Meet the Founder: Katie Gurvin + Scott Hebel of Hebel & Co.
Who would have thought the path to creating the perfect halva could be so entertaining? Katie Gurvin and Scott Hebel’s passion is evident in this interview and their handmade halva is a huge hit in our stores. If you’ve never tried halva, you’re in for a treat! Made with the finest organic ingredients, it’s nutty, versatile, creamy, melt-on-your-tongue delicious, made right here in LA. What could be more delightful?
01 Why did you start Hebel & Co?
Scott grew up eating halva as a result of his halva-loving family coming from a place where halva is ubiquitous. Scott is also a self-described foodie. One day he asked me, “Why is all the halva in this country not awesome?” Well, he actually used more colorful language, but to keep this family-friendly, we’ll go with “not awesome”.
So, Scott set upon the ludicrous task of producing a halva with premium ingredients. And, really, ludicrous is the right word to use here: crafting authentic halva is not easy. At first it was just a labor of love; we wanted to make a high-quality halva for ourselves. But, as it often goes with food start-ups, somebody makes something delicious, gives it to friends and family, and next thing you know, everybody is asking you to make it!
Suddenly, we had a halva business, and now here we are, producing an authentic halva with ingredients that matter. It’s been quite a ride!
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
Funny you ask! How much time do we have? If you don’t have a CPG [Consumer Packaged Goods] background, you’re basically starting at the ground floor, or shall we say basement level? What’s below the basement? The parking garage?
In the most exciting of ways, there are obstacles hitting you over the head from day one. Logistics, ingredient sourcing, packaging, storage, fulfillment, distribution, certifications, permitting, codes, equipment, production, employees – simply understanding the terms you hear being used by people in those fields requires vigorous study. FOB? LTL? NMFC? And that’s just for freight! Sometimes we catch ourselves using acronyms and we’re like, “Wait, is that the right acronym?”
You get the swing of things eventually, but to say there aren’t obstacles – aka learning experiences – to deal with every day wouldn’t be telling the complete story. We’re always learning, adapting, adjusting, and trying to facilitate growth. But it’s a ton of fun! Even with all the challenges, there are so many proud moments that push us forward.
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
At the risk of sounding cliché, if you’re fortunate to be able to do something you enjoy, even the obstacles can be fun if you allow them to be. Yes, there will be stress, unknowns, variables galore, and issues that need to be resolved as fast as possible. But, you do your best, give it your all, and remember to stop and remind yourself to enjoy the experience.
Also, talk to people! Not everyone will be helpful, but you will meet amazing people who are on the same adventure as you. Some will be ahead of you on the ride, some are behind, but you can learn so much from them either way. We’ve met some great folks who have really helped us and we try to do the same for others.
And, of course, always try to have a good product and a good plan. That tends to help. The plan may change over and over, but it provides you with a course of action to achieve your goals.
04 What’s on the horizon for Hebel & Co?
How far into the future is this horizon? If it’s tomorrow, we’re trying to figure out where we’ll store the pallets of ingredients that are arriving.
But if we’re talking a little bit beyond, we intend to share the orgasmic delights of a halva made with ingredients that matter with the world. After that, who knows? Perhaps we’ll add some new products to our catalog. We’ve got some tasty ideas up our proverbial sleeves.
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Work/life balance! That’s a good one! Is that a thing that’s happening? Where is this memo?
The truth is, you have to be prepared for the disruption of balance and also try very hard not to lose yourself and the very real importance of having a life outside of freight acronyms, and spreadsheets, and all the uncontrollable unknowns that pop up each day. Why is the label printer not working? How did this equipment arrive already damaged?
But maybe if there’s time afterward, we’ll go see a movie. We’ve said that we’re going to get much better at work/life balance, and we intend to start following our own advice very soon.
When you start something from the ground up, drive and inspiration can be found in just about every step you take. When you hear your customers talk about how much they love your product… that right there is the good stuff. That keeps us inspired. It’s hard to put into words, but it feels pretty darn good.