This week, we had a chat with Susan Gafsen, founder of Pep & Lekker. Together with her sister-in-law, Susan started Pep & Lekker to bring healthy, delicious snacks to their families. Susan told us all about Pep & Lekker's plans for the future and discussed how the pandemic has changed the F&B industry.

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Credit: Pep and Lekker

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Susan, co-founder of Pep & Lekker seed snacks. We make moreish baked snacks that bristle with full-bodied flavours and healthy convictions. Our Pep & Lekker name was born from our steely determination to give equal weighting to good health and sublime taste, hence ‘pep in your step’ and ‘Lekker’ means tasty.

What’s going on over at Pep & Lekker at the moment?

We are coming to the end of an inspiring accelerator program with the Impact Hub. We were selected as 1 of only 6 ‘kindred spirit’ brands that offered the right blend of growth potential and sustainability values. We have learnt so much and it’s been fantastic meeting like-minded founders with shared values.

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Credit: Pep & Lekker

What was your inspiration for starting Pep & Lekker?

I started the company with my sister-in-law Juliette. I have always wanted to have my own business but perhaps lacked the courage to go-it-alone, opting instead to work in the City for 25 years as a lawyer.  In my 50’s I realised that I’d reached that ‘now or never’ moment, so took a couple of deep breathes and enrolled in business school. The inspiration for the idea came to me as my son was eating really badly as a vegan and I was horrified that so much of the food that he was eating was not as healthy as it purported to be. Juliette and I worked hard to come up with a deliciously distinct baked snack with over 14 all-natural, allergy-free ingredients.

What’s on the horizon for Pep and Lekker?

We have some great new listings in the pipeline that I cannot really talk about yet, but what I am really excited about is that we are now looking for 2 new self-starters in sales and marketing to help us with our growth. So, if you know anyone who is a graduate and under 25 and would like to join us then please get in touch!

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Credit: Pep & Lekker

Do you think consumer behaviour will change post-pandemic?

Yes, I think that consumers are inevitably more concerned about their health and recognise that their well-being is massively influenced by what they eat. It was probably inevitable that the severity of lockdown initially had stuck-at-home consumers reaching for comfort food, but as time went by diets were diligently reassessed and growing numbers of consumers took the decision to revisit their daily eating routines and make a concerted effort to eat better. As our snacks are focused on nutrition and are both low in carbs and sugars, they represent a great alternative for today’s more discerning consumer who doesn’t want to sacrifice taste or snacking joy in the pursuit of healthier living.

Has your own consumer behaviour changed in the last 18 months?

I have always been concerned about health and fitness but I think that the last 18 months has made me more mindful of the impact that my behaviour has on the wider community. I think that wearing masks is not simply about protecting ourselves, but having concern for others.  Lockdown has certainly influenced me to be more caring and thoughtful. This evolving mindset has certainly influenced my purchasing decisions to do everything in my power to avoid needless waste and minimize my business’s impact on the wider environment.

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Credit: Pep & Lekker

You’re stranded on a desert island. What 3 things couldn’t you live without?

  • My immediate family - my husband and 2 sons Oliver and Henry
  • My Newfoundland dog Freyja, an endless source of love and slobber - but mostly love
  • A good book - I have just finished the Neopolitan quartet by Eleanor Ferrante - the hours flew by!!

If you could only eat one meal again for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I think it would be a massive bowl of fruit. I am a huge fruit lover and have given up on sugar and sweeteners but fresh fruit I would not be able to live without and I am privileged that I do not have to. It was my idea to add apple puree as a binding agent for our seed snacks and I am quite proud of that innovation!

How was your experience working with Buxton?

Honestly brilliant. James and Hal were incredibly responsive and supportive. They were respectful of our limited budget and even within these constraints delivered a design that was outstanding and has received fantastic feedback. There has been a massive improvement in our sales and I very much look forward to working with Buxton again on our next project.