What was the inspiration for your business? What inspires you daily?
I was diagnosed with celiac disease and a dairy allergy at 17 just before heading off to college. While I attended McGill University in Canada I struggled to find a satisfying dairy-free ice cream that didn’t do damage to my diet, so I started experimenting in my dorm kitchen. For years, I kept tweaking the recipe until it satisfied my sweet tooth and my checklist.
My inspiration comes from a variety of sources. My father (who has since passed away) had a sense of hard work, determination, and dedication to his family that are always present in my mind. This keeps me working hard 10-16 hours per day. Our customers are what keep me going even in the face of criticism—knowing that we’re helping a mom whose kids have food allergies, a family that’s plagued with diabetes, or even a fitness gurus who wants to indulge without ruining their macros—we’re helping people enjoy dessert without worry.
Describe a mistake you made early on. How did you fix it?
Initially it seemed like a great idea to sell through the internet. No distributors or stores to deal with, just right to our customer. Now that we’ve made the connections and have product in store freezers we realize that getting into stores is more convenient and cost effective for our customers. Yes, our online store is still growing and some people prefer that route, but we didn’t really think about going to stores in the early stage of things.
What’s your best piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions from those that have come before you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your support system. I was nervous to tell people about my endeavor because I didn’t want them to think I was asking them for something. It turns out, when you do ask, 98 percent of the time your family and friends do want to help you.
What do you love about working with independent natural food retailers?
Independent retailers and determined customers have 100% fueled our growth. We’re watching it happen across the U.S. right now. One customer begs their favorite independent to pick us up. In a few weeks neighboring independents are carrying our products. Then a few weeks after that the bigger chains are emailing us when they didn’t want to even meet with us two months prior. Wink is so unique that when someone finds it they typically know a few friends who are looking for it. It’s a secret too good to keep, hence the name. 😉
Consumers can expect to find non-GMO certifications on your products (also gluten and dairy free). Why is this important to you?
I wouldn't eat Wink myself if I didn't see these certifications. As people are becoming more and more aware of what they're consuming, we have to stay non-GMO so customers know we have their best interests at heart. And personally, I have to search for products that are certified Gluten-Free so I know they're safe for me to eat.
We want people to know that we're a safe alternative to the traditional frozen desserts. We're determined, we care about them, and we want to provide 100% customer satisfaction to everyone.
What's your favorite way to enjoy Wink?
At the end of a long day, I take half a pint of Cinnamon Bun and scoop it into a gigantic bowl. I add warmed blueberries, pecans, and maybe a couple of dairy-free chocolate chips. Then I sit on the couch with my dog and dig in. If I skip the chocolate chips and he's been a good boy, I let him lick the bowl when I'm done.
Mrs. Wink loves to create fun things with our products too, like making homemade waffles and adding a scoop of Wink to them. She also loves adding Wink to a cup of coffee after dinner as a low-sugar and satisfying way to end the meal.
What’s a guilty pleasure of yours?
Give us the inside "scoop" on yourself.
I need to eat about 5,000 calories per day, otherwise I become terribly hangry (angry with hunger) … Mrs. Wink doesn’t like when I’m hangry!