On the 1st of January 2018, Co-Founder Brad Lake posted a pic on his Instagram with the hashtag #YearOfBeefyGreen. I don’t think he realised just how big this year was going to get for us two South Island battlers.
From a humble beginning selling NZ Hemp protein to dogs via Facebook, to meeting the Two Raw Sisters, Rosa and Margo, who gave us the tools and the confidence to hold our first ever stall at the Christchurch Farmers Market in the middle of winter (the exact time you don’t want to be standing around trying to change perceptions of Hemp), to forming a relationship with Steve Anderson, CEO of Foodstuffs; the Plant Based NZ lads certainly had a whirlwind year.
Early on, we invested in product development with the Department of Food Science at Otago University. In order to compete with the whey protein market and convince people to make the switch to a plant based protein powder, we needed to develop Hemp protein powder with a higher than normal protein content that was able to dissolve in water. After this project we were then put in touch with Food South, based at Lincoln University, for the scale-up and further discussions around other ways we could facilitate humans to incorporate New Zealand grown Hemp food into their diets.
It was this relationship with Food South that facilitated the life changing event that happened on 31st October. Under our company name at the time, Beefy Green, we presented a Hemp seed protein bar to the judging panel of the FoodStarter competition. We had been developing this snack bar with Food South and had very specific needs in terms of nutritional value. The result? We won the competition which would allow us to stock these snack bars in all 44 New Worlds across the South Island.
We still pinch ourselves to this day.
We know companies who have spent years on product development, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building a following, and are still yet to break into supermarkets. We don't think even we realised the inherent value winning this competition was going to bring. As a food company there is no other competition on the planet that could match the prize that we won on 31st October, and we constantly remind each other how lucky we are to be in this position.
After meeting with the Foodstuffs CEO and category managers, we were made aware that we needed to change the name of Beefy Green if we wanted our Hemp to be on the New World shelves. That afternoon, another company was formed – The Brothers Green, a Hemp seed food company. Our snack bars weren't going to be ready for a few months so Steve Anderson, Foodstuffs CEO, asked us what products we currently had that could be put on the shelves. We had a premium quality, extra virgin, cold pressed Hemp Seed Oil and all we needed to do was change the label to suit Foodstuffs advice.
The Brothers Green was born. After meeting with Steve Anderson twice before Christmas, both of us made an early Christmas pact and handed in our notices to our respective careers. Brad left ASB after 3 years as a Rural Manager, and Brendon left Community Pharmacy after 5 years. Both of us now have a clear pathway and couldn't be more excited to be working on our dream full time.
Our moonshot, the reason this whole business started and what has kept us going through the late hours and early mornings has been our fundamental purpose. We started this company to enable us to fund and run a retreat for people who have been caught by a food and health system that promotes chronic illness, addictions, and disease through our lifestyle and diets.
Our rates of chronic disease, being overweight and unhealthy are growing with astonishing velocity, and our current health system is already struggling to keep up. We are the third most overweight and obese nation on Earth. This is unacceptable New Zealand. We want to create a place people can come to reset and re-learn how to live healthy and sustainable lives. We want to teach people how their diet can be their medicine and our bodies are capable of healing and preventing disease from the inside out. You don’t need to rely on our struggling health system. This health system is not designed to cope with this much chronic disease, and we want to empower people to be able to exercise true freedom. Free from a system that does not treat the cause of these illnesses but the symptoms, and is keeping our people and our planet sick. We will build this by donating 5% of all proceeds to this charity in the hope we can use our skills, knowledge and passion to prove to people that chronic illness is a choice, and we all have a choice.
Finally, we want to pause and think of all the amazing people we have met along this journey so far. We are super grateful for all the epic love and support everyone has given us. We definitely could not be where we are today without that support. When you find your passion and purpose, you attract those on the same wavelength, and we are so excited at the number of good-hearted people in NZ vibrating on our level.
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi. Engari, he toa takitini - Success is not the work of one, but the work of many.
One month into 2019 and we have The Brothers Green on the shelves of 7 New Worlds around Christchurch. This seed has well and truly sprouted.
- Published January 2019