Wake Forest Foodies: P.S. Snacks
P.S. Snacks Changes the Sweet Tooth Game
After graduating from Wake Forest in 2014, Nikki Azzara headed to the beach with a dozen of her closest girlfriends. That first night, she whipped up one of her favorite healthy concoctions — chickpea cookies — and her friends devoured the guilt-free dough.
She attempted making the cookies four more times that weekend and her friends loved the dough so much that the cookies never ended up making it to the oven. The cookie dough she made was gluten-free, vegan, and free of soy, preservatives, refined sugars, and gums.
While talking with her dad after the beach trip, Azzara realized she could turn her recipe into a product.
“As an undergrad, I studied business and enterprise management and minored in entrepreneurship,” Azzara said. “I loved to exercise and I loved to cook. I had a burning desire to create something related to health and wellness.”
One of her business school classes with Troy McConnell emphasized building a brand and primarily using social media, which inspired Azzara to start Slender Seven, a health food blog, during her sophomore year.
“I took lessons I learned from case studies in class and directly applied them to my business.”
She also incorporated marketing concepts she learned in her consumer behavior class with professor Polly Black.
Azzara knew she didn’t want to pursue a conventional banking or consulting career. Once she decided to produce her cookie dough as a packaged good, she crowdfunded $10,000 and joined Union Kitchen, a licensed food business accelerator in Washington, D.C.
Her time at Union Kitchen allowed her to build an infrastructure for the business and network with fellow foodie businesses. She began to sell the product in the D.C. market through farmers’ markets, gyms, and boutique health stores.
Originally marketed under the same Slender Seven name as her blog, Azzara worked with a North Carolina branding agency during the summer of 2016 and the name P.S. Snacks was born. “The idea behind the new name was that the health part is almost an afterthought because of the quality of the taste.”
Her rebrand in place, Azzara relaunched with a new package design in November 2016 and the dough started flying off the shelves.
The brand’s three cookie dough flavors are now sold in all mid-Atlantic Whole Foods stores, as well as other health food stores, at universities like Wake Forest, through her online store, and Jet.com. The distribution now includes 130 stores across 15 states, and the small but growing team is focusing its attention on scaling the business for national distribution.
“My education taught me that you need a good personal and professional network and excellent communication skills to be successful,” Azzara said. “I’ve come so far by knowing the right people in the Wake network and being open minded to opportunities that came my way. Wake Forest truly encourages entrepreneurship among BEM students, and looking back, I can see that they set me up with the confidence and support network that I needed.”