Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Brune Kitchen:
Classic Cookies Get an LA Makeover

Tania Sweis and Jahan Shahryar have known each other since law school where they bonded over their love of baked goods and late-night nachos. It wasn’t until they entered a big law firm in LA after graduation that their shared love of food would blossom into a burgeoning cookie company on the brink of breaking out. As one of the top three fan-selected winners of Favorite Brand at the Startup CPG Alley Rally at Expo West, we talked to them about their founding experience and building their company, Brune Kitchen.

 

When Sweis & Shahryar moved to LA, they worked for the same law firm in a high stress, long hour environment, and quickly found themselves eating “quick fix, processed, packaged snacks” that they could chow down on in between meetings. But after a while, the grind of the job paired with the processed foods they were eating started to take a toll on their physical health. After researching online, the duo decided to go paleo (in true LA fashion) and clean up what they were putting into their bodies. At first, they felt isolated from the eating occasions in the firm (good-bye 3pm birthday cake), but they persevered. In their free time, they scoured online forums for clean products and recipes that would fit their new lifestyle, but it was hard to find any options, let alone options that truly tasted good. They kept finding products that felt like imitations of what they wanted to eat, falling into what some call the “good for” category – like a cookie that’s good for being gluten-free, for example. As they continued to research, they found tons of people online trying to make the same lifestyle shift, and also disappointed with options.

As they continued their struggle, they talked about their shared Middle Eastern culture, and remembered ingredients common to that heritage, like tahini. After more brainstorming, they tried tahini as an ingredient in an indulgent recipe, a cookie! It was this revelation that drove the birth of Brune Kitchen, a brand on a mission to bring the joy and comfort of indulgences to everyone, not just those eating more traditional diets. Their brand is reflective of the pair, bright, exciting, and fun, and really focused on creating a great-tasting product.

Sweis and Shahryar launched Brune Kitchen direct-to-consumer in August 2021, and just a week or two later, had retailers knocking on their door to carry the brand. After the early hits, they started driving around to local stores to pitch the brand, selling it in door-by-door. They’re now in about 30 doors, launched into a distributor, and looking to scale the brand.

Persevering and learning every step of the way has been key for the duo from Brune. Day to day, they know they’re going to face challenges, but always stick together and rely on each other’s expertise. They know there is no textbook for CPG, but they rely on other founders, communities like Startup CPG, and trusted peers for invaluable advice – don’t be afraid to ask for help, they advise! This industry is full of people willing to help.

Next up for Sweis and Shahryar: closing more distribution and taking on mentors who can continue to guide their growth. Know anyone? Find them at hello@brunekitchen.com or on the Startup CPG Slack!

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