Blake Sorensen grew up learning the importance of a healthy diet, but had to contend with the difficulty of finding foods that wouldn’t trigger his severe nut allergy.
Unfortunately, he was often frustrated by the healthy bars, trail mixes and other snacks on the market, as most are made with nuts or produced in a facility that processes nuts. It was this frustration that later led him to try his hand at making his own seed-based bars.
The best part of this success story? It all started with a class project.
Planting the Seed for A Future Brand
In 2016 while at Indiana University, Sorensen was tasked to identify and solve a social need for a social entrepreneurship class. Drawing on his own allergy experience and the rising number of people affected by food allergies, he decided to make a seed-based and nut-free bar that everyone could enjoy.
“It started as a class project and I kept taking the next step. I made samples, people liked them, so I made more. I started to see that there was a big opportunity, so we did a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter and got $30,000 in pre-orders for the product. Then we launched an online store and sold direct to consumer before selling to traditional retailers,” explains Sorensen.
At the early stages, Sorensen had no idea that this would quickly become a viable consumer brand, but as a full-time MBA student, Sorensen was in the right position to “go all in.” He was already studying entrepreneurship and working on the skills he would need to eventually do something on his own.
“I wanted to start a company at some point in my life but I didn’t think it would be so soon. The idea snowballed to the point that when I graduated in May 2018, right away I went full time on the company,” says Sorensen.
In September 2018, Sorensen officially launched Blake’s Seeds Based as an online store, but the brand quickly grew from there.
Blake Seeds Based got a huge boost when the brand was chosen as one of five companies to be a part of the Kraft Heinz Springboard incubator, a program designed to disrupt and innovate the food industry. The program enabled Sorensen to grow his team, gain more investors, and set the brand on track to be in 1,000 retailers nationwide in a little over a year.
Moving From Traditional To Digital
Once Sorensen was determined to launch his business, his first challenge was finding a co-packer that manufactured out of an allergen-free facility. So many snacks and bars today are made with nuts, milk, soy, or gluten, all top allergens. After he found the right co-packer, he then turned his attention to his snack food’s packaging.
“Before we found ePac, our co-packer was sourcing all the packaging from their contacts. But we always had questions about lead times, changing the design, and the capabilities,” says Sorensen.
The brand was not happy with the current packaging’s consistency, cost, or speed, so they started to look into a different way to order and print their packaging. With a referral to ePac from a trusted colleague, Blake’s Seed Based was able to learn a whole new way of doing things with digital printing.
“ePac had been talking to us for a while, we finally looked into it and it made sense. (With the other packaging company), there were lead time issues, and a lot went back to the plates. Every time we wanted to make changes it would cost us more money. Being a new company, we wanted to move our logo, add this, change stuff around, and digital printing gave us the ability to make these changes,” explains Sorensen.
With ePac and digital printing, the brand could then enjoy a faster turnaround time and the flexibility to make as many changes as it needed to the package’s design. Another big win for the brand? ePac’s competitive rate was actually lower than the previous provider.
Today the company orders the packaging directly from ePac and sends it the co-packer. The new rollstock seamlessly runs on existing packaging equipment and there has been no disruption in production.
“Things are going well! We did our first run recently with the new packaging and it turned out great. It’s exactly what we wanted, we’re super excited about it. We get our product a lot quicker and the flexibility is huge,” says Sorensen.
And Sorensen knows a thing or two about the importance of a great package. Through natural and flexible food packaging, brands like Blake’s are able to tell the brand story and relay important details like allergen information.
“Consumers shop with their eyes, by looking at the packaging. Your product and your packaging have to speak for themselves. It has to represent the value of the brand, what’s in it, and the feel. It’s critical to have great packaging to succeed,” says Sorensen.
By partnering with ePac, brands like Blake’s Seed Based have the flexibility to make orders on the fly, receive orders quickly, and make various changes as the brand and packaging evolves. Are you ready to learn what digital printing can do for you and your company? Click here to contact one of our packaging experts, or give us a call at 844-623-8603.