SBM #4 - Once Upon A Farm at $1m

Selling To Children

Small Business Black Holes exists to tell insightful, interesting stories about initially successful small businesses who found themselves in black holes and, through whatever means necessary, climbed out of them.

As always, this won’t be the longest email on earth. You’re busy. I’m busy. 

So let’s jump into today’s story.

📓 The Overview

  • Business: Once Upon a Farm

  • Revenue Barrier: $1 million

  • Learning: Know your audience and ensure your marketing reflects this

📓 The Story

Once Upon a Farm is based in California and makes fresh organic food and smoothies for babies and young children.

In 2017, they were doing less than a million dollars a year.

But they couldn't figure out why they weren’t growing. 

Sure, having a big-name movie star like Jennifer Garner as a co-founder helped. 

It opened many doors for them to get their products on the shelves. 

The other co-founders were baby food experts, which allowed them to innovate on product.

And by 2018, they found themselves launching twelve products in over eight thousand stores, all backed by Jennifer Garner’s celebrity status. 

In some places, that worked. 

But in other places, it didn’t. 


They realized two things: 

  1. They got their products wrong

  2. They got their packaging wrong

Well, I say “wrong”. 

To put it simply, Once Upon a Farm launched too many products all at once. 

As a newcomer on the supermarket shelves, that wasn’t the right approach. 

Retailers started cutting them from the shelves and halving SKUs. 

And that wasn’t the only problem.

Once Upon a Farm marketed their products to the parents of young babies. 

But they then discovered that kids as old as eight and nine made up 80% of all sales.

So, they listened to what their audience was telling them. 

They paid close attention to how many SKUs they had in each store.

And they changed up the packaging to focus on this new customer persona:

They changed their logo, introduced little characters, took “baby food” off the pouches, and made their products look more fun for the kids. 

- Less products

- Better targeting

Sales started to climb, and by 2021 Once Upon a Farm hit  $30 million. 

A bonus…

When young children find something they like it's impossible to get them to change. 

They don’t shop around like mom and dad.

And they don’t care who Jennifer Garner is. 

So converting one of these customers, close to guarantees 8 years of revenue per child.

🧑‍🎓 The Lessons: 

  1. Always listen to your audience, understand who they are, and make sure the branding reflects/appeals to them.

  1. Do things one at a time. Don’t try all your products, marketing tactics, etc. all at once.

  2. Don’t just rely on what might work for another brand like big celebrity names - focus on brand positioning that makes sense for that customer. 

📅 Next Week:

Stay tuned, because next week we jump back to Corner Alliance to understand how we broke out of the $20m black hole.

See you in a week! 😎

Keep growing,



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