Founders Interview | Dafna Bonas @ Indie Bay Snacks
Hi, I’m Dafna, the founder of Indie Bay Snacks. I am an entrepreneur, a mother, a wife, a passionate foodie and a sworn optimist.
I went to university in California, USA, the positive, can-do attitude and focus on balanced lifestyle and well-being rubbed off and changed my outlook. I’m passionate about making better choices for food and the way we, our families, friends and communities live our best lives.
Our pretzels reinvent the classic snack I always loved, but have hidden benefits like whole fibre, protein, and (all but milk chocolate) no animal products and no added sugar. They’re our snacking dream without the guilt.
Why did you become interested in the world of snacks & drinks?
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love food and cooking. I baked with my grandmother, made pasta sauces with my mother, and took as many cooking classes as I could find in my neighbourhood. I am a foodie – and a snacker – through and through.
What inspired you to do what you do?
Indie Bay Snacks came about when I was sick of fighting about snacks with my kids and husband! I wanted a snack that everyone would love, that was positive and represented all the good things we believe in.
I’m a big believer in the saying “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.” I knew there had to be a way to help snack-lovers eat the crunch, salty classic pretzels they love but get more out of them.
I started by making our flavours in pancakes on weekend mornings, playing around with various combinations to see which ones everyone loved most. I snuck in ancient grains, different alternative flours, seeds and toppings, and found three that we all loved – those were our first three pretzel flavours.
What was your Eureka Moment when you knew you had a product which you could take to market?
I remember opening the first box of samples in our kitchen – it was so exciting. When I saw the round little pretzel bites, tasted them, and then shared them around the family and watched them all get devoured, I knew we were ready for market!
It took almost a year to get to that point, but really worth all the work to get there.
What current & future trends does your product meet?
1 – Deliciousness. Food has to taste really great, or the rest just doesn’t matter.
2 – Clean, natural ingredients. Indie Bay pretzels are natural and use no chemical preservatives or additives so we know what we’re eating and why it tastes so delicious.
3 – Benefits. We all want more from what we put in our kitchen cupboards and in our bodies. We call our pretzels SNACKS WITH BENEFITS because they deliver protein, whole fibre, no added sugar (except for the chocolate flavours) and more.
4 – Values. Our Indie lovers care about values as much as we do. We have given back from every bag of pretzels we have sold, from day one. We are part of 1% For The Planet, support healthy food education in schools, and give thousands of snacks to our NHS heroes and hospitals, food banks, homeless shelters and more.
Doing good while doing well is part of who we are and what we do every day.
What did you do before starting your company & what made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
My first proper job was with a huge company with tens of thousands of employees, and I realised right away that the big corporate world wasn’t for me. Small independent companies change the way we live, work and eat – they make the changes that reshape our lives.
Really though, I started Indie Bay because there was just nothing out there that I wanted to buy, no snacks that weren’t just air but satisfying and delicious, the sort of things we could enjoy every day with no guilt.
What has been the hardest part of starting your business?
I believe in Indie Bay so much that I want to think about it and help get more snacks to more snackers every single hour of every day, especially as the more we sell, the more we help and give. It could easily take over my life!
The hardest (but really important) part is remembering to keep time for walks with the family and Crumble (our labradoodle, named by our daughter after our favourite apple crumble!), a tequila with friends, working out and reading.
What has been the BEST mistake you’ve made & why?
We’ve taken lots of wrong turns along the way – it’s the nature of doing things quickly, trusting your gut and moving forward as best you can.
Our milk chocolate cheeky bites started as a bit of a mistake, a random sample developed on the side, and now they’re one of our most popular flavours.
We realised early on though that mistakes are usually great if you learn from them. Never let a good crisis go to waste!
What keeps you motivated?
Working with our amazing team at Indie Bay keeps me motivated. They’re fun, smart, passionate about our mission of reinventing classic snacks with benefits and so positive and optimistic. With our small business, what you see is really what we are and what you get.
What do you do in your spare time outside of business life?
Life is full to the brim right now, especially since Covid 19 hit. Home-schooling three kids, keeping everyone fit, fed and happy, and making sure to stay connected with friends and extended family means there is no spare time…but I wouldn’t give up any of it.
What do you think are the key skills required to make yourself & your business a success in the world of snacks & drinks?
1 – Persistence. This is not for the faint of heart.
2 – Passion. You have to really love and believe in what you do, or else there is no point.
3 – Positivity. The positive and generous outlook helps motivate yourself, your team, your partners and your fans. It really is infectious!
What would you say is your biggest strength?
I’m very honest, so our Indie snackers, our team and our partners all know they can trust me and Indie Bay.
What would you say is your biggest weakness & how do you look to overcome this?
I care about everything deeply, even the little details. Luckily, I work with amazing people who I trust, which means I practice letting go and believing that they will do the right thing in the right way for our customers.
If you could sit down with yourself for a pint/glass of wine/coffee this time last year.....what would be the 3 most important tips you would give yourself knowing what you know now?
Assume everything will take twice as long as you first plan, so prepare for the worst but hope for the best.
Work with the best people you can find. They will teach you and help make your shared projects a big success.
Be authentic. Say what you mean and mean what you say in all you do. It’s the only way. I’ve actually always operated that way, but our Indie Bay experience shows it is also the best way.
Any plans or predictions you can share with us for the rest of 2020?
As flexible working and working from home becomes a norm for the long term, two big trends will continue to grow and expand:
- People want great food and products easily, quickly and to their homes. From great medical care to great snacks, we will want the best brought to us quickly and easily.
- We are social beings, and working from home will mean a need to find community with like-minded people outside the office. Online communities around passions, priorities and products will play a bigger role in our lives.