CHESTNUT HILL — Lorraine Thomson and Janice Crean arrive at the loading dock of the Star Market at 8 a.m., Crean nestling her Ford Flex station wagon alongside tractor-trailers. While deliverymen stack merchandise onto pallets, the two women pile cardboard boxes on a dolly and roll it to the door. Their cartons are filled with WunderSmoothies, fruit smoothies made solely from whole crushed fruits and packaged in squeezable pouches. The Brookline residents launched their business a year ago and work as a team to sell, merchandise, and deliver their fruit drinks.
Both natives of Scotland and friends for years, Thomson and Crean hankered to start a business together. “We dreamed about bringing a healthy product to the supermarket,” says Thomson. Crean, a mother of three young children, came up with the idea of a truly healthy fruit drink. When she would check ingredients of drinks marketed as healthy, she often found additives and felt misled. “We came up with the smoothie idea one night after we drank many glasses of wine,” says Thomson.
WunderSmoothies contain no juices, concentrates, or sugar. The duo began making combinations of crushed fruits to see what would be appealing blended together. “We did many prototypes and tested with every friend and family,” says Crean. They settled on a mixture of strawberry, raspberry, and kiwi for one flavor; mango, pineapple, and apricot for a second. “We wanted to expose kids to kiwis and more exotic fruits,” says Thomson. As a base, both flavors have apples for sweetening and bananas for texture.
Their research to bring an idea for a start-up to fruition took them back to Europe. Ironically, they found a food manufacturer in Scotland, only a few miles from Glasgow, where Crean grew up. Her mother read in her local newspaper about a manufacturer that sources fruit from top-quality farms in Italy, France, and Spain. “We know the farmers and can trace the fields the fruit comes from,” says Crean. The 3.2-ounce squeeze pouch, which provides a full serving of fruit, is made in Italy and was developed by NASA for astronauts, and keeps the drink fresh with a long shelf life. A London firm produced the bright, kid-friendly package design. The packs are shipped to a Brockton warehouse and then Thomson and Crean handle the rest. “We are the legal department, customer service, merchandiser, sales people, marketer, and stocker,” says Thomson.
The entrepreneurs are not novices to the business world. Both held top executive jobs at major corporations. Thomson worked in global strategic planning and product development for companies like Guinness and Burger King. Crean worked in marketing for Kraft Foods and Gillette. They met while working in London. Coincidently, their companies transferred both women to the Boston area.
Dressed in matching outfits — green ski vests and white jackets embroidered with the WunderSmoothie logo — the two are likely the only women delivery team at supermarkets’ receiving door. “I have been known to do this in my high heels if I’m en route elsewhere, which always raises an eyebrow,” says Thomson.
The pair race into the Star Market with inventory they brought and quickly restock WunderSmoothies on the shelves and floor stands. They have other retailers to stock; the juices are also in school cafeterias in Brookline, Medfield, Hingham, and other cities.
You have to wonder how the pair landed so many big accounts. “The Scottish are famous for perseverance. No doesn’t mean no. It just means not now,” says Thomson.
WunderSmoothies are available at some Star Markets, Shaw’s, Roche Bros., and Sudbury Farms locations, or go to www.wundersmoothie.com.
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.