Two years ago, Madeline Haydon grew weary of waiting for the perfect creamer for her coffee.
She was pregnant at the time, and alternative products like almond and coconut milk weren’t enough. Haydon couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t find a creamer that was healthy and organic.
“You don’t want to take something because you’re guilty that it’s not good for you,” she said, then listing the various suspicious ingredients you find in most creamers that are in the market, including carageenan, hydrogenated oils, mono and diglycerides, and titanium dioxide. “At the time, I was waiting for the big guys to come out with something nut-based, because it was only a matter of time.”
Her pregnancy had heightened her awareness of what was going in her body and the itch to consume healthy, natural products had grown strong. So Haydon did the only natural thing a businesswoman could do — she created her own brand of dairy-free creamer that was paleo, vegan and kosher but didn’t compromise on the richness and creaminess of a regular half-and-half.
“Nutpods” began as a homemade concoction, but when Haydon decided to venture into the market herself, it became a Kickstarter campaign. She was a one-woman enterprise who worked out of her home with help from her friends. She’d regularly update the campaign with videos and the business’ progress, slowly building a network of soon-to-be loyal customers.
“It’s this great story where people got to see what I wanted to do and hear from my words what we were trying to do with Nutpods,” she said. “It helped build a relationship with us and our customers, who were our Kickstarter backers at the time.”
By raising almost $32,000 from the campaign, the company launched in 2015 through Amazon and quickly found success. It became the highest reviewed dairy-free creamer on the market and was named as one of the innovative beverages of 2016 by the Specialty Food Association.
Nutpods creamers are made from almonds and coconuts, and come in three flavors: original, french vanilla and hazelnut. They are also free from GMOs, soy, dairy, gluten and artificial flavors.
“When I started off, at first I was really self-conscious that I didn’t come from a food background,” Haydon said. “But this company and this product is built from the eyes of a consumer. I built what I wanted to be able to buy.”
The product and the brand has Haydon’s fingerprints all over it. From the packaging to the website, Haydon makes sure that a consumer is able to hear her voice and her heart behind Nutpods.
“I want them to know I’m a figure-head. I want them to know I’m a real person and I’m a mom. All of those things contribute to the success,” she said.
Haydon, who grew up in Renton and graduated from Liberty High School, credits the many challenges she has faced in her childhood for her entrepreneurial success. Haydon’s family were Vietnamese refugees who were one of many families welcomed to Washington state by former Governor Dan Evans.
“Sometimes the things you really struggle with are blessings in your life,” she said. “We came from a really hard beginning. We were a family of refugees so we were in no way affluent. We were on public assistance when we came here. There were challenges with a new culture, challenges with language… those are the things that were definitely hardships, but in the long run, it also teaches you perseverance and determination. And being able to push past those, and to know that you need to be willing to work hard for a sustained period of time with delayed gratification is key. We had a tough start in this country, but it helped forge what I needed to be a businessperson.”