Kevin and Robin Feeney’s 5-year-old son, Bo, didn’t want to eat his salad.
Still, they went on with dinner. Kevin Feeney began to pour some lemon vinaigrette on his salad, while his son’s eyes, ears and nose perked up with curiosity. He tried a bite, and surprisingly, liked it. So much so, that he cleaned two platefuls.
Finding success in their own family, the Feeney team created a business out of making healthy salad dressings.
Kevin’s Fresh, a line of all-natural fruit dressings, consists of lemon vinaigrette, cranberry vinaigrette and roasted peach vinaigrette flavors. The business officially opened in 2011 with Robin Feeney as the owner of the company and Kevin Feeney as chief operating officer.
“We were making salad dressing, my wife and I, probably 20 years before we started selling to the public,” Kevin Feeney said. “It was just a way to get our kids to eat more salad.”
Their four kids love the lemon and cranberry vinaigrettes the most, he said.
Now, Kevin Feeney and his wife have been selling their dressings in local grocery stores across Pennsylvania, like Essene Market & Café on South Fourth Street and various Whole Foods locations.
Understanding how difficult it can be to feed kids natural and healthy dinners, Kevin Feeney said he has placed a lot of importance on making the dressings all-natural and gluten-free, with no preservatives and low salt and sugar. He said he tries to put as much of the fruit as he can into the dressing, especially with the lemon vinaigrette’s lemon juice.
Kevin Feeney handles the making of all the dressings that end up on store shelves, since only he and his wife run the business. While he had left the financial services industry to devote his time to Kevin’s Fresh, his wife still works as a litigation attorney, so virtually everything is left up to him.
Kevin Feeney handles the dressing, from making it in small batches in an Elkins Park, Pa. kitchen to when it’s handed off to grocery store employees.
“From picking up the bottles to filling the bottles to delivering the bottles to selling the dressings, doing demos at stores for customer exposure, I do pretty much everything from start to finish,” Kevin Feeney said.
This start-to-finish work ethic often leaves a personable impression when he talks to store managers about his dressings.
This carries over into the demos and showcases he holds in each store to meet new customers and inform them of what a cranberry or peach vinaigrette is.
Not surprisingly, children seem to be the common audience when Kevin’s Fresh offers samples. The business’ reception is what drives the point home to Kevin Feeney that he and his wife have got a good product.
“They try it once and tell their mom or dad they really like it, and then I see them five minutes later and they’re coming back to the demo table,” Kevin Feeney said. “That’s a good sign we’re onto something with kids.”
The next biggest showcase to the public for Kevin’s Fresh takes place at the third annual Philly Farm & Food Fest on April 13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
As with any business, the struggles of growing sales and gaining exposure can be tricky. With Kevin’s Fresh fruit dressings, they have to overcome the dressings’ unfamiliarity to many shoppers.
“It’s a little different flavor profile than most people are used to,” Kevin Feeney said. “When people think of dressing, they think of Ranch and Italian and our flavors are a little different.”
It’s the different flavors, however, that enable Kevin Feeney to recommend the vinaigrettes for uses beyond salad dressings. It could be used for marinating chicken, sautéing green beans and asparagus or brushing onto meat as a light barbeque sauce with the cranberry vinaigrette.
In this respect, Kevin and Robin Feeney’s kids help in the creation of new recipes and applications for their dressings. To them, their children’s opinions are what come first.
“Having four kids as kind of a test kitchen works for us,” Kevin Feeney said. “We can try different things with them and get their reactions to it.
Albert Hong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.