Peanut Free Planet was born on a plane ride back from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to Indianapolis, Indiana, September 2006. Brian and Heather had been married for 4 months and were visiting her family in Canada, where she is from originally. Heather was packing a suitcase full of safe Candy for patients and to give out for Halloween. Brian was confused as to why Heather was bringing 50 pounds of Candy back to the U.S., as he was sure Indiana had not run out of Halloween Candy. Heather explained to Brian the difficulty finding safe treats for Halloween in the U.S. Heather experienced several inconvenient food allergies in her life and has always had a soft spot in her heart for those with food allergies. Brian, who has a degree in Marketing, did the market research and found that not only was it difficult to find but there were not as many choices as in Canada for peanut free items. On the plane ride back, they decided that someone should do something. Neither of them were the type to leave something to someone, so they decided that maybe they should start a company to provide safe snacks to those with allergies. Both Heather and Brian wanted to have a company that promoted a positive feeling. They felt that it was too easy to start a company with the attitude "buy from us because we are the only place to buy this item." They wanted all customers to feel that they were special and Peanut Free Planet was a place that was just for them. They did not want to present the items as medicinal, but as great products that were created to be safe for everyone. They also wanted to make sure their prices were low enough that even families that were not The Rockefellers could afford their products.
Heather & Brian call all their customers Freelings because they chose to be Free of what does not have a positive effect on them. A Freeling is anyone that chooses not to consume something that will not have a positive effect on them. Heather & Brian want to focus on helping to elevate their customers to be empowered by their knowledge and choices. Heather, being a physical therapist for over 25 years, wanted all customers to feel empowered by the knowledge they had and the choices they were free to make. She wanted all Freelings to understand that they were a person who just happened to have an allergy, not an allergy that just happened to have a person inside. They have made it their mission that no child should feel different and deprived just because they have an allergy. They continually search out new products from several manufacturers, scoping for some that may not have hit the big time yet. Brian believes that sometimes it is the small companies that have great products and they just have not reached a level where they are well known yet. Companies can be great at making cookies, but it may take them awhile before they are ready to place their product in national retailers. This is one area where Peanut Free Planet can help them expand and give them a place that promotes their products before they are ready to hit the supermarkets. Brian and Heather started with two products, Quaker chocolate chip granola bars and Nestle Favorites in October 2006 and now they have more than 200 products and they say they have just begun. Heather says, "The best part of Peanut Free Planet is getting emails and pictures from Freelings that say their days have been made a little brighter because they have food that makes them feel completely normal." Such a small thing can have a huge impact in someones life.
Brian says, "The community we serve is so generous with their advice and recommendations. 95% of the improvements we have made over the last 5 years have come as a result of customer suggestions." Of course what he doesn't tell you is the best part of Peanut Free Planet is being the chief taste tester.
Heather & Brian are also excited about the URFFF Freelings they have created with their Cartoonist Nick Nix. URFFF is the Peanut Free Planet that is in habited by creatures called Freelings. Some Freelings have allergies and some do not. URFFF is the Peanut Free Planet because the ring around it has a special "gravitational pull" that pulls all the peanuts off the planet. Which was the vision they had when they created their logo. Heather states they just imaged what would someone with peanut allergies want the most? The answer--a peanut free planet. Although they started with a focus on those with peanut allergies, they have expanded to include allergy friendly products for the top 8 allergies. Because all Freelings are special, no matter what allergy they are currently experiencing.
~written by Stacy as Heather & Brian generally hate talking about themselves
Stacy originally became involved with Peanut Free Planet in June of 2008. She maintained her "real job" as a project manager for a national corporation, and would take a shuttle back and forth from Earth to Peanut Free Planet to lend support at holidays and busy times, to make sure PFP ran smoothly and to help with the PFP web site. After about a year, she could stand on the sidelines no longer. We are not sure if it was finding 5 spelling mistakes on one web page that convinced her, or if it was seeing a picture of a Freeling Friend happily eating their first allergy safe granola bar, that convinced her to join the team.
She took the leap, and equipped with her own ergonomic keyboard and a massive supply of calming chamomile tea, she decided to leave her stable, secure, organized, red-tape filled corporate life, to come and join the chaotic, bizarre, trail-blazing life as a Peanut Free Planet Adventure Crew member. Some watching from afar, would think she was insane; others watching from afar, would know she was insane. Although the rest of the PFP team can NOT vouch for her sanity today, we can ALL say we are so glad she is here! She is officially the COF (Chief Operational Freeling!) of PFP.
(~Written by Heather, posted without permission, or knowledge of Stacy.)
This is Nick, the Chief Creative Officer (CCO) on Peanut Free Planet. He also goes by Cartoonist, Illustrator, ar-TIST, as well as just Nick. Nick turns Earthlings into Freelings at the shows and exhibits we attend. If you want to see some of his freelings creations visit our Freeling Gallery.
On Peanut Free Planet we refer to Sheila as the "Great Packtastic!" She has been expediating orders on PFP since October 2008 and she is doing a great job. Although Sheila is a proud Grandma, on PFP she can usually run circles around the rest of us as she ensures that all orders get out ASAP. We are told that Sheila's picture is up in UPS drivers trucks across the US with the warning beneath that no matter how late the driver is running she will always insist"NO WAIT! I just have 1 more order to go" as she frantically packs another order. Cathy joined the PFP Adventure crew, as a Packtastic in September 2009, during the chaos of moving our operation to a larger planetary facility. Needless-to-say, she thought the other crew members were oxygen deprived from their space travels! She was a trooper, and learned the Packtastic process in record time, while setting an awesome example of how to be calm and cool during times of atmospheric pressure on the planet. It may be a day with triple order volume, equipment failure, or perhaps a freight pod arrives 90 minutes ahead of schedule - it doesn't matter - she will say "we can handle this", and say it with a smile. We aren't sure how she stays so serene, (we worry about the day that she might have a meltdown) but for now, we simply enjoy her steadiness on-course.