About Us - Our Story
The Superfood Market Story
I'm Gemma Andrews, and I'm excited to share with you the incredible journey that is Superfood Market. This isn't just a business; it's a labour of love that started with a dream and grew into something beyond our wildest expectations. So, here's our story:
The start point (2012)
Our journey began in 2012 with an unwavering commitment to healthy living. During those early days, I maintained a popular blog and active social media channels, through which I shared my latest recipes and connected with a vibrant community of health-conscious individuals.
In 2012, we were deeply involved in organizing marathon festivals, and we were in the prime of our physical fitness. We aimed to maintain a wholesome, well-balanced diet, but it was a time before the proliferation of online retailers offering filtering-based searches. Supermarkets had limited options when it came to "free-from" products, which meant that a significant portion of our weekly grocery shopping was spent in traditional supermarkets, carefully reading product labels.
I vividly recall my initial visit to Whole Foods Market in London shortly after we had relocated from the North of England for work. I was eager to share my exciting discovery on my blog.
At that time, Whole Foods had only two locations in the UK, both situated in the South East of England. However, my audience and community were rapidly expanding, encompassing not just the entire United Kingdom but also extending beyond its borders.
We began our journey by "tinkering" in the evenings, as we fondly referred to it. We explored different blogs centered around our passions: healthy living and fitness. It didn't take long for us to realize that the growing impact of social media and community building could be seamlessly combined with the emerging e-commerce landscape. This fusion had the potential to transform a community into a thriving lifestyle brand.
The Spanish Adventure (2014)
On a sunny beach in Spain, back in 2014, my husband Mark and I were enjoying a delightful holiday filled with sun and sea. Little did we realize that this vacation would serve as the catalyst for our entrepreneurial journey.
While lounging on the beach, we couldn't help but overhear a group of people sharing their tales of adventure, freedom, and self-discovery. Listening to them, we felt an undeniable connection, a longing to experience something similar—a life that was anything but ordinary.
That very afternoon, we made a commitment to launch Superfood Market and transform it into our full-time endeavor within 12 months. Using our iPhone, we went online to the Companies House website and officially registered our business.
Getting Started (2014)
Inspired by those stories, we returned home to our one bedroomed apartment in London with a newfound determination. We were both working full-time jobs, with Mark as a Child Protection Social Worker for Hounslow Council and myself working on various business-focused government initiatives in Westminster and Paddington.
I had met a wonderful chap called Charlie at a trade show in Birmingham who worked for a company called Linnworks. We started to discuss SFM and realised Charlie and Linnworks would play a HUGE roll in what was to come.
Spotting an opportunity, I began sourcing natural products myself and selling them to my online community through eBay. However, as demand grew, so did the challenges. Order fulfilment was a manual process, and it became clear that we needed to scale efficiently to realize our vision
At this point we were still working direct with brands and scaling the business whilst maintaining direct relationships with brands was really difficult. Also we were quickly outgrowing our one bedroomed apartment!
Charlie would jump on Skype calls with us on an evening and help train us in all things Linnworks - and even taught us some basic excel skills like a VLOOKUP!
Scaling with Determination
With Suma providing the products, The Royal Mail Group offering shipping solutions, Linnworks managing our system, and Charlie as our knowledge base, everything fell into place, and we were ready to launch. Within weeks, our orders poured in at an overwhelming rate.
Soon, it became evident that even if we worked tirelessly through the night, we wouldn't be able to pack all the orders and still make it to work the next morning. Our apartment had become too cramped to navigate. So, we packed our essentials into a suitcase and moved the business back to our home base.
We set up shop in Mark's parents' garage and spare office. Our living quarters were confined to their box room, which we shared with our beloved dog, Inca, and our pet hedgehog, Hettie. We spared no effort to make it all work.
Leaving behind our life in London, our apartment, and our stable jobs was an exhilarating decision. We were well aware that we were returning home to build the lives we had always dreamed of, ones that would last a lifetime.
The first £1,000,000
We distinctly recall the moment when we realized that our turnover had exceeded a million pounds, and we even have a video capturing our astonished reaction to the fact that our venture was indeed succeeding!
Managing the influx of orders proved to be quite challenging. We resorted to purchasing packaging materials from W.H. Smiths and eBay! In an innovative yet resourceful move, we used a paper shredder to repurpose cardboard for packing the boxes.
Reflecting on those early days, we can't help but wish we had possessed the knowledge then that we have now!
The first warehouse : Rutland Street (2016)
Our journey has been filled with pivotal moments and challenges. We've gone from the humble beginnings of our London apartment to encountering unexpected surprises, like discovering someone living within the walls of our first premises!
We soon had to move out shortly after that due to flooding!
Another phone call I will never forget is that from my Uncle Tony (Tone) who is our Operations Manager now but at the time worked for a catering company calling me to tell me "Gem love, there is a river pouring out of your warehouse door!".
Night Shifts & Stray Cats (2016/7)
Post flooding we moved to City Way Trade Park into a newer warehouse that was around 3000 sq ft. The business was just growing exponentially and we couldn't keep the pace. We put on night shifts, then a three shift system. We inherited stray cats and in the end moved into the warehouse and lived on camp beds over peak season until we bought our first home together in December 2016 in Bingley.
We managed to convince Dr Peter Clayton, who we now call "P" to help us with all our systems and data needs. P has been a defining influence of SFM, a close friend of us and honestly we would not be where we are now without him.
Playing with the big boys : Premier Works (2017-2021)
2017 when we moved into Premier Works on Idle Road in Bradford, a 15,000-square-foot mixed office and warehouse facility. Our supplier bills reached millions every month, and we had over 100 employees at our peak. We were processing hundreds of thousands of orders every month.
During this time, our family was growing, too. In November 2017, we welcomed our first child, Olivia. Then, in August 2019, we were blessed with another addition, Owen. Balancing parenthood with business growth was challenging, but it was a journey we embraced wholeheartedly.
I have no doubt in my mind that this place was haunted! Bins randomly flying down the road and food caught on CCTV being thrown around the warehouse when the building was locked up in the middle of the night! But I became a wife in Premier Works. I became a mama to Liv and Owen in Premier Works. The building will always hold a very special place in my heart.
The year 2020 brought unexpected challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe. Like many businesses, we faced extended closures and financial hardships. We almost lost everything and what emerged post Brexit & Covid was a weaker, smaller and more fragile SFM. We wouldn't have made it without Andrew Illingworth of Illingworth Accountants. He was more than an accountant—he was our therapist and support system.
We found the strength to persevere, leaning on each other, the incredible people around us like Charlie, Andy, P and Gary and our incredible customers to reinforce our unwavering commitment to Superfood Market.
Happy ever after: Dalton Works (2021-Current)
Emerging from the pandemic, Superfood Market was forever changed. Although the business may not have returned to its former size, we were okay with that. In fact, in March 2021, we welcomed our third child, Orla. The Andrews family was now complete.
Our journey led us to Dalton Works in Keighley, a small 3000-square-foot facility where we're still proudly in business, almost ten years later. It's a testament to our dedication and the amazing people who have been part of this journey.
We have also inherited another warehouse cat, who comes and go's as she pleases and we sometimes we find asleep on our bubble wrap!
A Grateful Heart
Superfood Market has been a team effort, a journey of passion, resilience, and growth. We've celebrated successes and weathered storms, but we wouldn't change a thing. We've turned an idea on a beach into a thriving business, and we've done it together.
Thank you to every single person who has ever worked at SFM. I know I have not gotten everything right and I apolgise for any of my shortcomings as I matured into this version of myself. SFM for the past four years at least has been a safe haven of peace, so the chaos of those scaling years did pay off. Thank you for bearing with us.
Thank you to every single customer who has spent your hard earned money with us, followed us on social media, left a review and helped make SFM what it is.
A very special thank you to those who without you we wouldnt be here, so to take a moment to express our deepest gratitude to those who played a building role in this incredible adventure;
- Gary Scott of Suma Wholefoods
- Stephen Grimley of Royal Mail
- Charlie McBroom (a.k.a "Charlie Bear") of Fitted Commerce
- Andy Illingwoth of Illingworth Accountants
- Dr Peter Clayton (a.k.a "Big P") of Infinite Innovations Ltd
- Tony Nassau - our uncle Tone who has held down the warehouse since 2016
We owe a debt of gratitude to Mark's parents, Helen and Ian Berry, who gave us more help than we could have ever asked for when we moved back home.
I would also like to thank Scott, who especially in the past year when the challenges of raising small children has taken us away from the business has pumped fresh oxygen through the site and made a range of improvements for our customers.
Superfood Market has been a journey filled with love, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of healthier living. It's a story of ups and downs, but one we wouldn't change for the world. We've turned an idea into a reality, and we're excited to continue sharing our passion for natural and wholesome products with you.
With heartfelt appreciation,
The Andrews x
Gemma, Mark, Olivia, Owen & Orla xx