Empowering Underrepresented CPG Founders Featuring Katrina Tolentino, Naturally Network
Where can diverse CPG founders gain the resources and connections needed to succeed?
Diverse — and often underrepresented — groups have the power to take the industry to another level. In order to do so, there needs to be communities and networks that can support, coach, point them in the right direction, and help them access the resources they need to thrive. Through the incredible stories of brands that have already succeeded despite the barriers, Katrina Tolentino is sharing how networks in the CPG industry are working to support marginalized voices and leaders.
In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, host Diana Fryc sits down with Katrina Tolentino, the Executive Director at Naturally Network, to discuss how they help underrepresented CPG founders succeed. Katrina explains what Naturally Network does for the CPG industry, how the M/O Fellowship helps CPG brands prosper, and the partners and people she’s looking up to as advisors in the program.
In this episode we learn:
- Katrina Tolentino talks about Naturally Network and what it does for the CPG industry
- The journey of how Katrina became the Executive Director of Naturally Network
- What is the M/O Fellowship, and how does it help brands succeed in the CPG industry?
- How NielsenIQ got to partner with Naturally Network
- What Katrina hopes Naturally Network’s program will look like in the future
- The advisors and women leaders Katrina looks up to
- The product trends Katrina has her eyes on
About Katrina Tolentino
Katrina Tolentino is the Executive Director at Naturally Network, a national community for natural, organic, and better-for-you consumer packaged goods. Katrina creates opportunities and experiences that foster connections between diverse groups to build a stronger ecosystem. She has over 17 years of experience in launching and scaling organizations and programs through partnerships, program and experience strategy, and community engagement. Prior to Naturally Network, Katrina was the Executive Director at Naturally Austin, where she launched the M/O Fellowship, a six-month program that supports CPG founders of color.
Guests Social Media Links:
LinkedIn Katrina Tolentino: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katrinatolentino/
- Naturally Network
- Katrina Tolentino on LinkedIn
- M/O Fellowship
- Natalie Shmulik on LinkedIn
- Aimy Steadman on LinkedIn
- Ayeshah Abuelhiga on LinkedIn
- Natalie Shmulik on the Gooder Podcast
- Diana Fryc on LinkedIn
- Retail Voodoo
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo.
Retail Voodoo has been building beloved and dominant brands in the food, wellness, beverage, and fitness CPG industries for over 30 years. They’ve served multinational companies like PepsiCo. and Starbucks, startups like High Key, and everything in between.
Their proven process guides hundreds of mission-driven consumer brands to attract a broad and passionate fan base, crush their categories through growth and innovation, and magnify their social and environmental impact.
So, if you are ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy that gives your brand an advantage, Retail Voodoo is here to help.
Visit retail-voodoo.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Welcome to the Gooder Podcast where we talk with powerhouse women in CPG about their journeys to success. This episode is sponsored by Retail Voodoo, a brand development firm guiding mission-driven consumer brands to attract new and passionate consumer base crush their categories through growth and innovation and magnify their social and environmental impact. If your brand is in need of brand positioning, package design or marketing activation, we are here to help. You can find more information at www.retail-voodoo.com.
Diana Fryc 0:43
Hi, Diana Fryc here I’m the host of the Gooder Podcast where I get to speak with the powerhouse women in the food and beverage and wellness categories about their journey to success and their insights on the industry. This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. Retail Voodoo is a brand development firm providing strategic brand and design services for brands in food wellness and the beverage industries. Our clients include Starbucks, Kind, Rei, PepsiCo, Highkey and many other market leaders. If your goal is to crush your competition by driving growth and disrupting the marketplace with new and innovative ideas, give us a call and let’s talk or you can check us out at retail-voodoo.com to learn more. Well, I am very excited to introduce our guest today. Katrina Tolentino is an award-winning Executive Director and has successfully led and scaled multiple innovative nonprofits. She recently became the Executive Director of Naturally Network the national industry hub for the natural and organic consumer goods community. Naturally Network has eight affiliate communities for doubts growing across the country, including Austin, the Bay Area, Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, North Bay and San Diego. Prior to Naturally Network Katrina was executive director at Naturally Austin, where she launched the M/O Fellowship, a six-month program that supports CPG founders of colors. And the women in CPG. Summit, which became a national network program in 2022. She was nominated for startup leader of the Year. And the awards are many. I’d like to go on but let’s hear from her. Okay. So needless to say, she’s bringing 17 years of experience and expertise in community building and engagement, program development events, fundraising and partnerships to the Naturally Network. Hello, Katrina.
Katrina Tolentino 2:59
Hello, thank you so much for having me. I’m also deeply uncomfortable by all the nice things.
Diana Fryc 3:05
Oh, my goodness. Well, I like all the praise, all the praise, you’ve been doing a lot of heavy lifting, and I did a really good job of tripping over a whole lot. I’ve been on vacation, and I just got back. And apparently my mouth is not working really great. So people will be paying more attention to that than anything else for this first few minutes.
Katrina Tolentino 3:26
That’s okay. That’s what editing is for.
Diana Fryc 3:30
All right, where are you located?
Katrina Tolentino 3:32
I’m currently in very hot and muggy. Austin, Texas. Don’t come here now.
Diana Fryc 3:37
Oh, yes. Okay, I have not been to Austin yet. So which seems bizarre. I’ve been to Dallas a few times. But Austin, I know I need to go because South by Southwest but I also hear other great things are happening there as well.
Katrina Tolentino 3:57
It has been a crazy two years. So when I was leading Naturally, Austin, I swear, every week, we would have so many brands that would reach out and join the community. And the funny thing that they would say every time was, hey, I just moved to Austin in the last 90 days, what should I do? I’m in CPG what should I do? Oh my gosh, so many founders. But it’s been a great, the growth has been incredible to see and watch.
Diana Fryc 4:26
That’s great. Well, so I’m excited to share with you because our audience, there’s plenty of people in the natural and better for you space. But we have a really broad audience here. So I am excited for you to share. For those people that don’t know about Naturally Network, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Naturally Network, what it does for the CPG industry, and maybe an overview of the resources you provide to members.
Katrina Tolentino 4:54
Yeah, sure. So Naturally Network is a nonprofit membership organization and we convene, activate and support the national, organic and better-for-you consumer product goods industry, and we do this through our eight wonderful naturally affiliate regions seem to be and I’m really excited about that upcoming announcement. And I think that it is a great community to join. So no matter where you are in your CPG journey, whether you’re just kind of kicking around the tires of entrepreneurship and you’re not sure where to start, or you are a 10 million, 20, $30 million CPG company, and now you have all of these employees that you would love to get more plugged in and provide them with more personal development opportunities. Naturally Network and all of our affiliates is a great home for all of those folks. So you can get activated, you can find ways to volunteer and give back to the CPG community, you can find lots of resources to get going. So there’s really a place for everyone in the community. So it’s really fun because you meet so many people, and there’s so many folks from all walks of life.
Diana Fryc 6:07
Yes. What I love about it is the number of other organizations that sort of plug into it. Like it is not this Fort Knox kind of organization that it really is a community that is looking out for the well-being of the entire industry as best it can underneath, kind of like some of these parameters that have been developed. But by and large, I’ve seen a lot of other organizations plug in and go, how can we contribute? How can we support in every which way? And I love that.
Katrina Tolentino 6:42
Yeah, the convening is one thing, right? I think that convening can be easy to do, but the activating of the community is what’s really important. So we’ve got over 5000 members already across the country, and we’re just getting started that Naturally Network is actually only, I think we might be two years old. So we’ve had affiliate regions that existed before the network. And so Boulder was the first region that launched I believe, 1718 years ago, I believe Naturally NorthBay came next. And then in 2018, Austin, Chicago, San Diego, and more and more folks started to come together to create these affiliates. So I think that the network’s role is to really kind of create that National Cohesion and support the success of those affiliate regions. So I’m very excited to be in this role. It’s been all of, maybe 70 days.
Diana Fryc 7:40
Wow, you’re still drinking from the firehose. Yeah. Well, so tell us a little bit about how you came into this role. Like, I want to talk about the M/O Fellowship here in just a moment. But really, I think just before we started chatting, you said, yeah, I don’t come from CPG. And so how does one be cut? Well, first of all, I always feel like executive directors, I’ve worked with many. And I always feel like they’re magical beings that come from somewhere with this huge Rolodex and kit of parts that are unique for an executive director role, but maybe, how did you get to Naturally Network? Like, what was your path there?
Katrina Tolentino 8:25
Sure. And I think, me not coming from CPG. I think I was telling you right before we record here that I have impostor syndrome being in this role because of that, and it is something that I fight through. But at the end of the day, I lead nonprofits, I’m here to serve a community that’s really been the lens of every role that I’ve ever had no matter what it is that I’m working on, right. So it’s really about the community and business problems are business problems. So prior to that naturally network, I was the executive director at Naturally Austin for about a year and a half. Prior to that I was CEO of another nonprofit that was providing gamified philanthropic experiences across the country. So essentially, I was going into startup communities and unlocking financial and human capital for the nonprofits in those regions. And so that was a great fun time, basically, lots of events across the country. And prior to that, I was running kind of this fast pitch competition for innovative nonprofit. So I think outside of the community aspect, I think the thing that I am just so deeply passionate about is unlocking resources for people. And so that’s kind of outside of the community, that’s been the other running theme because my family’s story is really kind of related to that purpose.
Diana Fryc 9:58
Okay. I mean, you’re perfectly suited for Naturally Network for where it is right now, in its growth phase, understanding how to identify that potential is just as big as unlocking it. I mean, sometimes it’s even harder, it’s just kind of go, well, actually, these are kind of the just like with a brand, right? Like you can identify what the opportunities are, it’s so much easier when somebody lays out everything for you. And there it is to see. But when we’re talking about unlocking it, and finding it, they’re kind of two different ways of looking at the situation. And so I think sounds like your background, gives you that holistic visibility in and of itself.
Katrina Tolentino 10:53
Yeah, definitely. I think I gravitate towards earlier stage. I really love that because everything’s mushy, you’re walking out in chaos and fog, and you don’t know what’s in there. And I love going into the fog soup and seeing who else is there, who might be lost? And how do we connect the dots to create something that’s really valuable for people to experience? And so essentially, we’re a service provider, we provide community as a service, we provide education, and resources as a service. And so, because we’re also a newer organization kind of from an industry perspective, we’re just getting to that product market fit from the network’s perspective. So I think the building that we’ll be able to do from here is going to be exponential.
Diana Fryc 11:44
Well, this is a great segue to what is happening over it Naturally Network now and mentioned it in your intro, your bio, on the M/O Fellowship. So give us a little high level, what is the M/O Fellowship? Where is it gone? And what are we doing with it now?
Katrina Tolentino 12:07
Sure. So the M/O Fellowship, which stands for minority-owned, it’s a minority-owned fellowship program. It started in Austin in 2021. And our first year, we hosted over 70 founders of color in the program. And I know that sounds completely insane. But during the pandemic, we were fully virtual. So it was much easier to scale. There were lots of lessons that came from that. And so I’m excited to really kind of take those lessons that the Austin fellowship program is now in its second year, the second year has more in person. So there’s 22 founders that are going through that program. And prior to really me taking on this role, my dream was to really kind of take the fellowship and, and figure out how to scale it because founders of color are everywhere. I mean, just in the first cohort that we ran in Austin 90% of the fellows that were accepted, were from Texas, 10% Worth, kind of a sprinkling Yeah, across the country. So the need definitely was already, we could already see that just the sheer number of people we were taking in. So I think kind of taking a step back from a personal perspective, my family, I’m an immigrant myself. My family moved to the United States when I was nine years old. And my father was a very educated person. And he’s held executive roles in companies, but when we moved here, because of his heavy accent, he couldn’t get a job. And he had three small children. And so he had to choose to either get a low paying jobs, because he couldn’t find one because of his accent or become an entrepreneur. Now, so he chose becoming an entrepreneur and taking that risk, but not every culture celebrates entrepreneurship. And that is one of the invisible barriers. And so, I think, for me, this fellowship programs really personal because I can see the generational transformation, that it can provide a family and how it can really, kind of grow and empower people. So we’re really, really excited to take the M/O Fellowship as a national program, one of our mainstay programs at the Naturally Network.
Diana Fryc 14:37
So can you break it down for me a little bit, so the M/O Fellowship is what? What people apply to, it is their mentorship, is their financing, how does it look?
Katrina Tolentino 14:47
We select all the good stuff out basically, just left all the good stuff out. Thanks for keeping me on. Yeah, so the national program is a 12-week programs. So this is our pilot year. So it’s 12 weeks, we plan on taking a minimum of 16 entrepreneurs. We launched applications about a week and a half ago and already quite a few in the pipeline, really excited about that. So it is a 20 minute 15, 20-minute application process. We want the application to be accessible. There is a revenue requirement, but it’s very, very low. It’s $5,000 and we have a maximum, which might be unusual. We’re really looking to support founders at the earlier stages, because there’s so many less, there’s just so much less resources. And so we’re capping it at 200k. The program, the curriculum will begin in October, and we’ll run through halfway through about January. And so applications close at the end of August, and we’ll get notifications out to everyone up for acceptance in September. And so we’re working with NielsenIQ on this partnership. We’re really grateful for that, they’re funding the program. They’re providing advisors, they’re providing curriculum, support, as well as data to the founders in the program. So we’re really thrilled for them that they’re coming on as a partner.
Diana Fryc 16:28
No wonderful. Would you say that this is kind of a, how to build a brand sort of program, like, first, make sure your money’s in order, make sure your ops look like this? Or do you feel like it’s a little bit more of like talking people off the ledge, or maybe a little bit about, like capturing that excitement?
Katrina Tolentino 16:50
Yeah, I think it’s a little bit of both, right, because we are working with vendors at those earlier stages, a lot of the times even that their revenue is kicking off, but they may not have found Product Market Fit yet. And so a lot of it is, the curriculum will be based on best practices. And as much as we would love to be able to teach you everything that you possibly need to know to be successful in CPG, we won’t be able to do that in the 12 week. So the curriculum is focused on best practices, it’s meant to raise a flag or on the things that you may not know, that are important for you to know. And we are bringing in members of the community, experts in the community to teach our classes because we also want our fellows to know who their resources are. And so, the education really doesn’t stop at the class level, there’s office hours or more kind of facilitation and learning that we’ll do throughout the curriculum. And then the other aspect of the curriculum is a, what I’m calling brooker, which is kind of a facilitated networking hour with an industry leader. So it’s really important that we do that. Because oftentimes, people may be perceived as unapproachable, or oh my gosh, this person is so successful, there’s no way that they’re going to talk to me. And so those are the founders that we’ll be bringing in to talk to our fellows to also normalize what the journey is, like, from a media perspective. We see all of the incredible stories out there about how people have already succeeded, but what about the three times that they almost lost their business? What about when you have like, negative $51 in your bank account, or why there’s so much that is both kind of industry foundations that we’ll be teaching. But there’s also a personal development aspect, because the confidence building is what’s important as part of this program and welcoming and facilitating the cohort. And if you’re more confident in how to navigate your resources, your community, you’re much more likely to leverage that community and actually ask for help. So I think we’re assets one of the big metrics that we want to be able to measure.
Diana Fryc 19:16
And for you, you talked about how there was like a personal component of this, like there’s a personal connection. Do you feel that because of your personal upbringing, do you feel like as you’re building this program, that you have a visibility on what the needs are maybe in a different way than somebody who has a different life experience than you?
Katrina Tolentino 19:45
I think so. I think there’s a level also, me being a woman and a person of color in this role, there’s also a level of comfort and a different kind of welcome that people may perceive One of the things that I remember from the first cohort after all the applications came in, someone said, I didn’t know that there were this many black people in CPG. And it’s not that founders of color don’t exist, because they are there, and they exist everywhere, but they just may not be using the same language. And so I think it’s actually helpful that I am newer to the industry. So I can kind of bring the lens of how do we actually make it inclusive and not just inclusive, but accessible? Because even for me, sometimes when, even though I’m in this supposedly, kind of authority figure position, I also struggle with some of those barriers. I can walk into a room and not see a lot of people that look like me, and I can be intimidated. And so, of course, how do we expect other people that are newer to the industry, of course, they’ll feel that way as well. So, your right, I think that’s part of the lens that I’m bringing, and also creating a more connected community that supports these founders, were just the start of your work. So I see us as if there’s this continuum of care, we’re in the beginning, right? So what does the rest of care look like? And how do we find collaborators that slot in those spots?
Diana Fryc 21:40
Yeah, part of the joy of being in my role, I am in sales for our firm. And one of the joys I get is, I get to speak with all of these brand owners of different levels, sometimes it’s somebody who’s just starting out. And other times, it’ll be somebody in a multinational that’s been in the industry for years and years. And everybody’s story is unique. But what I find so invigorating and exciting, are the people who call me and say, I’ve been making this product in my kitchen for blank number of years, and my family thinks it’s a thing. Where do I start? And my answer is, not us. But I don’t necessarily have a really great place other than an incubator, which is sort of like what you guys are in some ways. And I think we need more because I would say, if I’m getting as many conversations as I’m getting, I know that there’s got to be 100x out there, like haven’t with all sorts of different people all over the place. And so finding a way to get this information in front of people like through this program that you’ve got going on, I think is going to be critical. And kind of like what you’re saying is, I think it’s important to be able to market the program in the language that these people who don’t know what businesses like business period, or CPG is, I think, is a big plus for naturally network. So I liked the methodology. And I liked the thinking behind the program. And NielsenIQ, who brought who into this opportunity?
Katrina Tolentino 23:40
Yeah, so NielsenIQ was actually a supporter in Austin. And they are providing support across the naturally affiliate regions. And they knew that I was thinking about figuring out how to scale them a fellowship. And so they actually, in one of our many meetings, they brought up, and this is an area that they would really like to support. And so, it wasn’t even quite me approaching them, they knew, I think they were staying in touch with what we were doing, and there’s a lot of value alignment there around the work, around this particular work and I think it’s really important that we have people across the industry to help support this. I think it is, not just in the welcoming aspect, but this is a community program and again, kind of in the lens of unlocking resources. Our role is to convene the resources and so that we can unlock it right. And so NielsenIQ is one of the first to raise their hand to support this and we are looking for more supporters, right now outside of the Naturally Network partners. And they’ll also be offering deeply discounted services, mentorship, all sorts of other resources to this cohort. But we are definitely looking for more folks. So if anyone is interested, head over to the Naturally Network website.
Diana Fryc 25:18
Okay, I love that. Well, let’s talk a little bit about what your hopes are for this program in the long run,. It could be like, what your hopes are for you personally, like, what do you hope this grows into, which may be slightly different than what the Naturally Network community does? But maybe they’re one in the same? So what is your hope here? What is the thing that you feel like you’re going to go, that’s a success, where we’re doing this, we’re heading in the right direction? What does that look like for you?
Katrina Tolentino 25:55
I mean, first and foremost, at the most baseline level, it is helping people find the resources. So what I mean by that is, I hope that we can align around a language so that we can create access and inclusion. And so this program, what I would like to do through this program is build partnerships that help people find us. On the language side of things, so for example, most people that will be applying to the program may not consider themselves an entrepreneur may not consider themselves a startup. And so shifting the language around small business, they’re a small business owner, we’re really trying to make it more accessible, even just from that language perspective. So I think from a high level, what I hope to see the success of this program in the future is that we have this network of supporting organizations, that we’re really helping to build a connected small business ecosystem so that these minority-owned brands can find the resources that they need. And of course, I’d love to see more diversity on the shelf. I mean, I think that this is a huge opportunity for us as an industry, consumer behavior is changing, consumers themselves, and their demographics are changing. And so the products need to reflect that and the shelf needs to reflect that in order for us to truly kind of continue with the pace of innovation and support the industry, its growth. So to me, I think it’s both of those things.
Diana Fryc 27:36
Great. And for you yourself, who are you considering like a mentor? Like, who are you looking to and saying, maybe modeling your approach or hoping to model his program after? Or maybe you’re not, but I guess I’ll just ask that question.
Katrina Tolentino 27:55
Yeah, thanks for that. So we are actually going to shift out of mentor language and into advisor language. And the reason for that is, these folks are at such an early stage, that they’re not necessarily ready for a mentor. And the word mentor also has a lot of baggage. There are a lot of mentors in the industry, and they may expect that founder to show up a certain way, they may expect the founder to know more things than they know. And because we’re at that earlier stage, we’re shifting it into the advisor language, because it’s really both a person that is a sounding board, it’s someone that can help them access resources, point them in the right direction, and provide them with some coaching. But there’s also a level of therapy that’s involved in that, and kind of pushing the founder to really kind of face certain things along their journey that will help them succeed. And so oftentimes, again, that mentor word is just heavy. And I think that is a lesson that we learned from our first cohort. And so the advisors that we’re looking for are, we want founders to come in, be an advisor, we want service providers to come and be an advisor. And so, I think that we want to do some advisor training as well to make sure that our advisors really have a great understanding of how to be an ally to these underrepresented founders. They’re not working with a $10 million marketing budget. And so I think that that’s also part of the role that we’d like to play is really kind of helping people navigate that relationship.
Diana Fryc 29:42
Interesting. Well, I definitely think that the industry needs it. I mean in the past few years not only have we seen Naturally Network work on this, but is it project picnic. We’ve seen a little bit there. Potluck panic. I want it to be a picnic. I don’t know why project potluck.
Katrina Tolentino 30:02
Is it because picnic has more snacks, and a potluck only has one.
Diana Fryc 30:07
I don’t know, potlucks are pretty good. Let’s be clear. I mean, I will go to a potluck any day. But I think that there’s more and more of that needed. For me, what I would love to see is that we kind of start to see this wave and more visibility and an impact on small business in general, I think, not that I don’t want to see diversity from a product and innovation standpoint, at a multinational level. We know that they’ll absorb it and acquire it at any point in time. But I think, right now, because so many Caucasian people are in this kind of innovation spot, I think of all of the, I’ll use the word mentor, like the people that are out there in the marketplace kind of all look the same, they come from a similar backgrounds. And it’s very hard to connect with them, when you don’t have a Harvard MBA, or when you don’t have accessibility, or you’re not multi-generation, wealth, or all of the things. And quite frankly, if you like some of the best innovations are coming out of the kitchens. I love the, like the hatchery, like when I interviewed Natalie, who you probably know, over there at the hatchery, and hearing some of the things that were coming out of the kitchen of South Chicago, and you’re like going, why? Why is this stuff not already in the marketplace? It’s being made in kitchens forever and ever. It’s just because we have that kind of barrier, capillary barrier. It’s a finance barrier. It’s just accessibility barrier in general. So this is great, fantastic, new opportunity for our community. Can you tell us those people that want to apply for this program, do they go to the same place as potential sponsors and advisors? And maybe you could give us some guidance on how people can plugin?
Katrina Tolentino 32:15
Sure. Yeah, so if you’re interested in being an advisor, or becoming a partner for the program, or applying, you can head to naturallynetwork.org. Under the program’s tab, there is the M/O Fellowship tab. And so all things will be in that area of the website. If you don’t mind, I want to go back really quick to something that, the mentor conversation. This is an area that I’d love to tackle because I was recently talking to a fellow from Austin, about a week ago. And she was very disheartened she, she had a lot of traction. and she’s had some great wins. She recently applied to another accelerator program and basically they told her, well, you have a full-time job, I just don’t think that you’re taking your business seriously. And so it seems like you’re not really interested in scaling. And so you’re a no for us. And she called me after her interview, and I was really upset for her because I think we have this idea of what a founder is supposed to look like, but underrepresented founders, founders of color, again, like you said, they’re not coming from generational wealth. So of course, they have a part-time job, a consulting job, a full-time job, to me, they’re funding their dreams, why would we discourage them from that? They can’t do both. Or they can’t just jump into their dream if they don’t have the funds. And so their full-time job, or whatever it may be, is funding that. And so there’s this idea of I would love to dispel the notion of what people think CPG founders look like and what a successful CPG founder, and what that background should look like. So I think, from a storytelling perspective, I’m excited to share more of those stories, because there’s incredible brands that have already been in the regional program. And so I can’t wait to see what all of the applications look like. And I know that we’ll discover some really innovative brands that people have never heard of. So I think that’s also part of the value that we can provide is that we’re really kind of shining a light on some of the amazing innovations happening across the community.
Diana Fryc 32:17
Yeah, I love it. Katrina, I always love it when the women on my show are able to say, I really am admiring somebody out in the marketplace that is doing some great work and it could be in our industry or not. And I wonder when you think about those people that inspire you, particularly women, is there anybody that comes to mind that you just like to shout out and elevate for the work that they’re doing out in our community or not?
Katrina Tolentino 35:11
Absolutely. The two women that come to mind immediately, one is Aimy Steadman, she’s the COO of BeatBox. And she’s a great friend. But I think that she is somebody that just walks her talk. And she’s authentic, and she leads with kindness. But she’s also an incredible businesswoman. And she lifts up everyone around her. She succeeds, she wants to bring you in there. I really admire her so much. And the other person that I’m thinking about is Ayeshah, well, she’s a CEO at Mason Dixie. Well, I think when we first met, and maybe she doesn’t feel this way, but this is how I felt I’ll speak for myself. When we first met, I immediately was like, oh, my God, I feel like our souls know each other. I just love her authenticity. I love how she advocates for women. I love that she isn’t shy about what she thinks is right. And that internal compass is just really refreshing to see. And honestly, because when you’re around these incredible women, it makes you want to be better. And so, I think there have been times that I’m uncomfortable with something and these women will come to mind and I’m like, okay, well, even if I’m nervous about it, then I can still emulate that. So it is something that is really motivating to me, and it’s just incredible to be surrounded by incredible women. And a lot of these women that I admire so much are on my Naturally Network board of directors, right? Yeah, Tice is one of those women. So many, so many women.
Diana Fryc 35:15
Yeah, I love it. And because you get to see all of these fun little startups, is there any kind of trend that you’re seeing, from a product perspective that you’re like, ooh, I can’t wait for this to get some traction in the marketplace without giving away any IP or anything like that?
Katrina Tolentino 37:36
Yeah, I think that one of the ones that come to mind right now is a vegan marshmallow cream. They were an emo fellow from last year. And I am starting to see that they’re getting some traction, they’re called funky mellow. And they have so many fun applications. And I think they’ve also pivoted their product three times. And now I think they’re finally at the product market fit and getting a lot of traction. So really excited for them. So many applications, I can’t wait to put that cream on my pecan pie or my pumpkin pie at thanksgiving. I have another friend and also M/O fellow that, as you can see, I get so close to the people that we serve. So yes, I’m calling them friends, Sinara skincare, she is an elevated higher-end, beauty wellness company that is really all about helping women take care of themselves. And she has an incredible story around, she discovered that she had very, very early-stage breast cancer. And so, it’s interesting, because usually, during those times you think, oh my gosh, how am I going to keep working on my company? And so she actually used her experience to hone in even more, dive into even more the value that she wants to provide the world. And so I really admire her, she’s getting some great traction with some high-end spas around the country. So again, these are brands that people haven’t, maybe they are just starting to hear about it. But these are some of the two that come to mind. But yeah, there’s definitely so many. I can’t wait for everyone to meet all the fellows.
Diana Fryc 39:28
I love it. That’s awesome. Well, we’ve been talking with Katrina Tolentino, Executive Director of Naturally Network. Katrina if people want to learn more about you and what you’re up to. Where can they go? Oh, my gosh, you’re holding the future. That’s why.
Katrina Tolentino 39:51
Whoa, whoa, whoa. My imposter syndrome. Oh, my goodness.
Diana Fryc 39:56
You could just wear it as a badge, girl scout badge.
Katrina Tolentino 40:01
I am so happy to help anyone and everyone, and you’re welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn. And if you are newer to the community, if you need help navigating it, I’m so happy to talk to you and connect you with people and help that you may need. So definitely LinkedIn, and you’re welcome to shoot me, I better not say my email.
Diana Fryc 40:26
LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people. And the last name for those that you want to know is Katrina with a K, T-O-L-E-N-T-I-N-O, correct? Excellent. Excellent. And then one last time for those people that want to participate in the program.
Katrina Tolentino 40:42
Head over to naturallynetwork.org, hover over programs and just click on M/O Fellowship, you’ll find information about the application, the application deadline, what it takes to apply, information for advisors, as well as for partners, if you’d love to support the program, we’d love to have you.
Diana Fryc 41:00
Excellent. I thrilled to be able to support you in promoting this campaign. And it really excited to see the progress that we’re making in the naturals industry. So, so thrilled. And I want to thank all of you listeners for your time today. If you liked this episode, please share it with a friend. Actually, I’m going to ask you to share this with your network because we want to get the word out about this M/O Fellowship program. So please share far and wide and otherwise I’m going to wish you all a great rest of your day. We’ll catch you next time on the Gooder Podcast.
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