Simply nuts

Few comfort foods are more enticing than PB, with or without the J. So when my editor discovered Noomi, an organic peanut butter brand out of Mamaroneck, at the Hartsdale Farmers Market  — where she also met the charming founding owner Krystina Murawski — we just had to try it. We found Krystina’s creation to be creamy and delicious. I’m eating it, even as I type this interview:

Krystina, how did this all start?

“It all started with a text message from my college best friend, Chelsea, in January 2018. She randomly told me she wanted to open up her own food truck. I said, ‘I’ve been wanting to jar and sell my own peanut butter.’ We decided to encourage and hold each other accountable, which was really motivating. A few weeks later, I texted her to see how it was going, and let her know that I was about 45 batches deep, and the rest is history. I came home every night and overworked my food processor for three months straight. I bought peanuts from every grocery store to try and jar the taste of what peanut butter embodied to me — that perfect, natural balance of sweet and salty. By April, I had found my recipe and formed Noomi LLC. I used to joke in the beginning and say, ‘What do I need to do — make 100 batches?’ And funny enough, it was my 100th batch that was ‘the one.’ Then in July, I sold my first jar.”

Why the name “Noomi”?

“When I was first looking for a name, I had a list that was literally just anything I could think of. It’s a lot harder than you think. I don’t quite remember how, but ‘Noomi’ was on my list somewhere in the middle. And the more I thought about it, I began to see and visualize it as ‘new me.’ It was empowering and inspiring and the name made perfect sense. I wanted Noomi to be much more than just peanut butter. That’s why I position it as a lifestyle brand with a broader vision about self-discovery and pursuing your greatest passions in life. I want Noomi to tell people that doing what you love is absolutely possible.” 

How is Noomi different from other organic peanut butters?

“I hand process all of the jars in a commercial kitchen. So it’s made with a lot of love. Noomi’s signature blend is made with organic peanuts, organic Deglet Noor dates, grapeseed oil, peanut oil and Atlantic sea salt. The biggest differentiators are that it does not contain any added, artificial or refined sugar, just natural sugars (fructose) from the dates, no palm oil and no hydrogenated vegetable oils. Using dates as a sweetener really makes the taste stand out, because it’s not something people expect. The grapeseed oil adds to the unique taste and texture of Noomi while balancing out its overall nutritional content. We create healthy, high quality, clean label products with minimal ingredients that are better for our customers and the environment — and that’s something we’re really proud to stand behind.”

How did you get your product on the shelf?

“Pursuing my passion for Noomi is something that I was incredibly excited about, so I was determined to make it happen. I was completely surprised by how helpful and supportive everyone was from the start, too. Friends, family, people I met along the way. Everyone encouraged me to keep going. I launched Noomi at the John Jay Homestead Farm Market in Katonah in July 2018. My executive chef mentor, Leslie Lampert, recommended it to me. As a vendor, I would talk to everyone I could and network constantly. Building these relationships propelled Noomi into early retail partnerships, one of which was Taste NY in Woodbury Commons (Central Valley).”

What is Noomi’s role in the Specialty Food Association (SFA)?

“The SFA’s mission is to connect its members and expand the consumption of specialty food. The association promotes the industry and is actively committed to helping the producers behind it thrive and grow. To become a member, you have to be in business for at least one year. I was just under a year at the time I applied, but I knew Noomi was the perfect fit. I filled out the application and wrote a compelling waiver letter explaining why my product was a ‘specialty food’ and I got accepted. To date, one of my biggest accomplishments is when Noomi won the SFA’s 2019 ‘New Product’ sofi Award in the nut butter, seed butter category. It was validation that we had a truly special product and created a lot of industry buzz.”

Do you absolutely love it?

“Oh, I really do. Some people don’t understand how I have the energy to do it with my full-time job (at iptiQ by Swiss Re in Armonk), or why I’ll spend 20 hours of my weekend in the commercial kitchen hand making hundreds of jars. Sometimes I find myself questioning it, too, like, ‘What am I doing? This is crazy.’ And yes, I agree, it’s totally nuts — but I remind myself, I wouldn’t do it, if I didn’t love it. I love connecting with my customers and seeing their reaction after experiencing the taste of Noomi. It’s one of the most exciting parts of what I do. I thrive on being able to share my story, in hopes that it will inspire others to follow their dreams, too.” 

Any advice for people looking for their “new me,” too?

“One thing I learned is that you really don’t know what it’s like until you start. But if you love something as much as I love PB, you’d be surprised how hard you’ll work to keep your dream alive. There are days where it can be tough, discouraging or exhausting, but that’s the reality of any business, or job. Just follow your dreams and don’t give up.”  

Any future plans for Noomi?

“Creating brand recognition has always been really important to me from the start. I want people to know and love the brand and, for future products, be able to say, ‘Oh, this is made with Noomi. I love Noomi peanut butter.’ I’m all about organic growth, no pun intended, to keep the business manageable with my full-time job. I do have some really cool ideas for new products that I’m exploring, and I’m energized by all of the different ways I can possibly expand the product line. I also have some potential retail opportunities this year that could take Noomi to the next level.

“For now, it’s just me, you know. I’m a one-woman show. But pursuing Noomi full time is the ultimate dream. It’s not about if I’m ready to take the jump, it’s just a matter of when — and I’m confident I’ll know when the time is right for me.”

Noomi organic peanut butter is available in 8 ounces for $9.99 and 16 ounces for $15.99. For more, visit noomibrand.com.

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