Let’s be honest: Eating fruit as a snack can be great, but sometimes, we need something … let’s say … a bit more “indulgent”. The good news is though, that these cravings don’t have to be detrimental to your health goals – thanks to amazing vegan brands like Cravers.
Hooked on their nut butters (especially the cacao-hazelnut spread with no added sugar, yum!) and their super-cool, edgy branding, I decided to interview one of their founders Ozan Akkoyun. If you are into fearless, ethical entrepreneurs that don’t only talk the talk, but actually walk the walk, you’ll definitely feel inspired by Ozan.
And now with no further ado - let's get to the interview! :)
photo by: cravers
Q: Hi Ozan, thank you for taking the time for today's interview. How are you?
I'm doing well, thank you. Appreciate you having me here and helping spread the word :)
Q: Great to hear. Let’s dive right in: Could you tell us about your professional background?
I earned my first bachelor's degree in engineering. However, I quickly realized that being an engineer wasn't my calling. So, I decided to start fresh and enrolled in a design school to complete my second bachelor's degree in graphic design. Following that, I spent ten years working in the design and advertising industry. Later, I moved to Weimar, Germany, to pursue my master's degree in Media Art & Design at Bauhaus. For the past five years, I've been working independently, primarily focusing on branding design and functional object design.
It's like Oatly but for hazelnuts.
Q: What was your reason for founding Cravers?
I've been collaborating with other startups at my studio Paleworks, alongside my partner Yagmur, helping them develop their brands and share their stories—eventually, the desire to create a brand for myself kicked in. Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle almost five years ago empowered me to establish a business that encourages others to do the same. I love snacking, a lot!
photo by: GreenVisions
But it's disheartening to see people still consuming snacks and spreads that harm the environment, are cruel to our non-human animal friends, and are detrimental to our health. My other three co-founders and I, all originating from Turkey, share a close connection with the hazelnut region. This connection led us to choose this versatile nut as a driving force for creating a positive impact in the food industry. And that's how CRAVERS came to life, a new-age snacking brand centred around hazelnuts. It's like Oatly but for hazelnuts.
Q: Which specific challenges do you encounter as a vegan founder?
Although not directly tied to being a vegan founder, having no prior business background and network in food retail already comes with various challenges. Obtaining a healthy sales margin, keeping the end price affordable while maintaining premium quality, convincing traditional retail buyers (aka gatekeepers), and navigating the complexities of product R&D come with steep learning curves.
it's disheartening to see people still consuming snacks and spreads that harm the environment.
Moreover, I'm a go-getter and a quite efficient designer, but the pace in the food industry is notably very slow, putting your patience to the test. As a creative person, adapting to tools like Google Sheets has also been quite a challenge, too :)
photo by: GreenVisions
Q: There are many vegan hazelnut spreads and energy balls, but we’ve never tasted anything close to the amazing flavor of CRAVERS before. What’s your secret? And by the way - thanks for making snacking so much healthier!
Very happy to hear that. I can be humble about anything except our Cacao Hazelnut Spread. It took us over a year to develop the final product, and I wouldn't be part of this journey if I didn't truly believe we've crafted the most crave-able chocolate spread ever :) My dream has always been to prove to the world that vegan snacking can be just as indulgent. Creating products that I can dig into daily without concern for my health, environmental impact, or ethical considerations has kept me going.
My dream has always been to prove to the world that vegan snacking can be just as indulgent.
Q: What near-future plans do you have for your brand?
Since the beginning of my venture, I've been juggling a bunch of topics—sales, operations, management, branding, content creation, you name it—all at once, in a discursive manner. Now is the time to devote full attention to brand building, enhance all communication mediums, and increase awareness, primarily in Berlin and NYC. We might introduce a new line, perhaps a hazelnut drink, by the end of 2024.
Thanks for your time, Ozan! And looking forward to even more Cravers for sure :)
Curious? Check out Cravers on Instagram & their online shop.
And a little goodie from our side: Save 15 % on your order by using our code GreensVisions15 :)