When former school teacher Sharon Thurin (pictured with Jai Rodriguez) created Slim Secrets, she had no idea the company she started would one day take her all the way to the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. After seeing a gap in the market, the wife and mother of 3, just wanted to offer a healthy range of snack foods that didn’t taste like cardboard. She never imagined her business would one day see her rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous at Elton John’s famed Oscars Party in 2008, or that she would be invited back again this year for the 82nd Academy Awards next month.
In image conscious Hollywood, there aren’t too many snack food companies that can honestly say they’re a favourite among celebrities. In a town where every pound counts, no-one wants to be seen snacking on choc chip cookies and potato chips. But after sampling Sharon Thurin’s range of snack bars at the Oscars in 2008, everyone from movie stars James Wilder and Dyan Cannon, to Kathy Joosten (Desperate Housewives), Deidre Hall (Days of Our Lives) and Jai Rodriguez (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), is raving about Slim Secrets.
Sharon Thurin first came up with the idea for Slim Secrets four years ago when she was working with a health and wellness clinic in Melbourne. As a weight loss coach she knew the biggest obstacle for people wanting to loss weight is snacking between meals and although there was already a range of healthy pre-packaged snacks on the market, her clients wouldn’t touch them.
Sharon told Australian Women Online, “I had recommended some of these products. But the feedback I got from my clients was that these healthy snacks were too expensive and they tasted horrible. So I saw there was a little niche there in terms of creating something that was not only healthy, but also a little more fun and funky, and not so serious that it would only appeal to body builders.”
Not being an expert on what is fun or funky, I can only assume that Sharon must have achieved her mission because within two years of launching Slim Secrets, she was approached by a PR company in Los Angeles to provide snack bars for the gift bags that are handed out to celebrities at the Oscars and the Emmy Awards.
“I was blown away by the response to Slim Secrets at the Oscars. I got an invite to Elton John’s Oscars party, the Oscar’s viewing party and the after party. Since then I have actually supported the Elton John AIDS Foundation and every function he has now I get an invitation,” said Sharon.
“Elton John is amazing. I met him when I was there last time and he said wow, what a long way to come for a party. He and his boyfriend are amazing and they were fantastic hosts.”
It was at Elton John’s Oscars Party in support of AIDS where Sharon Thurin also got to rub shoulders with Larry King, Sharon Stone, Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Lionel Ritchie, Seal and Heidi Klum.
“I bumped into Larry King at the party – he literally walked into me – and when he heard my Australian accent he grabbed my hand and we walked arm and arm, just mucking around. I’m really excited about going to the party again this year. It will be fun and I can’t wait!”
Sharon says she owes much of her success to the internet and the opportunities it offers to small start-up companies like hers, that wouldn’t otherwise be able to access markets overseas.
“The internet really has made running a business so much easier. We’re in about ten countries now and it was via the internet that people first saw the products and asked for some samples, and that’s how it all really got started in the United States.”
Sharon says the only downside to expanding overseas is the stronger Aussie dollar, which has made it harder for Australian businesses to compete in the US and the United Kingdom. But something tells me the Aussie dollar will be the last thing on her mind when Sharon Thurin returns to Los Angeles next month.
After receiving the thumbs up from celebrities with their range of snack bars in 2008, Slim Secrets will introduce their new line of Designer Cookies and Potato Chips to Hollywood at this year’s Academy Awards on March 7.
“I was absolutely astounded by the response to Slim Secrets at the last Oscars we attended, so when the opportunity arose to visit again, I didn’t think twice!” said Sharon.
“This year I’d love Oprah to try Slim Secrets new Designer Cookies, I think she’d love them.”
The Slim Secrets range of snack bars, designer cookies and potato chips, are available in Australia at selected Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, health food stores, pharmacies and gyms.
For more information, including a complete list of Australian stockists and overseas distributors, visit the website www.slimsecrets.com.au