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Leaders, Brands and the Hawaiian Value of Kuleana featuring Danielle Laubenstein, Godiva Chocolatier

This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Danielle Laubenstein, The Director of Global Marketing for Mauna Loa. Danielle is overseeing the future and legacy of the company’s direction into becoming Hawaii’s wellness brand. She believes product development and holistic marketing looks at beauty as a combination of qualities of paradise, creating brand culture and products that empower the mind, nourishes the body, spirit, and evokes emotional health. Join us as we take a deep dive into the health and wellness industry and explore how brands should strive to serve their customers with healthy products.   

“If you’re Hawaii brand, then you’re a brand from Hawaii.” -Danielle Laubenstein

In this episode we learn:

  • About creating a brand community and how to make it be authentic.
  • The difference between a Hawaiian brand and a Hawaii brand or Hawaii owned brand.
  • How Mauna Loa is leading the naturals industry in staying true to its purpose of caring for everyone’s needs.
  • The concept of giving back and social responsibility or reciprocal responsibilities, where that comes from, and how it affects Danielle’s leadership style. 
  • About how Danielle is mentoring women, especially women of color, and why it’s important for her.
  • What the word Kuleana means and the importance it has within the Hawaiian culture.
Gooder Podcast

Leaders, Brands and the Hawaiian Value of Kuleana featuring Danielle Laubenstein, Godiva Chocolatier

About Danielle Laubenstein:

Danielle has worked in CPG Health and Wellness, as well as in the global travel luxury confectionery space for over a decade for companies such as Chocolove, Godiva and DFS. 

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniellelaubenstein/

Websitehttps://www.maunaloa.com/ 

Show Resources:

Godiva Chocolatier is a Turkish-owned chocolate maker that is jointly owned by Turkish conglomerate Yıldız Holding and MBK Partners. Founded in 1926, it was purchased by the Turkish Yıldız Holding in November 2007; then MBK Partners bought a stake in 2019. 

Chocolove is a chocolate manufacturer with headquarters and a manufacturing facility in Boulder, Colorado, founded in 1995 by entrepreneur Timothy Moley. The company produces all-natural and organic chocolate bars. Chocolove imports chocolate and cocoa butter from Belgium to produce its chocolate.

DFS Group is part of the world’s largest luxury conglomerate, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), and a pioneer in luxury travel retail.

Hawaiian Host is the original chocolate-covered macadamia. Hawaiian Host is also the largest manufacturer of chocolate-covered macadamias in the world, as millions of boxes of our treats are shared all over the globe.

The Hershey Company, commonly known as Hershey’s, is an American multinational company and one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world.

Project Potluck is a professional community founded by People of Color with a singular mission: to help people of color build successful companies and careers.

Lei Day is a state-wide celebration in Hawaii. The celebration begins in the morning of May first every year and continues into the next day. Lei day was established as a holiday in 1929. Each Hawaiian island has a different type of lei for its people to wear in the celebration.

Siete is a Mexican-American food brand, rooted in family that makes delicious grain-free products.

Books Mentioned:

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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You Can’t Do Good In The World By Yourself featuring RaeJean Wilson, GloryBee

Gooder Podcast with RaeJean Wilson

In this episode I had the privilege of chatting with RaeJean Wilson, Director of HR/Communications of GloryBee – a supplier of natural and organic ingredients to manufacturers, bakeries and consumers for decades. We discuss the how the naturals industry has changed (and stayed the same) since the company’s founding in the 1970’s as well as how the brand has evolved from a simple expression of love to one of stewardship for the greater good. Along the way we discuss the efforts GloryBee is making to ensure the future of honeybees, and to make sure the brand continues to stand as a leader and information source for farming practices as they relate to pollination, general food production and the overall health of our planet.

“It isn’t about one business or one company; it’s about all of us doing things together to make this world better.” – RaeJean Wilson

In this episode we learn:

  • The challenges and joys of leading a brand through the evolving naturals industry.
  • How farming practices have evolved and how the introduction of food science has affected the honey and sweetner industry.
  • How RaeJean and her family have managed transitional leadership change.
  • Why food is considered a love language.
  • How bee propagation is instrumental in the success of an industry that is leaning more and more heavily into plant-based diets and products.
  • Why leadership doesn’t need to be heavy-handed to be effective.
Gooder Podcast

You Can’t Do Good In The World By Yourself featuring RaeJean Wilson, GloryBee

About RaeJean Wilson:

RaeJean Wilson is the daughter of GloryBee Founders Dick and Pat Turanski. RaeJean has served in the family business in several capacities for 25+  years. After earning a BA in Public Health at the University of Oregon, her focus was on sales and building GloryBee’s customer base. RaeJean now serves as GloryBee’s Director of HR and Communications, overseeing marketing, human resources, safety, sustainability, and community outreach.

RaeJean is married with two adult sons and a daughter. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, wine, and travel.

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raejean-wilson-9154221ab/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GloryBeeFoods

Instagram: https://instagram.com/glorybeefoods/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GloryBeeFoods/

Show Resources:

GloryBee – With over 45 years of experience in the natural foods industry, we have been supplying natural and organic ingredients to Pacific Northwest natural food manufacturers, bakeries, and shops for decades. It’s likely that you’ve enjoyed our ingredients in your favorite natural and organic prepared foods and restaurant meals! You may even have a jar of our honey, coconut oil or natural sweetener in your pantry at home.

SAVE the BEE: Led by GloryBee, the SAVE the BEE Initiative is a partnership of researchers, beekeepers, businesses and consumers committed to protecting honey bees.

B-Corp – Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Seattle Pacific University: is a premier Christian university that equips people to engage the culture and change the world.

The University of Oregon: is a public flagship research university in Eugene, Oregon, United States. Founded in 1876, the institution’s 295-acre campus is along the Willamette River.

Franz Bakery: is a source for the highest quality breads, bagels, buns, English muffins, cookies and more.

Eugene Mission: We are not a homeless shelter in the traditional sense. While we certainly provide our guests with food and shelter – and do so with an abundance of God’s love.

Oakshire Brewing: is a community-inspired, small-batch brewing company founded in 2006. We are locally owned, employ 24 people, and produce a wide variety of fresh, quality beers through our three distinct brewing programs.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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Brand Slam Episode 5 – featuring Plant Works

Brand Slam 5 – Finding Your True Audience and Standing Out in a Crowded Category

Download now to watch this fun and informative webinar where we audit Plant Works’ brand ecosystem and identify gaps, highlight opportunities and help the team understand where to focus her marketing spend.

Brand Slam was created by Retail Voodoo to help CPG entrepreneurs in food, beverage, and wellness reduce their struggle with brand growth in the face of Covid-19. Using the auditing process models created by Retail Voodoo to develop Brand Ecosystems, (which we’ve used for some of the world’s most beloved brand and featured in the book Beloved & Dominant Brands,) we will benchmark Plant Works and provide strategies to help Anna, Trever and the rest of their team regain brand traction.

More About Plant Works: Being workout and protein fanatics, trying to maintain a better-for-you, more plant-centric diet, they made the switch from whey protein powders to plant protein powders. They soon grew tired of drinking terrible tasting shakes, made with low-quality proteins that lacked the right ratio of essential amino acids to help our bodies recover, so they decided to make their own. 18 months and many failed attempts later, they finally built a formula that met their goals. They combined a blend of high-quality plant proteins with super herbs, adaptogens, added BCAA’s and a few other natural ingredients to create a great tasting plant-based performance protein powder that helps the body recover, rebuild, and repeat.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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Leverage Your Network to Maximize Business Opportunities featuring Ashley Hartman, Bluestein Ventures

Finding an investment partner, at any time, is no easy task. It’s not unlike soccer or football. The greater the number of shots on goal, the more likely to score a goal. But for young entrepreneurial brands, many entering business ownership for the first time, a capital raise can be a complicated and grueling task that can make or break a business owner’s dreams.

In this episode, I had the privilege of chatting with Ashley Hartman, Senior Principal at Bluestein Ventures, a family-backed venture capital fund that invests in the future of food. Ready to provide insights into a new way of seeing the capital raise. Ashely shares how investment and venture capital firms have taken the opportunity of the 2020 events to re-evaluate how, where, and with who they do business with. She shares how this year has become an opportunity to get better and stronger, meeting not only business but personal goals. Along the way we learn the importance of being a good community partner and how investing beyond a financial commitment has become a cornerstone in her firms’ success.

“People need to be utilizing their network a little bit more and asking a little bit more.” – Ashley Hartman

In this episode we learn:

  • The reason why Ashley and Bluestein Venture focuses on helping brands in Seed to Series A stage funding.
  • The ways investment firms are finding and supporting brands during this time.
  • The criteria and evaluation tools that Bluestein uses when courting brand opportunities.
  • The key differences in communicating with serial entrepreneur’s vs the home-grown “Hatchery” style entrepreneur.
  • About diversity initiatives in business and how Bluestein is able to outreach to those communities that traditionally haven’t had accessibility to capital investment.
  • Where Ashley derives her energy to keep on pushing hard to meet her goals and those of Bluestein’s brands.
Gooder Podcast

Leverage Your Network to Maximize Business Opportunities featuring Ashley Hartman, Bluestein Ventures

About Ashley Hartman:

Ashley is Senior Principal at Bluestein Ventures, a family-backed venture capital fund that invests in the future of food. Bluestein looks for game-changing, early-stage ventures across the food industry that redefine how consumers achieve their health and wellness. Our investments span the entire value chain – both B2C and B2B – with a focus on four areas: high-growth consumer brands, proprietary foodtech, next-gen commerce, and value-add digital technology. At Bluestein, we’re active investors, going beyond capital to help its portfolio companies develop, iterate, and implement their go-to-market strategy to achieve product-market fit and set the foundation for scale.

Ashley is involved in all areas of Bluestein, including screening, due diligence, portfolio company support, as well as firm development and strategy. She has extensive experience leading growth strategy and establishing scalable infrastructure necessary to build sustainable ventures, honing these skills throughout her time running and scaling her family’s business, working on new ventures at Coinstar, and her experience in financial consulting. Active in the Chicago food community, Ashley serves on the Selection Committee and Associate’s Board of the Good Food Accelerator and is a mentor at Food Foundry and The Hatchery. Ashley received an MBA with honors from Harvard Business School and a BA in Political Economy, summa cum laude, from Williams College.

Outside of Bluestein, you’ll find Ashley on her yoga mat, exploring Chicago on foot, hiking up a storm when she can escape to the mountains, or at a contemporary art museum. A health & wellness nut, she’s been vegan for nearly eight years, but doesn’t preach!

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleyhartman2/

Email: ashley@bluesteinventures.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/a_hartman1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ashleyhartmanrobin/

Show Resources:

Bluestein Ventures – We invest in the future of food. We’re looking for game-chaigne, early-stage ventures across the food industry that redefine how consumers achieve their health and wellness. Our investments span the entire value chain – both B2C and B2B – with a focus on four areas.

Chicago Food Community – A united community effort working to bring food, dignity and hope to Cook County neighbors.  They act as the hub for a network of more than 700 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs which provide food where it’s most needed.

Good Food Accelerator – The Good Food Accelerator gets emerging Good Food CPG brands ready for prime time, giving them the skills to scale up

Food Foundry – A Chicago-based growth accelerator program by Relish Works built in partnership with Gordon Food Service and 1871. It supports, connects, and propels innovative startups who are reimagining the food industry.

The Hatchery – A non-profit and beverage incubator dedicated to helping local entrepreneurs build and grow successful businesses.

Yerbae – A line of zero calorie sparkling waters that are enhanced with a blend of yerba mate, white tea extract, and guarana seed extract.

Coinstar – An American company operating coin-cashing machines

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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Never Give Up featuring Denise Woodard, Partake

Gooder Podcast featuring Denise Woodard

In this episode I had the privilege of chatting with Denise Woodard, CEO and Founder of Partake Foods: a brand of allergy-friendly snacks inspired by her daughter’s experience with food allergies.

Denise takes us on a journey of discovery as she tells us the story of tackling her daughters’ dietary restrictions while meeting her sweet tooth “demands”. With a little tough love from her daughter’s childcare provider “Your daughters’ diet is boring.”- Denise embarked on a journey of discovery and perseverance learning to bake, develop product, start-up and run a company and developing it into a beloved industry darling. Along the way we hear about the 86 investment rejections, road trips selling product out of her car, to becoming the first black woman to raise a million dollars in seed capital for a packaged food brand.

In this episode we learn:

  • The genesis and inspiration of Partake.
  • What is driving the demand for allergen-free foods.
  • How Denise plans to support the growing needs of the allergen-free consumer.
  • How food and beverage brands can improve their listening of consumer needs – beyond product development.
  • How Denise is supporting other BIOPIC women in the industry.
  • The ways Denise stayed inspired during the early days of fundraising and growing Partake.
  • The advice that Denise gives new food and beverage entrepreneurs.

“Successful people are just regular people who want to solve a problem and are very passionate about it.” – Denise Woodard

Gooder Podcast

Never Give Up featuring Denise Woodard, Partake

About Denise Woodard:

Denise Woodard is the Founder/CEO of Partake, a line of allergy-friendly snacks inspired by her daughter’s experience with food allergies. Since launching in July 2017, Partakes first product – delicious, nutritious, allergy-friendly cookies – can be found in over 2,500 retailers including Target, Sprouts, and Whole Foods Market. The company has been featured by People, Black Enterprise and Entrepreneur and, in June 2019 closed a seed round of funding led by JAY-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners.

Prior to launching Partake, Denise spent a decade in consumer-packaged-goods at various Fortune 100 companies. Most recently, she held the title of Director, National Sales in Coca-Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Brands division. Denise holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and an MBA from Arizona State University. She lives in Jersey City, NJ with her husband, Jeremy, and their 5-year-old daughter, Vivienne.

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/denisegwoodard/

Website:  https://partakefoods.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PartakeFoods/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/partakefoods/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/partakefoods

Show Resources:

Partake: Our products give delicious peace of mind to those with dietary restrictions… and “how is this so good?” enjoyment to everyone else.

Marcy Venture Partners: Co-Founded by Shawn Carter (JAY-Z), Jay Brown and Larry Marcus. The firm has a passion for building game-changing consumer businesses and mass-market brands that resonate with culture across products and services, media and technology. We combine unique access, instincts, deep networks, operating and venture capital expertise to be long term partners in growth.

Whole Foods Market : An American multinational supermarket chain headquartered in Austin, Texas, which sells products free from hydrogenated fats and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. A USDA Certified Organic grocer in the United States, the chain is popularly known for its organic selections.

Honest Tea: A bottled organic tea company based in Bethesda, Maryland. It was founded in 1998 by Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company. The name is a pun on the word “honesty”.

Food Equality Initiative: Improving the health and ending hunger in individuals diagnosed with food allergies and celiac disease through access, education and advocacy.

Frito-Lay: An American subsidiary of PepsiCo that manufactures, markets, and sells corn chips, potato ships and other snack foods.

Stacy’s Rise Project: Created to help bridge the funding gap for female founders, Stacy’s Rise Project™ has been connecting and empowering women business owners for years.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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Defining Success Beyond Financial Gain featuring Thereasa Black, Amore Congelato

Gooder Podcast with Thereasa Black

In this episode, I had the privilege of interviewing Thereasa Black, CEO and Founder of Amore Congelato, a start-up gelato brand taking a different approach to treats, community and the definition of success. Thereasa takes us on a journey of being a professionally driven single mom finding a way to develop a dessert that her daughter fell in love with, while Tereasa was deployed overseas, to create a new opportunity for her family and her community. Along the way we explore the hurdles of starting a new food brand with no experience in food or frozen desserts, CPG, or retail.

In this episode we learn:

  • The genesis and inspiration of Amore Congelato.
  • How Thereasa’s military experience influences her decision making and level-headedness.
  • How to stay focused on the mission of a company regardless of challenge.
  • To always have a real plan B, ( and C).
  • How leaning into other people and resources can help at every level of business.
  • How to stay inspired when working through unfamiliar situations.
  • That the real key to success is balancing work life with personal life.

She leaves us with a word of advice: “Your drive should be the want to achieve your goals.”

Gooder Podcast

Defining Success Beyond Financial Gain featuring Thereasa Black, Amore Congelato

About Thereasa Black:

Thereasa Black is an attorney, Naval Officer, and the CEO and founder of Amore Congelato, a company that makes all-natural, nutritious gelato and sorbet that contains zero cane sugar.

In March 2018, a month after she was sworn into the Maryland Bar and a week before her daughter’s 2nd birthday, Thereasa was deployed to Djibouti for a 13-month deployment.  This was Thereasa’s 4th deployment, but her first as a mom. Every day away from her daughter was s struggle because her toddler, who believed that Thereasa had dropped her off and moved to a new home, was suffering greatly.

Thereasa knew immediately that she couldn’t deploy again and that returning home and practicing law working 8o hour weeks was also not an option, so she decided to start her own business. She chose gelato in honor of the last food that she and her daughter shared before their long journey apart. Thereasa had made an ice cream cookie cake to celebrate her daughter’s birthday the night before she deployed. It was the first time that her daughter had ice cream and she fell in love with it.

Thereasa decided to make an ice cream that was nutritious so that she would be happy to allow her daughter to eat it. She removed all of the cane sugar and replaced it with a tasty combination of date syrup, agave nectar, and coconut sugar. It has up to 16 essential vitamins and minerals and 24 grams of protein. Now her daughter can enjoy gelato that has more nutrients than kale and Thereasa will never have to leave her side.

Guests Social Media Links:

Email: CEO@amorecongelato.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thereasa-m-black/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amorecongelatofrozenlove/

Instagram: @amore_congelato

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Amore+Congelato&sp=EiG4AQHCARtDaElKT19UdkVqMVB0b2tSLTJXTkdvWjBlU1E%253D

Show Resources:

Amore Congelato: Gelato sweetened with dates, coconut sugar, and agave nectar. Zero cane sugar.

Stacy’s Rise Project: Created to help bridge the funding gap for female founders, Stacy’s Rise Project™ has been connecting and empowering women business owners for years. That’s why Stacy’s is sharing our resources with other female-founded businesses like those founded by these 30 women. Support them by adding their products and services to your cart.

HelloAlice: Step-by-step guides, expert resources, and collaborative communities of fellow entrepreneurs – all for free.

MassChallenge: MassChallenge was founded in 2009 with a singular purpose – to make it as easy as possible for entrepreneurs to launch and grow new ventures.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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Naturals Brands: You’re Missing Your Biggest Target Audience

In the hypercompetitive naturals category, brands define the natural consumer in a very narrow way: rich, suburban, white, educated, able-bodied, and already healthy.

But that overlooks a huge audience of consumers just waiting for these brands to find them.

Naturals brands are tripping over each other to reach the same defined audience. These consumers are fickle, quick to flip from one brand to the next. In other words, companies are fighting with each other and spending tons of money to reach the same volatile market.

Why?

If you’re a marketer in this category, we’d like to introduce you to a different group of consumers hungry for your better-than products: low- and middle-income families.

Consumers of Modest Means & Why They Matter to Brands

You may imagine that your prototypical fan is a suburban white mom active on Instagram and into health and fitness. So your better-for-you product might be just right for her. But she doesn’t really need your brand.

Who does? Consumers of more modest means who actually need products that can help them lead healthier lives.

These consumers look different from your model fan. These families are more likely to be of color, disabled, or LGBTQ+. They live in urban or rural—not wealthy suburban—areas, where access to healthy food choices is more limited. There are myriad reasons—financial, cultural, logistical—why these folks think differently about health and wellness than the consumer you’re currently reaching.

Before you dismiss the idea of connecting with them, realize this: While spending power remains concentrated with upper-class shoppers, the middle and lower class represent a far greater portion of the population. As of 2018, 52% of American adults qualified in the middle class and 29% in the lower class. There’s a vast market to be tapped.

And as Emily Brown of the Food Equality Initiative told me in our recent discussion for my Gooder podcast, these consumers are incredibly brand loyal—because their spending habits and budgets don’t allow for shopping around. Once they land on a product or brand their families prefer, they stick with it.

Why Are These Consumers Overlooked?

These folks are out there—why don’t marketers see them?

A big part of it is innate bias in our industry. In the natural food and beverage category, marketing is all about finding your “tribe”—consumers who buy into your brand’s values and see your products as a way to express their affiliation with those values. We assume those fellow tribe members are just like us. We don’t see consumers who don’t look like us, and most of us are white, educated, and reasonably well to do.

The early adopters of natural food and beverage products were a bunch of 1960s and ’70s countercultural hippies who were concerned about the commercialization of food and farming and who advocated for whole, unaltered, healthy food. Then and now, founder-owners of better-for-you companies tend to be entrepreneurs with enough capital to launch, manufacture, and scale a business—and executives and investors in the category are predominantly white and wealthy as well. Our category is a closed-loop.

So what has this navel-gazing approach to product development and marketing yielded?

  • High price points for products that aim to benefit people and planet
  • Flavor profiles and niche ingredients that aren’t widely appealing
  • Exclusive channel strategies that don’t bring products to the consumers who might want them
  • An implicit belief that only white suburban folks want to live healthy lifestyles

In short, the naturals industry has evolved beyond the reach of people who are new to the idea of eating whole, healthy foods.

How to Reach Low- and Middle-Income Buyers

Here’s the upside: Naturals brands, with their powerful missions to improve lives, should find it easy—indeed, critical—to reach these underserved audiences. If you’re a thriving naturals brand, you’ve already invested in the consumer education platform of your Brand Ecosystem—it’s the very foundation of your communication strategy. You know how important it is to teach people why your brand matters and what your products can do for them.

Mission and education: Check. So it should be an easy lift to reach out to a broader audience.

A couple of points to think about:

Understand who these consumers are. Shift your research mindset from transactional (who buys what) to empathetic (what do they need in their lives). The right syndicated consumer data exists; you just have to ask for it in different ways. Seek research that shows where, why, and how these kinds of consumers shop. Collaborate with retail partners that have access to that information; they’re also interested in reaching that consumer.

Reach them where they are. Our category shares so much education, but it’s pointed to people who already buy into our brands, not to people who are early in the journey. Don’t ostracize them; welcome them with information that’s helpful to their lives and interests. Same goes for product development. Consumers of modest means may be taking small steps toward eating healthier and may not care about ingredients like kale or chia or Himalayan salt. A baked corn chip may be the ideal option, for example, for the consumer who wants an alternative to fried snacks but isn’t keen on organic vegan lentil puffs.

Get samples into their hands. On a limited budget, a middle-class mom can’t afford to try three different healthy snacks to figure out which one her kids will like. So find ways to get a free trial to her. Once she’s formed a preference for your product, she’ll stick with it.

Get over your high-priced mindset. Leaders in this market attach too much clout to offering an expensive product. Drop the snobbery. The idea that people with restricted income won’t buy is false. When they’re shopping a category where they don’t have a brand affinity, they will buy on price—but if they have a brand preference, they will always spend on that product. They just have to feel a connection to the brand.

There’s nothing wrong with creating a niche product that’s more expensive—but if you’re mission-driven and trying to save people and planet, then your goal should be to go mainstream, expand your market, cost engineer production, and lower your retail price.

Embrace a vision that’s big enough that your goal is to get your product into everyone’s hands. And if you’re not quite sure how to make that happen – drop me a line.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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Food and Beverage Innovation, Begins and Ends with People featuring Natalie Shmulik, The Hatchery

Gooder Podcast featuring Natalie Shmulik

In this episode of Gooder I had the privilege of interviewing Natalie Shmulik, CEO of The Hatchery, a food incubator just outside downtown Chicago. The Hatchery is a powerful initiative that brings a community of innovators along the entrepreneurial path and launches the dreams of owning and running a business to communities that have not traditionally had this access. We learn about the resources The Hatchery provides and how we as a community can provide our expertise, in big and small ways. And why Natalie believes in the power of community.

“Whenever speaking with an entrepreneur, you should always make sure that if you are going to provide feedback or input or a suggestion, that you coach them to believe that the idea was their own.”

In this episode we learn:

* The genesis of The Hatchery and why it is fast becoming a beloved innovation partner to the food and beverage industry.
* The common challenges of budding and small entrepreneurial food and beverage brands.
* Why exciting innovation comes from under-represented entrepreneurial brands.
* About the symbiotic co-learning traditional CPG’s and entrepreneurial brands share in their journey with The Hatchery.
* How coach-ability is a make-or-break trait for leaders and how to vet for coach-ability in your recruiting process.
* How to become a Hatchery brand or partner.
* About Natalie’s trend forecasting super-powers and how it supports The Hatchery’s entrepreneurs.

Gooder Podcast

Food and Beverage Innovation, Begins and Ends with People featuring Natalie Shmulik, The Hatchery

About Natalie Shmulik:

Natalie Shmulik is The Hatchery’s CEO, and go-to resource for everything food business related. Along with an M.L.A. in Gastronomy from Boston University, she has a wide range of experience working with supermarkets, culinary publications, consumer packaged goods companies, and food service establishments. After successfully operating her own restaurant, Natalie was hired as a specialty consultant for one of Ontario’s largest supermarket chains where she enhanced consumer experiences through educational initiatives. Discovering her passion for innovation, Natalie was brought on as a brand strategist for the first cold brew tea company and later moved to Chicago to run The Hatchery Chicago.

With over six years of food incubation experience, Natalie has gained a unique perspective on the industry and what it takes to launch and grow a successful business. Natalie is a regular contributor to Food Business News, was recently featured in the Chicago Tribune’s 10 Business People to Watch in 2020 and received the Specialty Food Association’s award for leadership in vision. She continues to play a valuable role in branding and marketing for food businesses around the country, with her specialty in trend forecasting.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalie-shmulik-1432313b/

Email: info@thehatcherychicago.org

Show Notes:

The Hatchery:  A non-profit food and beverage incubator dedicated to helping local entrepreneurs build & grow successful businesses.

ICNC: Industria Council of Nearwest Chicago offers entrepreneurs an innovative community to grow small businesses through incubation, workforce development, neighborhood planning, and business advising.

ACCION: A nonprofit microlender providing small businesses with loans at an early stage, particularly to support those that aren’t bankable yet.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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Leading a Family Owned CPG Through Change featuring Kim Gibson Clark, Coconut Bliss

Gooder Podcast featuring Kim Gibson Clark

In today’s episode I had the privilege of interviewing Kim Gibson Clark, CEO of Coconut Bliss, a fearless woman and a great leader. Kim takes us on the journey of growing up in a farming family and how those principles translate to her leadership style and apply to the direction she is taking her brand towards.

In this episode we learn:

  • The genesis of Coconut Bliss – and learn more about Luna & Larry.
  • How Kim’s upbringing impacts the operational and social initiatives of the brand.
  • How the HumanCo partnership allows Coconut Bliss to advance their sustainability and environmental initiatives while evolving and to meet the needs of the modern diverse consumer.
  • How having an open mind and leading with love – allows the brand to have powerful and productive conversations.
  • Why converting the family farm business, from conventional to organic, is a bigger initiative than simply making a better-for-you product.
  • How immigrants are key to the success of farming and ranching and advancing the organic movement.
  • The plans that Coconut Bliss has to expand social and business initiatives.
  • About a fun and new innovative product delivery and product offerings to engage with consumers in a new way.
Gooder Podcast

Leading a Family Owned CPG Through Change featuring Kim Gibson Clark, Coconut Bliss

About Kim Gibson Clark:

As a leader in local, national and global communities, Kim Gibson Clark has led Coconut Bliss as CEO since 2010. Throughout her time at Coconut Bliss, Kim has influenced real and impactful action in key areas, such as Coconut Bliss’ operations as an environmentally conscious company, creating transparency and insight into food production, and spotlighting the importance of supporting local and family-run businesses. As President and CEO, Kim is proud to have led Coconut Bliss’ transformation from a locally beloved ice cream company to one of the most acclaimed sustainable plant-based companies in the United States.

Kim is a board member of Oregon Tilth and Lane Food and Beverage Sector Strategies, working to make the state’s food and agriculture biologically sound and socially equitable through the initiatives of certification, education and advocacy. She is also a board member of Oregon Support Living Program (OSLP), which works to empower adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, bringing them into the fold of their communities. Prior to working with Coconut Bliss, Kim spent eight years as General Manager of Lochmead Dairy, where Coconut Bliss Pints and Cookie Sandwiches are manufactured. Throughout her career in the frozen dessert industry she has developed an unwavering standard for quality, and a commitment to organic and sustainable business and ingredient sourcing practices.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kim-gibson-clark-a570066b

Email: Kim@CoconutBliss.com

Show Resources:

Coconut Bliss – At Coconut Bliss, all of our products contain organic ingredients that are minimally processed, ethically sourced and divinely delicious. Every dairy-free, plant-based pint, ice cream bar, and cookie sandwich is crafted with our signature care and commitment. Even our packaging is plant-based and sustainable! With a belief in quality over quantity, community, organic ingredients, and doing good for the world we try to make everything we do blissful.

HumanCo – a mission-driven private holding company that invests in and builds brands focused on healthier living and sustainability.

WAND Water Agroforestry Nutrition Development Foundation – The WAND Foundation provides social development programs with an emphasis on biodiversity, the environmental and agricultural sectors, and rural entrepreneurship for local communities in the Philippines. In collaboration with Science for Humanity, WAND aims to explore the use of treated household waste as fertilizer for crops and vegetation.

B-Corp – Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Loop – Loop Industries, Inc. is a technology company whose mission is to accelerate the world’s shift toward sustainable PET plastic and fiber and away from our dependence on fossil fuels. Loop owns patented and proprietary technology that depolymerizes no and low value waste PET plastic and polyester fiber, including plastic bottles and packaging, carpets and textiles of any colour, transparency or condition and even ocean plastics that have been degraded by the sun and salt, to its base building blocks (monomers). The monomers are filtered, purified and polymerized to create virgin-quality Loop™ branded PET resin and polyester fiber suitable for use in food-grade packaging, thus enabling our customers to meet their sustainability objectives. Loop is contributing to the global movement toward a circular economy by raising awareness about the importance of preventing and recovering waste plastic from the environment to ensure plastic stays in the economy for a more sustainable future for all.

Project Drawdown (Paul Hawkens) – The World’s Leading Resource for Climate Solutions. Founded in 2014, Project Drawdown® is a nonprofit organization that seeks to help the world reach “Drawdown”— the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline.

Monteez – Insanely delicious plant-based dairy staples you won’t want to live without.

Miyokos – Founded on the principle of compassion for all living beings, we’re on a mission to craft dairy products we all love, 100% from plants, making them kinder, greener and tastier than ever before.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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Big Plans for Your Naturals Brand? Start With a Strategic One

Yes, 2020 has been a … well, we’re not sure what kind of year to call it.

While it’s still not business as usual, businesses still have to do many of the usual things, like planning for 2021. And if there’s one thing you should have on the to-do list for your natural food or beverage brand in the next year—before product launches or new channel strategies or investment opportunities—it should be brand strategy.

That’s because none of those initiatives stand any meaningful chance of long-term success without a strategic foundation supporting them.

Brands in 2020 are placing too much emphasis on commercialization and not enough on strategy.

Look, I recognize the importance of selling products or services and getting to market ASAP. But it’s risky business because it is less disciplined to chase an opportunity than it is to create opportunities based upon clearly defined strategic goals. By focusing on strategy-first, businesses can take the lead on branding and positioning, then translate those needs into new products, services, experiences, and personalization opportunities to grow both revenue and positive consumer-relationships.

Brand Strategy as a Smart Business Investment

If you’re going to spend dollars anywhere, brand strategy is where to spend them first. This is where your ROI will come from; every initiative that is strategic in nature will generate a return. Strategy anchors every decision your leadership team should make about the brand and every tactic your marketing team should deploy.

When you know the brand’s DNA, you can confidently make bold moves that might look risky to outsiders. You can stretch your product offering in just the right way that will a) make sense to current customers and b) attract newcomers into the tribe. You can renovate the brand’s identity or packaging so that it stands out in the category. You’ll be highly attractive to investors because you deeply understand who you are and have your act together.

The Process of Developing a Brand Strategy

Natural-brand companies that come to us for guidance have a shoot-first and aim-second mentality. They’re facing a challenge or crisis: Competitors are taking their lunch money, or retailers are shelving their products on the bottom row, or investors are sniffing around but shying away from a deal.

Perhaps you’re in a similar position.

In which case, allocating time to “do” strategy feels like you’re stuck in the starting blocks while the rest of the runners are halfway down the track.

Our work with naturals brands, though, is more like a cross-country race than a sprint. Without the right plan, you’ll come out of the gate too hot, burn out, lose your footing, or pull a hamstring. All are sure-fire ways to lose—or not finish—the race.

So what does this strategy work look like with our clients? It starts with our competitive audit. Not a category audit, mind you, which only looks at the other products in your immediate category. We look holistically at everything—necessities, experiences, luxuries, and other stuff—that competes with your brand for your core consumer’s dollar, time, and attention.

We look at all seven platforms in what we call the Brand Ecosystem to see where your brand wins or struggles.

Our brand strategy work looks externally to audiences, both those you have and those you hope to reach. Brands, especially those founded by visionary CEOs who pioneered a novel product, have a tendency to think that a consumer thinks about their brand 24/7. Most only think about them in the moment of need—at purchase, or when a product is needed to solve a problem (it’s raining; I need my Patagonia jacket). When brands forget that that moment of inflection with consumer happens on an infrequent basis, they over-inflate their importance to the universe. What’s more, leaders at naturals brands really believe in their products, and so they think that consumers automatically do, too.

It also turns the camera on the internal corporate culture. Your brand’s success is limited or unleashed by the people within your organization; we help companies align their people to their purpose.

It takes a fair, unbiased, honest perspective to bring actionable insights—instead of just guessing or making assumptions based on what you see in front of you. That’s what we bring to the table. We’ll help you discover what you don’t know.

A strategic brand foundation focused on body (the competitive environment), mind (your promise and the way that you keep it), and soul (your people) renders your business essentially future-proof. It makes decision-making easy.

A solid brand strategy is like a flight plan. Sure, you might eventually fly the plane from LA to New York, but without a navigational plan and waypoints, weather data, technical inputs, and the right fuel load, you have no idea where or how you’ll get there.

You run every other aspect of your business with a plan—finance, operations, sales. Why operate without a plan for the brand itself?

We can help you research, aggregate, analyze, and create a plan. It’s what we’re good at, and our clients see phenomenal growth when they dedicate the right time, investment, and people to building a strategic brand plan. Ready to go? Let’s talk.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

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