And for Gemma Stuart, Founder and CEO of Gut Wealth, providing her customers with a healthy gut is exactly that.
A long-term sufferer of IBS, food intolerances, and digestive health, Gemma was, in many ways, her own target audience. Now, her message is clear – your gut health matters, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about.
As part of our new founders series, we sat down with Gemma to delve deeper into her motivations for launching the business, her day-to-day involvement, her plans for the future, and everything in between.
The Birth Of Gut Wealth
Unlike Sir Isaac Newton, Gemma’s lightbulb moment didn’t happen as simply as an apple falling from a tree. Instead of a bump on the head, she instead endured the long-term digestive discomfort that so many people quietly suffer with, as she explains.
“I had loads of gut health issues. It was like roulette – I never knew what the day would bring and it led to an unhealthy relationship with myself. When you have a digestive issue other people feel embarrassed when you mention it – it made me feel like I should be ashamed.”
Determined not to succumb to a life of irritation she decided to take matters into her own hands, and her initial research sparked a desire to retrain, study, and better understand how she could regain control of her health.
However, as many of you have probably discovered during many arduous sessions with Doctor Google, she found that the answers weren’t always easy to digest.
She added: “I found loads of information but it was often hard to understand or unrealistic to adapt to modern life. From the research, 3 things became clear; people want products that work to improve their gut health – whether they have issues or just maintenance, are easy to add to their routine and are palatable. And I couldn’t find any products on the market that did all 3. And I had a feeling in my gut I could bring my experience and work with experts to create something that actually works.
“I was inspired to help others with digestion and gut problems such as bloating, bowel urgency and digestive upsets, so I worked with a team of experts to create Gut Wealth® liquid supplements which include a trademarked postbiotic ingredient.”
Gut Wealth comes in the form of citrus-flavoured liquid sachets that contain 7 key ingredients for better digestion, including Lactobacillus LB, a blend of 2 powerful bacteria strains, Vitamin C, Zinc, and B Vitamins.
Studies have shown liquid formulas to be more effective as they don’t kick off the digestive process, meaning they don’t get destroyed by stomach acid before reaching the gut.
Just 8 months in, Gemma feels Gut Wealth is already proving an important catalyst for breaking down the barriers for an open and positive conversation about what was previously considered a taboo subject.
“Awareness of postbiotics is growing,” she continued. “I worked with a team of experts to create a product that works, tastes good and is easy to add to your daily routine.
“We know we have some education to do with consumers. They’re often initially sceptical after years of having gastro-intestinal issues – so when they try it and it works they often share quite emotional emails with us after feeling so bad for so long and getting relief.”
Many people dream of starting a business. For a fleeting moment in time, they dare to let their imaginations run wild, filled with the excitement of possibility, before the crushing voice of reason buries it deep beneath louder thoughts of self-doubt and uncertainty.
And there it remains, a comforting thought. Make-believe. What could have been.
Gemma revealed there were several times she almost stepped back from creating Gut Wealth, but insisted what spurred her on was her desire to help others, and the confidence that she could do so.
“I’m super proud of the product I’ve made,” she said. “From years now of understanding what people like me want, to then developing the product, I kept trying to talk myself out of starting this business as it was a huge risk – but my driving force was to help people with IBS and other digestive health issues like me and I’m mega proud of that.
“I have customers of all ages (including one who emails me most months in her 70s) and when they share their stories about how Gut Wealth has helped them it fills me with joy. It really drives me to do more. I want to help people, first and foremost.
“So, the product is the crown jewel of my business – but the best days are when customers share their feedback because I know they’ve tried so many things to improve how they feel and finally found something that works.”
As someone who was brave enough to take the leap of faith, she now has a message for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
She said: “The best piece of business advice is to just start. Make a small run of your product and start selling. Ask your customers for feedback and information, ask them what they like and don’t like, adapt your product (if you can) and keep going. Do something really well and get even better at it.”
Scaling Gut Wealth hasn’t come without its difficulties, however. Gemma is the sole owner of the business, which means she takes on the sizeable burden of overseeing all aspects of the day-to-day operations.
While she does have support with tasks such as order fulfilment and shipping, customer service, and social media management, Gemma joked she could sometimes do with an extra twin to help bear some of the responsibility.
Due to the nature of the product, she also admitted it can be difficult to get people to share their positive experiences of using Gut Wealth. For young businesses looking to make their mark on the industry like Gemma’s, word of mouth is still a vital tool for ensuring their survival.
“A lot of people suffer in silence with gut health issues so even if they love the product, they aren’t exactly wanting to shout about it to friends, family, neighbours the way they might about a trending item,” she added.
“There’s a lot of shame around poor gut health and bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, toilet troubles – so people don’t necessarily talk about it.
“As a small business, our biggest challenge is growing the awareness of our brand. Small businesses often fail even if the product is great because they don’t have the budget to tell people how awesome their products are. So, the magic wand would be to help us spread the word about how great the product is – and how it truly can help people.”
Financing Gut Wealth
Considering Gemma’s devotion to her work, it came as no surprise to learn she has financed Gut Wealth entirely from her own pocket. She is, however, starting to consider investment opportunities, but is keen to ensure they’re the right fit before welcoming any external firepower onboard.
She said: “Gut Wealth is currently self-funded, I’m starting to look at investment opportunities but that’s a whole different situation where I need to really consider what I want from a partner. And because of my personal experience of IBS, food intolerances and digestive health story that led me to create Gut Wealth, I’d only want to partner in the future with investors who share my mission to help people trust their gut and improve digestive well-being.”
Asked whether there are any new products in the works, Gemma revealed she already has several in mind, but insisted she won’t rush the process, adding: “I have a range of complementary products I’d like to create but I’m 8 months in so this business is a marathon, not a sprint. I don’t want to spread myself any thinner – I want to grow the business in a manageable way so I can deliver the product and service I want to.”
Now that we’ve given you a bit of background, I think it’s time you heard more from the woman herself.
Questions With Gemma Stuart, The Founder Of Gut Wealth
If you could sum up your business journey so far in just 3 words what would they be?
Gutsy – exciting – scary – we’re early in our business journey but we’ve worked with a dream team of scientists to make Gut Wealth and I’m super proud of it
What roles do you as a founder play in the day-to-day running of your business?
Gut Wealth is solely owned by me, Gemma, so I oversee all aspects of the business. I’ve drawn on industry expertise for product development and manufacturing, and I have day-to-day support on fulfilment and shipping, customer service and social media management. Would love to have a twin extra me to help sometimes!
What has been the biggest mistake you have made so far?
My biggest challenge so far has been around working with an agency who did some work with me but only completed some of it. Set me back time and money, so extra careful now about who I work with. I previously worked as a communications contractor and I would hate to think I ever took a brief that I didn’t complete but we don’t all work the same way. But it’s all a learning curve.
What is the one key decision you made that benefited your business the most?
Just doing it – I’m still in the early stages, product launched 8 months ago so there’s a long way to go. The best decision I ever made was actually making the product and doing it – but that was a series of lots of little decisions to get there.
What has been the best-spent money so far?
The best money spent so far on the business was our testing and trial process – it’s to make sure we can confidently say we’ve chosen the right ingredients and also means I could be sure to progress with the launch and creation of Gut Wealth
If you could give yourself some wise words of wisdom prior to launching your business what would they be?
Consistency is key – keep going and don’t get disheartened when things aren’t going well. I’ve spent a lot of time procrastinating on certain things and ‘doing something’ is often better than waiting for a ‘perfect’ situation.
Tell us how you came up with the name for your business.
I’d been trying various iterations for weeks and couldn’t land on a name. I tried many different names. Separately, I went for a massage and about 5 minutes into the massage, the name popped in my head – I hadn’t even been thinking about the name or the business at the time and I knew it just fit – Gut Wealth – obviously it’s close the focus area – gut health but also that our good bacteria help other good bacteria flourish in the gut so a ‘wealthy’ gut is a good gut!
What is your favourite form of marketing?
Our best marketing really has been by word of mouth and people who love our product sharing it. This is interesting as there’s a lot of shame and embarrassment around gut health.
I’ve had interviews in health magazines as well, and we’ve been seen in Women’s Health, Marie Claire, Press & Journal, The Sun, The Express and Natural Health – so those have all been very helpful in sharing the story of Gut Wealth.
Why should someone buy your product?
Our product is for anyone who wants to boost their digestive well-being – particularly for people who experience bloating, abdominal discomfort or irregular movements! People don’t like to talk about the ‘poo taboo’ but our sachets are beneficial to your overall gut health and can be used as a one-off for a boost or as a daily good gut choice to start your day.
Our guts do a lot for us – and looking after the trillions of bacteria in our gut is vital to overall wellness.
TikTok or IG?
What’s one part of this industry that you hate?
I love this industry, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there. We pride ourselves on the quality of our product but it’s hard to convey that at times via e-commerce and you want to get the product to the right people – our product is for anyone who wants to give their digestion a boost, prevent bloating and calm digestion but we have customers who say it really helps with their urgency and also slow transit – so it’s hard to explain how a product can be good for both because it works to improve overall gut wellness.
If you could own any other health and fitness brand which one would it be and why?
There are some really admirable brands in the wellness space – Whoop and Strava are awesome brands that have adapted over time, and I love them both. Closer to home, I also like the Nerva app which can help people with IBS and digestive health issues.
Do you believe the cost of living will heavily impact your brand’s performance?
Gut Wealth uses premium ingredients, which also are made in the UK so it’s quality our customers can trust. Yes, the cost of living crisis will affect our sales but we offer exceptional subscription offer packages to allow us to give our subscribers the best value.
It’s an interesting thing because people often don’t think twice about spending on daily pricey coffees or cocktails at the weekend, but tend to not want to invest in wellness the same way. I say that investing in your health is never an expense!