One of the things we love the most about YOPPEN is being able to meet and connect with amazing people, who are innovative and passionate about what they do. When this Hall of Fame was just an idea, which, between drafts, was just a capsule about the brands we work with; The first thing on the list, the most important thing we wanted to be able to show through this project was the meaning of these brands, the behind the scenes of a wonderful job.
We wanted a place full of stories, jokes, curiosities, great moments lived with people who works hard every day for its goal and who, beyond having a large company, SME or entrepreneurship, have great aspirations, goals and dreams that we promote and support to the heart.
YOPPEN’s Hall of Fame is a new story every month to tell you how beautiful it has been to walk through time with our friends and collaborators; Because we believe in their work and they believe in ours, we inspire each other and we believe that kind of relationship should be highlighted today.
Sitting down and just talk it out is one of the most effective ways to make stories and experiences flow naturally, that’s the way we like it, and that’s how we created our own Hall of Fame: a place where we talk and let the stories flow with the people behind these amazing brands who work with us to this day.
BeROOTS, a healthy supermarket
We decided to open our Hall of Fame and start the month of October with one of the brands that have all of our support: BeROOTS. This is a market-type online store whose origin arises from the need to gather in one place healthy and sustainable products such as healthy foods, suitable for diets and intolerances; probiotics and supplements, skin and hair care products; and environmentally friendly products in general.
The relationship between YOPPEN and BeROOTS began years ago and the road traveled leads to many stories. For us, working with this great female entrepreneur has given us knowledge, awareness and the fact of marveling every day at how good it is to work with an exceptional team.
Having seen BeROOTS grow, and to grow together with them has always been a pleasure. We have had the honor of being able to update their logo, redesign their brand identity, create and maintain their advertising strategy, manage their Social Networks and accompany them in important publications and other spaces where they have become known throughout the country.
One of the most important projects we have done for BeROOTS is designing their Web page: an attractive virtual store (ecommerce) with a unique design that has that WOW factor that makes the difference.
All this thanks to a lovely relationship of responsibility and trust.
A small contribution to make a big change
From the real experiences of the founding members of BeROOTS, a new awareness for healthy eating is born. Verónica, Melanie and Gigliola, the protagonists of this story, came to the conclusion that, in general, we are eating poorly and when it comes to changing habits and having a better lifestyle, we need to make a change and this could not be delayed any longer.
BeROOTS first starts as a Blog where they share their tips and personal recipes for healthy eating. This is a space that has always sought to contribute to a world of misinformation regarding what we eat. Verónica, for example, had to learn to live with food allergies years ago when her children developed significant intolerances that forced her to flip the switch; Melanie developed an intolerance to gluten in adulthood too, which also meant a big change in the lifestyle and diet that she had been leading up to that point.
It can happen to all of us! They lived it, informed themselves, learned and carried on.
BeROOTS is a way to expand knowledge and help more people living in a similar situation. This, years ago, was something that was not even remotely discussed, it was just an unknown field and many doctors ignored it, especially while diagnosing children with symptoms of food intolerances or allergies. Today, years after its beginnings and as a virtual market where you can find healthy products from Chile and the world, they still maintain an active blog where they constantly share rich and simple recipes suitable for specific diets and intolerances.
We were able to learn this and much more from the great interview we had with one of the founding partners of this great initiative: Verónica Bernaschina, executive director of BeROOTS, who gave us a bit of her day-to-day life at the company and shared with YOPPEN his motivations, advice for new entrepreneurs, his point of view on the national panorama regarding food and other little facts that you cannot miss.
To get off on the right foot, we sat down to talk with Vero and asked her about everything and, of course, we had to ask about the roots (no pun intended) of BeROOTS.
Y: How did you meet Melanie and Gigliola?
Vero and Melanie or Melu, as Vero calls her affectionately, met at school. They became best friends and even after graduation, where, in many cases, friends’ distance themselves and follow different paths, they kept in touch.
V: We started with Melu with the idea of doing BeROOTS, but we both could not dedicate ourselves 100% to it because we had other businesses and that is where we decided to incorporate a third partner to this, and so the name of Giglio [Gigliola] came up. She joined in and everything went spectacular from there.
Regarding teamwork, Vero tells us that the three complement each other very well and that is a real plus when starting and maintaining a multiparty business.
V: Besides from having a relationship of great respect, companionship and work, I find that we are super complementary. For example, she [Gigliola] has a different vision than mine, but deep down, it’s a vision that helps us to run a business together.
Y: What led you to create BeROOTS?
V: I kind of started this because my children have a food allergy, therefore I had to start cooking at home, watching and being very careful with the ingredients while cooking. When you have children, you want to give them cakes, cookies or that kind of thing and that’s where you realize that everything has milk, and you cannot give them milk! So that’s why I started researching how to feed them better, I got into a course and did everything I had to do to adapt.
Around the same time, Melu started with an intolerance to gluten and dairy products, so she decided to study Health Coach in the United States and there they taught her, among other things, some recipes. We always talked about it among ourselves, we shared ideas like: ‘Where do you buy this?’ ‘How do you do this?’ And we came up with a blog where we shared all this info with more people who were living the same thing.
This is how BeROOTS started.
The idea of turning this blog into a healthy online market was born as a response to a problem that happened to both Vero and Melanie with their cases of food allergies and the search for ingredients and healthy foods, meaning having to constantly go from one place to another, from store to store and how complicated it was to find everything they needed to gather to eat healthy every day.
V: We thought: ‘we could make a marketplace in which, through BeROOTS, all health food stores could sell in one place’. Because the problem is you are going to buy something from the roaster, then you go elsewhere for vegetable milk, besides it’s really expensive so you had to go around asking for a cheaper alternative and that’s how you spend your day from store to store looking for different options. Our idea was: Why don’t we make a Marketplace and sell everything through BeROOTS?
Y: In the beginning, did you think you would achieve the scope you have today?
V: Yes, I think so. We believe in ourselves, so it was always like: ‘the future goes this way: web pages, e-commerce, the market is going there!’.
About healthy eating, Vero also tells us that they believed and still believe that the future is also heading that way, towards a growing awareness of eating well and adopting a different lifestyle.
V: If you see, for example, other countries: United States, Australia; the issue of becoming aware of how you feed yourself and knowing your limits, to make a statement and say ‘this is what I want, I decide not to eat this and eat that’, that each one finds their own way it’s manifest overseas and continues to grow abroad, just as it will continue to grow here. So, we never doubt of our success.
Yes, there may be some inconveniences in between that can make you say ‘it may not work’, but the base is a good idea, it is something that is approved and growing.
“Our goal has always been to go further, but we are going slow, step by step.”
Even having gone through some typical difficulties of an enterprise in its beginnings, BeROOTS always went ahead with the perseverance of its founders. Vero believes that part of the challenges existing to date are to learn and grow. To solve problems, you must always be willing to apply all the creativity you have as a team.
Y: And what is it like to be a woman in charge of a company?
V: Tiring! – especially when you have a family and you care a lot about the family. When I got married and had children, my priority was not letting someone else raise them, but that I raise them. I didn’t want to have someone take care of them for me to work until it’s dark outside and get to put them to bed. It is not my lifestyle.
So, trying to give 100% to both sides, trying to be here and also there, is difficult. I feel like a juggler. Luckily, the three members of our business have a similar vision regarding family and time, and we organize ourselves well. We divide the time to be able to supervise the office and also to be with the family.
Something that I don’t like is taking work home with me. I try to do as much as possible in the office, so when I get home, I disconnect and I am with the children.
And the weekends? Full disconnected. Sometimes Vero checks her e-mail, but she has her times completely separate. What is work stays in the office, and at home she dedicates herself to her family.
Y: Moving on to another topic, what do you think it is like to live with a food allergy in Chile? How does our country face this issue?
V: I think it’s super difficult. First, there is a lot of differences between social strata. For example, in a medium-high social stratum you can have more access to health, that is clear. You have access to go to a clinic, to a specialist, you can try and ask for different opinions, spend more money on good probiotics for your child, worry about their diet, but I think all that in other strata it’s difficult to achieve.
Then, we are just becoming aware of the issue of food allergies! – before it was like ‘no, your son is fine’, ‘you are hysterical, you give your baby your nervousness and that’s why he gets sick’. It is only now that people are beginning to believe that this really exists and it is not colic or other diagnoses, because there is not even a test that determines that you have a food allergy. The only thing that determines an intolerance is how you feel, how you look, detecting that your child feels bad, that something is wrong. The next thing is to go to the doctor, who sees the possibility of a food allergy, then eliminate allergens from the diet and then gradually incorporate them, like a trial and error to see what makes you sick or what makes your baby sick.
It is worrying that this awareness that food allergies and intolerances are real cases and increasingly in percentage, is in a very few doctors in Chile, Vero tells us, and we find it less in public health, where doctors may not detect a food allergy from the beginning in adults or not provide a proper guide to mothers with children who have an allergy.
In this way, social difference is something that Vero and the BeROOTS team are aware of. Both their blog and the products they have in their healthy virtual supermarket offer alternatives that vary in prices and guidance for people with intolerances and food allergies.
“What is needed is guidance.”
Y: What is the outlook regarding the national offer of options for healthy eating?
V: I find that at this moment it is incredible. It has increased, it is full of suppliers and new business. There is a lot of enthusiasm about it. You go anywhere and people are very concerned about food issues. If you say you don’t eat gluten, for example, it is understood and there are alternatives in restaurants or other places.
Regarding the national supply of suppliers: it has grown a lot. I believe that in the end the pandemic drove a new wave of Chilean entrepreneurs.
Y: Why did you decide to work with national producers?
V: Because you will always have international suppliers, but having international suppliers means: possible stock breaks, running out of products and an increase in the carbon footprint by bringing ships that pollute too much and move millions of kilometers to bring a product that could perfectly manufacture here.
So, I think it is important to choose local products and, besides from choosing them for these reasons, by doing it you can help to improve our country’s economy.
As we have already discussed, BeROOTS also has a wide selection of food for specific diets such as vegan, keto, kosher and more. We wanted to know more about it, which motivated these three entrepreneurs to consider a generous range of products for all types of lifestyles.
Y: Why include unconventional diets such as vegan or Kosher in your product catalog?
V: Because I think that we have to point towards the biodiversity of the human being and feeding not only has to do with something to nourish but also with the principles and the needs that one has. If you feel that it is right for you, for your body, if it accommodates you economically and morally, you have every right to do so.
“Food is such an important part of life that no one can tell you how to eat, so it is important to have alternatives for everyone.”
Y: What connection is there between food and people’s quality of life?
V: There is a 100% connection. If you eat badly, your body works badly and if your body works badly, everything works badly! – If you are not well nourished, your body can catch diseases. If you are not satisfied with how you eat, you are going to be dissatisfied in many other aspects, even psychological ones.
Now we are discussing this question, we wanted to know about fast food, what will Vero think about it?
V: Let’s see, I’m not the one to judge, nor will I tell you ‘you can’t eat fast food!’ because I also eat fast food, but deep down we point to the awareness of food. Be aware of what you are putting into your body and analyze it. In the end, by knowing what you are eating, you realize that you cannot eat a hamburger every day, for example, because… what are you finally putting into your body?!
Y: You have a visible environmental commitment, what motivated you to be interested in this topic?
V: It all has to do with consciousness. If you realize it, everything starts from you, if you have conscience first. Generally, you start changing your diet due to an intolerance or allergy, or because a friend has it, or because your children have it or because you realized that you feel bad about how you are eating. This change is internal. After this, you start to worry about the external: what shampoo you use, what things are you putting on your skin, everything that is part of your body but on the outside, and you also change it.
Then you look at the things you use in the house, the dishwasher, the cleaning products and you also change it, but in the end, you realize that you can be eating well, using products for your body well, that you can buy things to the house that they do not harm you, but you are polluting! you are generating kilos and kilos of garbage despite all those changes, but it is your environment and you also have to take care of it.
We at BeROOTS start from the idea of being eco-friendly for this, even if it costs. We are conscious and we try that all the products that we distribute are wrapped in ecological containers, that have certification, we take care not to print absolutely anything and the packaging or containers with which we dispatch our orders are always reused.
Y: What advice would you give to SMEs that are just starting out?
V: You have to be organized in every way. First of all, make schedules, make yourself routines, have a work methodology, keep the subject of money very separate for the company and for you. Being an entrepreneur is really difficult; you have to be very fair and be very careful not to spend money that is not yours (speaking of taxes, VAT, income, etc.) be clear about how much you think you are going to get and not spend more than that.
Being methodical and organized is very important.
Y: Tell us about an experience or some curious fact that has been generated within the brand.
V: When we created BeROOTS, at the same time a lot of things came up with “ROOTS”. A company called Umaroots emerged, some healthy bars called Roots too, and it turns out that a LUN journalist recently called me, and he was looking for someone to interview for Roots bars, not BeROOTS! That kind of confusion occurs too often simply because of the resemblances between names.
Another thing is that when we started choosing the name, we wanted it to go out into the world and that is why it is in English, but today, when they ask you ‘What is the name of your brand to follow it on social media?’ for example, you say ‘BeROOTS’ and people are like ‘Be-what?’. In the end, it is difficult to say it and to get it the first time, you have to resort to spelling it or writing it down.
Expectations, what’s next and more…
Last but not least, Vero told us a little about some projects that could be launched in the future and what is coming for BeROOTS in general.
Y: What changes on a social level would you like to generate thanks to the identity that BeROOTS has?
I think that contribute something to the world in every way. Even if we are talking about the issue of recycling, the reuse of our packaging, or that the cosmetics we sell is actually cruelty free; basically, those little things we do are all trying to change the switch of our clients and future clients. We want that the person who came to buy a specific thing little by little become conscious and get to know our brand, we want to make a change of switch that make them say ‘yes, we have to be more aware of the planet we live in’.
Y: What are the features you would like to highlight about BeROOTS today?
V: We are women, entrepreneurs, mothers, aware of food issues and aware of our environment.
“We are all mothers and we want to leave a better world, a better everything for our children.”
Y: What inspires you day by day?
V: Our children. I believe that they are our greatest inspiration.
Y: What’s next for BeROOTS in the future?
V: In the short term, we are going to start selling products that require refrigeration, a category of refrigeration. You will be able to buy vegan cheeses, fermented products, kombucha, good quality meats, among others at BeROOTS.
In the long term we want to make small distribution centers in strategic places in different regions, this to make easier for people from regions to access the food in our store and, of course, faster and cheaper.
Although today we deliver to all of Chile, we depend on distribution companies and many times the products take days to arrive, in addition to the fact that the prices are not very low, especially in distant regions, so we want to work on it.