Ask Her: Cinzia Cozzolino, Smoothie Bombs

Cinzia Cozzolino is a Melbourne based nutritionist and founder of Smoothie Bombs and the Nutrition Darling brand. Her business story is not conventional. She was a single Mum living on $30,000 per annum before she went back to Uni to study nutriton. 

“If someone had told me 8 years ago that I would create a brand that is sold Australia wide and internationally I would have laughed!” Cinzia exclaims.

Cinzia adds: “If you’re a mum with school age children, then you likely know the struggle of getting kids up and ready for the day. You may experience daily the problem I had with trying to get my youngest daughter, Lana, to eat breakfast before school. She wouldn’t have a meal in the morning but she would happily drink something. To give her smoothies some sustenance I started to combine the nuts and seeds and superfood ingredients that we had in our cupboard into pre-portioned boosters.”

Each tube contains 5 smoothie bombs. They are easy to crumble, toddler and kid friendly, great tasting, vegan, gluten free, palm oil free, dairy free, refined sugar free, certified organic and have no preservatives.

My personal favourite is The Defender golden chai (pictured) which I blend with mango and soy milk for a delicious fuss-free breakfast smoothie. So how does one start a business like Smoothie Bombs? Read on! 

What motivated you to start your business?
I had a very fussy eater in my family and I needed to do something about it. I had just finished my nutrition degree and the benefit of nutritious food was fresh on my mind. I needed to come up with something that was delicious and easy to make as well as be good for her. The Smoothie Bombs were created!
What has been the most memorable moment in business?
There have been two big ones so far. One is when I went from hand rolling the Smoothie Bombs to finding a factory that enabled me to finally scale my business. And the second one was ranging in Chemist Warehouse, which meant that more people could find my products everywhere, which in turn helped to grow my brand.
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
There are many challenges when running a business, that’s why it’s super important that you love what you are doing. My challenges has usually been how I could bootstrap my way to growing the brand. I found that I had to leverage my skill sets to keep the cash flow, For example I was supplying cakes to cafes while building the company as it ensured weekly income. I was already delivering the Smoothie Bombs so I provided more value to the store owner, which equally helping me increase my capital.
What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve made? Could be an investment of money, time, energy or other resource.
The best investment I made was to believe in what I wanted to do. To trust my instincts and put in the hard yards. I had plenty of people try to talk me out of it but it only made me more focused on making sure I could achieve what I thought could work. 
How did you decide to make the investment?
I was already in my late 40s when I finished my degree. I went back to study because I wanted to improve my odds of having a better life. I had been a single mum with two daughters and had experienced the struggle so I wanted to make a change. I had nothing to lose, I could either settle on a safe but uninspiring path or take a risk.
What advice would you give to your 20-, 25- or 30 year old self? 
I would tell my 20 year old self to trust my gut and continue to follow my entrepreneurial spirit rather than wasting time in unhealthy relationships with friends and lovers. I think I knew all along what I wanted but I allowed my environment to dictate my moves rather than the other way around. You can change your circumstances!
What have you changed your mind about in the last few years? Why?
I have learnt more than ever to listen to my customers! I have changed the way the product was initially marketed because I saw it wasn’t working so I found who my true market was by asking and adapting. In business, you have to listen, things are constantly changing so you must stay that step ahead and make sure your audience is with you.
What are your morning rituals or any habits you do which set up your day for success?
I have some good rituals and to be honest, I do occasionally fall off the wagon when work gets super busy. I’m still working on this. Usually I wake up and meditate for 10  minutes and focus on the good in the world. Then I try to plan my day straight after so I keep that thought. I have a Smoothie Bombs smoothie for breakfast (of course!), make my bed and get into work before 7.30am. I find that not ‘rushing’ into work in the morning, helps to reduce stress for the whole day.
What is your favourite business book/tool/podcast/resource?
I have lots of great podcasts/audiobooks I listen to. In fact it’s all I do in my spare time. Even when I clean my house, I put on my headphones and catch up on my favourite podcasts. I am a big business nerd as you will see below 🙂
My top 3 fav podcasts: 
1. How I Built This – great business insights by successful brands
2. The Tim Ferriss Show – because the guy is constantly learning and growing both personally and business wise. 
3. The Model Health Show – with Shawn Stephenson about health and nutrition. He really does his research!
Recent 3 Fav audiobooks:
  1. Zero to One – by Peter Thiel – one of the founders of Paypal and serial investor. Very smart and full of great advice.
  2. GRIT – The Power of Passion and Perseverance – by Angela Duckworth – tells of how hard work pays off 
  3. Principles – Life and Work by Ray Dalio – again an incredible business leader.
What is your secret to juggling family and business?
I am lucky because my kids are older and actually help me in the business. This doesn’t mean I negate my responsibilities as their mum. They still love it when I cook and do mum things but it’s just a little less often. Lana, my youngest literally runs the whole online side of The Smoothie Bombs, dealing with sales, customer support and social media. I couldn’t run this business without her. When we work late, we get Uber Eats, when the house is a mess (a lot of the times) we clean it together. It’s team work at my house and it works well for us.
What’s next for Smoothie Bombs?
I have some new flavours coming next year and have already planned their release. It will help with getting the year to run smoothly. I love releasing new flavours because the customers get excited too and it’s great to have new smoothie varieties to explore. We are also building on my Nutrition Darling brand (the mother brand of the Smoothie Bombs) and will release a new product range in the first half of next year which I can assure you mums will love! I have also re-released my muesli range, which I did 5 years ago. All in all, lots of fun times ahead!
Go to the Smoothie Bombs website for stockists or to shop online

First-time mama. Practising mindfulness while trying to be a better leader, mother, wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter, auntie, mentor and friend.

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About me

Jennifer Lam

Jennifer Lam

I'm Jen, founding editor of I Ate My Way Through, managing director of The Bamboo Garden, lover of all things business, food, travel and photography. In my spare time, I'm a mentor to refugees at SSI's Ignite program. Here, I'll be documenting my new journey in motherhood!

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