Most businesses have an online presence nowadays, even if they have a bricks and mortar set up too, but the thing with social media is that everything can look so perfect, so curated, so glossy from the outside. I wanted to get behind the curtain, inside the minds and into the hearts of some of my favourite businesses and find out more about the people that run them. I figured if I was curious to know more, maybe you could be too?
Welcome back to my fortnightly series The Face Behind the Business. Come behind the scenes with me, behind the perfect image we see at the store front level and meet some wonderful Kiwis doing wonderful things (and learn their secrets to success).
A couple of months ago I was invited to the Foodwriters Guild Market Day where a small selection of food producers were showcasing their new products and in some case the award winning fruits of their labour. Because the line to her table was so long and crowded I wasn’t able to get a look in. I knew from that simple display of attention that her products must have been newsworthy. I poked my hand through the people and grabbed a business card.
Having now tasted these Knaekbrod (crackerbread essentially) for myself, I can attest to their amazing flavour, texture and moreishness. I ate one whole packet in around half an hour – alone or with cheese, these beauties don’t even need relish. They are seriously delicious. They’re all yummy, but the winner for me is undoubtedly the Rosemary with Marlborough Sea Salt. One of the best things I’ve eaten in a while! No joke! Read on to learn more about Line’s journey and enter our giveaway below.
Tell me where the idea for your product range came from?
The idea came from a recipe my Mum brought with her on a visit. We grew up with Knaekbrod, but mainly the Swedish version, which is round and quite dry, but still awesome with different toppings. This version was a Danish one that had become popular. The difference being it was packed full of seeds and it tasted amazing on its own or with toppings. We baked it all through the summer and I’d been looking for a Danish food product to start a small business. I did some research and found that there was definitely a gap for something Danish/Scandinavian. The NZ lifestyle is all about socialising outdoors with the climate being as it is and as we ‘road tested’ with friends and wider social circles, everyone was going crazy for it. So we thought; this is it! The original flavour (i.e. just seeds) was obviously the first one we produced, but then I started to think about what else would work. Especially a-typical combos – apart from the classic Rosemary & Sea Salt, which to my surprise no else was doing.
Do you have a background in food (other than eating it of course) i.e. has food been your industry before starting Knaekbrod?
Most Danes can bake something – it’s in our blood! I have always been service-minded and trained in fine Dining restaurants in Copenhagen with the Tholstrup group (Crown Prince Frederick was a regular before he married Mary). However I always shied away from cooking/baking as I’m such a perfectionist I thought nothing I could make would ever be good enough… and my husband is an awesome cook! It’s only since I’ve had kids and realised that there is so much rubbish out there that it was my duty to make sure they had something decent. I remember raiding all of my mum & grandmas old baking recipes from when I was a kid and I still use them most days.
Where did the name come from and what does it mean?
We tried every name you could think of over many months and it was whilst at a friend’s bach where a group of us were eating knaekbrod with wine, cheese & hummus. Someone just said how about Line’s Knaekbrod whilst looking at a tub of Lisa’s Hummus. During the ensuing conversation and much hilarity trying to pronounce it; someone else shouted out ‘..hard to say – easy to eat’ which has become my tagline.
What are you most proud of with the launch of your new company?
The Cuisine Artisan Award was obviously a biggie for me. I just couldn’t believe it would even be considered. It was my husband who persuaded me to enter and the experience and the amount of support from people as a result of that has been just awesome. But if I had to pick something, I think I’m most proud of the fact that people like it and are buying it. I still get a massive buzz when I’m at one of my suppliers and see a pack or two in someone’s basket. Also my regulars at Hobsonville Point Farmers Market, they turn up each week, buy a pack or two have a quick chat and off they go; it makes me so happy and makes all of the hard work worth it.
What’s been the most difficult part of your journey?
I quit my 9-5 job to focus on this so there has been some sacrifices financially. Loss of family time has also been a challenge, however my son has seen an opportunity to supplement his pocket money and works on the stall at Hobsonville most weekends. Conquering my own self-doubt, there have been many times when everything just seemed too hard – you have to believe in your product & yourself.
We also just re-branded from our homemade packaging to a custom designed box, that was a difficult process in terms of timing, cost analysis & letting go of our original design which served up so well. I have issues with letting go sometimes. Fortunately we have the most talented & patient designer and we’re really happy with the new look.
What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?
Ha! There have been so many. Knowing that every day I am in control of what I do… and finding out what im capable of! Meeting all of the wonderful people doing awesome things in the local foodie community. Taking my hubby, parents & three closest friends to the Cuisine winner’s dinner at The Grove! Seeing my new packaging on the shelves are a few!
Do you have plans to expand the range?
Always! I have about three new flavours in the R&D stage. Also an opportunity has arisen through some business mentoring I received from SBN. Consequently I’ve been working with a well-known TV chef to develop a beer cracker (øl brød) for Hallertau Brewery as part of their new Beer match menu. They wanted to use spelt grain which is a by-product of the brewing process into something and I got the call!! That has been very exciting and fits right into my sustainability ethos.
What’s your mantra or the one piece of advice that has stuck with you through the process of starting your own business?
I see so many opportunities with my business and sometimes it’s really hard not to try & grab every single opportunity. There are so many uber talented people out there so it’s really hard to try and not compare yourself to others. We have been very conscious of only managing what we can manage. If I’d said yes to very opportunity we would have folded very quickly. So always at the back of my mind is ‘Small steps – breathe: You can do this!!’
You can find Line’s Knaekbrod online via these channels, so please pay Line a visit:
We are lucky enough to have a set of all four Knaekbrod flavours to giveaway to one very lucky reader. All you need to do to is head to my Facebook page and follow the instructions there.