Dates. Are we talking about going out to dinner or the fruit that grandmas eat?
Neither. We’re talking about the sweet, nutritious fruit that is for everyone. Grown in southern California under the year-round sunshine, Medjool dates are naturally sweet and a great source of dietary fiber, magnesium, and copper. While they may have previously held a reputation as an old-people snack, Amanda Sains is on a mission to change that — and she’s succeeding. Thanks to her branding and marketing expertise, Joolies California Superfruit is offering dates as a better-for-you snack that millennials are snatching up. So, how did Amanda turn around the reputation of a brown, wrinkly fruit?
In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, Diana Fryc is joined by Amanda Sains, Director of Marketing at Joolies California Superfruit, to discuss how she is bridging the gap between branded food and commoditized produce. Amanda shares how Joolies got started, why she is passionate about the better-for-you industry, and how she is reaching new audiences with strategic marketing. She also opens up about maintaining a healthy work-life balance while working towards big goals.
In this episode we learn:
- Amanda Sains describes Joolies’ origin story
- How Amanda is sharing dates with millennials through her branding strategy
- Why Amanda became passionate about the better-for-you food industry
- Advice for loving your job without letting it take over your identity
- The path that led Amanda to marketing with Joolies
- Amanda shares her mentor’s advice: know your worth and don’t be afraid to ask for more
- Current marketing hurdles for Joolies
- Amanda’s proudest moments: seeing Joolies dates on the store shelf and in people’s grocery carts
- Why making time for self-care is essential and how to recognize when your bottle is full
- Believe in yourself and know that you are capable
About Amanda Sains
Amanda Sains is the Director of Marketing at Joolies California Superfruit. Joolies offers California-grown, organic Medjool dates as a delicious and healthy snack. As Director of Marketing, Amanda bridges the gap between branded food and commoditized produce. She is a passionate brand builder by nature and comes from multiple functional CPG companies.
Previously, Amanda was the Director of Marketing and Business Development at B’more Organic and the Director of Marketing at Vive Organic. She is currently the Marketing Director for Desert Valley Date. Amanda holds both a BS and MS from West Virginia University.
Guests Social Media Links:
- Amanda Sains on LinkedIn
- Joolies California Superfruit
- Joolies on Instagram
- Desert Valley Date
- Amrit Richmond on LinkedIn
- Indie CPG
- The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship by David Whyte
- 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.
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 with the Gooder Podcast where I get to talk with the powerhouse women in the food, beverage and wellness categories about their journeys to success and their insights on the industry. Thank you for joining us today. Listen real quick. This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. Retail Voodoo is a brand development firm. Our clients include Starbucks kind Rei, PepsiCo, high key and many other market leaders. We provide strategic brand and design services for leading brands in the food wellness beverage and fitness industry. If your goal is to increase market share, drive growth or disrupt the marketplace with new and innovative ideas. Give us a call and let’s talk you can find out more about Retail Voodoo at www.retail-voodoo.com or send me an email at email@example.com. Okay, well hey today I am excited to introduce Miss Amanda Sains. Is that right? Did I get your last name correct? Yes. Excellent. Excellent. Okay, Director of Marketing for Joolies Dates. She’s a passionate Brand Builder by nature and has worked on several functional beverage CPG companies, not beverage, several functional CPG companies in general. And Amanda is now working towards making dates fun and bridging the gap between branded food and commoditized produce. Ooh, I like that. Hello, Miss Amanda. How are you?
Amanda Sains 2:07
Hello. I’m doing wonderful. How are you?
Diana Fryc 2:09
I’m good. And you are in California right now. Is that true? Yes. I live in LA. Awesome. Okay, la. Okay. That’s what part of La La is kind of big. So I
Amanda Sains 2:21
live in the South Bay. Like, each area. Okay.
Diana Fryc 2:26
Oh, that’s a great part of the that’s a great part of LA. Nice. Okay. Well, fun fact. Just for everybody out there. Amanda and I met at the sweets and snacks show this last June in Indianapolis. Was that show was pretty good for you, if I remember correctly, is that right?
Amanda Sains 2:43
It was such a funny show. We um, as you can imagine, there were not a lot of people that showed up. And that allowed Joolies to literally be on an island. There were not a lot of booths near us. And we would walk by they would just be so delighted at our booth and dates for sweets and snacks show. So yes, have been a nice show. We had great conversations and a lot of great leads. So and we met
Diana Fryc 3:09
and we met Yeah, and and I think it’s really I mean, it’s really great that I’ve seen sweets and snacks. I’ve attended that show for years now. And I’ve seen the evolution of these kind of natural and better for you brands coming in there. And you’re definitely Joolies is one of the ones that are coming in that is, you know, ingredient centric. That really fits so neatly there. So I’m I’m glad that ended up being a good show for you. Now. I haven’t been to a show since then I kind of backed out of Expo because of the spike. But I am going to go to nosh live in next week. So I’m excited for that. That one’s definitely much smaller and I’ll probably kind of baby stepping back into getting ready for Expo next March. Which I’m sure it’s gonna just be redonkulous I’m sure
Amanda Sains 3:57
yeah. Yeah, I will also be at nosh. Oh, but I also we have the New York produce show says our produce company. We write this as well. So I might have New York produce show. And one more in between Expo West. Oh my gosh. Yeah. We are tradeshow happy over here. Yeah.
Diana Fryc 4:19
Well, I think we have a strangely enough I have a very specialized trade show that I’m doing in February that conflicts with specialty food which I usually go to Fancy Food Show. But I’m going to miss this one. So I’ll probably catch the one in the fall but it’s crazy to go from zero to Okay, now I have to choose again. Which ones to
Amanda Sains 4:42
Yeah, no, it is crazy. But I mean, talk about the spike and COVID It was weird not to have a whole entire year without them. So Right. blessing and a curse.
Diana Fryc 4:52
Yeah, no. Well, so let’s talk a little bit about Joolies. Why don’t you tell us you know about the brand wide exist?
Amanda Sains 5:01
Yes. So at Joolies, we say we are changing the dating game one at a time. You don’t know what modules are, it is a type of date, there’s actually 30 types of dates. And modules are the biggest types. And they’re the most like luscious and snack. And so we are a brand that just started basically, in 2018, I was the second person behind the thing to join. And but we had a farm, right, so we have 500 acres in the Coachella Valley, all grown organically. And our founders, David Cole, and Greg Woolsey, they came together in a way, or David Cole, who is the founder with a farm, he was really set up with the industry and how, you know, they were not innovating, they were putting his delicious organic jewel dates in plastic tubs, and not really marketing them in a way that he saw the potential. And so he basically divorced the association, which he was putting dates to and then married the idea of Joolies. And so he joined up with Greg Woolsey, who has experienced that the wonderful company, you know, Mark Masten, also has experienced at the wonderful company, and, you know, shout out to them, we’re taking that playbook. And that’s what we want to do with Joolies is to basically have more fun with the brand. And where I come in is I’m that millennial marketer, where I understand the trends in the industry, I understand what Millennials want, they want a cool brand that they can put on Instagram, right? And they want to be proud of something that they’re putting in their bodies, and they can feel good about it, and also not be ashamed to carry it around in their purse, workout bag, or, you know, working in beverage. I used to work in the beverage industry. So I say like I would, I want to be caught dead with a can of Coca Cola, right. But if I’m holding a kombucha, or I write like just a better for you drink, I will be proud to carry that and be like seeing getting a picture taken at me. So I’m taking that approach with dates. And that’s where we are. And you know, there’s a total whitespace we have brands like our x bar and Lara bar putting dates front and center on their packaging. And we’re like, well, we have all these dates. Well, why aren’t people just snacking on the dates? Is a whole fresh fruits that are full of antioxidants and nutrients, potassium, there’s actually more potassium than a banana than more potassium in dates than a banana. Oh, really? Yes, by weight. We’re potassium. Interesting, perfect. So huge potential for what we’re trying to do. And just having a more fun approach with it. As you know, the people are watching on YouTube, they can see the packaging on my screen. It’s a mint box that’s very fun with pink and yellow or orange and yellow on our other SKUs. And I like to call it brand catnip, you know, it’s, it’s so like, grabbable, you want to just like, What is this? And then you realize, oh, it’s dates, I love dates. And yeah, so that’s why we exist. And that’s what we’re trying to do. And over the last two years, since we launched at Expo West 2019, we have found again, like, you know, at that trade show experience, people are like, Oh my god, I love it. We just realized that we’re onto something that’s been a little bit of a slow start. But over this time period, we’ve gotten into over 2500 locations. So
Diana Fryc 8:37
that’s amazing. And I, you know, I even think your format is I think the format of the product is actually really a great way you’re giving people kind of like bite sized opportunities, they don’t have to buy a tub to try something you make trying the product really, really easy. And I don’t know if that was part of the strategy coming into the marketplace is like, we don’t need to have a four pound tub. Like let’s try a couple let’s package them up so that they’re super cute, and nobody’s having to make a huge investment or feels bad for throwing something out if they don’t like it. And then they turn around and they like it. I’m sure you’ve got some really great velocity on this. Like once you have trial, I don’t know, like kind of what the stickiness is. And but we’re seeing some really nice growth there.
Amanda Sains 9:25
Yes. So we do have data to support this that the so our target audience is the world travel foodie, and the health conscious consumer know that the people that are already eating dates are, you know, people from more of overseas like around that. And then people that are, you know, we say have been enjoying dates for over 30 years. IE, you know, yeah, and it’s funny because when I joined the company, I’m I’m an East Coast. I live in LA right now, but I grew up in the east coast on these coasts, and When I was approached with this opportunity, I was like, dates, grandma’s days. I don’t know if we can do this. But then that’s the challenges. Yeah. How can we bring new consumers into the category? Right. And that’s what Joolies is doing. So we our data over the last year supports that. We’re actually not cannibalizing our competitors, we are bringing in the new units on that new mall, not new, incremental, you know, we tell this story to retailers that the velocity is there and that it was it won’t mess up their category. It’ll only category.
Diana Fryc 10:32
Yeah, and I think I mean, we’ll talk about this a little bit more later. But I think your merchandising opportunities with a product like Joolies is also kind of exponential because and you’ve probably tried everything from let’s be in the produce section to let’s be in grab and go to let’s be over here. And your snacks. I think, you know, I think the product lends itself to a lot. It’s so funny, it you might not believe this, I’ll have to go dig it out of my LinkedIn. But I went to trade show. I think it was the last Expo West that I went to two years ago where I put a LinkedIn article where I said, dates are the next phone. No way. I said dates are the next food I predict and somebody came at me, I don’t remember who it was. And they’re like, Well, what’s your evidence, and I’m like, we only have to work in a category long enough before you kind of have a gut instinct when you start to see what what the product opportunities are, and that sort of thing. But I have to go back and look at what my response was. But part of it was gut instinct based off of what I was seeing happening around the booths. I think there were a couple of booths that had dates there was I think you guys were is it possible that you guys were at 2019 Expo? That’s when we launched? Yep. Okay, so I think I saw you. And then there was somebody else that I saw that has a brown packaging system, I don’t remember who they were also kind of like on the premium side. And I’m like these, this is like candy, but it’s, it’s like food is real food. And it’s amazing. And it’s got a lush texture to it. And you know, and a lot of people have bad experiences eating something out of a tub that they got for cheap that’s been sitting in a warehouse for 14 years. And of course, they’re not going to have a great memory of it. So I think you guys have a really awesome opportunity. So yeah, I’ll send you that link. When I find it. You’ll you’ll laugh. I probably said something super dorky, because I’m good.
Amanda Sains 12:22
No, no two things. Okay, so at trade shows, where we realized that we’re onto something it was at the show, when we launched it was, um, you know, we would ask people, they would say, Oh, I love like, what is this booth? It’s so beautiful. And then they would say, oh, date, I love dates. So then they would eat the day. And you know, we kind of just like watch them. And yeah, see them like so happy, joyous. And then you say, Well, what brand do you buy? And they go, Oh, I don’t know, the tub, you know, the generic tub. And then so that’s how we know we can like brand, something that people love. Yeah, in a sustainable way with our Eco packaging that’s from recycled material. And yes, well, but then another thing with the merchandising approach is when we were developing the brand, this is even before we had like any type of visual identity at all. We were doing market research, and we will go into the retailers to see what’s going on. Like, how is the current set merchandise? Yep. And I would I would go into the store with a plan of action and I could not find these darn things. I’m like, where are the dates? is? Isn’t? Isn’t the snacks like? Yeah, and then I would find them like on the ground under the apples or under the bananas? Like covered, excuse me, covered in dust. And these four things like No wonder no one’s eating dates. They can’t find them. Yeah, so
Diana Fryc 13:44
they don’t know what they are because they’re in those clear tubs with some sort of generic white label printed on the top. I mean, when you have everything else singing at you why why would you go for something new, right?
Amanda Sains 13:55
Yeah, the citrus. The citrus and the bananas like everything is way more beautiful than brown days. No beautiful fruits. But let’s all be honest, we know what they look like, are not beautiful. So we we consider them like an unsung hero here. And we’re just trying to bring some some some brightness and freshness to the category that new and exciting.
Diana Fryc 14:19
That’s interesting your approach to that’s how we do at retail Vudu. My, my, my real job my day job. At Retail Voodoo when we are looking for product opportunity we do. We go to stores across the United States, but we go into every kind of cap so we go into all categories. So we’ll do everything from all channel to moolah to big box and everything in between. We do somewhere around 200 locations across the country so we can see how different parts of the country handle whatever the category is that we’re going into. Sometimes we’ll go into cross categories too and just kind of go oh, well what’s happening with practice because that’s kinda the same, you know?
Amanda Sains 15:01
No, no, I mean, all regions, like play differently because of the the audience there, of course different category managers. So, I mean, it’s it’s super important to do that. Yeah, it’s, for instance, back to the whole, like, regional East Coast thing. People over there don’t really eat dates. And well in California, the Southwest date, because that’s where they’re grown. Yeah, more consumed. And then, you know, back like, on the east coast, the hardest challenge right now for us, is that northern Eastern audience, because they it’s like, totally over their heads. And I mean, it’s just because it’s unknown, right? If you don’t like it, it’s just an unknown.
Diana Fryc 15:40
Yeah. That’s so cool. That’s so cool. Well, we’ll talk a little about it some more. I want to go back just a little bit. I want to go back before Joolies because I think in the conversation that we had to prepare for this call, there was some really kind of, we had some really good conversation about how you got here. And why why Naturals? Why better for you? So let’s, let’s go back to why this category at all. What was was it a natural calling? Did you stumble across it? Did somebody bring you into it?
Amanda Sains 16:13
Yes. So just a real quick anecdote about what I was doing before. So I was selling software, you know, trying to do 70, inside sales for software company 70 calls a day, it was my first job out of my undergrad. And at the time, I was also like getting my master’s. So I just like a little bit of a frazzle case. And but I was also a little shy, believe it or not, and I just like couldn’t be on the phone. So three months go by, and I’m like, you know, I could barely do 30 calls a day, I was not getting any leads. And I know how cold sales is like how cutting it can be. And I went up not to my manager, but to the the VP of sales. And I was like, hey, like, you’re gonna fire me, I can feel it. So how about we like, find something else for me to do? And he was like, okay, totally, like, how about you be my right hand girl sales operations. And, you know, you can then help the ecosystem work, and then basically be my Bulldog, when they won’t listen to me. And I was like, Yes, I love that I love being Bulldogs. Like, that’s my personality, this is way better. I can do internal sales, but external, maybe, yeah. Um, and so that kind of like led me to a path where this company got acquired. I was then my, the headquarters was in a different state. And I was then remote. And I was kind of working on an island. And during, you know, or chart changes, perhaps my workload was a little lesser than I was used to. And so I told you, I was like, finishing my master’s, I was then living in Baltimore. And so on my work breaks, I would kind of just go to Whole Foods and putz around, and just explore the products that I love. Because I was also, you know, eating personally, very healthily. And watching my sugar intake, and just that whole thing. And then, very, unfortunately, to make things kind of like really not to be a downer, but my mom was diagnosed with cancer, lung cancer, and it was stage three being meaning it was in both her lungs. And so all of a sudden, I went in from hyper personal eating healthfully, that I was like looking for my mom. I was like, making charts for her, like basically telling her how to eat again, the way that I was eating so that we could avoid, you know, more cancer, more everything and, you know, going to her chemo treatments and everything like that. I saw that. She was drinking those pharmaceutical grade shakes. I don’t want to name dropping Yeah. The ones that you find in the pharmacy aisle. Yeah, look at the ingredients. And you just wonder, like, how on earth is this stuff allowed to be sold, and consumed by the everyday person, let alone somebody that has a chronic disease, right. And so I was just taking a guest. And that is when I discovered one of the products that I used to work for was called beam organic, and I love them. And you know, I just reached out to them, and it was a dairy based protein drink, and they were locally made locally, you know, the company was local. So I basically send them an email and I was like, Hey, guys, love your packaging. Is there anything I can do to help? I was like, you know, I’d love to maybe rebrand, talk about a rebrand or, you know, help out in the community. So, I basically went from zero to doing marketing events, social media. And then you know, a couple months later, I was doing operations and then a couple months later, I was going you know, to every sales call across the country like Kroger calls and yeah, you know, everything so I I felt like I was really went from zero to nothing. But I still had that other company that I was working for. So I had two jobs, going to school. And then once school ended, I was like, okay, that’s, that’s a lot. So I finally was able to quit my job, and go all in on the startup. And that was my, like my entryway into the industry. Because I realized that I’m so much more passionate about helping other people healthy being more as a company that I was with. But I just took that approach as like, you know, there’s, there’s things in this world that can bring you joy, and make you feel good. It’s so
Diana Fryc 20:41
interesting, you know, and those of you that, listen to my podcast, you’ll know that I’m also in it, I’m in an MBA program, right now, I decided, you know, after, as I’m, as I’m hitting my midpoint of my career, I wanting to learn more, and I just listened to something called the three marriages, where it talks about when you love your job, the way that you love your life, and a spouse or a family member, you know that you’re headed in the right direction. And it doesn’t mean that like you do your job 24/7 Until you like run yourself into the ground. That’s not what they’re talking about. The concept of the three marriages is that, you know, because you when you wake up in the morning, you’re excited when you add it. For some people, it’s putting numbers together for other people, it’s helping people get healthy. And everybody has a different calling. But so it’s interesting that you, you sound like you’re there, like you sound like you’re there. Yes, I
Amanda Sains 21:42
am completely there. And I do have some comments on that, because there’s a fine line, right? Because you can wake up every day and be excited to go to work. And I will admit back in, you know, this time period of my life, it was maybe 25 years old. And now I’m over 30 It, it, it was exciting that I was able to accomplish all these things work in very, very cross functional departments and learn all these skills. And now, I’m kind of like a, I hate to say this word, because I think it’s a little like, I don’t know, I’m a full stack like marketer, because I can see it very holistically. Yeah, what are it, there’s a fine line of loving your job and allowing it to become part of your personality. Like, that’s not always a good thing, either. Because what happens is you get too emotionally tied to it. Yeah. And if everybody knows you, as Amanda, you know, fill in the gap, then what happens when it doesn’t make you happy anymore? And exactly, and you need to set a boundary of your work hours of your persona of your personal life and, you know, not allow this like marriage to work become too much, because it will take you over and you will get burned out. And I learned that real hard. Yeah, I
Diana Fryc 22:56
think a lot of people did. But I think yeah, I feels the last few years, but it sounds like you kind of ran into it a little bit before the whole COVID thing happened. Yes. Yeah. Why don’t we real quick, because I know we’re going to talk a little bit about that in a moment. But how did you find yourself at Joolies then like you say, you were at one place, you got excited? And and there were some things that happened. And now you’re at Joolies Yeah, so
Amanda Sains 23:31
um, just a little bit of my journey. And kind of, you know, I have to say all this, like, really, just transparently. Um, so I was with one company, and I said all these things just now about letting it become your personality, but then you have to look in the mirror and also look at your personal status and say, like, are you okay? is bringing you joy anymore? Is financially okay? Is this feasible? And sometimes you have to accept the fact that maybe if those things aren’t true, you just have to look for something new. And that’s exactly what I did. I very much love everyone that I’ve worked with along the way. But so, that company I, I, I parted ways with. And then I was very fortunate to be relocated to LA from another company, of which I worked a couple months at and then that was another realization for me because it was when you meet people and you love them so much as people, maybe they aren’t the best people to work with for you. And also maybe the company isn’t at a point where you need to be with amount of mentorship or resources that you need to be successful. And that was something that I had to accept that that you know, the bridge point of me and Joolies didn’t work out and I was honestly I was let go and that’s okay. It really Leave stunk without you know, saying bad words. It was great. Like, oh my god, I got let go. I just moved out to LA and now I’m jobless. And lol in Los Angeles like, yeah, that is a really scary thing. Yeah, um, but I remember that day I called my parents and they’re like, are you going to move back? And I was like, Absolutely not like, no, yeah, I am going to get through this, I am going to use the networks that I’ve been able to build over the last couple years through the Expos through all the trade shows. Yeah. And I remember just being on the phone. With everybody reaching out on LinkedIn, I talked to some very high up people in the industry, and they pointed me in the right direction. 29 days later, I was hired at Joolies. I was like, incredibly, incredibly grateful for everybody who helped me and saw that, um, it was okay. Like, I guess I had a little bit of shame in what happened. Yeah, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t anything to do with my performance, you just have to accept that something that wasn’t working, right. So many things that go into it. And that is, that is something that I’ve learned to get stronger from. Yep. And, you know, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me, because honestly, I’m at a job where I have that fuzzy feeling in the morning every day. And I love to go back to work and trade shows and, and live the brand, but also know that, you know, I still have my personal life. So
Diana Fryc 26:34
yeah, I think it’s really important. I, there’s still some legacy. And I think this will probably go on for a while sometimes. Sometimes, actually, probably more often than not performance, or bad fits are really what’s happening with an organization more so than poor performance. Because you could take the exact same set of skills, move somebody into another org or bring somebody new in, and everything snaps to grid, it really is an ecosystem. It’s not like a single person. Yeah. And I think it’s really great when you can, when you can hold on to that. I’ve had a couple of those myself, where I was like, ah, that fit. And I was part of I was the bad fit. I wasn’t that fit because the system was the system. Yeah. And the thing is, is that there was lots of learning you do get? You do. It’s hard not to take it personally, especially if you’re a person that prides themselves on performance.
Amanda Sains 27:35
Mm hmm. and I we are very much competitive perform, like, but to me, I always like use the metaphor as like, it’s like dating, you have to date to find the right person, you shouldn’t ever want to get married to something that’s not working. Yeah. You know, you don’t actually in a seat, that isn’t. That’s giving you stress and anxiety. And that’s exactly what it was. And right now, I’m just extremely grateful that I am at Joolies. And the team has been so wonderful, and they know exactly what happened. But it’s like, yeah, no mentorship is important. And being together with the right team. Yeah. And it’s funny, because when we were forming the Joolies team, my CEO said, it’s like, you know, we’re such a small startup that you know, you’re, you’re you’re storming, you’re forming your team. Yeah, on that. And, you know, it takes a little while to normalize and get the right squad together. But that’s what it’s about, you just have to know when to kind of cut your losses.
Diana Fryc 28:38
And when you’re small, each new person, it’s like you’re in a rowboat each new person that comes on board game, it’s a little bit okay. And then we study out and then somebody else comes on board. And it’s not until you get to about 2025, where you start where each new add doesn’t seem to rock the boat. So I don’t know if you guys are quite at that size yet now.
Amanda Sains 29:03
No, no, like about the 10 mark. But I’ve never that Robo analogy and I love that.
Diana Fryc 29:08
Yeah, for sure. So you mentioned mentors a couple of times do you have a mentor to do? Were you working with somebody through this process? Or do you just now have one have one now that you’re at Joolies,
Amanda Sains 29:21
I would just say unofficially, I had a mentor, you know, through this time period that a guy and he was older in the industry had he had been through acquisitions, and you know, I call him he has the Midas touch, but he’s worked on many companies that, you know, go big, and I’m like, how the heck do you do it? And it’s like, you know, you can be passionate about something, but also have foresight. And that is something that as a female is really hard to do to especially to know your potential and so I think I at the time I was going through like major imposter syndrome and like you just need an Know your worth, you need to see people the way that we see you and are extremely capable of doing things. And look how much you’ve done so far. Yeah. And I still I still go through that today. I mean, I think we all do. I’m only 32. And I don’t I admit I never the person that knows everything in the room, but I’m with the amount of people on my team that do know do. Yeah. Yeah. So it just, you know that that piece of advice that people gave me along the way is to know your worth. And don’t be afraid to ask for more. Because that is extremely important. Because if you have proven that on your, you know, your journey, then people see that. So
Diana Fryc 30:43
that’s great. I think mentors are great. And coaches, if you can find a good one. And the good ones usually cost a lot of money, if you can afford one are also quite valuable. Yeah. Let’s Amanda, let’s talk a little bit more about Joolies now. You’ve been with them since the beginning. And I kind of wanted you to share with us a little bit more when you are talking about building a commoditized brand, a commoditized product into a brand. What? What are you working with? What are some of the hurdles? And what are some of the opportunities that make it maybe easier to go into the market? You want to talk about that a little bit?
Amanda Sains 31:22
Mm hmm. Yeah, some of the hurdles right now is when I mentioned before, is that just the overall consumption of data is pretty low. I think the last study I saw was like six to 8% household penetration. You know, that’s very low, when you consider people buy apples and bananas, almost every single grocery trip, right. So that is what our main goal is to get more people to eat dates. Another challenge is that our largest competitor basically is, you know, in the millions and like, yeah, multi millions in revenue. And that’s, that’s hard to, you know, get across, but their distribution is way larger than us. But in time now, here we are the little guys, we have the selling story that again, back to bringing incremental consumers to the category, it’s something that we are able to share with them. So when we are taking a commoditized fruit, like a date, you know, we work with these buyers that are very data driven. And we’re very lucky that, you know, we have access to spin, we have access to some IRA, and then, you know, of course Whole Foods portals that which is free to brands. But when we are, you know, telling them the story about it’s a commodity, why would I Why should I buy you guys? Why should I put you on my set? It’s, it’s the value that we’re trying to bring? And, yeah. So the consumer to me is almost there. Like you mentioned, you meant a Trend Report, where you call out dates are on on their way up. And we’re working now with like nutritionists, and mommy bloggers and the audience that truly need dates in their journey. I don’t know if you know this or not, but dates are really great for nursing moms for moms to be Oh, and especially eating dates in the third trimester. Really? Yeah, it helps. Sorry, guys, that helps soften your cervix for an easier labor. And I really, yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t make that up. That’s there’s like, you know, national studies on it. So, you know, working with a consumer where they are their journey, and they might need it. Yeah, in particular. And then also showing to the everyday consumer, how dates are more versatile in their lives, you know, you can check on dates, but you can also make sauces in any type of recipe, bigger swaps, or one to one sugar swap if you wanted to. Right. So it’s not just about the fruit, it’s about the consumers experience of how they consume the fruit. Yeah, our approach is to educate, to charge and delight with our packaging, to tell the data story to the buyers, and then show the consumer that it’s easy to consume fruits and commodity, and that at the same time, super nutrient dense and good for you.
Diana Fryc 34:21
Yeah, that’s really interesting. You know, there are there are women in the United States, particular groups of women in the United States that typically have more challenging Labor’s than others and I, I’m curious as to whether or not bringing something like dates into their diets, just raising the awareness would be valuable to them. Like, I’m just thinking, you know, abstractly, like I do.
Amanda Sains 34:51
Yeah, but I’m gonna have to take a note and go look that up.
Diana Fryc 34:55
Yeah, yeah. Well, now Joolies has been foundational In bringing cred to date says as a healthy snack, not, not quite, but sort of like breads, kale chips back in the day, but you’re now within a more mature market where consumers and brands are open to product and ingredient adoption. You know, like when Brad’s was doing it that was like heresy that you would eat kale on purpose, you know, and now people are eating crickets, you know, like so. So I guess, I wonder what is your proudest moment so far? Whether I mean, this might be a brand moment, or could be you within the brand? Um, you know, however you want to look at that.
Amanda Sains 35:42
Oh, man, that’s a hard one. So what is my proudest moment, I just think that my proudest moment would have to be is just like that first day seeing the product on the shelf. And then, I mean, it’s more of the feeling of seeing people consume your product in the wild, whether you’re at home food shopping on your own grocery trip, seeing somebody put a Joolies box in their basket, for the amount of DMS that we get in people tagging us in their lives. I just feel so great that you know, we are part of people’s lives more than anything I’ve truly experienced in my career, but you know, it, there is a funny feeling. Thrive Market is one of our great partners, um, you know, same brand color, local company and similar missions to be more eco minded platform. And one of the things that, that we were so excited about is they just surprised us, and put a Joolies box in some of their commercials that were, you know, nationally aired. And then one day, I was going home, to see my mom, and we could talk about that but going home, and then I was in the Delta airport, and I see Thrive Market ads with Joolies boxes in them. So there’s just something about seeing your brand thrive with you no pun intended with. And in just a really rapid rate to I have my friends tell me like, there’s no reason I should be thinking about dates so much. But I do now because of you. That’s a that’s another great thing, because that means I’m doing my job, right?
Diana Fryc 37:27
Oh, that’s awesome. That goes back to that being passionate about what you do. It’s just, you don’t think about it. It’s just part of part of what you who you are, and part of your day. That’s great. I want to talk a little bit about self care, particularly, I mean, particularly now in this last couple of years, but as part of somebody who is on a rapid trajectory of growth professionally, like you are a go getter, you are wanting to take on the world. And we talked a little bit about really making sure you mentioned this earlier, making sure that you don’t over index on the working hard. What are you doing for yourself? Or how maybe how are you how the last couple of years impacted? your well being and what are you doing now? What have you learned over the last several years that you are like really having to be mindful about and keeping yourself in check?
Amanda Sains 38:25
Mm hmm. Okay, so this is going to be a long journey. But before I get into anything, I think it’s also setting up non negotiables with yourself. Through COVID, my non negotiable was making my bed that was like the only task that I had to do anything else at the time and like get out of bed, make your bed. And then my other non negotiable was you got to work out. And if I don’t work out in the morning, then I’m not going to work out because I just you know, I don’t know, I just I feel like that’s kind of like my ritual. Sure. That’s, that’s, that’s kind of like one way to keep myself in check. Of course, eating healthfully, and all that jazz. But yeah, through through recent years. Very sadly, I’ve unfortunately lost both of my parents, my dad in 2019 in in September, which was tragic. And then of course, the quarantine happened and I was living alone. And you know, having to grieve alone literally, was a very sad time for me, because not only were they grieving the loss of my dad, we were all grieving the loss of our everyday lives, right? No loss of travel. And as people who travel a lot for work and trade shows, I was really missing that. I mean, how silly is that? But I was, you know, alone by myself, having to go through Father’s Day alone, sad. And then, very unfortunately, in July, my mom’s cancer came back out of remission. She degraded really, really rapidly and she sadly passed away. September 20, I’m sorry, one year later, she passed away. And that was just horrendous for me. Not only the fact that, you know, when you lose somebody, there’s actually a lot of work that goes into it. Yeah. And we were very busy at Joolies. But I had to take a month off to deal with my family at home, you know, the estate, the probate, the funeral, everything occurs across the country. And that was horrible. And then, to be honest, during that time period, I really couldn’t grieve because I was Go, go, go help with the family helped with the house, clean, clean, clean. And then when I came back to LA, I really just went back to work. And that was probably not the best idea. So I say all this to lead up to today, it’s November, it’s almost December, but it’s November. And my my grandfather passed away in August. So I’m dealing with like, triple whammy like loss, loss loss COVID, this work busy this and my bottle was full, my bottle of water was overflowing. And there was a time period about a month and a half ago, where I literally just kind of broke, I couldn’t stop crying. I was like, irritable, I wasn’t doing a good job at work. And I say all this because there were so many different elements of work coming at me. And you just have to know like, you have to know when to identify. I know not everyone’s gonna go through three losses in their lives. But there’s still everybody’s emotions, and everybody’s feelings are valid. So you have to just know when to identify when your bottles full. And when you need to just put the cap on it. And then, you know, disconnect. So um, therapy’s huge, but also having that open communication with the people in your lives, just, you know, like, hey, I need to save space. Yeah, you know, your loved ones, your boss. So the one day where it was horrible, I just had to call my boss like in the middle of the workday and say, Hey, I need time off. Yeah, and taking the next like, five to seven days to just do absolutely nothing. But what gives me joy, and that’s in and doing nothing. And my therapist was like, if you can just like, you know, maybe shower that day, or brush your teeth, like, if something, if you just do these small wins, then that is a win. And that’s all you need to take. And it’s amazing what happens when you can just recharge your batteries. Like that’s really all that’s needed. So it’s um, being really honest with yourself, and being honest and communicate with the people around you, because people are there to support you. And don’t ever feel like you’re alone. And I say that, like in all aspects of your life.
Diana Fryc 42:50
That’s, that’s a lot. Yeah. It’s a lot all at once. I mean, people will experience loss over the course of their life for sure. But in a short period of time, is very challenging, right? You mentioned you No, no, when your bottle is full? No, no, no. So what does that mean? For somebody who’s a go getter, like somebody who’s going full throttle, maybe buries themselves in busyness when they don’t want to deal with something? What were those? What was the one or two indicator that made you understand that your bottle was full? Do you understand what I’m asking?
Amanda Sains 43:31
Yeah, um, it’s so weird to say this. But like, one you can see like, maybe you’re you’re not hitting a deadline. Or maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re you notice that like a project isn’t the best that you would want. Those are kind of like the obvious things. I would notice in meetings, like, I’m not critically thinking, I’m not able to put my brain into this conversation. Gotcha. That was at work. And also in relationships. It’s like, if you don’t even have the brainpower to contribute to, you know, a conversation, then you just need to, like back off, like, go, go lay down. And I got it now. But it’s like, I mean, it’s real.
Diana Fryc 44:14
Yeah, I think cuz it’s some people just, I’m thinking of myself, I’m really talking about myself right now. Some people will refuse to see, like, just, I’ll just work harder or longer or faster. I’m going to just power through this and it’ll go away. And I think, just like you’re saying, when you start to see it, you’re just basically saying, when you start to see yourself not behaving, the way you would expect yourself to behave. That’s probably the check in right. Check yourself, go take a half day, go for a walk, whatever, and examine maybe what’s going on in your brain so that you can say, Oh, I’m not dealing with this thing. I need to deal with this or I just need to rest or Whatever. That’s what I think I hear you saying, yes. It’s the old
Amanda Sains 45:04
adage, check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Diana Fryc 45:09
So, so when you, you know, so do you find? Like, what kind of advice? Um, you know, hear it here. I’m trying to get three thoughts out at once they’re competing with each other. What advice do you give other women? Maybe in that millennial group, you know, maybe let’s just talk about millennials is a slightly different way of behaving out in business. high performers highly competitive 24 hours ago, 24 hours a day, you know, 13, side hustles and 14 Instagram accounts like what do you what kind of advice do you give these people as they’re going through their day about, like, just life making sure that they don’t crash the bus?
Amanda Sains 45:55
Mm hmm. That’s a little contradictory to what I just said about slowing down and taking a nap. But um, you know, the real thing is that you do have a choice, it’s all your choice, you have a choice to speak up, you have a choice to ask for more, you are capable of doing both of those things. And that they are more important to get your voice out. Because it’s like, you know, you got to shoot your shot. Another piece of advice that I think kind of goes hand in hand with like making the right choice and that you have the choice to get out of any situation that isn’t making you happy. I mean, look, I changed jobs, I moved locations, and those were my choices to follow an ambition that I had. But another thing is, if you feel like you’re slogging like, Oh, my God, this is awful. Back to where I was with, like, you know, estates and probate and projects, you kind of have to realize like, oh my gosh, like, Okay, this really sucks right now. But I, it’s only me, that can get out of the situation. So I can either choose to be happy about it. Or maybe not be happy, but accept it and move it. Yeah. Um, and I’ll give you a story. Just another fun fact, I used to mountain near and climb mountains. And really, I I’ve actually done the grand canyon rim, the rim to rim to rim that’s like, Yeah, we did it in two days. Oh, my gosh, yeah. So that 50 miles, two days in, it’s like climbing to mountains. Right. Right. So I will never forget, through this time period. I was we weren’t racing. But you know, I’m a competitive person. So I was. And so I had left my group and I’m like, Hey, guys, like I’m really good to just like jet up. And maybe I should have just paced myself. But I remember I was climbing up the last few switchbacks and I saw the South Rim ranger station, and that’s your endpoint. And I remember being like, my knees are wrecked, my hips are wreck, I’m crying. And I’m in one of the great wonders of the world. And all I could think about is Get me that out of here. And I was like, I’m so hurting right now. Oh, man. And I had to sit down and I had like, self talk. I’m like, okay, the helicopter cannot get you. A wagon cannot get you the donkeys are not going to get you you have to get your self out. Yep, you have to put one foot in front of the other. Yeah. And only you can do that. And that’s how I feel about you know, terrible situations, because the hard part is over. Yeah, just gotta move forward and unbelieving. Believe in yourself and know that you’re capable.
Diana Fryc 48:40
Awesome. I love that. Just have faith in yourself. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. I am. And I’m really enjoying our conversation. And our time is almost up. But I have a few questions that I pretty much ask everybody. So I want to, I want to start on those. I love it when my guests have some sort of I call it a happy hour. Happy Hour. tidbit. I don’t know factoid about either their product or their brand or something that they do. Do you have something? Some sort of interesting happy hours. fact that you can share about Joolies or about dates?
Amanda Sains 49:24
Yes. Ooh. Okay. So I kind of already mentioned that there’s 30 types of dates, which the I know they’re like apples, you know. But so medgool dates are known of the known as the king of dates because they are the largest and most luscious and most delicate type of date. And then they’re also the oldest cultivated fruit. Oh, so you know, back to like biblical times Cleopatra. And, you know, they were reserved for Moroccan royalty, which is another reason why they’re called the King of dates. Oh, really? Yeah, I was just watching that new Ryan Reynolds movie and right in the beginning they talked about Cleopatra. You know gifting three original dates. So,
Diana Fryc 50:04
really? Wow. Well, that’s I what? Which one? Is that? Read something on Netflix? Oh, yes, yes. Ah, shoot. I forget it. Yes. It’s the one that is that the one that also has the rock in it? Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Like that’s like the number one all time successful Netflix show it’s the read something and really go out and watch the read something.
Amanda Sains 50:31
And then another thing too, which I think is really great for people to know, like, really important is that dates are great for fighting climate change. date trees, the poem you call them, date palms, they are carbon catchers. So not only they harvest, essentially, they take the carbon out of the air. They take in their fronds, the fruit the trunk, and then they sequester the carbon out of the air and put it back into the soil.
Diana Fryc 50:58
Oh, sales. That’s so interesting.
Amanda Sains 51:01
Yes. So datess are fighting climate change. And in new studies, they’re also calling the Middle East where most of the date palms on the planet. Yeah, they’re like centralized they’re starting to call that the second Amazon, the second lungs of the really? Yes.
Diana Fryc 51:18
So fascinating that that’s the same as I interviewed a couple of people about hemp. Hemp is the same way. Yes. And some flowers. I’m like learning more some. Okay, so now now. Okay, that’s three plants that I need in my yard. Awesome. Okay. My next question for you. Are there any other women leaders or rising stars out there? It could be in our industry or not that you would like to elevate or just simply admire for the work they’re doing right now? And then why?
Amanda Sains 51:54
Yes, so um, one woman I like to uplift is my friend Amrit Richmond. She’s my friend, but also a really wonderful woman in the industry. She’s Co-founder of Indie CPG. I’ve heard of it. It’s a community of founders, operators investors. And, and such of, you know, the smaller independent brands, more sustainable and eco minded. And she’s, you know, become a really great resource for this ecosystem. And also, you know, threw out the pandemic and you know, cancellations of trade shows, and yeah, shifting everything. She was putting on showcases for brands to meet retailers. Oh, really?
Diana Fryc 52:37
Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah, she’s
Amanda Sains 52:39
a really great voice in the industry. And, you know, I do admire her and I think she’s doing really great work.
Diana Fryc 52:45
Awesome. And what brands or trends do you have your eye on? And why? Well, I
Amanda Sains 52:53
would be lying if I didn’t say, dates, but for us, yes. Um, but you know, it’s reducing refined sugar. I think everyone’s fed up with refined sugar. So whether it’s a stevia, coconut sugar, or D sugar, I do pay attention to those trends, because I think they’re not only great for the world, but also our health. And as people are looking to reduce chronic disease, that’s a huge component in it. And then also, not just for Joolies, but just for my own sanity and love for the planet, just you know, sustainable packaging, and ways that we can evolve as an industry to not have a negative impact on everything. You know, it’s like doing dishes the other night and I like finished with my dishwasher pod. And the perfectly good bucket that holds them. I’m like, Why should I just put this in the recycling? Like, can I just like give it back and the whole milkman way of life? Yeah, the concept. I think we need to kind of get back to that so I’m just always like monitoring Twitter and boards and stuff like that for sustainable options.
Diana Fryc 54:06
I have some news for you. Loop. Look it up. Yes. Okay. But I I need to get I needed I need to research that but yes, how they developed like scaled up. A Yes. Loop is, is growing and so is what have another one I’ll have to send to you. The name is not coming to my head but loop is sustainable. They ship it out in in reusable containers, and then you ship it back and they refill it or they send you Yeah, I think that’s the way they do it. So it’s just a constant exchange of shipment. You use the same box and see ya get out. And I learned about it some more because I interviewed actually I interviewed two people from ecos and they do them detergents. And, and she is she is ECOSYS putting a lot a lot of money into loop that organization and making sure that there is that that program continues to grow. There’s another one too. I’ll email it to you. It just is not coming to my head right now.
Amanda Sains 55:18
No worries. Yeah. That’s so cool, though. I mean, it’s, it’s remarkable what we’ve done in the last 30 years like that. There’s so many options of every category. Yeah. Then you think about like what’s going on in our recycling centers and is happening and the whole, you know, that whole disaster? So, you know, I
Diana Fryc 55:38
try not to think too much about it. And, but you know, if I want to be mindful of it, yeah. Well, if you if you can just have an impact on your immediate circle, that then it just trip it, what is that ripples out? That’s the word I’m looking for. So if you can be a drop, and then the ripple comes out from whatever you’re doing, because yeah, it’s a lot. And not everybody can get involved in something that big. I get it. Yeah. Well, we have been talking with Miss Amanda Sains, the director of marketing for Joolies Dates. And then what’s the other part of the business remind me?
Amanda Sains 56:18
So we have an industrial ingredient business? It’s called Desert Valley Date. But also we are now married as companies. Okay. Yeah. So if anyone is in the industry looking to reduce refined sugar, from a product standpoint, I would love to be your one stop shop.
Diana Fryc 56:35
Excellent. Excellent. And Amanda, where can people learn more about you and Joolies Dates
Amanda Sains 56:41
so that you can learn about Joolies at jooliesdates.com, please follow us on Instagram for all the latest dating advice. And also, I am on LinkedIn. Probably it’s ironic that I’m more active on LinkedIn these days, and I am Instagram. But I think that’s just what happens when you get older.
Diana Fryc 56:59
That’s the truth. That’s the truth. Well, Amanda, thank you so much for your time today. And thanks for all the work that you and your team are doing to raise the awareness of this what sounding like kind of a miracle product or not product ingredient, plant. Fruit, everything. Yeah, I’m excited to see what you tackle next. And what Joolies tackles next, and I and I’m excited that we’ve connected here and I look forward to just at least waving at you across the hall. At nosh live that’ll be fun.
Amanda Sains 57:35
Yes. 100%. Thank you so much. This was so nice. And I look forward to many more episodes
Diana Fryc 57:41
of you. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Okay, well, thank you everybody for listening today. Have a great rest of your day and we will catch you next time.
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