Best Friends and Founders Ana Isabel Diaz and Ivanhova Kaufman, who met while studying in Boston, set out with the mission to create an ecosystem of food and products that meets the highest standards of allergen-friendly production. Their new concept offers much greater access to trustworthy food choices and alternatives.
After graduating from Bentley University, Ivanhova Kaufman took a position at Maison de Mode as PR & Partnerships Manager. In contrast, Ana Isabel Diaz (after graduating from Northeastern University) went to the University of Miami for her Master’s degree studying Sustainable Business. The two came together to develop Basquet, working for months until closing their $500,000 pre-seed round from angel investors and transitioning into designing the concept of Basquet full-time this past December. The corporation’s board of advisors includes Co-founder and former Head of Marketing at ButcherBox, Michael Filbey, and Co-founder and CEO of Maison de Mode, Hassan Pierre.
“I love that Basquet is a one-stop-shop for the best allergen-friendly brands in the food industry. As a person who travels frequently and pays attention to what I eat, this service provides various delicious options that can be delivered to you with ease. Additionally, I admire how Basquet’s mission stands by sustainability with its desire to prevent commercial, industrial, and food waste generation. Basquet is making a positive impact on people and the planet while providing customers with food that will make them feel good and safe.” said Pierre.
Chan: What is Basquet? How did you come up with this concept?
Kaufman & Diaz: Basquet is a carefully curated, modern online grocer created for people seeking allergen-friendly products, making access to trustworthy alternatives and a greater depth of choice achievable. Basquet aims to cultivate an all-diets, all-specifications friendly one-stop-shop. The company shys away from “picky-eater” accusations. By granting more accessibility to accommodations, the brand aims to shift the negative narrative and connotation behind food substitutions and rather toast to their existence.
We know the struggles through our community and our years of lived experiences. We decided to step up to the plate to help solve this problem. When we started to conceptualize Basquet over a year ago, we realized a vast white space in the market and that allergy sufferers were a left behind majority. 1 in every 4 Americans suffers from one of the top nine main allergens in the US, soy, tree nuts, peanuts; dairy; gluten; fish; shellfish, egg, and sesame. It is the largest food community and growing every year. It is incredibly time-consuming to find safe products and a hassle to read every label when shopping for groceries. In addition to allergens, Basquet caters to a diversity of lifestyles and food preferences, including vegan, kosher, organic, keto, and paleo- to name a few. Although Basquet highlights the strength in catering to allergen-friendly lifestyles, Basquet is also a great place to discover new brands, even if you do not have any allergies & or food intolerances.
Chan: How do you monitor the brands you carry to ensure their supply chain is fully transparent and responsible?
Diaz: With over 100 founding brands and a selection of over 400 products for launch across the top 9 allergens, we have emphasized the quality and diversity of the grocer’s curation (which has been a whole year in the making). Brand’s go through an extensive process before getting onboarded; we also work alongside FARE (Food Allergy Organization) for an extra layer of protection through its network of experts and dietitians. We verify the manufacturer facilities of each respective vendor to vet products for our severely-allergic/high-risk consumers and offer an additional layer of protection. We only sell products that our loved ones or we consume. We only sell what we believe in because we think that no one should doubt whether or not what they’re consuming is going to be good for their body rather than harm it.
At Basquet, we scour through brands and products, digging into their labels. We are flexible to cater to any common allergens while also allowing for an array of needs and specifications. We strive to deliver the best of what’s out there while making the grocery shopping experience fun and enjoyable at its core.
We know every one of our brands and products inside and out, which allows us to ensure the quality of each item firsthand, something that often gets lost when selling thousands of brands and products.
Chan: Logistics is always a challenge; please tell us about the ordering and shipping process and if you encounter any supply chain or shipping issues. Is there a central warehouse, or are your suppliers drop-shipping?
Kaufman: As consumers, we understand the importance of timeliness, consistency, and convenience in grocery shopping. We moved away from a drop-ship model and purchased and held all of our inventory in-house. Approximately 40% of our inventory comes from a distributor, and 60% comes directly from our brands.
Basquet customers will add all of their items to their cart, checkout, and receive all of their groceries together in a Basquet box straight from our warehouse within 2-5 business days.
Our warehouse and 3PL are located in New Jersey. They are central to the cities where we expect to have the greatest density of customers and allow us to offer the most competitive shipping times and rates to these locations.
We offer 2-5 day shipping options across all 50 states, and expanding to a second West Coast warehouse location is in our plans!
Quality over quantity was a core focus during our forecasting and purchasing processes. Our conservative route allows us to have better logistics management and more robust control of our margins. Retailers in the grocery space deal with narrow margins, so having complete visibility and knowledge of each product’s margin and a clear understanding of optimizing it for both the customers and the company is key to a healthy business model.
As for challenges, we have those. We work with many emerging and smaller brands directly, sometimes working around production delays or over-demand. Additionally, as a pre-launch startup with no traction or volume history, it was an obstacle to achieving optimal rates and terms from supply chain partners.
Chan: Is this a subscription model?
Diaz: Basquet is not strictly a subscription model, although customers will have the option to subscribe to their box or certain individual products if they wish. No account creation or subscription is necessary for those who want to test it out with no commitment or who want to place a different order each time. We offer free ground shipping for orders $50.00 and above.
Chan: Please tell us about your sustainability mission and partnership with the food banks.
Kaufman: We took the “less is more” approach when it comes to our packaging. Today, we are fortunate to have many alternative and sustainable packaging options. While that is a significant step forward, these materials often require unique disposal processes that are either unavailable to some people or simply not convenient for many and still end up in our landfills.
Our minimal packaging includes only the necessary materials to keep our products protected and simultaneously provide our customers with a joyful unboxing experience.
Basquet will donate all of the leftover products to the food banks nearest our warehouse. While we do not accept returns, we encourage our customers to donate any items they no longer want to their nearest food bank. Foodbank locations can be found at www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank, and we will credit our customers to spend on their next order.
Basquet is preparing for launch this upcoming April 19th.