Nice But Not Naughty – The Wellnice Pops Story
Wellnice Pops are the fantastic fruity ice pops from Limerick duo, BJ Broderick and Trín O’Brien. They are all natural fruit and vegetable juice ice pops and are Ireland’s original healthy ice pop company.
BJ, a qualified Nutrition and Health Coach, studied at the Institute of Health Science and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, while Trín studied engineering in college and went on to work at a prominent ship yard in England for six years.
The dynamic duo officially introduced their vegetable and fruit based pops to the market in 2016, offering a fun yet healthy on the go snack loaded with nutrients. The duo behind Wellnice Pops understand the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle but know that it doesn’t have to cost you flavour and fun.
Before starting Wellnice Pops, BJ had a café and health food shops. By profession she is a nutritionist and health coach who has always had a “strong interest in wellness, and food as an integral part to living a happy, well-balanced life”.
The savvy business woman noticed a gap in the market for a healthy snack, saying she “felt there was an unfortunate gap, a missed opportunity if you will, for a low-calorie, nutritious but easy on-the-go snack”.
Speaking on the partnership BJ says Trín is “is incredibly practical and a vertical-thinker and so quite gifted when it comes to the operational side of establishing and running a business”.
In a nutshell, the girls say Wellnice Pops are frozen snacks that support people to consume more nutrients. The entire range is plant based and diary free, which Trín says responds well to Ireland’s growing interest in veganism. When trying to pick a favourite flavour the girls say they change from day to day.
Trín enjoys the creamy and indulgent flavour of Frost Beet, she eats this most days as its high in zinc and folic acid. BJ loves the combination of the lemon, pineapple and yellow pepper in Lemon Sucker.
There will always debate in the Wellnice Pops office on which flavour is best, but they say their ice-pops can “help and encourage people to discover new flavours”.
Speaking on the unique element of Wellnice, Trín says, “Healthy and treat don’t often go together in the same sentence”. Ireland’s consumers are growing more health conscious, seeking out great tasting yet low calorie snacks.
Continuing on Trín says, “having a sweet snack is often associated to feelings of guilt or self-criticism but our pops give today’s consumers permission to enjoy something treat-like and feel good about it”.
Wellnice pops are completely free from additives and contain no artificial flavours, colours, flavourings or preservatives – each pop is made with 100% fruit and vegetable juice.
The self confessed “crazy chefs” both adore fruit and vegetables. Reminising on developing flavours for Wellnice BJ remembers some not so successful trails; “we had a few disasters with chilli and turnip that we’d rather not mention”
Trying out fun flavours may seem like the best part of the job but Trín says this can be a really tricky part of the business, “even if you come upon a flavor combination that is incredible, it’s not always possible to bring it to life on the scale we need”.
Wellnice Pops like to champion vegetables, so while they could take the easy route and use only cold pressed fruits to create sweet ice-pops but they are committed to using fresh veg also. “Thankfully, because we are passionate about plants we’ve developed some excellent flavours and we’ll be introducing new lines launching really soon”.
The business was established in 2015 with research and development, by 2016 they were on the shelves of supermarkets and now in 2018 they are available in every country in Ireland.
Attending food and music festivals and health expos has been very beneficial to Wellnice, it has allowed then to notice customer reactions saying once they try the product, they understand it and from there starts the journey of them trying the whole range and growing into a loyal fan.
BJ notes their active presence on social media saying it gives them “the opportunity to control our own narrative and ensure we’re getting our messages of wellness and discovery out there”.
Wellnice work with Irish producer Keelings to supply all their fruit and vegetables and love knowing exactly where their ingredients come from. They hope one day in the future to grow some of their own produce for use in the ice-pops.
Diving into the food industry came with its own challenges. The girls say they had to learn a lot very fast such as the legal responsibilities of being a food producer and partnering with retailers and distributors. The hard work certainly paid off, BJ admits “it’s been exciting to develop these new skills in such a tactile way”.
BJ goes onto to talk about her passion for health, she always knew she wanted to “play a part in the industry and support Irish people to adopt better lifestyles but didn’t want to work with people one-to-one in a coaching capacity”. Seeing the business develop its clear that customers are becoming more health conscious.
As Wellnice Pops grow BJ and Trín are proud of their little achievements along the way, such as making their first sale or securing their first retail listing. They’ve scooped a few awards along the way – winning silver at the Bank of Ireland Start-Up Awards. Their latest achievement comes in the form of raising investment that will accelerate growth over the future months.
Starting a business from the ground up is a demanding job that can lead to personal growth. For Trín she says learned that she can be pushed further than she thought and “sometimes feels like there is no limit and there is no ceiling”.
BJ loves meeting new suppliers and working with other people, learning from their insight and experience. She has also learned to stand her ground saying she has “never lost sight of what we want to achieve – what our product is and what our brand represents and I’m really proud of that”.
At the beginning BJ and Trín were brimming with energy, so when the process of starting a business took longer than they expected it taught them to be patient. A trait they have since carried on to their ever growing business.
Giving advice to all budding entrepreneurs Trín says if you’ve have an idea your passionate about then follow that spark – “There is an incredible amount of support available and there’s never been a better time to start a business in Ireland”.
Wellnice always work with local suppliers, even their website and branding were both designed by local companies. They understand the importance of supporting local Irish businesses – being one themselves. BJ comments on this saying “a constant collaborative, collective approach to business will increase possibilities and create new opportunities for small business to thrive”.
Running their own business allows BJ and Trín to set their own rules. Working as best friends it’s easy to talk about any concerns they have and to be proud of their achievements. They recognise its hard work, and they are constantly on the go (but having a vitamin packed pop on hand helps to keep their spirits up).
Passion and commitment are essential when starting your own business, with BJ noting that “it’s much easier to get out of bed in the morning when you’re working for yourself…..but often much harder to sleep at night.”
With these two hard working and driven girls at the helm is it no doubt that Wellnice Pops will continue to make people’s lives a little sweeter (and healthier), one pop at a time.
Sinéad is a Culinary Arts graduate from DIT. She is a passionate cook with a love of fine dining and modern Irish cuisine. A gin lover, Sinéad loves seeking out cosy new pubs and sampling a variety of craft beers.
If she’s not dining out, Sinéad loves travelling the world exploring new cultures and cuisines. Working with TheTaste allows Sinéad to fully immerse herself in the Irish food industry.