deliberating just getting your feet off the ground but sometimes the first and best step is taking that plunge.

Then, stay nimble and learn from any mistakes you make, fast. And you will make mistakes. It’s natural and we’re human, but it’s nothing to fear. As a business we’re not afraid to own up to our mistakes. The worst thing you can do as a start-up is to get too attached to an idea or strategy. If something doesn’t work, change it up and try a different strategy. Learn to make decisions for the greater good of the business.

Go for it. Don’t be afraid. Jump in! You can spend forever deliberating just getting your feet off the ground but sometimes the first and best step is taking that plunge.

Finally, keep a close eye on your bottom line to make sure you’re making wise financial decisions. Fundamentally, you need cash to support your business’s growth. It’s important to keep this at the front of mind when there’s noise and distraction coming from other areas (and other opportunities).

Oh, and have fun whilst you’re doing it! It’s a marathon, not a sprint, as they say. It’s important to keep perspective. Make sure you let your hair down once in a while. You don’t want to burn out.

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