Kelly Flatley and Brendan Synnott were two high school friends who wanted to sell their homemade nutty granola. So they launched Bear Naked in 2002. Here’s the story of how they landed their first big account:
Our first big retail break was landing an account with Stew Leonard’s, the four-store Connecticut grocery chain. For months we bugged the buyer via phone. He ignored us. To get his attention, we decided to bring him breakfast one day.
We woke up at 6 a.m. and dressed in Bear Naked T-shirts. We borrowed china from Kelly’s mom, which we used to display fresh fruit, our granola, and Stew Leonard’s brand of yogurt. We were the first car in the lot at the chain’s headquarters. After we climbed the stairs to the office, the receptionist told us the buyer was on vacation. We were deflated!
But then, as we were walking away, we recognized Stew Leonard Jr. “Stew!” we yelled. “We brought you breakfast!”
He seemed impressed by our youth and enthusiasm and asked us into his office. He said he was used to brokers pitching 55 products at a time and that it was refreshing to meet young kids so eager to sell a bag of granola. After talking with us for two hours, he said he wanted to help us out. He decided to place our granola in his stores.
The article provides good inspiration for how you have to DIY it starting out. For the first few years, the duo ran the company out of Kelly’s parents’ home, bought ingredients at CostCo when distributors wouldn’t fill their undersized orders, crashed triathlons to give out samples, and worked as the company’s distributors, producers, and kitchen cleaners.
Related: Do it yourself first [SvN]