Each time I doubt, I meet another amazing woman running a growing business. And then I can’t help it but bring another podcast to life. I continue my trip around the world and this time I reached Germany to speak to Constanze Walcher. Her business Glutenfreie Heimat exploded not because of Covid-19, but despite Covid-19, showing the resilience of some trends to the pandemic, such as gluten-free.
Taste without limits
Constanze is the founder and CEO of Glutenfreie Heimat, a company that produces and sells organic gluten-free baking mixtures and baked goods. It all started because Constanze had to eat Gluten-free and her mum did not find tasty alternatives for her. After experimenting for 12 years, she developed a great recipe, leading Constanze to start her business.
I first met Constanze in London in my Charity’s Gala Event. She was working at Burberry and for years, we did not connect again. When I found out about the business she had created, I knew I had to bring it to light in the podcast.
Stirring in the bowl
Constanze started Glutenfreie Heimat in 2017. She started with a second kitchen in her home and since then has learnt a lot. Including that glass jars are not the best way to ship baking mixture to people (despite being cute). The company has developed different products, including bread, bread rolls, pancakes, pizza, and flour mix. They sell mostly online with little advertising. The product was so good it grew by word of mouth.
The gluten free market is expected to grow at 11% a year in the next 5 years, with Germany being the leading market, followed by the UK and Italy. The growth is driven by customers that have medical conditions but also those that prefer a healthier lifestyle.Mordor Research
The Black Forest Lockdown
As of March, the team was Constanze, her “right hand” (working part time) and a student. When Constanze heard the first news of the pandemic, together with her husband she decided to stock up on raw materials. It was worth the early move as March was their strongest month in sales. Still, the yeast (one of the famous products and google searches of this pandemic) ran down until the very last day when they were finally able to order again. Talk about just in time operations!
As they were preparing to go skiing, they stopped instead at her Mum’s house in the Black Forest. As it turned out, they did not go back to Berlin until much later so the turmoil period was managed fully remotely. Whilst her “right hand” was very limited being at home alone with her 2 children, Constanze benefited from having a student with lots of free time that spent her day mixing and packaging.
Chased to grow
Until recently, Glutenfreie Heimat was selling mostly online, but recently, a major distributor sought their products on behalf of AlNatura, the largest organic brand in Germany. Overnight, Constanze had to seek new premises to increase production and is now interviewing every day as the company is rapidly expanding. With unemployment rising and students out of school, this turned out easier than expected (even if time-consuming). There is no remote working in production, so whilst the country stays away from another lockdown, Constanze will keep pushing for growth.
Looking for more
Constanze is not stopping here. She is expanding products and channels. As she studies a move to frozen products, an entire set of opportunities arises. There is a market of people that don’t have the ability, time, or willingness to bake and prefer the frozen products. But more than that, restaurants and hotels want this product as well, and that changes the scale of the business entirely from B2C to B2B.
The Home Office
In the Black Forest, Constanze was somehow able to convince her children that sometimes it was work time and that was important that they remain quiet. I am still not clear on how she achieved it and I am still suspicious if they developed mischievous activities while Constanze was working in the “boathouse”.
I admit my kids were relatively ok if I told them 27 times in advance that Mummy was hosting a zoom call with 300 people and therefore nobody was allowed into the living room under no circumstances. But in all other Zooms, it was a free for all on whether they would show or not. In fact, as they started recognising some people they made a point of coming to say hi. As to recording of this podcast, it was always after hours!
During this time, Constanze mostly concentrated on being a mother above everything and that turned out an amazing experience. One of the effects on her and the children was that everyone became calmer. (no mother comes to the podcast without talking about calm or patience…) They grew closer as a family without running around all the time.
It was, as she describes, the longest holiday ever.
Constanze’s Lockdown List
- Book: The Old House (German children book)
- Sport: Swimming
- Technology: Phone
- Lesson: Remember not to scream, and keep calm
- Word: Corona holiday
Connect with us
- Check out Constanze’s LinkedIn profile
- Visit Glutenfreie Heimat (yes, English version available) and follow them on Instagram or Facebook
- Join our free community online and on Facebook
- Follow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter