Meet the founder: Jeffrey Postlethwaite of CA Gummy Bears
Jeffrey Postlethwaite put years of research and hard work into launching California Gummy Bears, and it shows. Made with real Golden State-grown fruit and colored with all-natural ingredients, they’re even better than the bears you grew up with.
For candy lovers, it’s easy to fall for California Gummy Bears. For Jeffrey, crafting and designing them in nine fantastic flavors was a labor of love, and a learning adventure. Recently, we caught up with Jeffrey to hear more about his journey, and his advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
01 Why did you start CA Gummy Bears?
I created California Gummy Bears because I couldn’t find any candy in America that had the same natural, delicious taste that I grew up with. Growing up in England, I was used to European-style candies that evoked the flavors of fresh fruit, instead of tasting artificial or too sugary.
I thought to myself, the easiest way for me to do this would be to use actual fruit. So, that’s what I did. Living here in California, it’s so exciting to use local produce to make my gummy bears — it gives them a delicious and fresh flavor!
I still wanted them to feel like a gummy bear when you eat them, not a fruit jelly. So I used non-GMO, gluten-free, and fat-free ingredients plus kosher gelatin to create the gummy-like texture and flavor that I love. I wanted people to feel good about what they were eating. Treats should taste good, but shouldn’t have unhealthy ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or artificial coloring. I wanted to offer something parents would feel comfortable giving to their kids.
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
Creating the recipe was the biggest obstacle, for sure. I tested over 100 recipes until I finally created the base recipe I use today. The flavor was always there, since we use the actual fruit. The issue was the texture and color — sometimes it turned out like hard candy, other times it was like jelly. A lot of time was spent finding the perfect ratio of ingredients to make it a gummy candy.
Another obstacle was using natural ingredients. Fruit contains different levels of water, so it was a balancing act until we got to know how the gummy bear mixture should look. Fruit also varies in color. I still wanted them to have the vibrant colors of gummy bears, so I started playing around with natural ingredients that were strong in color, but didn’t alter the flavor. That’s why I use ingredients like spirulina, carotene, and red beet juice. They create the most wonderful colors and they aren’t harmful or artificial!
We did have a particular problem with some of the gummy bear colors, like the Blueberry bear. We use spirulina. But if we incorporated it into the mixture too early, it would turn from blue to green, because it would basically cook. We worked around this by adding it towards the end, with enough time for it to be incorporated into the mix before molding. All of that was challenging, but I had fun figuring out how to work with different ingredients.
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Be different and have great packaging. Over the last few years, these are the most important lessons I have learned.
We stand out as one of California’s only makers of gummy bears and we differentiate ourselves by using local fruit. We also reimagined the traditional gummy bear shape by basing it off of the California grizzly bear on the state flag.
You need your packaging to stand out as well. It needs to be attractive enough that people will stop and take a look. We did this with different materials, foil stamps, vibrant colors, and more.
Making the packaging was a lot of fun! I painted watercolors, took photographs, manipulated the colors, and used different Adobe design programs to add the graphics and text. It’s not a quick process. It took me over a year to design, but it was well worth it!
04 What’s on the horizon for CA Gummy Bears?
We are a fairly new company, so we want to get out there more and be known as the go-to candy company that uses natural ingredients. I have some interesting flavors in development that are crazy good. I am hoping to get them out towards the end of the year. Trust me, they are different!
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
It never seems like work. I answer emails or calls as soon as I wake up and I don’t really switch off. I love what I do, so it never feels like I have to keep a work/life balance.
I guess when I start to make dinner is when I “finish my work day”. I cook a lot and enjoy doing so, because I used to own three restaurants in the UK. I typically make dinner around 6pm and that usually switches my mind off. But it’s never a “hard stop”. I come up with ideas all the time and want to respond to people’s questions whenever I can.