Meet Hannah Mellsop – founder of Real Rad Food, a Papamoa based business that creates plant-based treats and products including bliss ball mixes, supplements and healthy slices featuring delectable flavours such as pinky bar and after dinner mint. Hannah completed Soda’s LIFT programme during New Zealand’s first lockdown in 2020. Her mentor Pana Barbounis, the Melbourne based founder of handmade chocolate company Pana Organic, helped Hannah pivot her health food business by creating a product (Rad Ball Mixes) suitable for entering the FMCG market. We caught up with Hannah to find out the latest with Real Rad Food.

What’s your role in the business?

There’s just two of us in the business so we both wear lots of hats. My main focus is marketing and social media. I also put a lot of time into sales and our relationship with Foodstuffs. I still like to dip my toes into the kitchen, creating new recipes and products.

How has Real Rad Food grown in the last two years?

During lockdown in 2020 I realised that we needed a product in the FMCG space. It was great to have Pana on my team as we developed Rad Ball Mixes before launching into supermarkets in October 2020. Within three months we were in 30 stores. We’re now in 50 Foodstuffs stores and trying to increase that number.

We launched a sleep supplement in 2021 which is proving to be a popular product.

Our turnover has nearly tripled in the past three years with steady growth of 63-80 per cent growth year on year. We’ve grown slowly and sustainability.

How did Soda help your business?

I came to Soda as I realised that I had created this big ship but I didn’t have the tools to drive it. It was super overwhelming. The LIFT programme was awesome and Soda was there for me during a pivotal time. Since working with Soda, I’ve taken a more strategic approach to what we do and how we operate. Soda gave me the opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in New Zealand and the world. Once you’re part of the Soda whānau the team is always there for you.

Tell us about your work/life balance?

It’s improved so much in the past year! I started my business at 21 without any major responsibilities like children or a mortgage so I’ve been able to devote a lot of time to my business. Real Rad Food has been my child! I gave everything to Real Rad Food for the first couple of years and feel lucky to have been able to do that. Giving it my all for those first few years has set me up with being able to live my dream life. I generally don’t work on Fridays and have a very flexible schedule. I teach Pilates a couple of times a week and now have a lot of things going on outside of Real Rad Food. I’m so blessed to enjoy what I do every day.

What’s next for Real Rad Food?

We’re extending our supplement range with two new protein powder flavours coming soon and also working on a new supplement which will be released later in the year. We’re working hard on scaling into the FMCG space and have big plans to get into the Australian market.

Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?

The journey is never going to be what you expected it to be, but the destination will always be worth it. Stick with it!