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The Business of Health & Wellness with Victoria Omobuwajo Founder of Sunmo




By Hanaa Yousof

The health and wellness industry is, to put it frankly, booming. With platforms such as TikTok proliferating information about everything from what supplements you should be taking to how to improve your gut health, businesses have quickly followed suit. Not only are aisles stacked with choice, but a new creation or service seems to pop up every day. And particularly in a post-pandemic sphere where we’ve shifted to modes of internal healing and taking care of our bodies, it’s not an avenue to disregard.

Here at Blocks2Bags, we’re always looking for founders and creators who push the limits of their respective spaces and build something that stands out. This week, we sat down with our guest, Victoria Omobuwajo, founder of Sunmo, whose journey has seen her selling wildly popular naturally-sweet plantain crisps across stores nationally, to now selling a wide range of supplements online and in-store. With retailers such as Selfridges and Sainsbury’s stocking her products, she’s been able to cultivate a brand at the forefront of movements to heal our internal selves and treat our bodies with greater care. Sunmo has also seen Victoria win Gordon Ramsay’s BBC Future Food Stars, with the win securing an investment into the business for her, something which the brand describes as “[epitomising] Victoria Omobuwajo's vision and Sunmo's dedication to holistic well-being”. Wondering how you can level up your business and progress? Tap into this week's episode and find out.



BLOCK GEMS FROM VICTORIA OMOBUWAJO AND SUNMO 

  1. The power of people — Sunmo at its essence is a community export; with its roots enmeshed within African cultural practices of natural healing, and its products cultivated with a consumer-focused approach, it could be said it doesn’t seek to simply stand alone. It builds with, rather than outside of community, emblematising a business that knows how to speak to its audience.

  2. Making noise and standing out — How did Sunmo so quickly capture the attention of retailers such as Selfridges? Despite being on the smaller side in its beginnings, making the most noise. Take this as a sign: be loud about your achievements and don’t fear trying.

  3. Planning, Preparation, and Perseverance — What kept Victoria going through her business ventures and time on BBC’s Future Food Stars? Being well-planned and making sure to prepare, particularly in an industry with few women and individuals from marginalised backgrounds. These two, coupled with persevering against external doubts as to her skills meant an ability to push through the noise and make strides in the health and wellness sector.

  4. Stepping back to avoid burnout — Within a modern landscape that prides itself on hustle culture and having multiple streams of income, it can be easy to be constant and never-wavering in your journey from blocks to bags. But Victoria advises taking steps back to assess and breathe every so often in order to avoid burn out before you’ve even truly started.

  5. EXTRA: A live masterclass in building a health & wellness brand with Sunmo — Wondering how Sunmo found itself growing exponentially in its 5 years? Keep reading (and watching) to see our B2B x Sunmo live pitch and Victoria’s block gems 👀

LOVE LETTERS TO THE CULTURE: SUNMO’S STORY

What does it take to build a business so successful that, amidst its many notable accomplishments, captures the attention of Gordon Ramsay? For Victoria, the journey began right out of her mum’s kitchen. 

Originally manufacturing plantain crisps that intermingled both cultural origins with dedicated hours of perfecting the product (600 crisps were hand-made right in her kitchen), the product was borne out of a desire to return back to the traditions of natural, inward healing. After suffering from an often painful eczema since birth, Victoria wanted to find a solution outside of the GP-recommended steroid creams and lifelong pills that she was told were her only option. 

“The ethos of the brand has always been eat good, feel good, do good, and I used food to heal myself internally”, she said. “I just figured I want to start a brand that really helps to cater to people’s needs”.

Here, Sunmo markedly stands out; while the health & wellness space is becoming more and more populated with various brands looking to make their mark, it continues to push boundaries and develop products that consumers love. And it’s not just a surface-level aim to please, but with its ethos borne out of traditional African healing practices and herbs, such as the Baobab extract in its Balance Greens. Particularly in a space filled with new people and products looking to innovate and elevate at a near-endless pace, it is love letters to the culture that continue to make a mark.  





STARTING A BUSINESS: HOW TO PUSH THROUGH THE NOISE

Celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, Sunmo has cemented itself as a core wellness brand in today’s landscape. And if you take anything away from the cultivation of the brand throughout the past few years, it is its ability to break boundaries, no matter its size or scope.

 It was their feature at a 2019 trade-show that really kickstarted this for them, as we discussed with Victoria. Competing with numerous other brands, Sunmo stood out in its unique flash-mob feature and compelling pitch to retailers.  As Victoria said:

“We was the smallest store but we made the most noise” 

And it paid off; soon after, the product caught the attention of Selfridges, who chased the team to be the first retailer to stock Sunmo products in its store. Also notable is Sunmo’s shift as a brand in a post-pandemic landscape, where Victoria began selling supplements and holistic treatments catered more deeply to consumer’s individual needs. And beyond simply the literal shift in the product line, Victoria’s becoming the first-ever winner of Gordon Ramsay’s Future Food Stars in 2022 further solidified the brand — an achievement also noteworthy as one of the few Black women founders in the field. When we asked Victoria about approaching the sector coming from any underrepresented backgrounds, she gave this piece of advice:

“Plan and prepare”, she said. “Just know your stuff, honestly. Being on the BBC show taught me that because of course I was the youngest woman there and it’s not just in your mind people really treat you like ‘oh, okay, i’m not sure you’ll know how to do this’”.

Victoria also reflected on her 5 years of Sunmo. Speaking about what she had learned over the course of building her business, she discussed how often the most pertinent part of being a business-owner was knowing when to take breaks in order to avoid burnout.

“Taking a step back can help you elevate further”, she said.

B2B X SUNMO: LIVE MASTERCLASS IN TURNING YOUR WELLNESS IDEA INTO A BUSINESS

If you’ve tuned into Blocks2Bags before, you’ll be familiar with our pitch-style live masterclasses, supplemented with the expertise of each of our guests. For this week’s edition, our hosts Bejay and Sebuh, focused on their potential development of a wellness-focused food brand, with Victoria’s advice on not only building a successful business, but also the rules and regulations to be informed on if you decided to take the leap into it. While you’ll need to watch the full episode for Victoria’s insights into the food and wellness industry, here are some quick fire Q&As from our discussion:

B2B — How do you pick one product?

VICTORIA — if you’ve ever attempted to enter the health and wellness space on a business level, you know that we are spoilt for choice. In terms of what avenue to focus on here, Victoria suggested agile launches and testing potential products out on your audience to see how they feel before fully moving forward with it.


B2B — Advice on giving back, initiatives for good?

VICTORIA — Victoria emphasised that today, people are typically more conscious consumers – they want to know that the brands that they’re supporting have a well-rounded moral aligning. If you’re looking to give back through your business, keep this in mind from the beginning in order to continue building this as you build your business.


B2B — Registering for BRC, manufacturing considerations?

VICTORIA — BRC is a manufacturing directory and registry that gives options in terms of the manufacturers specific to what you're looking for. For an in-depth explanation, top into this week's episode, but overall, Victoria suggested adopting this based on your product.


B2B — How do you know when to stop selling a product?

VICTORIA — Victoria stressed that stopping your sale of a product is something unpredictable; it can be everything from manufacturing issues to costs that can get in the way — be aware of this beforehand.

HOW TO USE SUNMO PRODUCTS

If you’re late to the game and haven’t tried Sunmo yet, Victoria shared her personal guide to how and when to use the supplements towards personal healing and wellness.


  1. Balance Greens — Use these in the morning; think of them as a morning pick-me-up to maintain your energy throughout the day.

  2. Berry Burn — With an aim to offer aid in terms of weight maintenance while still providing nutrients, Victoria recommends using Berry Burn at night, and she often mixes it into yoghurt.

  3. Collagen Protein — Think of the Collagen Protein as a feel-good way to achieve healthy hair, nails, and clearer skin. A scoop as you’d normally use will do.

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