What's small, icy, healthy, incredibly refreshing on a hot day, and tastes of mango, pineapple & coconut? Oh, and is INSANELY delicious?!
If you guess Smooze Fruit Ice, you'd be right!
And if you didn't guess right, even after the mention of 'insanely delicious', we're guessing you just haven't tried them yet...
So who do we (all) have to thank for bringing these delightful little treats into our lives? None other than Hugh Cowan & the Think Products team. We thought we'd have a chat to Hugh, the Managing Director of Think Products, to find out what happens behind the scenes at Think Products, and also to ask him about different ways of enjoying Smooze Fruit Ices (HINT: it may or may not involve the making of a Pina Colada...).
Tell us a bit about the people behind your company
We are a small-yet-mighty team of 6 (including our chocolate lab mascot Hazel) in Balmain that cover all our administrative needs including sales, marketing, logistics & customer service for our three brands; thinkfood, CrispyFruits and Smooze Fruit Ice. We only have two full-timers (including myself) because we place great importance around work-life balance for all our team. It is very rare for anyone to work overtime.
What inspired you to start your company and when did you start it?
My background is in health and I’ve always been amazed at the human body and its capacity to do all that it does as long as you get a few things right; eat reasonably well, move your body, enjoy some down time, and get a good night’s sleep. My intention for Think Products from the very beginning was to cut through the often-confusing messaging and packaging in health space by offering a range of healthier snack choices to those aiming to make better choices for themselves and their families.
What would an ‘average day in the life of’ look like for you?
I usually wake early and three mornings a week I either paddle my ocean ski on Sydney Harbour, or go to the gym. When I get into work I check in with my team and trouble shoot, then focus on the tasks of the day. I know the business inside out and often wear many hats! Two afternoons a week I go to the gym and then head home for a (hopefully) family dinner, though now my sons are 20 and 18, they have their own schedules and social lives!
What is your favourite product in your range?
I honestly find it difficult to choose a favourite product that we offer, because we try very hard to make each and every one of them appealing. When it comes to Smooze Fruit Ice, Mango is the epitome of Summer, Pineapple is so refreshing, and Simply Coconut is so deliciously-coconutty! However, I’m erring toward our most exotic fruit variety, Pink Guava, because whilst it’s berry-like in flavour, it’s the most surprisingly-delightful refreshment experience!
What is your favourite way to enjoy your product/s?
I use them almost daily in my protein shakes after a paddle or gym routine – they take the flavour of boring protein powders to a whole new level, and I can easily alter the flavour profile of my shakes depending on my mood. If I want them extra creamy, I use two Smooze, and as our fruit varieties are only ~70 calories each, I’m not concerned about undoing all my hard work. Healthy indulgence without the guilt!
What is an interesting way of using your products that not many people would know about?
I regularly use Smooze in my summertime cocktails and mocktails! For instance, Pineapple Smooze with a splash of rum, some sugar syrup, and squeeze of fresh lime makes the perfect Pina colada and it’s so very easy to make on a hot day. Take a sip, close your eyes and you’re in Fiji 😊.
What have been the biggest trials so far in starting and running your company?
One of our biggest challenges is forecasting demand and making sure we have enough stock on hand to cover the needs of all our customers; large and small. If we don’t have enough on hand, it can be very stressful and difficult to catch up. And if we have too much stock on hand, it ties up the vital cashflow necessary to keep our business wheels turning.
What is your favourite way of winding down and taking time out?
I love taking my ocean ski out on the harbour with a group of fellow-paddlers first thing in the morning. I paddle two mornings a week and each morning provides something different in terms of light, wind, swell & tides; it really is the best way to start the day and gives me time and space to just be. I also really enjoy walking our chocolate Labrador Hazel – she’s always so happy to see me, gives me unconditional love and is always ready for a cuddle 😊
Here at Retreat Yourself, we LOVE dreaming BIG - what is your vision for your company?
Think Products started with a genuine intention to offer people healthier snack foods for themselves and their families. To be honest, it’s become much bigger than I ever expected, and we now have significant business come to us, so we must be doing something right. I’d love our brands to become widely known for their genuine intention and integrity right across Australia and beyond!
For anyone out there wanting to start their own business, what would your biggest piece of advice be?
Be prepared for long hours and hard work; though if your motivation is heartfelt then these things won’t present a barrier. Ask lots of questions from those who’ve done it, and don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. Watch your cashflow by forecasting demand – try to calculate best case, worst case and probable case scenarios, and delivery of supplies just in time. Excess stock is like sitting on piles of cash that can’t be spent elsewhere!
And lastly, what does a fulfilled life look like to you?
Having a successful business that can largely run without my daily input, a good work-life balance to spend time with my family and friends, and to travel as far and wide as I possibly can. Think Products proudly supports two fantastic charities; Pathways Foundation, and the Harding Miller Education Foundation, so my wife and I would like to extend upon the support of these, and other charities, with both finance and our business skillset. The older I get, the more I want to give back, and share my success with others less fortunate.
Thanks for chatting with us Hugh!
So, where can you find Smooze Fruit Ices? On the shelf at Woolworths (in the 'non frozen' icy pole section alongside maple syrup & ice cream cones!), or in independent health food shops around Australia. You can also find more information on the Think Products website (https://thinkproducts.com.au/smooze/), including stockists near you.