The HopeFULL Company is more than just two sisters with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for cooking whole foods. It is a business grown from an innovative and benevolent business model, one that more closely resembles a nonprofit than a for-profit. The HopeFULL Company pushes the boundaries of innovation not only in the product they have pioneered, but also the way they market it, and when it comes to building relationships and getting their product to those who need it, these women are as fearless and creative as it gets.
The HopeFULL Company got its start when sisters Jessica and Stephanie both had children around the same time. Both were dedicated to making their own baby food to nourish their little ones. Both knew that they wanted to start a business together and to have something set up around the time their kids went off to school. Their joint passion for cooking healthy, nutrient-rich food for their children seemed like the obvious place to begin, but they kept hitting walls when it came to getting a prepared food to the market. “We were trying to bring different frozen organic food product to market—miniature vegetarian meatballs filled with whole foods—with little success.” It wasn’t until their friend Suzette became ill with cancer that the idea for a whole-food Popsicle came into sight.
Suzette’s dietary needs became a call to action for the two sisters, and it ultimately helped them find their niche in the market. The challenge was creating a food product that was smooth in texture, like the baby food they had prepared for their children when they were young, but with a texture that adults would find appealing and a scent that wasn’t too strong. By adding extra nutrients to their favorite baby food recipes and freezing them, they ultimately created a healthy solution for their friends’ dietary limitations. Their breakthrough ended up helping keep their friend off of a feeding tube for the last months of her life. The frozen meals were embraced by Suzette’s doctors, and though the sisters were hesitant to attempt to bring a whole-food product to the market again, they pushed passed that roadblock with the idea to produce a kit so that others could create the whole food pops at home. The unexpected breakthrough in their business model serves two needs in the lives of their customers: providing nourishment to those who were lacking it, and providing caregivers a role to play in that process.
Once they decided to switch their gears to manufacture a kit, rather than a whole food product, they had to ask the question; does anything like this already exist? Lucky for them, it didn’t, and so they began assembling vendors and figuring out how to source the pieces of the kit. They started with a list of musts: the kit had to be just the right size, BPA free, and preferably silicone, because of its user friendly properties. A lot of what they were finding was too big, or lacking in another specification, so they went ahead and designed and patented their own original silicone mold, with the help of Legal Corp, a nonprofit that connects small businesses with volunteer lawyers. Of the experience Jessie says they had to become really resourceful. With only a small loan from Woman Ventureto supplement their own personal investments, it was a matter of getting in touch with the right people that could help them out in a few crucial ways.
Fast forward a bit, and the HopeFULL Company has been on the market for nineteen months, and they are looking to bring on a little help of their own, and here at Employment Services, we are ecstatic that they are looking to one of our own Community Involvement Programs’ superstars to bring on board as their very first employee. Jessie and Stephanie are very excited at the prospect of hiring someone to join the team, and besides being a whiz on the computer, Jessie says of their potential new hire, “we just adore her and think she’d be a great asset to the team.” Once on board, Christy will be handling a number of virtual administrative items, and Jessie and Stephanie will be freed up to deal with more long term goals.
As far as their marketing strategies go, these business women are their own PR team. With little outside marketing help, the sisters spend a few hours each day trying to find creative ways to bring attention to their cause. Jessie says HARO (Help A Reporter Out) has been a great asset. In addition to sharing their mission and origin story to connect with their audience, they strategically target their marketing dollars toward those who can pass the word along. In this way, they work to build relationships by facilitating in-kind donations and giveaways. By being plugged-in virtually and mastering social networking, the HopeFULL Company has embraced evolutions in marketing, and even though they truly believe that everything they put in will come back, they still stick to marketing rule number one; numbers have to work.
Numbers aside, pushing the envelope in the PR world seems to be paying off for the HopeFULL Company. They have been featured on everything from the Pioneer Press to a recent issue of Lifestyle and Charity, and on a segment of the Nate Berkus Show. It doesn’t stop there, this past April the two were named this year’s Silver Winners of the Edison Awards. The award honors innovations in new products and services. Not only did Jessie and Stephanie get the chance to be in the same room as TED Talks founder, Chris Anderson, but they had the opportunity to build lots of contacts, ones that Jessie hopes will be mutually beneficial in the future.
Moving forward, with Christy’s assistance, the HopeFULL Company will be focusing on new package design techniques and expanding their reach in the retail market. We wish them all the luck in the world, and will continue to enjoy watching them grow and flourish in the years to come.