We’re almost certain that Andene Horne is super human. Outside of being in peak physical condition, Andene is a fitness expert, soon-to-be Health Coach, PUMA Ambassador, health and lifestyle blogger AND the owner of her very own E-commerce store which sells healthy yet delicious protein ball mixes (which she developed herself!) and which are also available for purchase in over 50 stockists in South Africa and neighbouring Namibia! Andene’s hard work, passion and commitment is reflected in our chat with her below…
Andene, your career inspires all, regardless of what industry one might be in! After establishing a formidable career for yourself as a health and fitness expert, you then went onto founding your very own e-commerce store, selling healthy, organic protein ball mixes and aptly titled “Healthy Girl with a Sweet Tooth” to satisfy the modern person’s need to enjoy healthy, tasty snacks. Let us take your illustrious career one step at a time – when did you realize that becoming a health & fitness expert would become your career?
Ultimately, it was my personal struggles with my body image and food – that I developed later on in my life – which helped me to realize that I wanted to reach out and be able to help other women deal with, and successfully overcome similar struggles.
Healthy Girl Protein ball mixes are available online via your e-store, as well as at certain distributors such as Bedfordview Spar (JHB), BUC Fitness Club (Seapoint, CPT), Dolphin Pharmacy in Namibia, Seapoint Spar, Engen Hillcrest (DBN) as well as in 50 other stockists in South Africa and neighboring Namibia! What a feat! Could you detail the inspiration behind creating Healthy Girl Protein ball mixes, and how you have managed to garner such a huge distribution line?
A few years back I became very interested in playing around with healthy homemade snacks that could help satisfy my sweet tooth. At the time I was lucky enough to be sponsored by South Africa’s leading sport & supplement brand (USN) and I was really into gym and healthy eating. BUT! I just had one issue – my sweet tooth.
I set off to find healthier sweet tooth ‘type’ recipes that I could make from the comfort of my own kitchen. The goal was to create snacks that would be simple to make, delicious and nourishing. After a bit of research I came across the idea of protein balls. What really caught my attention was how easy they were to make, because I was not at all familiar with the whole baking/cooking thing!
A love affair quickly developed (some might say an obsession) – week after week I was in the kitchen creating and trying out new recipes. Soon after that all my friends were asking for the recipes & they started making protein balls at home too. I began sharing my recipes via Facebook and Instagram, which then led me to starting the Healthy Girl blog back in 2014.
While travelling in Australia (2015) something triggered in me – bursting with inspiration I had a CRAZY idea one day… I was in a shopping mall with my husband – walking out of a health store and I said, “What do you think about a Healthy Girl product range?!”. Because protein balls were already nicely associated with my brand I loved the idea of creating a DIY protein ball mix that would be SO easy for others to make at home.
As soon as we arrived back in South Africa I began to product develop and test. It took me about 7 months until I was happy with the final product. This process is not for the faint-hearted – there were countless flops until I created ‘The One’ (as I like to call it)! I had many days where I ended up in tears wondering what on earth I was doing and if I would ever get the mix right. But I kept on picking myself up and trying again.
At the time I was working at a local health store (Health On Broadway). One day I finally plucked up the courage to make a batch of protein balls and take it to work for my co-workers to try. To my absolute surprise they all loved it and couldn’t believe how good the protein balls were. My boss, Bianca, was kind enough to let me start selling my mixes at her store and that really was my first break.
From then on I began to scout other potential retailers in the Durban area. I was very specific about where I wanted my mixes to be and took a lot of care to find the best stockists for my brand. I firmly believe in quality over quantity! I also started to sell mixes at a local market every Sunday, which was a huge help in creating some brand awareness. Simultaneously, there was a big demand via the Healthy Girl social media pages to have the mixes available nationwide so I set off to create the Healthy Girl online store.
I have also been very lucky in some instances where retailers/stockists have reached out to me (which made my life much easier). The rest of the time it was up to me to drive/fly around the country – take samples, brochures and walk into potential retailers introducing the brand and convincing them to buy my product (this can be such a daunting process).
The business grew WAY faster than what I predicted. I quickly realized that I couldn’t do it all by myself and I couldn’t be running all over the country searching for retailers. I approached a local distribution company, we had a meeting and again to my absolute surprise they accepted the mixes!
Having a distribution company on board really has been life changing – this has freed up some of my valuable time, which has allowed me to focus on other areas of the business that need my attention. As of right now I handle all online and KZN retailers while my distribution company oversees the rest of the country.
Take us through what goes into each Protein Ball Mix?
It all begins with product research, development, testing, sourcing raw materials, finding the right packaging, and designing the product labels. All of this can take months and months to finalise.
Then in terms of the production process, it takes 3-4 of us (myself included) to work through the little system that we have created. This is a full day job that typically happens on a Saturday. We measure out the raw materials, mix the ingredients together, pour the mixture into packets, close the packets, seal the packets, followed by sticking expiry dates and product labels on.
Lastly, we pack the mixes into my office so that I can then send them off for online orders, local retailers or to my distribution company in Cape Town. Blood, sweat, tears and a whole lot of love, pretty much! Who could believe that all of this goes into one little packet?!
It is amazing what you have achieved at such a young age. As a young fitness expert and entrepreneur, did you encounter any issues in regards to setting up and funding your business?
Ahhhh, Thank you! I tend to get so busy and lost in what I am doing that I often forget to stop and appreciate (even celebrate) how far I have come on this insane entrepreneur journey so far!
In terms of the start-up funding for Healthy Girl this was done over a period of a couple of years between my husband and I. We would put a bit of extra cash in when we had spare and later his parents lent me money to buy some raw materials to start selling my mixes.
Since then I have not needed to get additional funding as the profits generated from selling the mixes as well as the additional income made from collaborative blogging work has managed to support my business growth so far – someone upstairs has been looking out for me! However, I am getting to a stage where I need my business to grow so I will need to consider additional funding and possibly scouting potential investors to help me get to where I want to go.
I always play these things by ear and trust where the universe is guiding me!
Have you encountered any major setbacks in the realization of your dreams so far?
I have had to acknowledge and accept that I am only one person who can only do so much and that I can do it all but not all at once! Despite the fear, the doubts and the challenges I will continue to pursue my dreams with the utmost patience and understanding that everything happens when and as it is meant to.
When I first started my business I wanted it all and I wanted it all then and there but I was very quickly bought back down to reality – understanding that I cannot skip the struggles and that you have to start where you are with what you have. Simple! As long as you have passion and you are connected to your ‘why’ then you are right on track towards achieving your dreams!
How have you managed to set yourself apart as a fitness expert and what key attributes do you believe have contributed to your success so far?
This might sound a bit cliché but it honestly boils down to just being true to who you are. I believe that the key to success (especially in my field of work) lies in being 100% real and authentic!
Take us through what a typical work day looks like for you?
I am trying REALLY hard to get some routine going but it is challenging when you are running your business by yourself and you are being pulled in lots of different directions on a daily basis.
Currently my day can be made up of any of the following tasks; admin, stocktaking, packing orders, sending orders, dropping orders off, developing social media content, marketing, photography, editing, writing, blogging, researching, studying, creating recipes, connecting with my audience, dealing with customers/retailers and developing new products to name a few.
Its madness I tell you! I have been working closely with a brand consultant who is helping me to block my days and create a work/content schedule that is helping me to balance both my personal and work life. It is a work in progress but I am getting there!
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Your health comes first above all else!
- Believe in yourself, trust the process and NEVER give up on your dreams. Yes, it is hard but it is so worth it in the end. If being an entrepreneur was easy then everyone would do it.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You do not have to do this all on your own.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t forget to have fun!
The biggest sacrifice I’ve ever made is…Definitely my health – I went through a stage where I was very close to a burn out from trying to do too much at once with no assistance. The next biggest sacrifice I’ve ever had to make is money – I take a very small income at the moment so that that my business has more money for growth and to cover its expenses. It is not forever but it is just one of the sacrifices that you have to be willing to make in the beginning.
The greatest self-marketing/branding tool is… Social media platforms without a doubt!
Best investment…Healthy Girl With A Sweet Tooth!
Worst money mistake…Luckily, nothing too major (yet). I am very cautious and spend as I go – do what I can with what I have.
Advice in 3 words…NEVER give up!
Healthy Girl Protein Ball Mixes are available on http://www.healthygirl.co.za/
Follow Andene on Instagram: @healthygirl_with_a_sweettooth
All images taken by Christy Hosking