Small Business Survivors: Caron Proschan of New York talks about the beginnings of Simply Gum and its expansion during COVID

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Like many New Yorkers, Caron Proschan was the type to grab a packet of chewing gum near the checkout when shopping. However, it was around 2013 that she realized the gum she was chewing was full of artificial ingredients.

“I’ve always loved natural products, and that’s been the case with my personal care, beauty products, cleaning products, etc.,” Proschan said. “I realized that the gum I was chewing was completely artificial. This stark contrast really became apparent to me – I had just come from a workout and was eating a healthy lunch. I pulled out a piece of conventional chewing gum from my bad and I thought to myself, wait a minute, I’m adopting all these healthy activities in all aspects of my life, but my gum seems to be artificial?

Proschan dove into research to find out more about what goes into conventional chewing gum and was surprised to find that most chewing gum on the market uses a plastic-containing base, commonly referred to as “gum base”. on the labels. She also discovered that the FDA allows gummies to contain several artificial ingredients like aspartame, as well as artificial flavors and colors.

She tried to find a cleaner, more natural alternative, but it was empty. Proschan started playing around with the formula in his New York kitchen, and what came out of his experimentation was Simply Gum.

“I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial personality, but I never had the courage to take my own direction. I felt like this idea came to me and was worth exploring,” Proschan said. “So once I found the formula, which took a long time, I decided to take the plunge and build a real business around it.”

Simply Gum aims to create simple, high-quality confections that customers will love. The gum uses chicle, a tree sap found in Central America, as a base, and incorporates natural flavors into the gum such as peppermint, ginger, cinnamon, and maple. The gum also contains organic cane sugar in place of aspartame as well as essential oils for certain flavors.

For Proschan, it was equally important to have simple and clean packaging for the products they sell.

“What we were trying to achieve was a package that really represents what the company is all about, which is simplicity. It’s hard to do minimalism well, so it took a long time to come up with a design light, clean, and minimal, and still beautiful and approachable,” Proschan said. “We wanted a design that could sit in a gas station or in the Four Seasons hotel mini-bar, and we were able to achieve that. do it. I have to add that it’s so different from what’s in the gum aisle. You see a lot of bright colors, there’s a lot going on. And the white simplicity really stands out on a shelf, which is one of our goals.

Some of the gum products offered by Simply Gum. (Photo courtesy of Simply Gum)

Proschan began purchasing Simply Gum in stores in 2014, with one of the company’s first accounts being Columbus Circle’s Whole Foods Market. The business was soon able to expand and opened a factory in Brooklyn to produce the gum, creating jobs for locals, and soon Simply Gum began expanding to stores across the country.

Simply Gum continued to grow and added mints to its offerings. However, like many businesses, Simply Gum has been hit hard by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Gum has been hit harder than other food categories. There was an increased need for other food items as people were stockpiling, and gum was the opposite,” Proschan said. “The reasons for this are, firstly, that the use of the box disappeared. People were staying indoors, wearing masks, social distancing – there was no need to freshen breath. Secondly , because gum is primarily an impulsive item sold at checkouts, what that meant when people were shopping, they would come and go, stick to their list, and not browse. Many of these impulsive items were negatively impacted.

Proschan and the team at Simply Gum decided to shift gears and start focusing on selling their products online during the pandemic, knowing that their customers were likely shopping online. They also took the opportunity to accelerate the company’s offering expansion plans.

Now, when you look at Simply Gum’s products, you won’t just find gum and mints; you’ll also find options like smoothie bites, candy bars, and fruit gummies.

Photo courtesy of Simply Gum

“When I started the company, I thought it could eventually be more than gum. Gum was the first product, our flagship product, but I wanted to create a brand. That’s why I chose ” Just because it could expand to other categories,” Proschan said. “It’s something we started working on a few years ago, and COVID has accelerated a lot of those plans. saw the success of gum and mints, which are sort of a close cousin of gum and we thought, you know what, this is a brand that stands for high quality, simple ingredients and beautiful packaging and we think there’s a need for this in other confections as well so that’s what drove this decision and we felt that we had a license with our customers to launch these other items in other categories and become an actor in the candy aisle.

Over time amid the pandemic, Simply Gum found success in stores and online. Proschan hopes that Simply Gum can continue to grow, not only expanding its own product offerings even further, but also creating more employment opportunities for New Yorkers.

“We really now want to see ourselves expand beyond gum and mints. We are developing a pipeline of truly amazing innovative products that people are going to love,” Proschan said. “If we can do this well, the business will grow. Then we can create more jobs, we’re proud to have created manufacturing jobs in Brooklyn in the gum factory and that’s the kind of thing we hope we can continue to do as we go growth.

For more information about Simply Gum or to order online, visit simplygum.com.



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