When I first started making Blender Bombs—compact balls of nuts, seeds and seasoning that can be mixed into smoothies—in 2017, it never occurred to me that I could create a business out of them. I was a self-employed personal trainer and was just selling them to my clients at cost to help them achieve better results from their workouts.
But clients kept telling me about the health benefits they experienced after adding them to their smoothies, so I began posting their stories on my personal training company’s Instagram account. My clients posted their own stories about Blender Bombs on their social media accounts—and that’s when the magic happened.
I soon realized I could churn my Blender Bombs into a successful business and quickly get thousands of new customers.
Managing explosive growth
Once I started actively promoting Blender Bombs on Instagram, it didn’t take long for them to greatly overshadow the income from my personal training business—so I decided to focus my energy exclusively on this new venture. First, I needed an ecommerce site, so I built my first site on Shopify. I developed that site myself, so it wasn’t particularly attractive or user-friendly, but it got the job done. Then I put that URL on every Instagram post.
Through that first year, all of my marketing was on Instagram. This was before Instagram had a button for questions, so I asked my followers to send me questions. Then I would make a screenshot of frequently asked questions—such as, “Why am I not losing weight?” and “How can I boost my energy?”—with my answers and post those.
My followers would share those with their followers because everyone wants free information. Thanks to Instagram alone, I went from zero to 100,000 customers in the first year and generated $1 million in revenue.
Keeping up with that growth was crazy. For the first three months, I did all of the production and distribution from my house, with the help of an assistant. I made the Bombs in the kitchen, we packaged them in plain paper bags and left them on the front porch for the postal worker.
After three months, I hired a caterer to handle production but still did all the packing and shipping myself. Six months into the new business I found a co-packer that could handle everything for me, and I’m still working with that same business.
Building a sustainable business
After that first year of explosive growth, I realized I needed to get more deliberate and strategic about building a sustainable business. As exciting as that first year was, I was scared to death that Blender Bombs would fade just as quickly, turning into just another Instagram fad. People weren’t going to keep posting about Blender Bombs for the rest of their lives. So in 2018, I hired a part-time marketing assistant to help me evolve from word-of-mouth marketing into more conscious brand development.
We also started doing more targeted email campaigns and more actively engaged with our Instagram followers. We developed a team of “Bombassadors,” people who are already using and posting about Blender Bombs. We send them a free box of product every three months, and they post about them once a week.
If they generate enough sales from those posts, we bump them up to “influencers,” so they can earn a piece of that revenue. We also send coupons every few months to anyone who has commented on one of our posts, just to say, “Thanks for keeping social media social!”
Starting in 2020, we also started expanding our product lines and now sell our products in all 350 Whole Foods stores nationwide, as well as on Amazon. Today, the company generates $15 million in annual revenue through all the various sales channels.
The downside to growing our wholesale business, though, is that cash flow has taken a hit because direct-to-consumer is much more profitable. To make up for that, we’ll be focusing on growing our online sales in 2021, particularly our subscription services. Subscriptions make up between 15% and 20% of our online sales, and that recurring revenue is great.
Heading into the New Year, our sales are still steadily growing. They aren’t growing as fast as in that first blockbuster year, but slower, sustainable growth is ultimately what you want.Print this article