For Iya Foods, It’s ALL About Connecting with Consumers Through Packaging

Toyin Kolawole loves food. She also has a natural talent for business, an entrepreneurial spirit, and an eye for great packaging.

Kolawole was born in Nigeria to an entrepreneurial family that owned several businesses, including a local store. It was there that she learned a sense of what customers want, how to best serve them, and how to run a business. After she arrived in the U.S., Kolawole worked for various Fortune 500 brands. She explored American food culture, flavors, packaging, and the culinary landscape, to discover trend towards African flavors & influences.

In 2015, she took her passion for all things culinary, her entrepreneurial background, and her love for West African cooking to start Iya Foods just outside of Chicago, Illinois. The food company specializes in farm-to-table sauces, gluten-free flours, spices, and edible flowers, all sourced directly from traceable, sustainable farms and small, local businesses. In fact, local is so important to owner Toyin Kolawole that she tries to source as much as she can from American companies. Today, Iya Foods is available at Amazon, Wal-Mart, and various retailers.

A Great Product Deserves A Great Package

For her clean ingredients, clean food line, Kolawole was previously packaging her products in generic clear flexible pouches with a sticker label. While it was packaging the food well enough, the pouches were not well-received by consumers or retailers. Several large retailers told her that while she had a great product, she needed better packaging to reach consumers. And, she needed better packaging before they would put her products on their shelf.

Iya Food’s packaging before working with ePac

What’s more is that the line did not have brand consistency, with no common images or design throughout. To succeed in the market, she knew she needed a better package.

“Packaging communicates with the customer in three seconds or less, and in that time, they determine whether or not to buy the product,” says Kolawole. And Kolawole is right, packaging is often times the first interaction a customer has with your brand and your products.

Because of this, she knew she needed packaging that could quickly communicate what the product is and why the consumer needs it. She also knew she needed a highly visual package since American culture is moving so much toward social media, where people communicate first with pictures and graphics.

To really be successful, Kolawole knew she needed a major packaging overhaul, from the design to the package itself. She also knew that she needed to create a comprehensive look for her brand that would follow suit for each product in the line-up. Finally, yet most importantly, Kolawole needed a package that would truly connect with her customer base. She wanted to build brand recognition and tell a story through her packaging that would get consumers to pick her products time and time again.

Digital Printing and ePac Allowed Iya Foods To Get Noticed, BIG Time

To accomplish her goals, Kolawole was searching for something specific: a company that understood small businesses, didn’t have extra fees (like plate fees) and could accommodate low minimum orders, while still producing a high-quality pouch. Kolawole learned that digital printing could deliver everything she was looking for, and more, but she didn’t think that she could make the leap in an affordable way.

She wasn’t sure that a high-quality, high-impact, American-made, stand-up pouch was in her budget until she found ePac.

“Finding a company that was small business-friendly makes a world of difference. Plus, the quality of the packaging and my relationships with ePac staff is just so great,” says Kolawole.

Pictured here: Toyin Kolawole with Kyle Rogers of ePac Flexible Packaging

ePac helped Kolawole to create an impactful, high-quality pouch with bright graphics and clear brand consistency throughout the whole line. Since she wanted to create a package that would resonate with a variety of people, sticking with the pouch was a no-brainer. Consumers love them and they’re lightweight, which helps lower her shipping costs. Plus, the film quality is superb, and the pouches offer reseal technology, as well as a better billboard for branding.

“Pouches gives you more space to play with, with more, and bigger, images and keywords. Also, the photographs are better with digital printing quality,” states Kolawole.

And it isn’t just Toyin Kolawole that believes that. It has been only six months, but Iya Foods has felt the impact of the packaging overhaul dramatically. One key example lies with the packaging overhaul of its now popular product, cassava flour.

Rewind to one year ago, when Kolawole first put her cassava flour on Amazon. She had high hopes that the product would be an instant success, but for that year, there were very little sales. Kolawole was stumped as to why. She reintroduced the flour to Amazon after the launch of her new packaging with ePac and was astounded by the results. Within one week, the flour was selling 100 packs a day!

“It’s directly from the packaging,” says Kolawole.

It was clear that the packaging made a big impact on sales of the cassava flour. Not only is the current package a high-quality film that stands up on shelves, and evokes a premium feel, it clearly communicates what the product is — in person and online. And, the feedback has been nothing but positive.

“All of a sudden people started to notice us. People began asking us when we started selling cassava flour; they had no idea,” Kolawole says.

Now the cassava flour makes up a huge part of Iya Foods business and Kolawole attributes its growth all to the packaging change.

The Packaging Difference

Kolawole knows good packaging. She also knows the importance of good design, and clear communication to consumers.

“To capture consumer attention, packaging should be visually stimulating,” says Kolawole.

As beautiful as a package may look, for Iya Foods, it’s all about connecting with the consumer, whether online or in-store. With the new package overhaul, Iya Foods’ products do just that, clearly communicating what each product is, telling the brand story, and the entire line-up has consistent branding.

“ePac helped us have cohesive branding across the whole line, and helped us communicate with our customers. The first way you communicate with customers is through the packaging,” says Kolawole.

Are you looking for a visually appealing, digitally printed flexible package for your brand? ePac is an American company that specializes in small to medium runs, never has plate fees and makes digital printing an affordable and fast option for brand owners. Contact us today to learn how you can take the leap from good to great packaging with digital printing.

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