Eat Me Guilt Free is a woman-owned specialty baked goods company that currently produces “guilt-free” brownies and cookies. The sweets are all low-calorie, low carb, and high in protein.
Founder and owner, Cristie Besu, is a registered nurse and certified sports nutritionist that created the line of protein-rich snacks in response to her clients asking for a sweet treat that wouldn’t derail their diet plan. So, Besu started baking the specialty brownies in her kitchen. She eventually perfected the recipe and created a whole line-up of baked goods, teaching herself how to run a business through research, resourcefulness, and creativity.
“I received a lot of satisfaction seeing people make life changes. I quickly realized that it would be impactful to make a whole product line,” explains Besu.
While the product’s recipe and packaging both have evolved since the original trial run, her goal has stayed the same: to deliver a great tasting and convenient protein product to satisfy any sweet cravings.
It is also always been important to Besu that everything be made local in Miami, Florida. She was born and raised in Miami, raised her three children there, and wanted her business to support her community in the same way it’s supported her, from her product to her employees to her vendors. Every protein-packed sweet is made in 2 commercial kitchens in Miami. Besu works hard to give young Miami women with entrepreneurial spirit room to grow in her company. And once ePac came to Miami, she knew it was the perfect way to keep her packaging local as well.
In the beginning, Besu was baking the brownies in her own kitchen, and packaging them with plastic wrap and printed stickers. Now the line of baked goods is made by skilled bakers in commercial kitchens, and packaged in digitally printed lay-flat pouches from ePac. But before she discovered ePac’s digitally printed pouches, she hit some bakery packaging roadblocks along the way.
The Packaging Journey
When Besu originally began to scale the company, she hired a conventional printer that had high order minimums, needed plates for each package SKU, and required a new plate for any changes made to an existing SKU. Because of this, Besu had to sacrifice her flavor line-up to be able to afford the new packaging.
“We started with a clear film and a sticker, then went to printed flow-wrapped film, but with a young company like ours, it was hard to pay for the plates for each SKU. So, we were forced to only sell one flavor at that point,” says Besu.
That was a major disappointment for Besu who, from the start, strived to offer a variety of options to her customers, as well as respond to consumer requests for new flavors.
“The cost prevented us from responding to our consumers as we were growing,” says Besu.
But when ePac came to Besu’s operation in Miami, FL, she was introduced to a completely new way of creating baked goods packaging, one that would allow her to sell as many flavors and varieties as she could dream of.
And it was all because of digital printing.
With digital printing, brands like Eat Me Guilt Free can order one short print run with various unique designs, without any plates or set-up fees. And since the technology specializes in short runs, brands aren’t forced to order tens of thousands of the same SKU. The flexibility with digital printing also allows brands to make changes to existing packaging, be it a new design or updated nutrition information.
“Digital printing allows us to easily make changes to comply with any new government requirements on packaging, as well as release new flavors, without using plates. We started selling more once we got with ePac and we were able to improve the look and consistency of the package. Plus, they worked with us to keep our costs down,” says Besu.
But perhaps the most important result of utilizing digital printing technology is that it allows Besu to better respond to her customers, and create new flavors to keep the brand relevant.
“Digital printing feels really nonrestrictive. With plates I felt like I couldn’t make a change, but digital allows us to. We are always trying to be edgy, and respond to our consumers, and what they ask for. We take consumer feedback to heart. Whenever we get suggestions, we try to incorporate it, and now we can make changes to our packaging,” says Besu.
A Better Package and A Better Experience With Digital
In the beginning, the Eat Me Guilt Free products were sold 100% direct to consumer. But now, in part because of the improved packaging, the line is sold in local Florida grocers, online, and to independent retailers nationwide. In fact, starting in early 2020, Eat Me Guilt Free’s eight SKUs will be available in every Vitamin Shoppe nationwide.
The new packaging partnership has not only allowed the brand to grow, but to correct some packaging problems that plagued the company early on.
“While the (old) packages were being handled, they would easily open, creating all sorts of problems,” says Besu.
ePac’s pouches are made from high-quality film that provides a tight seal to prevent this problem, and aid in product freshness. They also feature high barrier properties that work to extend the shelf life of the product inside. Eat Me Guilt Free is utilizing ePac’s fully custom digitally printed lay-flat pouches for all eight flavors that the brand sells, plus the new varieties released seasonally. Besu says that more flavors are in the works to keep the brand fresh.
“Part of our marketing strategy is to constantly change flavors. With ePac, we are able to consistently change our packaging and it doesn’t cost us any more to do that– this is key for us,” says Besu.
With digital printing, brands like Eat Me Guilt Free enjoy low order minimums, fast turnaround, and competitive pricing for high quality, custom pouches. And this can make all the difference for growing brands, since digital printing helps brand to scale and grow. In fact, according to Besu, working with ePac has helped the “guilt-free” baked goods company grow tenfold.
“ePac supported our growth. When we needed better pricing and faster service, they were able to accommodate,” says Besu.
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