Content is king: You will need to create valuable/interesting/educational content all the time for your community to connect, inspire and educate. Whether it’s your design, tone of voice, or the actual content — make sure you have a consistent approach on how you show up in the world. Just writing is no longer enough, videos are invaluable!
As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristel de Groot, Co-Founder of Your Super, a next-gen industry leader in plant-based living, transparent supply chain, and 1:1 giving. The company was created when de Groot’s partner and Co-Founder Michael Kuech was diagnosed with cancer at age 24 and together with her Orthomolecular Nutritionist Mom and Aunt she developed superfood and vegan protein mixes to help boost Michael’s immunity and overall health. The direct-to-consumer business was founded in Berlin but quickly spread to 6 continents and in 2018 the headquarters were moved to Venice, California.
Your Super’s plant-based Superfood and Protein mixes and bars contain 5–6 naturally dried superfoods. Every ingredient is grown, harvested, 3rd party tested, and packaged 100% sustainably. The ingredients are certified organic, Non-GMO certified, Glyphosate-Free, plant-based and gluten-free. You’ll never find any sweeteners, stevia, artificial flavors, fillers, preservatives or additives.
Kristel is responsible for developing the formulas, all packaging and branding, and currently acts as Chief Marketing Officer. Kristel was recently named one of Forbes 30 Under 30, and Inc Magazine’s 30 Under 30. She has been featured in InStyle, Well +Good, Thrive Magazine, and Good Day LA. De Groot holds a BBA in finance and accounting from Valdosta State University, and an MSC in Management from Cass Business School, London. Kristel received her certification in plant based nutrition from eCornell University, graduated from INN as a plant-based health coach, has completed her 200 hour yoga teaching training, and is a former tennis pro.
In 2020, Your Super raised 17 million dollars in Series B funding via Power Plant Ventures (Beyond Meat, Thrive Market, Veggie Grill). You can catch Kristel and Michael on their podcast, #BeSexyEatPlants which highlights vegan athletes, doctors, entrepreneurs and change-makers.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
Your Super was born out of a very personal journey. When Michael (my co-founder and fiancé) and I received news that Michael had cancer at age 24, health became our top priority.
I studied business in school but spent my free time learning and reading about health and specifically how what you eat affects your health. So, to help Michael build up his immune system and restore his strength after chemo, I began mixing different superfoods together, making smoothies and put him on a detox. After his energy levels increased and he began feeling stronger, we knew we had to share the power of superfoods with the world as 9 out of 10 people don’t eat enough fruit and veggies every day. Superfoods are a very convenient way of increasing your daily intake. We started working with nutritionists to create 100% organic and sustainable sourced superfood and plant protein mixes, and Your Super was born.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We ordered our first Your Super cans to our apartment in Amsterdam where we mixed everything together by hand in our organic certified room from 2012 to 2015. The cans were delivered in a huge truck and they asked where our loading deck was…which was nonexistent and the truck didn’t even fit on the street! We ended up having to carry all of the can piece by piece from the pallet into our apartment and up two flights of stairs. I think what you learn throughout your journey is that it’s okay to not know everything. We were naive, google was our best friend, and we probably made every mistake in the book. Our growth was slow the first four years, but we learned something new every single day and had fun solving problems every single day. That’s what counts!
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The How I Built This Podcast. Hearing stories from other founders is absolutely amazing. To hear that everyone struggles and faces challenges along their journey makes you realize that all of the ups and downs that you personally face on a day-to-day basis are completely normal. These stories have inspired us to just take one step at a time and most importantly never stop moving forward!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There are honestly so many but one that is very relevant right now is to “trust yourself”. Your gut feeling is real, and it is always spot on — you have to listen to it. I think in business it’s so often about data, models, and doing things exactly how they should be done but what you learn over time is that there really are many routes to Rome and that it’s important to trust yourself and not overthink things. For me it’s listening to my gut feeling that helps me make the right decisions every day. Another piece of trusting yourself is to simply believe that you can do anything as long as you believe in yourself.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?
A lifestyle brand is a brand that doesn’t just sell a product, but it creates a change in the daily lives of customers!
What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
It creates purpose! A lifestyle brand is born based on the mission and values of the company. For example, at Your Super our mission is to improve people’s health with the power of super plants. Every single day we inspire and educate people on how to improve their health and our products happen to be a tool to support that lifestyle. The mission is so much larger though and it is rewarding to hear these amazing life changing customer stories — whether it’s Heather who because she did the detox for 5 weeks could stop her medication for high cholesterol, or Tara who was able to fit her wedding ring on again! It’s about creating change in people and in the world! Another benefit is that your customers will have a strong emotional connection to your brand and you most likely will have a loyal customer base that wants to be part of your brand’s mission!
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
I think Patagonia is an amazing lifestyle brand. We all know what they sell but also the change they are trying to create: functional high-quality clothing created sustainably to support our planet and our people. What really impresses me is that they put people and the planet before profit. They are a large organization, and they are a B-Corp. We went through the process of becoming a B-Corp company ourselves, so we know firsthand what a long and deep process it is. Another impressive thing that they do is repair all of their apparel for free, so customers never have to replace with new items!
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?
The most important thing is to create a lifestyle brand around a lifestyle that you are truly passionate about. Something you believe in and a way of life that you yourself follow. Having that as a base will set you up for success as you will naturally know how to inspire, educate, and connect with your customers.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Life as an entrepreneur always comes with many challenges and lessons. I think every time you think you overcame your biggest challenge, the next one is waiting right around the corner. One of the most common mistakes is when you create a lifestyle brand based only on a current trend that everyone at the moment is talking about. Sure, this might work out in the short term, but without fail the inauthenticity will show to consumers. This is also a risky plan because trends change so often.
To avoid this, remember to be bold have an opinion and stand for something just because you believe in it versus just because you think it will make you fast money. Authentic brands are rare but are the only ones that truly earn respect and loyalty from consumers.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
The first and most important step is to become crystal clear on what you stand for and to know exactly what lifestyle/message you want to spread to create the change in the world that you aim to see. Next, figure out what products or services support that lifestyle change and will make it easier for consumers to live that lifestyle.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why?
(1) Storytelling is everything:
Learn how to effectively tell your story in an engaging, fun and educational way. The goal is to get people excited about your brand, make them want to try your products, and most of all make them want to be a part of your community.
(2) Authentic branding:
Be clear on your values, be real, and stand for something. Keep your messaging aligned across all communication. A brand is always evolving just like we do as people and you can’t be afraid to have an opinion and share it. I always say that you have 2 options: 1) Share something with the world that gets no reaction or 2) Share something that some people might love, and some people might hate. While it’s not always possible to only have positive reactions it’s worth always sharing for the ones you do receive.
(3) Stand for something:
Ask yourself what your mission and values are, then ask yourself what you are going to do in order to fulfill these. Your day-to-day decisions should be aligned with these goals. Just talking about doing something is not enough, you need to take action e.g. Your Super became a B-Corp and donated bars and money to support ending World Hunger which is part of our company’s mission.
(4) Communicate with your community:
Your community is living the lifestyle you have created with you. These days it’s not just about talking to your customer but listening to them too. They will tell you what to do more of, what not to do, and they will tell you what products you can create next in order to solve problems in their lives. At Your Super we launched our Moon Balance mix after receiving over 500 responses on a Facebook post asking us to help with Hormone imbalance. This is now one of our best-selling products and it’s all because we asked and listened to our customer’s needs.
(5) Content is king:
You will need to create valuable/interesting/educational content all the time for your community to connect, inspire and educate. Whether it’s your design, tone of voice, or the actual content — make sure you have a consistent approach on how you show up in the world. Just writing is no longer enough, videos are invaluable!
Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Movement of more plant-based eating! It improves your health, can end world hunger, and can save the earth!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Sarah Blakely! She has been building an empowering women’s lifestyle brand for the past 20 years and I would love to learn all about her ups and downs and how she got to where she is today.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.