Urszula Lulewicz, 59, president-owner of TerraNut Inc. in West Babylon, grew up on a farm in Poland, where she learned from the age of 4 to work hard and have a mission. Her husband and business co-owner, Eduardo Vivaldi Bifulco, 64, was a professional cyclist on the Brazilian national team from 1978 to 1984 who kept his energy – and that of his teammates – up with homemade nut snacks , flaxseed and oats.
“At his young age, he knew that to perform, you had to stick to a healthy lifestyle. If you want to achieve something, you have to take care of yourself,” said Lulewicz, of Lindenhurst.
The couple met in the United States in 2006 and each acquired entrepreneurial experience. Bifulco owned a bagel shop in West Babylon for 10 years. Lulewicz started a cleaning business in 2014. Bifulco was looking to move on when a former cycling teammate asked him in 2011 if he could provide his fellow cyclists with snacks.
“This gave us the idea that we could create convenient snacks not only for athletes, but also for anyone with a busy lifestyle who moves all day,” Lulewicz said.
In one look
TerraNut, Inc., West Babylon
What does it do : manufactures and sells healthy snacks
Direction: president and owner Urszula Lulewicz; co-founder Eduardo Bifulco
Annual sales: Around $1 million
They launched TerraNut the following year… earth from the Latin word for earth and nuts because it was their first product.
“Our passion for wellness and our desire to offer guilt-free, nutrient-rich snacks led us to the creation of TerraNut,” said Lulewicz. “Our vision is to have snacks that taste great and will also contribute to a healthier life. , a happier lifestyle for our customers.
This interview has been edited for space and clarity. /
How did you grow the business?
Our first snack in 2012 was Nut Punch. We mixed six different nuts with oats and flax seeds, which are very rich in nutrients. This is one bite that contains 92 calories, 4 grams of protein and 0.6 ounces. Since then, every year we have added something new. We now offer eight products, four different nut snacks, three different popcorns and Nana Bites, which are dried bananas with nothing but lemon juice added.
Which is the most popular?
PNut Punch is our bestseller. Our products are all-natural, gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan. We use a unique cold press machine created by Ed. With the cold press method, under high pressure, the oil from the nuts serves as a binder for the ingredients. It has a pressure of 5 tons and is highly automated; every hour, 1,000 coins come out.
How has your education influenced business development?
A farmer is a special breed of person: their love for their land. My father worked because it was his mission and we worked together as a family. At university in Poland, I studied economics and business management. I was very good at math and numbers. So when I met Ed, he said, are you good with numbers? I’m good with ideas. We can definitely do something together.
What was your start in business?
When I came to the United States in 1993 with my first husband and three children, to support the family, I started cleaning. In 2014, I started my own cleaning company, which in 2016 became We Clean LI Inc. I have someone running it while I focus on TerraNut, which I call my youngest baby.
How much did you spend to start the business?
We’re putting all of our savings on the line. We spent about $250,000 to rent the space and buy the machines.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
The biggest challenge right now is with sellers and marketing because we get so many emails and phone calls with comments saying we love your product. We just have to figure out how to attract a wider audience and how to be in every home because a lot of people don’t know we exist. We applied to FreshDirect’s Rising Industry Producers and Entrepreneurs program and were selected to participate. I hope they can help us attract more customers.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
The freedom to work with your passion.
How to attract your customers?
On Long Island, we have many fairs and farmers markets. And we have subscribers on our website who receive our newsletter and discounts. We have loyal customers; 50 to 60% of our online orders come from loyal customers. We also have stores in many states. The biggest buyers are on the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Florida and then California. One of the biggest stores that carries us is in Florida, Rollin’ Oats. We are growing slowly and organically, but not at the speed I want.
How many hours per week do you work?
I wish I started this business 20 years ago, when I had more energy. I work at least six hours a day until 10 p.m., maybe 12 p.m., but I try to keep the weekends to myself unless we have big shows, which I think is important to be there.
What do you hope your business will look like in five years?
I want to reach as many customers as possible because I want to introduce them to TerraNut. My goal is just to continue to grow.
What advice would you give to someone considering starting their own business?
The most important thing is to follow your passion because it will give you the strength to face the ups and downs of business. Be careful how you spend your money. Take care of your customers and your network so you can share and ask questions about how to do something. And follow the rules and regulations.