Tell us a bit about yourself...
Alla: I am the co-founder of Two Chicks and a mother to two beautiful children. When I’m not busy with work or running around after the kids, I really enjoy working out, and the occasional glass of chardonnay!
Anna: I am the co-founder of Two Chicks. Prior to founding Two Chicks I worked in television news, journalism and PR. In my spare time, I enjoy writing poetry, horse riding and fine red wine! I never ever thought I would begin a business, or had any previous desire to start one; I simply saw a gap in the market and doggedly followed an idea.
How did you both meet?
Both: We first met at a party then we bumped into each other again in London where we exchanged numbers and the rest is history!
Where did you get the idea for Two Chicks?
Anna: While I was living in Los Angeles for a short time back in 2005, I was struck by the popularity of liquid egg whites to make fat and cholesterol-free, lower calorie omelettes as an alternative to cooking with whole eggs.
On my return to the UK I wanted egg whites for breakfast, but didn’t want the hassle and wastage of separating eggs. It seemed ludicrous that we didn’t have such a product on the market. Numerous magazine articles, along with celebrities and sports stars, were recommending egg white omelettes to stay in shape, yet there was no way to simply make them.
Alla and I were good friends and one day when we were chatting on the phone she told me that she wanted to use her economics degree and when I told her my idea, she also immediately recognised the gap in the market. We arranged to meet the next day; we bought the FT business plan writing guide and took it from there. Alla with her degree in economics and me with my degree in English Literature meant that we had complimentary skill sets. Plus, everything I loved to do she hated and vice-versa.
What are the benefits of using just egg white in cooking?
Both: Egg white is fat and cholesterol-free, so you can use it in place of whole egg for a lower calorie alternative, whilst still getting all the protein benefits; in omelettes, scrambled eggs and frittatas, for example. It is ideal for desserts such as meringues and pavlova, where you only require the white. It is also very popular in protein shakes, and is increasingly being used in ‘proats’, which are oats with egg white mixed in for added protein. For this reason, egg white is very popular with many different groups of people.
What happens to the yolks?
Both: They get used by other producers, cake or quiche manufacturers for example, so are never wasted.
What does your brand say about you?
Both: Two Chicks looked at the humble egg and saw amazing possibilities. With heart, an intuitive understanding of modern lifestyles and a natural flair for tasty innovations, we help people find their inner strength and fulfil their potential. With heart and hard work we are breaking new ground. From effortless egg whites to featherlight snacks, we’re pioneering tasty innovations for modern living.
Have you come up against any challenges?
Both: Yes, plenty! Finding the initial investment was a real challenge: neither of us had a background in business or food, and with just an idea, breaking into the multiples seemed like a long shot to potential investors. Finally, a family friend agreed to give us £25,000 in return for some equity.
We had a big job on our hands, not only did we have to convince the buyers to list the product, but we had to actually explain to them what it was and why anyone would want to buy it, as they were all totally unfamiliar with the concept of egg whites packaged alone. We were introducing an entirely new product and we had a whole educational job on our hands. Then there was the question of in-store positioning and which buyer to approach - in America the eggs are kept in the fridge but in the UK they are not, so there was no obvious place for our product to sit.
Starting our business on such a low budget meant that we had to be extremely persistent and innovative in order to get into and remain in the marketplace. It was a question of always thinking outside the box and pushing boundaries - ducking under the red tape at food shows to hand samples to celebrities on stage. When we first got listings in the multiples, we would drive around the country leafleting outside the stores. We couldn’t afford the in-store marketing options so we would go into supermarkets and place our own point-of-sale on the shelves. But this activity came to an end once we were removed by security from a major supermarket chain and got a call from the buyer!
It was a real challenge to find a producer who could meet all of our criteria. We eventually managed to find one, but even then it wasn’t plain sailing. For example, our producer could only supply the egg white in cases of 18s, but the supermarkets required cases of six, so every week we would sit in a huge fridge at 6am dressed in our winter coats and boots and re-box a thousand units.
At the beginning, and for quite a long time, we did absolutely everything as we couldn’t afford to pay ourselves, let alone anyone else. But thankfully, we had complimentary skill sets so it worked out really well.
In 2016 we won the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award at the Variety Catherine Awards, set up to celebrate inspirational women in business. And one year after we launched we made the national finals of the HSBC Start-Up Stars Awards, the UK’s premier competition for young businesses. So the challenges paid off!
This IWD celebrates #Eachfor Equal – as businesswomen how do you highlight the importance of gender equality?
Both: We have recently begun working with a charity, which helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives and choose their own futures.
We would like to become increasingly involved with supporting young women’s business aspirations and are in the process of setting something up ourselves.
What’s next for Two Chicks?
Both: To make our US launch a success. In the future we hope to grow our product line substantially in the UK and across new territories.