The co-founders of luxury candy boutique Sugarfina, Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick, have invested an undisclosed amount in free-from baked goods company Bougie Bakes through the couple’s recently launched Pure Imagination Brands.
The early-stage investment fund was set up in 2019 to support disruptive brands across sectors, such as fashion, beauty, as well as health and wellness, and it has so far helped scale a number of high-growth companies, including cannabis-infused social tonic brand CANN, banana-based snacks Barnana, and Asian meals startup Omsom.
Upon joining as strategic advisors by taking a minority share of Bougie Bakes, O’Neill and Resnick are expected to support the company’s efforts in marketing, sales, and operations, to help it expand distributions both domestically and internationally.
O’Neill told me via a recent Zoom call about how she made the acquaintance of Bougie Bakes’ co-founder Meghan Quinn when the two were working together at Mattel MAT , a firm that develops products for children and licenses by partnering with entertainment companies.
“When you look at the better-for-you desserts space, [Bougie Bakes] really stands out as they are using very high-quality ingredients and hitting on all the dietary trends,” O’Neill said.
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“One of the things that really impresses me is how quickly they have grown in such a short period of time, and particularly how they accelerated during the pandemic in a way that I believe sets them up for success going forward.”
Ryan Quinn, Meghan Quinn’s husband who helped launch Bougie Bakes, notes how fundraising became necessary after they moved to a new manufacturing facility and has grown eight folds in capacity from 2019.
“We’ve already reached our eight-figure valuation range,” he said. “We expect our sales [next year] to be five times greater than our 2020 sales through a combination of direct-to-consumer growth, as well as retail partnership expansion.”
Indulgence with free-from ingredients
The idea of Bougie Bakes was created when Meghan and Ryan Quinn were preparing for their wedding a few years ago, as the couple describes themselves “a big sweet tooth”, yet firmly believe in how “abs are made in the kitchen”.
“We started by making healthy cookies and brownies,” Ryan Quinn said. “So from a global market perspective, whether it’s snacks category in general, or the cookies category, or even the gluten-free food category, we’re looking at a $30 billion industry that’s growing 5% [in revenues] year-over-year.
“If we even take a percentage of one of those categories, we’d be in good shape.”
The couple has tested various sugar replacements prior to launching their business, and found erythritol delivers the best flavor profile through combining with the sweetness from peanut butter and cocoa powder.
“We also put collagen powder in [our baked goods], which is very good for skin, nails, and brain,” Meghan Quinn added.
Bougie Bakes has expanded its offerings over time to also include scones, mini muffins, and bundles that are all made without gluten, sugar, or dairy, to mainly target the gifting market. The company bakes throughout the week, and ships its products via priority across the U.S.
Expansion in the natural and specialty channels
While Bougie Bakes will remain primarily an e-commerce business, its recent partnership with Los Angeles-based Erewhon Market, through which the company has customized a grab-and-go pack size for its six locations, is expected to pave the way for the bakery’s further retail expansion.
“Ryan and I are doing the deliveries ourselves, meeting with the store manager on a regular basis to really understand how our products are selling,” Meghan Quinn told me. “We want to ensure the sell-through is strong… before we’re just putting our baked goods anywhere and everywhere.”
She said: “We want to make sure every single move we make is strategic, and [we’ll] take learnings from Erewhon and apply them to the natural and specialty markets [such as Whole Foods WFM and Sprouts] in a bigger way in 2021.”