The pandemic inspired one big change in the way the snack company SkinnyDipped does business: Founders Val and Breezy Griffith decided to live part of the year in Santa Fe in the late spring of 2020.
“Santa Fe is a lot like Seattle, with like-minded individuals,” explains Breezy, who has been living in Seattle, the headquarters of SkinnyDipped, since the company’s founding in 2014. “My mom (Val) grew up in Colorado and loves the Southwest. Both of us appreciate the beautiful open desert landscape.”
Since SkinnyDipped’s team members, including Breezy’s good friends and company co-founders Lizzie Resta and Chrissy Haller, live in other parts of the country, the Griffiths weren’t concerned that their move to the The Land of Enchantment would disrupt sales. Throughout the pandemic, it’s been business as usual.
The idea for SkinnyDipped was born during the summer of 2012, after the death of the Griffiths’ 18-year-old family friend Josh Dickerson. Shaken by the experience, Val and Breezy vowed to spend more time together.
“We realized that we enjoyed the same kind of snacks,” says Breezy. “We were both popping almonds in our mouths and then putting in a piece of chocolate so we could eat almonds and chocolate together.”
With help from Resta and Haller, a lot of experimentation in the kitchen and funds from Val’s retirement account, the Griffiths came up with a line of nut snacks that have a light coating of chocolate. As described on their website, “SkinnyDipped refers to the way our almonds, cashews and peanuts are dipped in a super thin layer of chocolate or yogurt.”
Among SkinnyDipped’s products are milk chocolate covered peanuts, dark chocolate espresso covered almonds, dark chocolate salted caramel covered cashews and dark chocolate cocoa covered almonds. The goal from the beginning was to create delicious and nutritious nut treats with less sugar — they use “a kiss of maple syrup” — and more protein than similar treats produced by their competitors.
At first, the four partners did everything involved with the business themselves, including manufacturing, hauling product to stores and sales. It was learn-by-the-seat-of-the-pants, with successes and mistakes along the way.
In a critical move, SkinnyDipped partnered with a venture capital fund not long after its founding. The company’s pivotal moment came in 2016 when the Griffiths met with a buyer from Target who loved their snacks but wondered if they were up to handling an account that meant supplying 1,800 stores nationwide.
“It was sink or swim at that point,” recalls Val. “We knew this was our chance. Even though we had supply chain issues, we told Target everything was fine. I had nightmares about screwing up this deal, but it worked out. Target has been amazing.”
Today, SkinnyDipped’s products can be purchased not only at Target but also at Albertson’s, Kroger, Amazon, Whole Foods and Safeway.
SkinnyDipped is expanding its line of snacks this year. They’re launching four new products — two peanut butter cups and two chocolate bars — in the early spring in their online store before they appear in retail outlets.
Writing engaging articles for print and websites continues to be one passion of Emily Van Cleve. She has been a freelance writer and journalist in Santa Fe since 1994, serving a wide range of clients including magazines, newspapers, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations. Emily has been a contributor to Santa Fean magazine for many years and is delighted to be working with the Santa Fean and Essential Guide team. An abstract painter and former professional pianist, Emily also enjoys hiking throughout New Mexico and at the Grand Canyon.