Rachel Kettlewell

Gap in the market of healthy spreads for children sparks creation of Fearne & Rosie.

HOF Entrepreneurs Rachel Kettlewell 1920X1080

As a teacher, Rachel Kettlewell had seen first hand the effects of poor nutrition on her pupils. She saw the impact a healthy breakfast could have on learning and behaviour. When she had her own children, she became increasingly focused on healthy eating, and saw that, while there were plenty of brands targeting the baby years, it tailed off as children got older.

This was the spark she needed to create a selection of healthy products aimed at improving children’s diets. Fearne & Rosie started with a jam and a tomato ketchup and she set herself the ambition of selling it through ten local farmshops in Yorkshire. Today, her jams are a familiar name in Ocado, Waitrose and Morrisons.

She admits she had some luck along the way. Her husband’s business made jams, chutneys and marmalade. “It means we could draw on their expertise to develop the recipes. I could say that it didn’t want sweeteners, concentrates or citric acid, that I wanted sugar beet rather than cane sugar. I could do small-scale batch runs and check it worked,” she says.

The branding evolved. The early designs were very child-focused, but Rachel realised there was a broader market and created a more ‘fun’ design. This was a major shake-up for the jam segment in particular, which had been dominated by some well-established heritage brands.

How it’s going

Take up was quick. The farm shops were happy to stock Fearne & Rosie products, but she also generated early interest from the major supermarket chains as well. She says: “I didn’t realise how complex the world of retail was, so I just rang Waitrose’s head office and said I think you should stock it. The lady who answered the phone said: “You need to talk to our buyers”, and I said: “What’s a buyer?”.

We found the buying team at Waitrose were very focused on innovation. We launched with them when we were still very small, thinking we’d get a 10-store roll-out. Instead, we got a nationwide listing. Morrisons came in and then we were listed on Ocado.”
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This all happened in under two years, a lot of it while Rachel was still a teacher. While she loved teaching, she found the competing demands of school life and Fearne & Rosie too difficult: “I always thought I wouldn’t let Fearne & Rosie impact on teaching, but I didn’t realise teaching would impact on Fearne & Rosie.”

She is now working with Children in Need as well, helping schools to provide healthier choices. Rachel says: “We started working with them a year ago and signed a three year agreement in October. The appeal we launched was to give £1 from every jar bought through the website to Children in Need. We plan to expand this in August. I’ve been really proud to see us alongside names such as Gregg’s, Asda, DFS and Mini Cooper. We feel really lucky we get to work with them.”

Eventually, the group had to move manufacturing. They needed to extend the product’s shelf life by using steam-capped lids, for example, and expand the supply chain. Rachel adds: “I’m lucky because I’ve got a good grasp of supply chains and manufacturing. I know how much a strawberry costs!”

Good advice

Rachel says that looking back on how far the business has come has been important. She says that Giles Brook, who had been involved in the BEAR and Urban Fruit brands and is now a key investor in Fearne & Rosie, has also provided some invaluable advice.  She says:

He taught me that you learn more from your mistakes. That can be quite painful because we have made mistakes. But we’re careful not to make them again. We’ve made them on a small scale.”
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Giles has helped ensure that the business has scalability, putting the right procedures in place early on, so that the business can grow. He has also helped the company achieve B Corp status.

In terms of ambition, Fearne and Rosie has diversified into other spreads, with honey and chocolate spreads. Fearne and Rosie have now been joined by George. There are no immediate plans for a George line, but he has got his own personalised jar.

“Ultimately, I want it to be a loved and trusted family product. I want the children who eat it now to grow up and eat it with their children.”