Dearest Sweet Nova Friends,
We've been a little quiet on the posting front because, honestly, production has been eating our lives! Ha -- more on that below.
Even with the production nightmare(s), 2019 was still a great year and I'm SUPER excited for what 2020 will bring. Here's what we've been up to and what's ahead...
TL;DR: 2019 was the year of refining the product concept and building a dream team. Moving into 2020, we have the right team in place to launch our first scalable product and get our dream product into your hands (to be revealed soon -- it's gonna be totally different)!
What happened with the product?
- We reformulated to make it tastier. Throughout the 100+ recipe development process (and counting), we've had to play a delicate game of "taste versus health." As you all well know, the healthier something is, the, erm, less tasty it often can be. Our first (white container) formulations were super healthy but honestly, weren't a treat that you wanted to go back to enough. So we went back in, isolated the core ingredients (maintaining our values of "clean ingredients, no added sugar, no dairy") and focused on making the product both delicious AND something you could feel good about eating. Hemp seeds were out (it was a great source of protein but just too grassy tasting) coconut milk was in (creamy, good-for-you fat to keep you satiated and to improve the texture). Hence the new black containers! But alas, this is changing soon too. Don't worry, it will be good.
- We landed on calling it a “Smoothie Freeze.” We went through a few iterations of this (with the word “Superfood” and "Cream" thrown in there) but we have landed on calling the product a “smoothie freeze.” Sorry for all of you who have known the product as something else, heh. This is what happens when you're creating a whole new category, I guess ;)
- We paused selling online. Given how expensive shipping a frozen product is (it can cost $200+ to ship 6 freezes to CA), we weren't doing e-comm in a way that made sense for anyone. BUT this year we're exploring eco-friendly packaging, a distribution network that can allow us to ship to all 50 states, lower minimum order amounts, and ultimately a price that works for us and for you. We're hoping to launch this by early Q2. This is going to be a game changer.
Biggest Challenges and Learnings of 2019:
- Production 🤦🏻♀️ Despite many days and nights of our best efforts, we could not—without massive funding—manufacture the natural-ingredient frozen smoothie product of our dreams. We needed an advanced, sophisticated comanufacturer with the right equipment that could source and treat the product at the quality we needed. And we found one (more on this in a future post).
- "Healthy" ingredients can often be the dirtiest. Fresh fruits and vegetables are awesome for us but they can also be really dirty. It was a sad irony...our best efforts to use fresh, nourishing ingredients kept getting rejected because fresh fruits/veg (despite thorough washing) didn't meet DOA standards. We were trying to make people healthy but couldn't because bacteria in packaged food is (duh) dangerous. We finally experienced and understood the sobering realization of why so much of packaged food is essentially sterile, nutrient-depleted, and therefore "clean." But we didn't give up. From a sourcing standpoint, we're shifting to pasteurized ingredients that match the nutritional levels of fresh fruits/veg. Because, Safety First...BUT not at the cost of nourishment.
Biggest Wins of 2019:
- Launching catering and doing events with badass clients. We got to sponsor awesome #Wellness and #WomeninTech events at Viacom, Google, The Wing, Square and more. We got to feel the energy and excitement from husters all around NYC who totally get the proposition -- delicious, nutritious foods in a super fun, easy format. (By the way, if you need a refreshing, delicious treat for your next company event...email us at catering [at] sweet nova [dot] com or find us on CaterCow.)
- Netflix NYC. We have some amazingly supportive friends at Netflix NYC (s/o to Mimi!) and couldn't be more grateful. If you work in the New York Netflix...look in your office freezer, we're there!
- Local grocery accounts in Manhattan and Brooklyn. You can find us in 16 local grocery accounts around NYC (including Foragers, Matter of Health, Brooklyn Fare, Brooklyn Harvest, and some of the Westside Markets). We <3 NY.
Some Press Love:
- Forbes - Gifts for Vegan Moms: “Sweet Nova treats can be enjoyed in the morning in place of a smoothie, when they feel most decadent, in the afternoon as a snack or in the evening as a post-dinner treat that tastes sweet but is a nutrient-powerhouse.”
- Consumer Reports - 8 Healthy Food Trends to Try: “[Under ‘Alternatives to Yogurt’] And although not a yogurt alternative, Sweet Nova Superfood Freeze was a creamy coconut milk-based “ice cream” with no added sugars and 150 to 170 calories per ½ cup.”
- Downtown Mag - Sweet Nova makes Nice Cream Even Nicer: “Sometimes making [a smoothie bowl] at home can be a hassle, and buying them every day can get expensive. Enter Sweet Nova, a straight from the freezer solution to your breakfast, dessert, and snacking needs!”
With that, here are our resolutions for 2020:
- Share more. We want to share our thoughts, philosophies, ideas around the present state and future possibility of food. And we want to hear from you too!
- Launch a brand new product that we're proud of. MORE ON THIS SOON. We're looking to launch a whole new formulation, a new format, and new packaging in early Q2 this year. GET EXCITED.
- Make that product accessible. This means it's at an accessible price point and can be delivered to everyone. Aka 2-day delivery for online orders.
- Get into lots of stores! Once we have our final product, it will be all hands on deck re: getting our freezes to a store near you.
Thank you for your continued support. We feel extremely lucky to have so many people who get what we're doing and are cheering us on. As always, we love to hear from you so please share any thoughts with us! 2020 is gonna be a big year.
Founder + CEO
(Photo Credit: Time Magazine)