The Squirrel Sisters are Gracie and Sophie, who set up their own company of sweet guilt-free treats: delicious raw snack bars. They are two sisters who love to have fun but are passionate about health and wellbeing. Their company name ‘Squirrel Sisters’ used to be a nickname, which has stuck with them since childhood (Squirrel rhymes with their surname, ‘Tyrrell’). Coincidently and perhaps luckily, they also love nuts! They believe there doesn’t need to be a choice between health and fun…they want both in abundance! Gracie and Sophie strive to achieve a lifestyle where these can go hand in hand, so they get the best of both worlds – the perks of being healthy without compromising on fun.
Their mission is to help others believe that in treating yourself you can treat your health. They want consumers to feel proud to be healthy and enjoy the choices that they make and that they are the best version of themselves that they can possibly be, physically and mentally.
The bars are their own recipes; Gracie used to make them for Sophie at home due to her gluten intolerance and couldn’t find anything gluten-free that actually tasted good and was completely natural. Sophie moved to Singapore for work and Gracie was in London working in film & TV. Following an almost lifelong mutual interest in health and food, in 2014 they started writing a blog as a way to stay in touch and share their recipes, whilst living on opposite sides of the world. After much planning, research and preparation in November 2015 they launched their range of healthy snack bars.
After less than a year of trading the girls gained serious recognition for their range of raw snack bars when they launched in 250 Boots stores, their first national account.
We had the chance to sit down with Gracie and Sophie Tyrell and ask them about Squirrel Sisters
Tell us a bit bout Squirrel Sisters?
Squirrel Sisters is a health and wellness company that is all about making food healthy, fun, exciting and delicious.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that a lot of the products that claim to be healthy are in fact not; using ingredients like syrups, pastes, concentrated fruit juices, which in some cases are actually worse than normal refined sugar. We only use the highest quality whole ingredients to make our bars and they are gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, sugar-free and suitable for people following a vegan and paleo lifestyle. They are also raw so all the nutritional benefits of the ingredients are still intact and they taste delicious.
Squirrel Sisters bars are innovative in format, beautifully packaged and flavorsome. There are 4 flavours available in the range; Cacao Brownie (82 calories per bar), Cacao Orange (82 calories per bar), Raspberry Ripple (87 calories per bar) and Coconut Cashew (91 calories per bar). The 40g bar is split into two 20g sticks (2x 20g per pack) because we know how important portion control is to their consumers and we also want to encourage sharing! They can be eaten any time of the day; pre/post workout, for breakfast, the snack between meals, after dinner as a healthy pudding – they are the perfect guilt-free treat.
We are stocked in over 500 stores in the UK including Boots, Whole Foods, Planet Organic, Holland & Barrett (online), Amazon and more. We are also stocked in fitness studios including Barrecore, Frame, Psycle and many other countries including Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands and France.
How did you know you had to start this?
We started Squirrel Sisters because we always felt that there was a barrier that people often fought (and sometimes failed) to overcome when trying to live healthy lives and make healthy choices. Health too often raises images of effort and privation. We want to change that.
How would you describe the importance of social media to drive a business like Squirrel Sisters?
Social media is incredibly important to us. Being a start up means we don’t have big budgets so having a free platform to promote and create a buzz around our product is invaluable.
As the founders of Squirrel Sisters, what does your typical day look like?
Most days vary but a typical day consists of us being in the office, replying to and sending lots of emails, having meetings about SS plans and generally doing all we can to keep developing and growing our brand.
What do you enjoy most about doing your own thing?
When it’s your own thing the highs and lows you experience are so much stronger. There is a lot more pressure but when things run smoothly or we get exciting news and achieve certain goals it’s such an incredible feeling. We started Squirrel Sisters from nothing and have got to where we are without any help or funding so when we walk into a shop and see our products the feeling is amazing, it never gets old.
What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced in creating your business?
One of the biggest challenges we have had was finding a factory that could make our bars (which we had been making at home) on a larger scale. When we trialed our recipes at a few factories it didn’t work; the bars were completely different in taste and texture to what we were making at home. Eventually after about 6 months of searching and testing we found the most incredible factory that did a trial using our recipes and it worked… the bars came out perfectly.
Who are the women who inspire you?
Obviously our mum J- she’s amazing in everyway and is our biggest inspiration! Other inspirations would be Renée Elliott (a.k.a superwomen) the founder of Planet Organic; not only is she a successful business owner but she does all that while being a mum of 3! And finally, a world renowned inspiration would have to be Beyoncé, she’s just incredible and we love how much of an advocate she is for girl power, equality and strength.
What would be your top 3 words of advice for anyone thinking of branching out in this direction?
Passion: whatever you do needs to be a genuine passion and something you 100% believe in. If you truly believe in your business idea then go for it – you’ve got nothing to lose and the passion will keep you going.
Patience: Starting your own business is extremely hard and it doesn’t just happen over night.
Persistence– You’ll experience a lot of knock backs on your business journey, things won’t always run smoothly and you will experience times when you just want to give up. Know that these feelings will pass and it takes a huge amount of persistence, hard work and commitment so keep going and don’t give up!
What is your vision for the future of Squirrel Sisters?
We want to continue growing and become a brand that’s recognised by the masses; we want to be accessible to as many people as possible around the UK and abroad. We have lots of plans to expand our range and have a new product launch coming soon (happening later this year). Our mission as a brand is to make being healthy fun, we want to change the perception that healthy=boring. Life isn’t about restricting yourself, it’s about being happy and healthy both mentally and physically so anything we do and any new products we launch will always come back to this.
You can explore more about Squirrel Sisters here