Using Your Passion to Drive Your Company’s Mission featuring Liz Myslik

Building a business is exceptionally difficult. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Often, it’s one of the greatest joys and challenges that people face in their lives — second only to raising children.

Liz Myslik understands the personal and professional journey of building a business. As an entrepreneur with years of experience growing brands in the health food industry, Liz understands the operational, financial, marketing, and sales sides, as well as the most important part — the people. She knows there are people out there like her: folks who are following their passion to make the world a better place. As Liz says, do what’s right for the world and business will follow.

In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, Diana Fryc is joined by Liz Myslik, Partner at Loft Growth Partners, to discuss why staying true to your passion to help the world will reap better long-term results. Liz talks about her father’s advice that changed her career outlook, the difference between mission-driven and money-hungry companies, and resources for new business owners looking for investors.

In this episode we learn: 

  • Liz Myslik describes the mission of Loft Growth Partners
  • Advice from her father that inspired Liz to find her passion — and then find a way to contribute
  • Liz’s advice: Make decisions that are right for the world and business will follow
  • Liz shares her take on diversifying workplace leadership
  • How does Liz distinguish between mission-driven companies and the ones just in it for the money?
  • Resources for entrepreneurs in the better-for-you food industry
  • Why did Liz join the team at Loft Growth Partners?
  • Advice for up-and-coming women entrepreneurs
  • Two paths into investing: financial education or an operational background
  • Resources for new business owners looking for investors
Gooder Podcast

Using Your Passion to Drive Your Company’s Mission featuring Liz Myslik

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About Liz Myslik: 

Liz Myslik is a Partner at Loft Growth Partners. Loft Growth Partners invest in consumer brands that promote happier, healthier living to build great businesses that have a lasting impact. Clients include brands like The Seaweed Bath Co., Blue Dog Bakery, and Fat Snax.

Liz has spent nearly 20 years leading emerging consumer brands across the food, beverage, and fitness industries. She has been named a “Kingmaker in Consumer & Retail” by Forbes, one of the “Most Influential Women in Food & Drink” by Fortune, and a “Wonder Woman in the Natural Products Industry” by New Hope Media. Liz is also a Board Member for No Cow, The Seaweed Bath Co., Fat Snax, and Flock.

Guests Social Media Links: 

LinkedIn Liz Myslik: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizmyslik/

Website: https://www.loftgrowthpartners.com/

Show Resources: 

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo

Retail Voodoo has been building beloved and dominant brands in the food, wellness, beverage, and fitness CPG industries for over 30 years. They’ve served multinational companies like PepsiCo. and Starbucks, startups like High Key, and everything in between. 

Their proven process guides hundreds of mission-driven consumer brands to attract a broad and passionate fan base, crush their categories through growth and innovation, and magnify their social and environmental impact. 

So, if you are ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy that gives your brand an advantage, Retail Voodoo is here to help.

Visit retail-voodoo.com or email info@retail-voodoo.com to learn more.

Transcript:

Intro 0:05

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 0:45

Hello, This is Diana Fryc. I am the host of the Gooder Podcast where I get to talk to the powerhouse women in the food, beverage and wellness categories about their journeys to success and their insights on the industry. Thanks for joining us today. Really quick I want to introduce a reintroduce to some of you Retail Voodoo. The episode sponsor Retail Voodoo is a brand development firm. Our clients include Starbucks kind, Rei, PepsiCo, highkey, and many other market leaders. We provide strategic brand and design services for leading brands in the food, wellness, beverage and fitness industries. If your goal is to increase market, share, drive growth or disrupt the marketplace with new innovative ideas, give us a call. Let’s talk you can always find us at retail-voodoo.com or just send an email at info@retail-voodoo.com and we’ll get back to you. Okay, well today we get to talk with Liz Myslik partner of growth. My Gonna Say that again. Today we get to talk to Liz Myslik Partner of Loft Growth Partners, and she is an investor partner and champion of mission driven brands, has spent nearly 20 years leading emerging consumer brands across food, beverage and fitness industries are operating in leadership experience make Liz a valued partner to entrepreneurs, investors and management teams. Liz has led m&a and forged partnerships with many iconic brands in the natural space, including General Mills, Annie’s epic provisions, cascadian Farms, mondelez, Unilever and many more. It’s no wonder the new hope media that new hope media dubbed her a wonder woman in the natural products industry. Well, hello, Miss Liz, how are you?

Liz Myslik 2:34

Hi, Diana, it’s wonderful to see and be with you. And your audience.

Diana Fryc 2:38

Thank you. Where are you calling from today? there? Where are you in? Denver? bright? Okay. You got to spill the beans, Wonder Woman, new hope that’s high praise from new hope you got to spill the beans? How did that come about?

Liz Myslik 2:55

Well, I have to say that many of the women at New Hope or Wonder Women themselves. So it’s an incredible organization that many of your listeners will know is really I would say the hub of the natural products industry having put on many shutdown shows over the years Expo West Expo East which all of us have attended. And not to mention many different media platforms that they have as well, to support the needs of the industry and provide information and support. So yes, I mean, when they when, when that when that came out, I was incredibly humbled because I I aspire and rely on them for so much. But you know, I would say to that, there’s just not enough, it was a signal to me that just not enough men and that are there in this industry, we need more. We need more great women that are you know, doing incredible work and are recognized for it. Because let’s face it, we are the consumers. And there are many women starting great businesses that we all use every day. And so we just need to be celebrating them and putting them out front more and more and more. And so that’s one of the things I aspire to do. And my role of Loft Growth Partners is to connect with more women entrepreneurs, to provide them with more help and resources and support and ultimately capital to help them grow.

Diana Fryc 4:22

Nice. Well so tell us what is that? Why does Loft Growth Partners exist? What what are you all about?

Liz Myslik 4:31

Well, there’s something so there’s three of us as partners, and we’re blessed to have a team of five or small team. small but mighty, I would say but all of us who come together and my partner Andy started the firm 20 years ago way before there was much in the way of investing in the space right came together because of a real desire to elevate entrepreneurs and really helped to build and and support the ecosystem of people that are creating products. There. changing people’s lives. And in so doing, you know, building a business is really, really hard. Yes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And it is oftentimes one of the greatest joys and challenges that people face in their lives. Maybe second to raising kids, but we can talk about that another podcast. Yeah. But it’s, it’s so hard. And it is a, it’s a personal journey and a professional journey. And so having ourselves been on that journey, most of us here on the team have been entrepreneurs or have led businesses, we understand it, we understand all the different facets that go into it, including not just the operational and financial and marketing and sales side, but really the people, which is the most important aspect of it. And so, our name is is is reminiscent of what we aspire to do, which is to elevate scuffs on people building these brands, so that they can be their best selves, to show up for their customers to show up for their teams, and show up for you know, ever their investors, everyone that they need to be there for, to, to grow and succeed. And so it’s a little bit different spin I think, then, you know, a lot of maybe investors talk about think we all do it in different ways. But yes, that’s really what we’re about is elevating the people. And by virtue of that elevating the brands Hmm.

Diana Fryc 6:19

Well, this is an interesting segue. Then, as I was doing my homework, I saw that you were involved with a brand called mix, one that sold to Hershey in 2011. Again, this is slightly before the naturals and organics became this investing super nova, I guess is how I would describe it. And I’m curious, and I’m curious if that transaction, I know it’s, there’s not you can’t talk about the details. But I’m curious if that transaction went down the same way that it would have gone today. I’m just thinking how forward thinking that was of Hershey’s at the time. Yeah, I

Liz Myslik 7:05

mean, there’s so much to talk about. I think, first and foremost, it was an idea that was brilliant, created by three amazing people who are very different people, but came one one of which one of whom was a natural path, who had really had his his his superpower was in nutrition and helping people to live their best lives through what they put in their bodies. That’s Dr. Roush, Greg’s stroke, who was the founder, the founder of Izzy. So this was after he had had the successful exit of Izzy, to, you know, his next venture. And then Wes Frazier, who had been a retailer had been on the buy side, working at 711 nationally on their beverage portfolio. And so each five very different strengths, built a product and a brand that really resonated spoke to consumers, I think was ahead of its time, because now today, we’re talking about functional beverage. And that’s sort of an overused term. Back then, that wasn’t even a category yet. Yeah. And so, you know, to your point, I think, to the direct question that you asked about the, you know, that that experience of selling to Hershey, I think what’s interesting is that, yes, there are a lot of consumer products, companies that are are exploring and playing outside of their what I would say their core categories. Yeah. Certainly, Hershey wasn’t known for beverage, but a lot of you know, it was really building its snacks portfolio. And that can be a tremendous boon for the brand. And for the people behind it, it can also be a challenge. Yeah. Because frankly, any of the brands that we’re building are going to be, you know, a rounding error in comparison to the massive billion dollar brands, that companies like Hershey’s have, and cultivate and build and grow. So with that said, again, it can be a beachhead, you know, entering a new category for large consumer products company can be a beachhead for a new realm. Or it can it can, it can be a situation where, you know, the brand doesn’t have enough gravitas, enough, enough mass enough scale yet to really drive that forward. And that was the case of this next one. So what’s interesting about that, I think the takeaway for for entrepreneurs is that just because it’s strategic, shows interest doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best partner strike for you and for your business. Yeah. And so I think it’s very alluring when people come calling, and it’s great. I mean, I don’t disparage the fact that you know, there’s a lot of strategics are having a lot of conversations with brands. Yeah, I would just caution any entrepreneur to recognize that A lot of those conversations in the early days are exploratory and they want to learn, they want to learn from you, you’re doing things that they can’t. Yeah. And they struggle with. And so, you know, having those conversations and what that leads to doesn’t doesn’t always mean this the best for you and your business. Right? I think that’s the big takeaway from the next Linux.

Diana Fryc 10:19

Yeah. Yeah, interesting. Okay. Well, let’s head a little bit further back before that kind of closer to the beginning of all of this, can you take us down the path from where you started to where you are now, just kind of at a high level, I remember you saying, when we were preparing for this unit that you had never really applied for a job in your life, and you kind of fell forward into opportunity. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Liz Myslik 10:46

I think I was very blessed to have a father who was an entrepreneur and a very unconventional guy, and led a very unconventional life and career. And so that taught me that you can be successful without following the traditional path. And so, you know, what he challenged me to do, as, as I was coming of age was to really figure out what it is that I wanted to contribute, and what and what really, was my passion, what did I really love and what it’s like to contribute? And I use those two questions to drive through everything I’ve done in my career since What do I have you know, that I can be helpful to others? And what is it that I love that I know I’m going to put my heart and soul into. And it really the consistent thing throughout my career has been about, you know, natural, organic, and this lifestyle and really helping, I really, truly believe that you can live a healthy, vibrant life by virtue of making choices that are good for your biogas. And we’re seeing that that’s becoming, you know, very conventional now, which is great. It’s only recently become that way. And so yes, I think the idea, you know, of food as medicine, and what you put in your body in height, care for your body will influence you know, how happy you are, how good you feel, the relationships you have, I really believe that and so, being a part of that, and helping make that possible, and helping businesses that are focused on that is, is where the passion is, and this where How can I contribute is, you know, I have a set of skills that, that help me and help businesses to grow and thrive and help me partner with people in a way that I can help them see around corners and, and unsolved problems. And so those are the two things and so whether I’m have run a brand or run brands I’ve served as a as a, as a division had in big, but bigger brands, I’ve served as an investor as I do now. But you know, whatever I can do to be connected and close to entrepreneurs, who are growing facing challenges and all about, again, health and wellness. That’s where I thrive. So that’s sort of the pathway. But specifically, you know, started my career in this industry with a company called guyon. That 20 years ago, I attended my first Expo in 2000, when it was a tiny, little corner of the Anaheim Convention Center. And it was really everyone knew each other. I mean, it’s sort of like a family reunion. where it is today, which is a massive business and where you have is an industry that attract has attracted the most talented, most successful, most interesting people across many industries who are now you have a lot of the tech entrepreneurs and investors Yes, is even more interesting than tech. they’ve shifted their Yes, their strategies are focused on food and on consumer products. And, and even the, I would say the the borders between consumer and digital and technology have really blended in a way that you have companies like beyond meat that are sort of tech companies and food companies, so much exciting things happening. So I really feel grateful to be able to be in a position of supporting brands and entrepreneurs and providing investment to them and and help along the way.

Diana Fryc 14:05

Yeah. What have you always been kind of this? Has your DNA always kind of had this one contribution component? to, to how what do I want to say this? Have you always wanted to contribute to something bigger than just the bottom line? Has that always been there? Or is that just something that’s evolved as you’ve been going through and meeting these amazing people and just living your own life?

Liz Myslik 14:34

No, I think it’s I think it’s if you’re, if you’re only focused on the bottom line, it becomes a very small life. I think the reality is, is that you can, again, my father taught me this notion of abundance mentality. And if you have an abundance mentality that you are focused on things that you think are really important to you and to the world. You’re going to be successful and I that’s played out in my life and played out in the lives of many people that I admire and aspire to To sort of follow in their footsteps. So I think in our industry, you know, not only is it an opportunity, but it’s not become an expectation that your business and your life is about more than just what your what your, what your bottom line is in the brand that you have a feel like so many businesses are not only including a component of, of giving back, but in fact is part of the foundation of who they are, where they’re from. And I think one of the classic and most loved examples of this is Patagonia, right? Yes, I go India makes decisions, they make those decisions based on first what they think is right for the world. Right. And the business follows. And look what’s happened. I mean, yes, I’m an incredibly successful brand. And in spite of making, you know, if you looked empirically at the, the the financial choices they made along the way, maybe they weren’t the best financial choice, right, but it benefited their business overall, over the long term. Yeah. So that’s what I think is, is our opportunity. And again, I think consumers expected more and more, because more and more people are waking up, and Gen Z. And millennials also have kind of grown up with these values of, there’s more to life than making money. So making money is a means to an end. It’s not the end itself. Yeah. And I think that’s also true in building a business. And if you’re successful and thriving with your team, with your customers, your brand will be successful. Yes. Well, I

Diana Fryc 16:27

want to step back. And you mentioned something that I want to talk about, because what I saw decidedly happen in about three or four years ago is when tech or Silicon Valley investors started to point at the better for you industry. I felt like things started to change within the within the industry itself, I saw a shift of less women in leadership roles, we started to see a little bit less diversity in those leadership roles. But more so what I thought what I was finding is a lot of these better feel for you brands, or not, maybe a lot but many better for you brands, kind of are mission driven from a marketing standpoint, but not from a DNA because the where the investment capital is coming from and the desire to kind of push through for revenue or to push forward through an m&a How were you reconciling this? Or how, how are you seeing perspective? brands that you are providing guidance to? How are you helping them navigate this? You know, like, here’s this somebody with a lot of money, but they’re gonna come at it from this angle versus organizations like yours that come from this POV? Is it tricky? Is it commingled? Or is there pretty straight and clear line between? Who’s doing it for profit? And who’s doing it for other reasons?

Liz Myslik 17:56

Yeah, it’s a great question. I mean, I think ultimately, profit is a component in the sense that, you know, part of the, you know, you cannot do good without doing well, absolutely. Right, you have more prosperous you are as a business, the more people you can help the more. So they’re symbiotic. Yes, I might have to be, I think one of the things. So I want to answer your question, but I have another build on that, too, about what I’ve seen this, I think is, is an interesting contrary that but okay. So in terms of diversity and leadership that has, I would, I would suggest, as always been an issue in our industry, okay. And is it less so than in tech, maybe. But frankly, where we see a lot of female entrepreneurs are founders, you don’t as these businesses scale, you don’t find many female CEOs, and you don’t create. And that’s a problem. And it’s even more of a problem. If we think about diversity of you know, ethnic and cultural diversity, we don’t we have even less of that. And so that’s a, that’s a huge issue. In our industry, we’ve got to fix and there’s a part of, we’re very proud to say I’m part of the jenai collaborative, which is, yes, we’re focused on, you know, really helping to navigate that and address that. But we’re also struggling to figure out how do we solve this problem? Where do we start how far back to go? When we go back to schools and even giving people giving kids the sort of opening the aperture of what they can do and what they can be after they even know that they can start a business. And then when they do they have access to seed capital? Or were more growth equity or a little bit later stage, but do they have access to seed capital? Yeah, can they get can they find either they even know where those people are? I mean, it’s, you know, it’s a it’s a systemic issue that we have got to solve that there’s not one thing that we’re gonna do. Yeah, but we got to work on it. And so as a lot of people are doing A lot of good work on that front. But we’re woefully behind. And we have any industry should be ahead of that, because we I think we have values absolutely are different than other other businesses. Yeah, I’m gonna live by those values. Um, and then to the point of, you know, you know, the sort of the balance of profitability, and cause and sort of mission of the business. What’s interesting there is I think that the market is, is is dictating more than anything right now, the importance of that, yes. And what I mean by that is that consumers, particularly again, Gen Z, and millennial consumers, are expecting and are choosing to buy from companies and people that share their values, and the access to information about what company’s values are, who’s behind them. Is, is more democratic than ever. People always have fallen in the camera. Yes, or access to the Internet and social channels to figure out who’s really, who’s really doing the work and who’s not. And people are, are very eager to share. There’s not they’re not actually sometimes that that can that can backfire. I think sometimes businesses that are trying to do good, including little companies that maybe mess up, you know, yeah, I think there’s sometimes a difficulty and forgiving them when we all in fact, make mistakes. But yes, ultimately, I think that, you know, even the most financially minded investor is seeing that they’re just greater multiples, there’s greater value and enterprises that have mission as part of their core business model. Yeah. And so I think that’s really exciting. So it’s really, it’s an economic just discussion as much as anything. So I think that’s positive. But is it enough? No, but it’s going to be more again, the buying power of this generation, particularly Gen Z as they continue to have, you know, more and more income, the more buying power and the generation that follows them, too. I think this is again, a way Yeah, just again, access to information. And and there’s so much choice. We can buy, you know, 20 different brands of bread. So why not choose the one that is really focused on, on giving back and helping communities and helping farmers, right. I mean, there’s just, we have, we have an abundance of choice, and we have decisions, we’re fortunate in that way. But another interesting thing that I find that’s happening is that, you know, you have also, as this as more and more investment has come in, you have

a lot of people I think, getting access to capital, and growing their brands. And without necessarily benefiting from that. I mean, I think there’s people talk about that the capital markets are so abundant, and it’s so easy to raise money. And I think that the downside of that that the sort of negative impact of that, that that some have seen, and I think others will, that I just want to caution entrepreneurs about is that the more the earlier, you raise money, and the more that you raise, the less that you’re buying, you’re selling, you’re selling your portions of your business. Yeah. And the more you do that, the less you own, an Alaskan troll you have and the less Yes, opportunity there is for you to benefit from the success that your blood sweat and tears have created. Yeah. So I think that this abundance of capital has led to a lot of situations where just tragic situations Yes. And one told me some time, one time, I can really make more money working at McDonald’s than I can in my business, because I’m not paying myself anything. I don’t own any more equity, my business. Yeah. And other people own me, and I can’t even make this as decisions anymore. And that, to me, is the ultimate tragedy of the market that we’re in now. So we always like to talk about how great this isn’t, there’s so much capital, but I just want to caution entrepreneurs to think about, you know, how much you’re you’re spending, I know, for myself, if I have more money in the bank, I’m probably going to make less prudent decisions about how that spent than if I have less. So I try to instill that in my in my kiddo to about abundance can lead to less discipline decisions, then if you kind of, you know, create some scarcity in terms of how you’re thinking about investing your dollars, right? And so that’s what’s great about entrepreneurs is they’re so scrappy when they’re starting out that they make decisions and that leads to some really creative solutions for their consumers and for their business. That ultimately is what Yeah, bigger companies and investors like me love Yeah, but then if you start raising too much money, so yeah,

Diana Fryc 24:52

yeah, I remember the.com bust that’s aging me a little bit there, but I remember When you know, this is 99, I think it was 99. And that this whole entire concept of the web started to explode. And all of these tech companies were getting flooded, flooded with capital. And they were, they were spending it on everything willy nilly. And that was the demise of the industry for about a heartbeat, it rebounded pretty quick. But that crash was pretty hard. Once people started, go, Whoa, we might need to be a little bit more prudent here on how you’re and I think that’s when the investors at that time started to put their fingers a little bit more different industry. But I mean, we kind of go through cycles, different industries, do these types of things where flood, flood, flood the market, and then if people start to be a little bit more cautious, and maybe overly controlling, hopefully, it’ll swing back the other way. But there’s always going to be there’s always going to be bad partners. That’s just all there. You know, that’s just the way life in business is. But one of the things that I wanted to say in regards to diversity, and I think you and I might have talked about, but the work that the hatchery is doing in regards to diversifying the category bring in I mean, in every strata, we’re talking about age, ethnicity, disability, formerly incarcerated military, in the work that they’re doing in Chicago. And the advisement that they’re bringing in this investment partners that are advising is such a great collaboration. And and I have hoped that as more of these I think there’s another place in San Francisco, there’s a little small one here in Seattle, as they’re starting to grow, that these entrepreneurs won’t feel so scared. It is the app, but I will tell you, I speak with a number of young entrepreneurs and young and age, but also young in their business, they could be older. They don’t, who do I talk to about getting a sticker done? You know, how do I? Where do I get this manufactured things that you and I are completely networked about, that they don’t know where to start, and they’ve got a great idea. And it would be great if we could somehow make that information more accessible. And I think that maybe that could be the start is like, how do we tell small business owner people who even want to consider a small business? How do we just even tell them that this world exists, that this world of support exists out there? For them, it might be community centers, could be community colleges, you know, just dripping, drip, drip, drip, I don’t know you guys are probably it’s called the Jedi Collaborative for a reason, I hope one day to be able to be absorbed into the collaborative because that’s what this podcast is all about is, you know, normalizing this kind of leadership and getting that information out.

Liz Myslik 27:51

We can really use your your, your your voice, your megaphone, and your creative ideas. And seriously, like that’s a it’s the the questions and ideas that you just share right now are really, I think, yes, the hatchery is a great resource. And what is what is great about that is not only are all the fundamental building blocks that that team has, is put in place with regards to said manufacturing. And you know, office space, I mean, all Yes, blocking and tackling things, but also, importantly, the community of people. So you’re in a cohort of folks that are in it, with you and facing the same challenges and problems. Because this is a this is a again, a life journey. That is it’s a it’s a it’s a it’s the biggest journey that most people will ever go on. And and the hardest and the most rewarding because most of the people come out the other side want to get back in. But it’s hard. And so having people that you can lean on and support you and you can support along the way is really important. I think we under communicate and other under emphasize that as well as Yes, yes, you need money. Yes, you need manufacturing space. Yes. You need to know where to make those labels. You also need a community be part of the community. Yeah. And I think I really commend the group at the National Network is yes to that has taken something that was a small grassroots sort of networking organization in Boulder, and they’ve expanded it to now many different cities. So folks can look on naturally network.org I believe, and many cities have communities. And what’s one of the benefits, I guess, of the zoom world that we’re in is that you know, you don’t have to necessarily live in one of the communities that that know them because now they have slack channels where there’s groups getting together. They have virtual events like like this where you can sit on zoom and and hear about how do you get your product on the shelf? Where do you get your labels made? All those things and how do you just deal with the chain of the day to day challenges of feeling like people are saying no to you all the time. How do you get through that? So all the things, you know, that we face when we’re building brands, that is one organization that is it’s it’s much more about content and community than the building blocks, like the hash rate. All of its important. And if folks don’t live in Chicago, they can access that that community as well. But yes, for those that are in around Chicago, the hatchery is an amazing organization. And it’s, it’s either blossomed and bloomed because where they started was to provide cool manufacturing sprite, and weight loss and to do something so much bigger and veteran wonderful. So I love that I want to plug them too, because it’s, it’s a great organization. And yes, let’s hope that they can, you know, franchise or expand that model, and that others will do similar things where, where, you know, there are people who are building these businesses that need help and need support,

Diana Fryc 30:54

for sure. And I would love for them to start in places where there’s people who are economically disadvantaged, because industry is gone, you know, places like Detroit, and parts of Philadelphia, where big industries pretty much gone and vacant and a lot of people who have amazing, great ideas, and they just need, they just need information. That’s literally it. They just need information. You know, that

Liz Myslik 31:25

reminds me there’s another really interesting group that has done just that gentleman named Richard Thompson founded the factory, which is outside of the Beltway, outside of Philly or what France gets in Pennsylvania, it’s kind of Near Eastern, where there were a lot of okay. You know, shut down factories, yes. And there was a lot of boarded up space. And these are these, you know, when you when you regenerate these buildings versus big open spaces, cool brick and everything. And he built an essentially an incubator there where he partners with entrepreneurs and provides a lot of the a lot of shared services, the marketing help and creative help and sales help. So that’s another interesting model that’s slightly different, but really serving the same need and the same goal as the hatchery.

Diana Fryc 32:15

I think I love it. I love it. Like, let’s just keep cheering those folks on. Absolutely. Now, can you tell me did was with love growth partners? Was this you and your team coming together? Did you join them? I don’t remember how, how that came about.

Liz Myslik 32:34

So I joined. So the company or the for the fun was known as to x consumer products, okay, partners, which is a mouthful, for a long, long time. Andy Whitman started this firm back in 2001. So we’re in our 20th year, and we recently changed our name to really reflect more of what was back then needed to have a descriptive. So now there’s enough understanding of what investors do and what investment is that we can really focus more on what are the what’s the real work that we do, which is to elevate our entrepreneurs and help them be their best selves, and their companies thrive. And, and the the investment is a part of that, but it’s so much more. But I joined at, we actually met about, gosh, almost a decade and a half ago, when I was running a small portfolio of conditions, specific brands. So we were doing this was a big a bunch of businesses that I was reading that all had several things in common, one of which was they were using nutrition to help solve real chronic conditions like ADHD, and Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration things that you Oh, my goodness, and for which, you know, there’s lots of scientific data that shows that nutrition can really help. If not, you know, if not really solve the problems, the underlying issues, or at least mitigate the symptoms of those issues of those diseases. And we were trying, we were building these these brands, in much in a direct to consumer way, way before. In the mid 2000s. Before people were like buying food online, and also through alternative channels, places like that, you would that you would not expect to find a By buy food products to kind of create a new way of merchandising and returning food products. And I met Andy that and I was working with a different investor. So he was not an investor in these businesses. But he was incredibly generous with his time with his network with his office space to help me to be you know, to solve problems to figure things out, then never forgot that because again, that’s going back to why do we exist, it’s really to elevate this whole ecosystem and to help people Even when it doesn’t serve our financial needs to do so. And so he showed me that he lived and I just never forgot that. And when I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to this fully, no, that was my first call. Unfortunately, it all worked out. And here we are. Awesome.

Diana Fryc 35:18

So you know, you’ve been with these with Loft for I’m going to call it Loft for shorthand for a little while now. At what point did you feel like you’d landed in the right spot? Like this was the place for you?

Liz Myslik 35:34

You know, I think in the very first week, so I early last year, right in the very first week of COVID of our oh my goodness, which was a really interesting time to change. And I’m sure many people listening can relate to Yeah, through a life change in this last year and a half and how different that’s been, and more acute in terms of how it affects our lives. But I think in the first week, I had a father who was laying in the hospital, intubated, dying of COVID. I had an, you know, a kid who is going through online school and hating it. I had a Yeah, no, no home office, you know, to speak, I was working out of the, the dining room. And here I was showing up for work on the first day. And my dining room table is the strangest thing. Yeah, team, my partner’s the whole team, we had a call and I just instantly felt part of the family. And I was instantly put to work helping our companies through this crazy maze that we’ve been through and helping them get TPP money and, and I really felt like I was, you know, back to kind of feeling useful and feeling like I was able to contribute, and something that I cared about. And so that was that was what I knew was the very first day on a zoom call like this, just figuring out how do we help our entrepreneurs? How do we help our businesses and I felt really instantly welcomed and supported and supportive. So

Diana Fryc 37:08

I, you know, you said something that I think is really interesting. Because I’ve always said this for myself, too. But just, I think that I’ve been hearing it more and more from other people that there is something that happens. I can’t remember where I learned this from but when you are feeling in crisis, when you are feeling out of control, there are some things like a logically that happens when you are able to help somebody else in your life. Something happens to your brain and your psychology when you’re helping somebody else in that moment. And so I find it really interesting that here you are in the middle of several crisises, literally, and you starting on your first day and your first week, you are extending and helping and for some reason that balances out.

Liz Myslik 37:59

So because you know, it’s I think it’s so true. It’s really cathartic when we can help others what it does for ourselves. Yeah. And it doesn’t have to be anything big. It can be the smallest thing as, as, you know, giving someone a smile, opening the door to you know, helping someone raise money to save their business, whatever it is. Yes. I mean, it’s, it’s, it doesn’t take much, but it does, it really fills our cup when we can help others. And especially I think, to your point, especially in time of need, I can, I can definitely say if it weren’t for the fact that I was able to dive in and help others. I don’t know how I would have made it through that time. The hard time. So Oh, I’m sorry, that was really but it was it was I felt, I felt needed. I felt helpful. And that really helped me through.

Diana Fryc 38:51

Wow. So I’m like, Okay, all right, how am I going to that was a really deep there. And I want to go into something super superficial right now. But as we’re talking about all of this, I, I’m thinking to myself, one of the things that you wanted to cover was this desire to encourage women to come into this space into this investment space. And I’m wondering, what are the types of things that women should know if they even are considering this? Do they have to be MBAs? Do they have to have accounting backgrounds? What is this industry from what you do? Which is yes, it’s investing but there’s a lot of mentoring and coaching that’s going on? What is this industry need? Why should more women be drawn to it than are now?

Liz Myslik 39:46

Well, I’ll I’ll start with a couple of illustrations or stories, one of which is I remember being back in school 20 plus years ago, much longer than that, actually. I remember one of my professors saying the venture capital is not an industry it’s a fraternity, Oh, is that I mean that in two ways, one of which is that it’s, it’s a very closed door system, you need a secret handshake to get in a and b, it’s all voice. And, and that has really been true. It’s still there’s more and more women today. And there are more firms like Harbinger and Prelude that are all women ourselves were to, you know, four or five people in our firm are women. And we have, we have, you know, many of our companies are led by women, or how women on the boards or in senior roles, that there’s, there’s still too far too few. So you know, that that hasn’t changed much. Another another thing that I heard from a very wonderful, former entrepreneur, investor, board member, he said this, this is a this is a game where the boys play and the boys win. And I took such offense that he meant it in a way that he was he was pointing out that that was a problem. Yeah. So he was he was not, you know, celebrating that he mentioned that. But yeah, are really today. And considering, again, how many entrepreneurs who start food businesses, consumer products, businesses are women. And we’re the consumer as well, 87% of the grocery purchase decisions are made by women. I mean, really, and it is true. And so I think that more and more what what what I’m what I’m seeing and hearing that is really interesting is that private equity and venture firms are recognizing this. And they’re recognizing that there’s a financial benefits, that there’s a there’s a brand benefits, too, there’s a differentiation benefits to having more women in their ranks. because number one, again, understanding the consumer understanding, ultimately, who’s buying these products. Because the people component of being an investor, is I would argue more important than the financial component, I think more and more firms are starting to realize that you need a blend of the two, you need some rock solid financial stars, you also need people that understand people and understand how to sort of bring out bring the other people’s best selves and best talents and, and help them lead because this is most funds have a 10 year life. And so you’re going to be making investments you’re going to be, you know, investors or owners in these businesses for some time. And that means, you know, dealing with the teams and the people involved. And if you have a good yin and yang guess skill sets of gender, representation, and diversity of, of ideas of culture of ethnicity, that’s only going to benefit you long term. So I think that there’s more receptivity, and there’s more opportunity, but there’s still far less than there needs to

Diana Fryc 42:57

be. Yeah, I think you and I spoke about Ashley, over at Blue Stein group. Yes. She had a lot of similar Yeah, similar thinking they’re around the concept that, well, at the end of the day, it’s all about moving money around, really, the asset is the human and the human condition. And I think you guys are an absolute alignment there. As well

Liz Myslik 43:25

said much better said the asset is the human and the human condition and how, how we how we help bring out the best in those humans ultimately dropped to the bottom line. Yeah,

Diana Fryc 43:37

because everybody who’s starting a brand, while they have a big idea, they want to save the world they want to they want to save the neighborhood at the end of the day, it’s about them and their family, really, and then if they can contribute on a larger scale than they get to. And that’s really what what it is I can I take care of my family? Can I take care of this picker problem. And as you said earlier, when we started, you’ve got to have money in order to make that happen. And that’s really where a team like yours adds such significant value outside of just managing the PnL in the in the operations.

Liz Myslik 44:18

Absolutely. So I want to I want to also say, you know, because you had asked, what does it take? What is it what is what is the, you know, personal color need to get into this business? I would say, you know, there’s there’s historically there have been two paths in to investing, one of which is the finance path. And one of which the operating path. Finance path is that you are, meaning you come up through a financial education, essentially. And oftentimes in MBA, you’ve been in investment banking, so you’ve gotten a sense of deals and understanding sort of the you know, the all of the aspects the the dynamics, the modeling the structure of putting deals together of mergers, acquisition investments. And and then you move into the, the investing side, the dedicated investing side. And there’s there’s a very well worn path there. And again, when we look at majority, although this is also changing the majority of MBAs, being men, that’s no longer true. In fact, you know, here are two women on this call Who? MBAs, right? There’s like, there’s not, there’s, that’s not all. That’s not all you need. Right? That’s a path. The other path is operating path. And that’s the path that I came through, which is running businesses having the experience of building brands, and going through that journey. And then you come out the other side, and you say, you’ve learned a lot over the over the course of doing this, you’ve seen those transactions, those you’ve worked with investors you’ve worked with, potentially with investment banks, and and, you know, and seeing your company sold, or what have you. So you see that that side of it, and then you can come in through that, that lens. And that’s often, you know, what would they call operating partners? Yes, for for operators, who come in and then serve as you know, not only helping the investors make decisions on what they should invest in, but also helping the businesses and a lot of coaching, mentoring, sometimes filling the talent gap is needed, yes, in a role in the business, but that’s another path. So, you know, there needs to be more paths. But those are two well established paths that just give, you know, give you a lens into different ways in which you can you can you can come into this space. And again, I think there’s a lot more receptivity to diversity. Now, not nearly enough yet. I think, you know, people of color women have an upper hand now in and having the opportunity if, you know, if they can come come through one of those means or create their own. Yeah, the other thing we’re seeing is that you can you can start your own fund, and you’ve seen a lot of first time, you know, people very diverse backgrounds, starting their own funds, and attracting investment and making investments. And that’s incredibly exciting to see as well. Yeah.

Diana Fryc 47:20

Well, I think what I, I want to say, see if I heard you correctly. And I want to just reinforce this, if I did get it correct, what you’re saying is you do not need an advanced degree to become an investor. In fact, it could be more valuable for you to have had no degree and running a business for 20 years, to be a good investor than somebody who’s, who’s gone through the investment channel. Now, I’m not saying that’s explicitly true one way or the other. But I’m just saying is, you don’t don’t feel like an advanced degree is the only way that you’re going to get into investing. If you know what you’re doing, especially if you’ve gone through it over and over again, the quite valuable as an investment strategist. Did I get that? Right?

Liz Myslik 48:07

Absolutely. Absolutely true. And I think both ultimately, having both inside of that firm creating great strengths. Yes. Because, you know, there’s, if you run a business, you may not be as as astute on the modeling or director side. Exactly. That’s important. But folks who are have only, you know, worked in finance will not understand the nuances, right? Yes, in a business, it’s walking a mile on the other person’s shoes. Both are important, both or channels. But you’re absolutely right.

Diana Fryc 48:39

Yeah, yeah. Well, I want to talk one last question here before we start wrapping up, and this is around raising capital right now. And kind of some things that you were seeing that you kind of would like people to understand better? And what the opportunities look like for those that are in capital raises, whichever grade they’re in?

Liz Myslik 49:05

Absolutely. Well, one thing I will say I’ll point, folks to our website, we have a ton of resources, oh great on our website that help people just, you know, on many levels, including if you’re raising money, just running your business day to day. So if you got a lot of growth partners.com and click on Resources, you will find lots of different tools there. And one of the things that we have there and focus on is the is understanding how to manage cash. And I would say that, that is one of the most important things to understand, you know, before you raise money, yes, how to manage cash. And so there’s a video on that. There’s a great handout on that. And I’ll also point people to the Hirshberg rG Andrew Yang Hirschberg, who is himself a very successful former entrepreneur, founder of Stonyfield farms, has dedicated his life now to helping others and puts on several events per year Hirshberg entrepreneurial Institute with lots of information, and we have we’re very symbiotic and our views on good, you know, factors in being successful early on as an entrepreneur and building a brand. And cash management is one of those. Yeah. And so I encourage people to look at that. I think the most important thing is there’s, there’s, again, there’s access to a lot of resources out there. Yep. I would encourage folks to really be able, and not everyone has money to run a business, right cost a lot of money. But to, to really, there’s a lot of angel networks, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of, you know, there’s friends and family, there’s a lot of access to funds that outside of, you know, professional investors that I think early on, can be more patient, more, more supportive capital. When you get into venture capital, yeah, you know, a very different formula for fairies. Yes, I encourage people to use more friendly forms of capital early on, when you’re figuring out your business, and you’re trying to figure out that product market fit and understanding you know, what, what, what you know, spending money will do for your business, how to how to find the right formula of investment, and results and brand. And then as you grow, you know, your needs for capital will change. There’s debt and equity, there’s many different forms of financing. And so there’s lots of seminars again, on HCI, there’s information on our website, through the naturally network on the pros and cons of all the different types of capital out there. I think it’s good to be smart about that and know what’s available, and really had chart your path as you grow, what’s going to be the right source of capital at the right time, are you thinking ahead, even before year, and I think that the most The best advice is to you know, to build relationships early with folksy think you might want to be investors later on, because it is a relationship, it’s a marriage, and money is a commodity. But not, you know, remains the same color, but you want to have investors who you who you know, believe in you and believe in business. And so really be be selective, be discriminating, and that you think, you know, times are tough, this is somebody who I want on my side? Yes, I think my, you know, keep the beatings will continue until morality, if you want that, that person who’s going to be a true partner. So you know, figuring that out meeting with people and it’s it takes time, it’s like a full time job talking to investors. Yeah. Oh, it is? No. And so you have to kind of be be okay with that. But again, it’s in service to your business and choosing the right partners along the way to help you as an individual be successful in your business to be successful.

Diana Fryc 53:05

Yeah. Thank you for bringing Gary up. You know, what a gift he is to our community, isn’t he? He’s amazing. I mean, just, and he feels like a friend, even if you don’t know him at all, just the way he carries himself. It’s just an old soul. So thank you for bringing him up as a resource for those that have not heard of him. And really the Hirschberg Institute as amazingly great things as well. So thank you for for doing that. Liz, our time is almost up. But I have a few questions that I like to ask every guest and I’m wondering for Okay, transitioning, is there anything that we didn’t cover today that you for sure wanted to share with us?

Liz Myslik 53:51

I do, I just want to say, first and foremost, I want to thank you for providing, you know, this podcast to people because I think you’re also helping to inspire and inform, you know, a whole community of people that I think by virtue of listening, are better off and are more and more excited and have just, you know, feel like they have others that they can lean on and have, you know, more abundance of really what’s going on in this community and this and the wonderful people that you bring out here and, and share with us. I mean, I’m a listener and I just really appreciate the guests you bring, and the work you do. And so I just wanted to say please keep doing this and thank you, oh, really helping and supporting this community in a way that you may not even realize. So.

Diana Fryc 54:41

Thank you. That’s generous. Thank you. Okay, well, let’s move to this. I wonder if you might have some sort of interesting tidbit or fact I call it a happy hour fact something that somebody might share during their neck. Did you know that you know, about investing like maybe how much money exchanges or what the average investment looks like for certain phase or any anything at all?

Liz Myslik 55:11

I think one tidbit that I think is really exciting was there has been in the last 10 years or so $20 billion of value transfer, meaning My gosh, Schumer’s have voted with their wallets to the tune of $20 billion moving away from big brands, big established brands, and Eli entrepreneurial brands in the consumer products. So $20 billion. So consumers are literally voting with their dollar. Yes, they want. They want the products that you’re creating, and they want them now. And that’s why you have all these big brands that are buying companies like Annie’s for 850 million, or

Diana Fryc 55:58

just

Liz Myslik 55:59

a million dollars. The sir RX bar for 600 million. Yes. I mean, this crazy numbers. So yes, how important and how valued and valuable these businesses are. So you know, on those days, when you’re feeling like, I can’t do this one more day, just think about some of those numbers. Think about all the good you can do in the world. By virtue of you know, you can be the next Gary Hirshberg. Yes. Take the take the success that you’ve built and, and help the next generation of entrepreneurs. But there’s, there’s so much, there’s so much good that comes out of building these brands. So keep going. Don’t give up and know that this is, you know, no one’s asking for the next no cookie brand and the next bar brand. He’s just got to be the one pushing it forward and making it Yeah, people’s lives. So don’t keep doing it.

Diana Fryc 56:54

Yes. And I’ll say that, while that number is huge, when we think about what the marketplace is, in general, there is a lot of room to grow. So keep doing it, right? Yes, yes. Okay. Are there any women or other women leaders or rising stars out there in our industry or not? That you would like to elevate or simply admire for the work that they’re doing for communities? And, and so why

Liz Myslik 57:22

so many? Where do I start? I think I there’s a few there’s a few people that I think of when I think of like who’s who’s really doing really good work. I mean, I think about there’s been so many wonderful entrepreneurs who build brands, like who inspire me like our American of lower bar, or clell, to me of Noosa. I mean, who are who’ve done amazing things I think about, you know, women working, I’m just going to put a plug for one of the incredible women working in one of our businesses. Yeah. Bryanne Mocombe, and Bryanne Mocombe is the VP of operations at No Cow. And, you know, she’s out there and, and building. I mean, she’s, she was a one woman team for a long time. Building, which, what is a very, very high growth business in it with a very challenging set of ingredients and a very challenging supply chain, in the midst of a pandemic. You know, figuring it all out and making it all happen and making it look easy. And she’s just incredibly, she’s smart. She’s creative, she’s funny, she’s a mom. I mean, she’s just like, she’s kind of all the things they like look up to because she’s got a sense of humor about it, but she works so hard, and she’s been so successful, and she’s really made a huge difference. Another person I’d like to elevate is Eliza Blank at the cell. So we’re very proud to also invest in and partner with Eliza. So she grew up loving plants. Her mom inspired her with a love of plants. And she wanted to share that love with the world and provide people a means to enjoy plants and understand how to better grow plants. Oh, she started a company called The Sill and sell right out of New York City right out of Brooklyn. And it’s a it’s a company that that curates and cultivates houseplants that for me, it’s really changed my house and my life because I have much more good oxygen in my veins of her company because, you know, she’s made she’s demystified. Yeah, growing houseplants, and I’m certainly not someone with a green thumb. My cell plants are the only ones that live in my otherwise very destitute plant environment. My home so as she’s inspiring lots of women. Last year when, when, when Black Lives Matter was happening she was out front putting her brand and her team and herself out there supporting the movement. And you know, that’s something that a lot of folks didn’t have the courage to do. Yeah, but I want to celebrate her as well.

Diana Fryc 1:00:11

Oh, that’s and what a happy business that that could be plants. Come on now. I love that. Oh, thank you for sharing that. And the last question that I asked everybody is, what brands or trends Do you have your eye on? And why? And that will maybe Can you share that? I know, that’s a little bit of your secret sauce back there. Yeah.

Liz Myslik 1:00:34

You know, we like investing in things that are long term trends. So it’s not that what’s the hot flavor of the day, but really changing how people interact? I think the thing that we’re really excited about is natural personal care. So you know, this is we’re talking about skincare, body care, hair care, that is free from all the horrible carcinogenic chemicals that are so many of our products. That’s something I remember presenting to a group of really large food company executives back in like 2006. How this was the next wave and the natural products industry. Here we are six years later, and it’s just really coming to be. So companies like seaweed bath company, yeah, Surat wiki Lux, which is a business we love as well. I mean, there’s so many great brands out there Nourish Organics, that are doing great work in that space. skinfix Yes. So there’s a, that’s, that’s a really exciting space that we like, also the natural cleaning space, which has really blown up and benefited hugely from COVID, obviously, yeah, but cleaning our home shouldn’t mean that we’re literally toxifying our bodies, right? I mean, you know, so many cleaning products are incredibly toxic. So we love a brand called sensitive palm that is doing it with very non toxic ingredients and great people behind that some of the the folks from Method or, you know, founded that company. So there’s a lot of great. So I think those are two categories that are really emerging, and we’ll see tremendous growth in the years ahead.

Diana Fryc 1:02:13

Yeah, I’m excited for the growth in natural cleaning as well, especially since green science has really ramped up the efficacy because I mean, those of us that have been around for a while, that’s me. remember a time where natural cleaning products required a bit more elbow grease, then the hardcore stuff. And so it’s pretty, I’ll use the word read that you can buy a natural product, and pretty much have the same level of efficacy when it comes to general cleaning and detoxing your home and that sort of thing. So I like that. Thanks for that observation.

Liz Myslik 1:02:56

Yeah, I remember those days too. And I’ve definitely come a long way. Now they’re not only they smell great. I mean, there’s some really cool and in fact, just to plug a retailer to Grove Collaborative. Yes. Part of it. Yeah.

Diana Fryc 1:03:11

It works there. She’s an investor there who we might know somebody.

Liz Myslik 1:03:15

Hey, cool. I mean, I love what they’re doing. So they’re, they’re making all these products available and helping consumers understand what to buy. And also Yeah, Loft Growth as well.

Diana Fryc 1:03:26

Yes, yes. Wow. Well, we have been talking with Miss Liz, Myslik partner of Loft Growth Partners. Liz, where can people learn more about you and what you’re up to?

Liz Myslik 1:03:39

on LinkedIn on our life, both partners website, and I’m at all the shows. So let me go to the new to the next. First in person. Excellent. These are all yours wearing masks, which I hate and respect that decision. But no one’s gonna know who anyone is.

Diana Fryc 1:04:01

Gonna have to name tags or name tags on our masks. Oh, hey.

Liz Myslik 1:04:07

I like that idea. Yes, but I love to I love to meet entrepreneurs. So please, my, my email address is on our website. Great. Or just check me out on LinkedIn and let’s connect. All

Diana Fryc 1:04:20

right. Liz, thank you so much for your time today and for all that you’re doing out in our industry. We’re really excited to continue to see what how you and your team will be able to help the future brands of the world and and i really maybe we can connect I would love to meet you in person at Expo if it still goes on. I’m knocking on wood like let’s find a time to say hello.

Liz Myslik 1:04:43

Hey, yes, I love that. Oh, I

Diana Fryc 1:04:45

would love it.

Liz Myslik 1:04:47

Give a signal. What color’s your face Master?

Diana Fryc 1:04:51

Oh, you’ll know I have a I have a uniform that I wear that is pretty indistinguishable. So I’ll be it. Yes. Yes. Anybody has met me at any food. Actually any trade show I’ve ever been in would know that I am the person that wears all pink and I mean all pink.

Liz Myslik 1:05:10

I love it

Diana Fryc 1:05:11

yeah down. Yeah,

Liz Myslik 1:05:13

that’s me the only money you don’t see much pink a lot of black and blue. Yes. This has been a real treat to be speaking here and again thank you for the work that you’re doing and, and all the great people that you bring on all the all the things you teach us. Thank you. Oh,

Diana Fryc 1:05:31

thank you. Okay, you everybody. We’ll see you again next time.

Outro 1:05:39

We hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you haven’t already, be sure to click subscribe and share with your network. Until next time, be well and do Gooder.

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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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