I love a good story, and when I learned how Frances Shaw created her muffin company, I knew I had to share it. Ever wonder what it takes to grow a brand? Read on and you’ll find out.
Sometimes, the brightest inventions come from the darkest of times. For Frances Shaw, graduation from SCAD was a few credit hours away when a medical diagnosis of fibromyalgia left her homebound for two years. An additional diagnosis of celiac disease compounded her difficulties but prompted her to start baking gluten free. Undeterred by the temporary setback of leaving school, Shaw put her education to work and designed a business model for healthy, “allergy-smart” muffins that taste great.
Frannie’s Gluten-Free Muffins soft-launched in 2011 to Atlanta stores. “The market needed a new type of muffin – one sensitive to nutritional needs like mine,” she says. Fifteen million Americans suffer from food allergies, Shaw states, “and I wanted to help make life tastier for some of those people.” Under her supervision, each muffin is now handmade at a local gluten-free bakery in Decatur, GA. Working with “quality non-GMO ingredients and organically grown fruits and vegetables as well as eggs raised free of antibiotics and hormones, Frannie’s Gluten-Free muffins are free of seven and sometimes all of the top eight major food allergens.”
Growing a Brand
Even with tasty products, a successful gourmet business needs great design and packaging to blossom. Shaw credits her Savannah College of Art and Design training in motion media design and film for her solid start in the highly competitive natural foods market. Establishing process, sequence, and protocols were critical for a successful launch. Shaw quickly realized that rapid business growth also demanded the visual appeal of sophisticated branding and marketing.
She immediately called on the talents of classmate and friend Natasha Sokulski. “Collaborating was a natural fit.” As the freelance senior art director at Jack Morton, “Natasha immediately understood my objectives for the brand,” Shaw explains.
The two brainstormed during an early strategic planning session. “Natasha created a clean, but unique and eye-catching design, beginning with a logo that clearly communicates our mission for gluten free, dairy free, nut free, and soy free products. From packaging and business cards to marketing materials and web design, Natasha has developed a fun look that differentiates the brand,” Shaw explains.
Sokulski developed packaging that would be visually distinctive and resistant to temperature changes while also preventing allergy cross-contamination and preserving freshness. Frannie’s Gluten-Free Muffins are stocked in freezer cases in natural foods sections of Kroger stores and specialty retailers throughout the southeast. “To stand out among the competition, we relied on clean typography and fresh colors to balance the distinctive graphics for each SKU,” Shaw says.
In consumer goods packaging, functionality and flexographic printing are essential. “Our freezer-safe package features a tamper-evident seal and a clear view window to highlight the product,” Sokulski points out. “Designed to be durable enough to withstand storage and distribution, each package also maximizes informative impact but still looks bright and distinctive on the shelves of stand-up freezer cases.”
Sokulski and Shaw are incorporating an expanding product line into a comprehensive advertising campaign to increase national brand awareness. “We share a powerful partnership,” Shaw says. “I’m very excited to see where our collaboration on Frannie’s Gluten-Free Muffins will lead.”
One thing is certain. I predict these partners will be cooking up more delicious muffins for us all!