Launching a product in the health food industry: Ft. Zulmarie Ayala

We love featuring business women doing it right, especially those helping us stay healthy and fit! Statera Snacks is a health food line that was just launched in February 2017. Their first of many products is a healthy popcorn designed as a snack, with just the right proportions and packaging. Statera Snacks are GMO free, gluten free, have 0 transfat and are 100% natural. They are produced and sold in Puerto Rico, soon to be exported to the US market.

We met with the founder, Zulmarie Ayala, and are bringing you the insider scoop into what it took to launch this product and what you should know before launching a business in the wellness industry! Get to know a little bit more about Statera Snacks and its founder, below:

1.One of Ease to Wellness' goals is to become a wellness resource for our readers, both in the US and Puerto Rico. This is a vision we share. What inspired you to launch this product?

Yes, that's definitely a vision we share and I'm happy to collaborate with Ease To Wellness! Well, I became inspired to launch this product while visiting Chicago during a business trip. Chicago is where popcorn poppers were first created so I was able to visit a popcorn factory, learned about popcorn manufacturing and how the food industry was moving towards a healthier direction. The world is shifting and there's definitely more awareness about the importance of healthy snacks and wellness in general. That was the first time I became interested in becoming involved in the health food industry and, considering I had always worked in the tech industry, this was a big shift.

When I came back from that business trip, I started doing my research. I landed upon the fact that there were no healthy popcorn brands made in Puerto Rico and gained extensive knowledge about its health benefits (when prepared in a healthy way). Soon thereafter, I took the leap and never looked back. It took 2.5 years to create and we finally launched in February 2017!

2. Can you describe Statera to our readers? How would you describe your product?

Statera is a health food brand focusing on snack size portions. Our first product is a ready-to-eat (RTE) healthy version of popcorn. It is made with organic ingredients and is completely gluten free. This means that even though corn is naturally gluten free, we go a step further and make sure the corn is grown in soil where no other gluten products are grown and produced in a certified gluten free factory. It's free of GMOs, cholesterol, trans-fat and is prepared with unrefined coconut oil. They are only 80 calories too!

3. Tell us a little bit about the process behind creating a health food product.

It was hard. I had a 9am - 6 pm full-time job. I would wake up at 6am to do research, design the brand, and work on the business plan.

The business plan/canvas was the most important step. We integrated the polls we provided possible consumers, costs, strengths, weaknesses, and analyzed whether it was a viable business idea and product. Once we had this, the real work began! We started reaching out to farmers, packaging companies, and distributors. Our goal was always to use top of the line, organic ingredients, preferably produced in Puerto Rico, so it took time to create our team!

4. How do you keep the product fresh in a natural way?

In order for the product to stay fresh, many brands use preservatives and additives. Instead, we focused on the packaging. We use a high quality paper packaging and airtight seal. Our popcorn can last up to 3 months.

5. Did you encounter any roadblocks while launching Statera?

At the very beginning, when we started creating the actual product, we ran into many issues! We burned the popcorn a million times and it took us hundreds of tries to land on the perfect recipe.

6. What is in Statera's future?

I plan on adding additional healthy snack options soon! I'd like to start exporting Statera Snacks to health food shops in the US and Latin America. I am working full time at Statera now and we plan on continuing to grow the company in the upcoming months.

We asked Zulmarie about her lifestyle and what tips she could provide aspiring entrepreneurs. Here's what she had to share!

8. What do you do to stay balanced?

I try to keep a balance in terms of the foods I eat, my job, my family, and my self-care. So I try to eat everything in moderation and don''t deprive myself by any means! A huge part of what helps me stay centered is my daily commute. My daily commute is a 45 minute drive and, although this may sound odd or may not work for everyone, I have found this to be super important in my ability to keep a work-life balance. I try to use this time to meditate, decompress, maybe listen to an audio book. This long commute helps me transition easily from work to home because it gives me that space and time to "log-off". I also try to work from home 2 days a week! The extra time I get on those days helps me fit in my weekly workouts and healthier meals.

9. What do you typically have for Breakfast:

I always have coffee (without sugar) and a light breakfast. Typically fruits or maybe avocado toast.

10. What other healthy snacks do you enjoy?

The healthy snacks I enjoy most include mixed nuts, almonds, fruits, multigrain crackers and of course our popcorn!

11. What type of exercise routines do you turn-to in order to stay healthy and balanced?

I enjoy practicing yoga, playing tennis, and doing body weight exercises at the gym! I also walk my dog and jog around the neighborhood often.

12. What would you recommend for people looking to launch a business within the health industry in Puerto Rico?

I would say "go for it!" but make sure to do your research. Preparing questionnaires, consumer inquiries, and strategic planning were the most important aspects while creating our brand. The market in the US is not the same as the one in Puerto Rico so make sure to study it well and create your business canvas before anything else!

We want to thank Zulmarie Ayala for collaborating with Ease To Wellness for this piece! To learn more about Statera Snacks or to follow them on social media, search @staterasnacks on Instagram or Facebook!

By: Editor, Dr. Francesca Vazquez

#featuring #business #healthfoodindustry #career #womeninbusiness #PuertoRico #wellnessscene #interview

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