When Comfort and Innovation Collide featuring Tanu Grewal

Gooder Podcast featuring Tanu Grewal

“You have to be so progressive to be able to go against the norm.” – Tanu Grewal

This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Tanu Grewal, the Vice President of Marketing, Innovation, and E-commerce for AIEn, USA. We discuss how and why a company that has traditionally targeted a conventional consumer decided to tackle green cleaning by developing the new Art of Green brand. We also learn how the brand’s innovation and marketing will target some trial and conversion issues of many of the most hesitant conventional consumers. Along the way, we learn the story of a feisty and inquisitive leader who brings a contrarian view of leadership, innovation, and life to every opportunity and conversation.

In this episode we learn:

– A little background about the newest green cleaning brand called Art of Green.
– About assumptions and missed opportunities that the green cleaning industry
should be tapping into related to consumer adoption.
– How the years of working in a parallel industry allows her to approach the
category and production innovation in a new way.
– Why aroma is a big driver of category success.
– How to extend the life of your job title beyond the magic 18-month timeframe.

Gooder Podcast

When Comfort and Innovation Collide featuring Tanu Grewal

About Tanu Grewal:

Tanu is a global brand builder and strategic marketer with over 15 years of experience working in mature and emerging markets like US, EMEA, and India with companies in the CPG, durables, luxury, and hospitality industries. She is passionate about using brand purpose to help drive innovation and marketing that creates real value and emotional engagement with consumers.

Reporting to the CEO, Tanu is currently the Vice President of Marketing & Innovation at AlEn USA, a growth stage division of the global ALEN Group. One of her top achievements in this role has been the launch of a natural, green cleaning brand called ‘Art of Green’ that just won the prestigious Product of the Year award. Prior to this, Tanu has worked on iconic brands like Kohler, Maytag, and Whirlpool where she elevated commodity categories to lifestyle brands through a combination of award-winning
product design, disruptive innovation, and experiential marketing.

Starting her career with Whirlpool North America, Tanu held a variety of marketing and product development positions over 8 years including an ex-pat stint in Italy. Tanu holds an MBA degree from Rice University in Houston.

Outside of work, Tanu is passionate about creating communities that enable people to thrive. Currently, she serves on the International Student Advisory Board at Rice University and as a board member for the South Asian Women’s Professional Network.

As a public speaker, Tanu’s topics include launching and scaling a challenger brand and standing out in a crowded market through creative marketing. As an Indian woman, living in the US and working for a Mexican company (AlEn), she also speaks on navigating multicultural work and market landscapes. Tanu has been interviewed by Forbes and delivered the keynote address for Coke FEMSA’s Annual D&I conference in
Mexico City, Women’s Masters Network’s Annual Meetup 2020 and the Houston AMA’s Quarterly Luncheon.

An avid traveler and consummate foodie, Tanu lives in Houston with her husband and son.

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tanugrewal/
Website: http://www.alenusa.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tanu_Grewal
Personal Website: http://tanugrewal.com/

Books Mentioned:

Unfinished: A Memoir by Priyanka Chopra – From her dual-continent twenty-year-long career as an actor and producer to her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, from losing her beloved father to cancer to marrying Nick Jonas, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s story will inspire a generation around the world to gather their courage, embrace their ambition, and commit to the hard work of following their dreams.

Show Resources:

The Art of Green –  product line offers consumers an affordable and high-performing natural cleaning alternative that is priced for everyday use.

Kohler Co. – founded in 1873 by John Michael Kohler, is an American manufacturing company based in Kohler, Wisconsin. Kohler is best known for its plumbing products, but the company also manufactures furniture, cabinetry, tile, engines, and generators.

The Maytag Corporation –  is an American home and commercial appliance brand owned by Whirlpool Corporation after the April 2006 acquisition of Maytag.

The Whirlpool Corporation–  is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of home appliances, headquartered in Benton Charter Township, Michigan, United States.

South Asian Women’s Professional Network (SAWPN) – SAWPN was created to bring together and engage women across various industries, nationally. Our goal is to build a strong networking base to support, mentor, and celebrate successful, strong, and vibrant women across the country and within our communities.

HINT – an American beverage company based in San Francisco, California, as an alternative to soda and sugar beverages. It was started by former AOL employee Kara Goldin.

Amazon.com, Inc. – an American multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington, which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.

Top Insights

Transcript:

Diana Fryc: Hi, welcome to the podcast on your host, Diana Fryc. Welcome back to those of you that have been following all along. As you know, I am partner and CMO of Retail Voodoo, an award-winning brand strategy, and design agency. And I have met and work with some of the most amazing women in the natural’s industry food, beverage, wellness, fitness, beauty. And as such, I decided to create the Gooder Podcast to interview these great people and subject matter experts, elevate them and share their insights and expertise to help them know how to help businesses all around the world become gooder.

I’m very excited to introduce my guests today, Tanu Grewal, did I get it right that time?

Tanu Grewal: You got it right Diana.

Diana Fryc: All right, Tanu is a global brand builder and strategic marketer with over 15 years of experience working with mature and emerging companies, specifically in the CPG durables, luxury, and hospitality industries. She is passionate about using brand purpose to help drive innovation and marketing that creates real value and emotional engagement with consumers. Currently, Tanu is the vice president of marketing and innovation at AlEn USA, a growth stage division of the Global AlEn Group. One of her top achievements in this role has been the launch of a natural green cleaning brand called The Art of Green, which we’ll learn more about soon which just won the prestigious Product of the Year award.

Prior to this, Tanu has worked on iconic brands like Kohler, Maytag and Whirlpool, where she elevated commodity categories to lifestyle brands through a combination of award winning product design, disruptive innovation and experiential marketing. Outside of work, Tanu is passionate about creating communities that enable people to thrive. Currently, she serves on the International Student Advisory Board at Rice University and as a board member for the South Asian Women’s Professional Network. Maybe we’ll hear a little bit about that today too. Welcome Tanu, how’s Houston?

Tanu Grewal: Thank you. Houston is now warm and sunny and it looks like some of the snow and power challenges we were having are a distant memory. So it’s beautiful March here.

Diana Fryc: Oh, awesome. And so the recovery, at least in your area, where is it fairly clean at this point or tidied up or is there still a lot of work yet to be done?

Tanu Grewal: No, I think unfortunately the damage that happened was mostly inside people’s homes. So you drive around, you don’t see much of any difference from before the whole situation happened. So like I said, it’s back to normal again.

Diana Fryc: Wow. Okay, our new normal, right?

Tanu Grewal: New normal. Yes. New normal with Covid and freeze and everything else that this year could bring us.

Diana Fryc: Oh, my goodness. Well, let’s get into it. Tell us about the Art of Green. I was really excited about this, but I would like for you to kind of just talk about what it is. Why does it exist?

Tanu Grewal: Absolutely. I think the main purpose for Art of Green to exist is to democratize green. And we want to make sure that green was accessible more and more people and just a larger segment of the consumer could try green and adopt and really just step up to green. And specifically, we designed to remove some of the barriers to adoption that we were hearing from our consumers. And these barriers stated these green products just don’t work. They’re not effective. The second one was these are the green products I see today are very expensive. So they’re not affordable to me or they were saying, “Hey, listen, I have to go to some specialty store to buy cleaning and I just don’t have the time to do it.”

And then the last one was aroma, most green products make you choose between free and clear and aroma and aroma, believe it or not, is a big, big validation of cleaning your home, cleaning your laundry. Think about it. You walk into a room that’s sparkling clean. It smells fresh, gives you that validation that yes, I’ve cleaned my house, it’s a safe place for my family, same thing for your clothes. So really, we wanted to create a product that would remove these barriers.

[00:05:02]

So the Art of Green is at 98% naturally derived ingredients across all the categories, methane, we actually formulate essential oil based fragrances, we work with top fragrance houses of the world to really bring those safe and effective fragrances to give you that holistic cleaning and laundry experience. And the biggest thing is it’s affordable. So we wanted to make sure that we are bringing that affordability to the consumer.

Diana Fryc: Yeah. So, you basically hitting on everything in the natural cleaning category, efficacy, scent and aroma and price point. Those are all. And we might talk about this a little bit further, but I might even say that there’s the segment audience that we’re talking to may not feel represented in the branding and positioning that some of the kind of first to market natural, more expensive cleaners are, too. Is that was that is that an accurate assessment?

Tanu Grewal: Again, I can’t comment on other people’s positions. We found what we were hearing from consumers is that nobody’s really talking to me. And we want to talk to that segment. And so a couple of groups. One group is the groups who are using, I would say mainstream products. And they want to go clean, they want to dabble it, they want to try it out, but what we call them, they’re light green or medium green consumers, because they are not willing to sacrifice on performance. They’re not willing to pay a higher price point. So those becomes barriers for them. But if you remove those, that segment is definitely open. So that was one of them. And for various reasons, they’re value conscious specifically in our category.

The second was just lower income consumer. So they have been left out of the conversation because the assumption is that only a higher income consumer would go for green. And what we’re finding out is that almost 54% of consumers who are syndicated research calls less affluent households. 54% of them are buying some natural products in some categories. So they’re signaling, they’re raising their hand and saying we want green, we want natural. And they’re just not part of the conversation. So we wanted to address both of these consumer cohorts. And that’s why affordability was a big part of our Art of Green platform.

Diana Fryc: Interesting, now, something’s coming to mind here, I’m going to zag for just a moment, when I was speaking with Emily Brown, she’s really working on trying to help those less affluent people that have allergies in their diet allergies gain access to products. And what she told me, and maybe this is true here, so I’m just going to see if I can draw a connection. She said that people who are less affluent have less discretionary income. So their desire to try something without knowing if there’s an efficaciousness there is a little bit lower. But if they find something that works for them, they are absolutely loyal to it because they’ll just commit to it. Is that sort of what you’re seeing as well?

Tanu Grewal: Absolutely. And I think that’s again, when we were doing research, we found efficacy was an issue and the time was an issue. So if I am a, I’m just going to make it up, I’m a single mom doing two jobs, I don’t have the time to go back and re-clean or do my laundry.

Time and effectiveness are tied together in that sort of scenario. So absolutely. And so that is why we take a lot of pains to make sure that we test our product for performance to make sure that they are better than the mainstream cleaners, even though we was in 98% natural ingredients. And we take pride in that because it’s hard to do achieve that balance, because we wanted to make sure that once somebody uses our product, it needs to deliver on that core category benefits, a cleaner has to clean, laundry detergent has to remove stains because then otherwise we won’t get repeat and you won’t be able to go and get back to this audience of consumers who are on a budget.

Diana Fryc: I’m curious around price point. How do you encourage trial for this kind of consumer right now? Are you doing some sort of small sampling sizes? Kind of. I’m thinking like in the 70s and 80s when I was a kid, we used to get little packets of tide in the mail, is there that kind of thing going on?

Tanu Grewal: Absolutely. So a couple of things.

[00:10:00]

So we do a lot of grassroots events at retailers. So we set up a little tent outside. We really just intercept shoppers. And I’ve done that myself. And boy, is it hard, but it really opens up that window to really get immediate feedback from the shopper. And we found out that the rumor is a big moment of truth. So you have the canister, somebody smells it and immediately in their mind, green probably won’t smell good or won’t have any smell it’s smelling good. Let me talk to them. So that’s what we found.

We also do a lot of sampling on packs across sampling between Art of Green and some of the other brands we have. We do a lot of sampling back when everything was kind of normal in doctor’s offices, day cares, those kinds of things. So trial is a big part of it. And we go to a lot of shows, talk about women, garden shows or earth day shows, and again, just to get that product sample in the hands of as many people as we can.

Diana Fryc: Excellent. So I love that alternative sampling panels that you are. That’s absolutely brilliant. Thank you. So I’m curious now the Art of Green is really owned by a company. Correct me if I’m wrong. It is an American company, but really the target audience for the products and the brands have been in Mexico, South America, and I even see like in the Caribbean and also then with Mexican Americans here in the United States. I’m not exactly sure where the reach is, do you feel that somehow there is an influence on how to approach this either market or these products or this category that’s different than what you’ve experienced in the US? Or have we become globalized and kind of methodologies are similar?

Tanu Grewal: So a couple of things, I think. So the companies actually it originated in Mexico and the group headquarters are in Mexico. It’s a family owned business, 71 years old. And in the US we have our headquarters in Houston. But what that does is if you think about in 71 years in Mexico, we build brands that have household penetration in the 90s, and that’s as a result of relentless consumer focus. And so that’s part of our DNA.

And then we have very strong RND supply chain, particularly in the manufacturing group that can bring all of those visions to reality. And so that is what we brought here to the United States. So one part of our portfolio is focused on the Hispanic consumer. And again, we do all of our research work and designing of the products in the United States for the Hispanic consumer who lives in the US because once you live here, your expectations and desires all change. Even the kind of lavender aroma that we sell in Mexico versus here is different. Is that that nuance. Yes. And then when you talk about Art of Green, specifically, what we had looking for us was we have that consumer DNA. So that’s why we did a lot of consumer work to really understand the white space that nobody else was addressing. Then, of course, once we had that, we have that whole set up there to help us bring that vision to reality. And that’s how having that parent company, having that structure there really has helped us.

Diana Fryc: So it’s almost that access to data and information in a different way. Like you literally have years of it tucked away.

Tanu Grewal: Yes, we have years of it. And we have years of, like you were saying, methodologies. How do you go in and really mine for that one insight that’s going to really help you identify the white space. So like I said, it’s such a part of our DNA. That’s what really enabled us.

Diana Fryc: Interesting. Well, let’s talk a little bit about innovation here in Art of Green. We’re coming up in April, which is an environmental month in and of itself. And I want to talk a little bit about innovation. This might be in your purview or not, but I’m curious about some products that I myself have been targeted with, and that is these products that are reducing kind of manufacturing and production footprints. These are the tablets that dissolve in water, detergents that are in sheet format, wondering kind of what maybe you personally, which it might be different for the brand, but how you guys are seeing that innovation?

[00:15:11]

Is that really the next frontier in regards to efficacy and environmental purpose? All of those things, talk a little bit about how you feeling about those products.

Tanu Grewal: I know exactly what you’re talking about, because I’ve seen them as well. I think they’re definitely hitting the target in terms on less water to path, so environmentally friendly. They’re also ticking the box on being lighter in weight to ship for Omni-channel war. So I can’t speak to the efficacy because I haven’t tested those specific products but what I can tell you is if those companies are looking for repeat buyers, they have to deliver on efficacy because time and time again, we find that environmental and sustainability causes are yes, they’re top of mind for consumers, but they’re kind of like after the whole sort of ranking of things. The rank lower in after you delivered on cleaning, remove the stains and by the way, it was also environmentally friendly.

If you flip the order, it doesn’t work. It work but maybe a very, very, very small levels of consumers, but the majority of the consumers, it won’t work. So that’s our focus as we are also kind of looking at innovation that is in that environmentally responsible space. We’re at different kinds of delivery methods. But again, for us, top of mind is it has to work if you want people to buy it again.

Diana Fryc: For sure. Yeah, understood. I am always curious because of course it’s on the front end. So I suspect in two or three years, once technology catches up and we’re able to get into the sciences, we’ll see more brands such as yourselves producing products like that. But I didn’t know where they fall in the spectrum in the whole world of product innovation, especially in health. Are your products for commercial use as well as for home use? Are you straddling both worlds right now?

Tanu Grewal: At this point, we sell our products primarily for the home, but we know that to clubs and DIY channels that people, small businesses buy our product because we sell them bigger sizes as well. But we are not selling directly to them.

Diana Fryc: Okay, so learning a little bit about this audience, I like to shift a little bit more about you and really this opportunity when you first came to the brand, the Art of Green did not exist. And so maybe you could share a little bit more about was this an opportunity that found you or did you find the opportunity? Maybe you can tell a little bit about where you came from and why this was a good space for a good brand or company for you.

Tanu Grewal: Oh, so you talked a lot about my background, but I looked at the bigger fortune 200 companies. And it’s a lot of fun to work on those brands, you have bigger budgets and more exciting things. But then when AlEn and I talked the first time, what really stood out for me was the fact that this was almost like a startup here. And we were at the stage where we were ready to kind of take our full Hispanic brands bigger and Art of Green did not exist. But there was definitely appetite for tremendous amount of growth. And that’s what really excited me, because as a brand marketer, there’s very few opportunities to you. And so that’s what excited me.

I came here five years ago and we re-launched and repositioned the brand for Hispanic brands and they’re all national now. So that’s been a great success for the company. In parallel, we were looking for new spaces to grow in and green and naturals was one of those. And like I mentioned earlier, we did a lot of consumer work, kind of found this white space. And the beauty of the company is, again, because it’s so entrepreneurial and so nimble, we were able to really bring everyone quickly into this aha moment and say, we were heading down this way, but now we have this white space and we pivoted. We pivoted to make an affordable green product that’s effective because that requires a whole different set of products, that formulation that we would have to come up with just creating a different kind of PNL as well.

[00:20:00]

Marketing can have this vision. What you really need is a really strong support structure to make that a reality. That really excites me about working at AlEn is this entrepreneurial nature. So we got the support to go out and start building some of those competencies, some of the supply chain efficiencies to create a product that was green, but also tremendous support from leadership. Just to say, yes, this is a little bit of the unknown, we’re going to run our way into this. And that was perfectly okay, we had our share of hiccups, but what have we learned. And then I think the learning was building a muscle that we are now using for all of our brands. So I think that was just a fun journey. And that nimbleness is perhaps one of the biggest things that that helps us be out of it.

Diana Fryc: Well, if I remember correctly from our conversation, I think this kind of opportunity of unknown and being able to create something new was something that was very attractive to you. And part of the reason why you decided to move to AlEn, right?

Tanu Grewal: Absolutely. Yeah. One of my mentors told me very early on and she said, “If you’re comfortable in your job, you’re not learning, you’re not growing.” And then somebody else I heard say recently was the lifespan of our skill sets is 18 months now, right?

Diana Fryc: Yes, it is. That’s true.

Tanu Grewal: We live in a world where the pace of change is just tremendous. So for me, a constantly growing is almost an innate need. I just have to do it. And I know it’s what’s required to grow professionally as well. And it gives me a lot of personal satisfaction. So taking a little bit of a risk in my years in Whirlpool, I did a lot of non branded roles which really have to be on a more of a general management fast.

I did that in Europe and kind of went there and that was a whole different experience. It’s just a completely different set of consumers and brand awareness and products that you need to sell there. And then AlEn was another one. I saw it as a great opportunity. So someone would see it as a risk. I see it as an opportunity. And then I think I’ve been proven right. Just the experiences that I’ve had here in this company, I think have brought me as a professional tremendously.

Diana Fryc: So I wonder, too, because at least in our experience in branding, I know sometimes when you’re working with a brand that has 71 years is a long time, there are a lot of we’ve always done it this way. And in some ways they’ve seen a market opportunity. But I think it really takes a really tactful, I’m going to use tactful type of change agent to be able to come in and be able to massage an organization that’s fairly well established in the way they do things, from the way they operate to innovate and be able to work with them. And I bet there’s like a lot of circular learning in there. There’s things that you brought to the table or you have found with your team as you’ve been building this brand that is now impacting the rest of the organization. And they might be looking at things differently. But did it go smoothly? That seems like a really bizarre question. Did it go smoothly? I’m going to guess there were a fair number of hiccups and wow, this is scary. And I’m not quite sure. But talk a little bit about that. Kind of like the innovation culture versus the established culture and the messaging that has to happen there for everybody to feel comfortable, make big changes.

Tanu Grewal: Absolutely. And change is scary for everyone. The one who was trying to make the change, the people who are asked to change, I think the one thing that really helped was that we were building a business in a different country here. And so there was an amazing amount of openness to learn about how business was done in the United States. And everybody understood that it was different and did we have our challenges? Absolutely right. I’m not going to state them, but the one thing that I’m just amazed by is when I go and talk to anybody, my colleagues in Mexico, there is this optimism, this positive attitude, this what I call the can do attitude of things and this openness to learn. It has been very refreshing with Mexico, even when I was with Whirlpool, we had a factory there. And it’s just this openness of the culture to try out new things and very entrepreneurial, figured out with to do it.

[00:25:04]

And I think that was what helped me and my colleagues here in the US who are all kind of bringing in experiences in the US and that’s why we were kind of hired, to bring on those experiences, help the company grow here. But we were met with a lot of openness. And it made our jobs easier. And we continued to have our hiccups because there’s always sometimes a learning curve for people. But the openness essence of it is that people want to help you. If I go to them with a challenge or a problem, it’s just tremendous optimism to say, we’re going to figure this out together. And sometimes it works seamlessly, sometimes it doesn’t. But I always remind myself, here is a company and here’s a group of people who are so open about it. And I think that’s the best you can hope for.

Diana Fryc: That’s great. And you’ve mentioned Whirlpool a few times and Kohler, to me, kind of a fun background to bring in. It’s kind of a different part of the same consumer, although you were elevating those brands to a different level of consumer. But there must have been a lot of foundational that you brought into the organization from a different POV. I’m kind of guessing that that was what was attractive for them to have you, bring you on as a leader, as you have experience, but in a different way.

Tanu Grewal: Absolutely. I mean, if you think about it, it’s all in the realm of the hope, what’s happening in the room, what are the challenges of our consumers? How can we help them have a better life? And at what we were addressing it from the appliance angle. How can I save them time, money, be more convenient and be more productive all through the lens of science. How can your refrigerator text to you that you’re running out of milk? That’s the angle. And then you shift here at AlEn, it’s the same homelike, it’s the same challenges. You just find a solution from a product angle now. So, yes, I think that foundation that I had built for eight years was very helpful for me and I’m sure that’s what they saw on my résumé when they hired me. It’s the same challenges that we’re looking at.

And I think the other thing that I have found in both companies, very similar, was this idea of purpose. So one thing to say, yes, I’m just making an appliance. But I admit that we used to call the tagline was, I think it still is what’s inside matters, because what you put in an appliance, the clothes that you put into wash, the food that you put into preserve or cook, it matters to people. And so it’s having that purpose in mind. And at AlEn, again, you’re talking about we help you build a cleaner, more sustainable world. And again, it’s that sense of purpose and whatever we make our products to elevate the consumers lives, I think that’s really also the continuation of the thread in purpose for me.

Diana Fryc: I just love it. I want to talk a little bit about how you got here, mostly because there’s a way that I relate with you in that kind of mold breaker format. Now, you yourself are an immigrant. I’m a daughter of immigrants, but there’s kind of an expectation, I think, within many cultures outside of the U.S. that women kind of fit in certain roles and behave in particular ways. And my understanding is, is that you had family support that kind of encouraged that sort of breaking the mold thinking and I wonder, like tell us a little bit about, you’re just comfortable being uncomfortable, like breaking these molds is maybe something that you like doing or those the kind of challenges that you like to have where you’re kind of breaking ceilings, maybe, as we said, a little bit earlier before our call. Tell us a little bit about that.

Tanu Grewal: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. In India where I grew up, there’s a very strict norms around how young girls and women should behave and what they should and should not do. I just think I really left out in that my parents were truly progressive and beyond their years. I mean, they were just visionaries. And as a parent now, I can look back and see how much of a leap of faith they were able to take on me. At the age of 22, I was living independently in another city and working and living and paying my own bills, making my own money.

[00:30:04]

And I know that there was a lot of family opposition to that. But my father was very much about letting me make my own decisions and living with the consequences of those, but really helping me do what I wanted to do always. My mom was a big, big proponent of, you have to be financially independent. You have to be strong and have your own voice in the world. And this despite that, she never worked outside of the home. So now when I think back about it, you just have to be so progressive to be able to go against the norm, really trust your child and really kind of hope that it’s all going to turn out good. And so that was what enabled me, maybe by myself, I was a little bit of that unconventional. I need to do something different from what others are doing. And the support really helped me blossom a lot. And then I think the other thing I’ve heard is that you marry your glass ceiling. So sometimes the choice of partner is a big factor in how your career keeps up.

And so I’ve been very fortunate in my husband. He’s just been a tremendous support. When I moved here, when I went to business school, we took on the loan and then we went to work and I went to work in small town Michigan and he followed and he was working remote. And then when I did my expat assignment, he was working from Italy on US time and all of those things don’t happen if you don’t have a supportive spouse. So, yes, absolutely. I think people in my life, my family have had a big part in shaping who I am.

 Diana Fryc: There’s a tremendous amount of awareness there to something that you just said that I think that even still this is kind of going outside of business for just a moment, but it does impact how we perform at work and finding that person that is absolutely going to be your number one champion in supporting you, whatever those elements might be, whether it’s professional or personal, you want to be a stay at home mom or stay at home parent. That’s great. And if you want to climb the corporate ladder, that’s great. And they’re just right there beside you. And I think sometimes we discount that and we think I want a partner that is more of a friend.

I’ve always been a three legged stool, kind of person in that you need somebody that is kind of a business partner, helps you run the household and whatever family might have, your friend and then somebody that you really just want to hang out with. So I think very powerful, what you just said there, that you do have this support home that allows you to be your best and on all the things that you want to take on, which includes the advisory board at Rice University and the South Asians professional network. Talk a little bit about those two elements and why it’s important for you to be participating in those two organizations specifically.

Tanu Grewal: Yeah, the International Student Advisory Board is just a passion project for me, because coming to a different country and taking on a course load it just the whole with education is important here is very different from India. And so learning in the sort of business school environment and learning the cultural norms of having coleslaw, trying to find a job is just really challenging. And then of course you have immigration constraints. So the hiring is already shrunk. So you need to be able to navigate all of that and I kind of figured out why we had a lot of support from the school and some alumni. And I just want to make sure that I am able to share that with students who come now so that they don’t make the same mistakes that I did. They are free to make their own mistakes, but at least they don’t have to make the ones that I made and I learned from. So I’m just really passionate about it. I was talking last week, I think, to a set of students and it’s funny that it’s different years, same challenges, and different names. So that’s kind of like my passion project.

And then on the other hand, I’ve always been very supportive of women in the professional field and the unique challenges we face and that we need to come together and sort of offer support structures for us and I met these two ladies, Nisha Modak and Sukiana Rajani, about three years ago.

[00:35:00]

And they had kind of stuck on this space that I go to all these networking events and I see a lot of women of different ethnicities, but this very rarely other South Asian professional and sometimes the challenges that are very unique to a community and you kind of need that understanding, that network. So they had just formed the South Asian Women’s Professional Network and it resonated with their mission. So I kind of one of the founding members of the board with them and eventually we’ve got more board members. And a large part of it is really constructing the organization, finding mission and what resonates. How do you increase membership? How do you have content that resonates with my membership? And how do you enable people to have that network? Because that’s the ethos of what started out as a course. That’s another space that I really love and enjoy working in.

Diana Fryc: Awesome. I have been on boards myself and the amount of operational infrastructure that needs to be put into place in order to create something valuable for the membership can sometimes be challenging and tricky, especially since it’s all volunteer. So I can respect the work that needs to go into that. Well, our time is almost up, but I’d love to learning about Art of Green. What’s next? What’s on the horizon of that and maybe we can look at is, are we reaching into more markets? We can be looking at more categories and products. Can you give us a little sneak peek of what you can?

Tanu Grewal: Absolutely. So Art of Green was always meant to be a platform lifestyle and so we just launched a line of laundry products underneath Art of Green. We’re working on a whole innovation pipeline, all kinds of categories and collaboration and we’re really excited. Launch it, stopping later this year and then increasing distribution. We are going into new retailers all the time. We just launched on Amazon as well. And so it’s just kind of continuing to increase the offering as well as the people that we reach in the distribution network that we have.

Diana Fryc: So because our time is almost up, I always have a few questions that I like to ask my guests. And the first one is a little factoid or kind of I always like some sort of interesting fact either about your product or your brand or the industry, even about yourself. That is something you can share over cocktails is something kind of like, oh, I had no idea. Do you have anything you can share like that?

Tanu Grewal: Absolutely. And I alluded to it a little bit earlier. But this idea of I can either say I work in a company that makes cleaning cleaners, wipes and laundry detergent, or I can say I work in a company that really helps people elevate their lives and the whole differences in sort of doing a couple of pick-ups to say, “What is the purpose of me going to work every day?” So if I look at what a clean home does for someone or clean shirt does for someone, the confidence you get from having that almost like again, which you can build your life. For me, that’s really inspirational, for me to really look at people’s lives, identify those opportunities where I can help them really elevate that. And that’s what keeps me motivated. I know that’s what keeps teams motivated even back in school, that’s how we approach appliances as well, not just a refrigerator or a washer dryer or whatever, but think about what those appliances have done for just the women’s movement. The fact that they have given us the gift of time and then go out and do other things with your life, whether you’re a stay at home mom and you want to spend more time with your children or just have a nap.

Diana Fryc: I would love a nap.

Tanu Grewal: Absolutely! I think it’s just whatever that we can to help elevate that and that’s to me is the difference between approaching your job and a functional way, which is maybe okay, but really elevating that to the purpose. The true purpose of what takes you to work every day.

Diana Fryc: Lovely. I like that. I wonder if there are any women that you would like to elevate right now.

[00:40:02]

Are there some women out there that are doing some amazing things that you’d like to share with our listeners and our community? It doesn’t even have to be in CPG. It could be anywhere on the planet for anything.

Tanu Grewal: Actually, two people come to mind. So one is a lady called Kara Goldin. I don’t know if I follow her on LinkedIn. She’s the CEO of Hint and that’s just what she’s been able to do. Just again, create a new category. It’s not just create a brand. It’s about creating a new category, a need that people didn’t even know they had just like Yahoo’s definition of marketing. And I just love her approach to life, the way she talks about entrepreneurship and it’s not a fancy, glamorous thing. It’s a labor of love. It makes a lot of you and it just real tough. So I really like her. The other person who just comes to mind is the actress Priyanka Chopra.

She was Miss World back in I think 2001 maybe and then she became an actress in India, then she moved to the United States and became a singer and had a couple of albums, and then she was the lead actress in the show, Quantico. And since then, she married Nick Jonas and she’s build a whole career around. She’s a producer. She produces movies, build many women oriented teams, and she does a lot of things. And so she resonates with me because she’s kind of this big risk taker. So she had this established career in India, she leaves all of that and she comes here, she pulls it up from the ground up, just really, really motivating. I was just finished reading her memoir Unfinished and really just someone… Her career trajectory in life really resonates with me. So I really enjoy following her as well.

Diana Fryc: Almost a kindred spirit. I know you guys are similar in different categories, but similar in concepts.

Tanu Grewal: Yes, I wasn’t Miss World but yeah.

Diana Fryc: Not today. Maybe tomorrow, who knows. Oh, what brands or trends are you watching right now?

Tanu Grewal: I am really watching how Covid is going to change our experiences of things coming out. I think there is this whole kind of pent up demand or revenge spending. I just want to mention, and I hope that somewhere and it’s just about we’ve been cooped up with our homes and some of us have been fortunate enough to have the ability to afford things. And so people are just waiting to go out there. But I want to see how that shapes brands, but also industries like travel both as a brand marketer, but also as a consumer of those industries. I’m just really seeing shifts are going to happen there.

Diana Fryc: Yes. This pent up revenge spending I’ve not heard of. I’m going to need to go check that out because I’ve heard of the boredom spending. I’m hearing that that is actually being is going up right now as people were just like part of that pent up demand is like people are getting ready for when because they can see the end of crisis coming. And so now they’re starting to loosen up a little bit. But we’ll see how that changes. How are you keeping yourself sane these days?

Tanu Grewal: Great question. I think one of the things we consciously did at the beginning of the pandemic was to really start to spend a lot of time as a family because, it’s so therapeutic about being in greenery, smell the flowers of the leaves. And I had actually not ridden the bicycle for years, and all the time, and had kind of thought that I’d forgotten how to do it and my son just started insisting that; my son is 11 years old and he started insisting on bike ride. So lo and behold, we got a bike for me and I got on and then you forget how to bike and all of that. But it’s just been a really great experience. So we as a family to take walks, bike, and lots of hikes just aren’t just on any other day. But my son, Richard, Jimmy and Johnson, who are just grounded by nature, that’s been really, really important. The other thing that I’m trying to build is just meditation. Just even if it’s 15 minutes in the morning and evening is to center myself just to kind of drum up noise and that’s been very, very helpful as well.

[00:45:10]

Diana Fryc: Yeah, the meditation component is almost 100% consistent with everybody that I’ve asked. So that is a huge indication of how much of a need we all have for just a bit of quiet.

Tanu Grewal: Yes.

Diana Fryc: Oh, my last question for you is, if somebody wanted to reach out to you personally, what’s the best way? Do you LinkedIn, do you prefer directly through email? What’s your preference?

Tanu Grewal: I think the best way to reach me would be LinkedIn and find me on it and reach out. I’m a very regular visitor of LinkedIn, so I would definitely see your outreach and connect with you.

Diana Fryc: Excellent. And that’s all we have for the day. Thank you so much for your time and the work that you’re doing. I’m really so happy to see a brand taking seriously meeting the needs of kind of a bigger, larger audience. Thank you for the work that you’re doing there and I guess we’ll see on the next time.

Tanu Grewal: Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Diana. I really, really enjoyed the conversation. All the conversation we had and today as well. So thank you for taking the time to talk with me as well.

Diana Fryc: Of course. Okay, thanks.

This episode is sponsored by Retail Voodoo, a creative marketing firm specializing in growing fixing and reinventing brands in the food, beverage, wellness and fitness industries. If your natural’s brand is in need of positioning, package design or marketing activation, we’re here to help. You can find more information at retail-voodoo.com. And so there you go. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today. And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to this channel 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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