Katy Tucker and Lisette Howard loved cooking healthy meals for their families. They also loathed making school lunches and snacks on their busier days. Unwilling to settle for pre-packaged, additive-filled options, they created their very own fresh alternative.
The SoCal moms teamed up with pediatric dietitian Jill Castle to make kid-friendly snacks convenient, healthy, and delicious. From Hummus to Guac, every Sunnie dipper is minimally processed to delight both busy parents and their picky eaters.
Recently, we caught up with Katy and Lisette to learn more about their journey and hear their advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
01 Why did you start Sunnie?
We each have three kids, all under the age of 9. As two busy moms always on the go, we noticed a clear gap in the market for fresh, convenient food for the modern family. These days, you can shop at the grocery store and find fresh salads, fresh baby food, and even fresh dog food. But, when it came to our kids, we were left with meat and cheese trays — and we weren’t too happy with the ingredients list.
Sunnie was born out of the idea that you can have delicious, convenient snacks with clean ingredients that make you feel great after you eat them.
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
Our vision of bringing fresh products to grocery shelves has been rife with challenges. Early on, many retailers closed the door on us and said it couldn’t be done. The industry is used to seeing products with a shelf life of six months or more, but we refused to add junk to our products.
Instead, we stayed true to our mission. We were okay with waiting for the right partnerships and slower, more intentional growth. That’s been our secret sauce!
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Stay curious and adaptable to change. We entered the market in 2020 with a very different product. As we listened to customers and buyers, we learned that we would need to completely change our offering and format in order to scale. Had we not paused, listened, and pivoted accordingly, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
It’s also important to keep a growth mindset. We learned early on that failing is a good thing — you learn more from failures than successes. Whether it's changing the product format or adjusting our business model, the value of the “fast fail” has been key for us.
04 What’s on the horizon for Sunnie?
We have big plans for this year, including new flavors and further grocery expansion. In the longer term, we envision a world where you can find Sunnie at airports, local convenience stores, and even your favorite theme parks.
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Life with a startup and a houseful of young kids is a little nuts, not gonna lie! We’re both very intentional about putting our phones away and being present with our families. We also regularly send each other calendar invitations that say “go outside and move your body.” Now, we know when to put our heads down and put the hours in. We also make time to unplug, enabling us to maintain balance on this wild ride.
We’re driven by our mission to make healthy, convenient snacks for families everywhere. With the Spread some Sunnie initiative, we’re working to ensure that our product can be enjoyed by all kids, including those in underserved communities.
We’re also inspired by all the incredible female founders that came before Sunnie. Their passion motivates us to continue on our journey and inspire the next generation of women entrepreneurs.