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

Gooder Podcast with RaeJean Wilson

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

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

In this episode we learn:

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

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

About RaeJean Wilson:

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

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

Guests Social Media Links:

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

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

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

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

Show Resources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Insights

Transcript:

Diana Fryc: Hi, welcome to The Gooder podcast, I am your host, Diana Fryc, as partner and CMO of Retail Voodoo, an award-winning branding agency, I have met and worked with some of the most amazing women in the natural’s industry; food, beverage, wellness, and fitness. As such, I decided to create The Gooder Podcast to interview these great people and subject matter experts and have them share their insights and expertize to help businesses all around the world become gooder.

I’m super excited to introduce my guest today. I love a lot of people coming out of Portland and Eugene, the Oregon seems to be the big friendly community right now. So let me introduce RaeJean Wilson, who is the daughter of GloryBee founders Dick and Pat Turanski. Did I get that right?

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah, definitely.

Diana Fryc: RaeJean has served in the family business in several capacities for over twenty five years after earning a B.A. in public health at the University of Oregon – I like that in relation to honey. That’s cool. Her focus started in sales and building GloryBee’s consumer base or customer base.  RaeJean now serves as GloryBee’s director of HR communications, overseeing marketing, human resources, safety, sustainability and community outreach. She’s also married with two adult sons and a daughter, and in her free time, she enjoys cooking wine and travel. Welcome, Raejean. How are you today?

RaeJean Wilson: Oh, I’m great. Thank you so much for having me.

Diana Fryc: Of course, how’s Eugene?

RaeJean Wilson: Well, Eugene, actually, we’ve had some sunny weather. We had a beautiful sunset today. No rain at the moment, but kind of chilly. We’re all keeping our distance nowadays. So I think our restaurants did open back up where you sit outside. Just so you know, maybe I have that wrong. I could have it wrong, but I think you can actually sit outside.

Diana Fryc: I don’t see a duck’s form back there – Do I see a duck form?

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah. We have an annual bet with a friend that lives in Seattle. We bet some really nice wine on whoever could win. And actually my family, half of my family graduated from SPU, which is a college where you live.

Diana Fryc: Yes.

RaeJean Wilson: Like my mom, my dad, my sister in law and my brother all graduated from SPU.

Diana Fryc: Oh, I know a lot of people that graduated from there, that’s a great school. We have a couple of good private schools up here and then the UDAB is literally walking distance from our offices. So it’s pretty great. But we’re not really here to talk about that. Let’s talk about you and what you’re up to with GloryBee. But before we get into that, why don’t you give us a quick history of GloryBee what is it? Why did it start? Why does it exist?

RaeJean Wilson: Well GloryBee was founded in 1975. My parents, they’re co-founders is what they call themselves, started it in a garage and my dad really wanted to do a business that was sustainable in nature. He has an economics degree and he thought, “Why don’t I do something that people will always need and why not healthy food and why not something that’s good for people?” Long before obviously it was popular. Somebody helped him learn about beekeeping. He had up to three hundred colonies of hives and so there was a point when he was keeping all of it. But we started in a garage and my mom has somewhat of a food science background; back in the day it wasn’t called that. So talk about a match made in heaven. Here is this entrepreneur guy and here’s somebody who really knows how to use the product. And so eventually we moved on from beekeeping to selling honey. My favorite story is a bakery that you’ve probably all heard of, Franz Bakery; my dad was the one who brought the honey to them when whole wheat bread was just becoming popular and whole wheat bread without honey or something in it, kind of tastes like bored. So he presented it to them and then they ended up ordering like fifty five gallon drums of honey. My dad was like, “I don’t know how I’m ever going to get this to them.” But he figured it out and they still buy honey from us today. So very interesting.

[00:05:00]

So really today we sell all sorts of natural sweeteners and products and nuts and dried fruits and some innovative items. We also do supplies once a year. We have honeybees that come and we actually sell those once a year and then we also have just other natural ingredients, pretty much for the most part, over 50 percent of what we sell is organic. I don’t know the exact percentage for non GMO, but definitely that’s kind of what we do. We have about a hundred and fifty employees and we’re in Eugene, Oregon.

Diana Fryc: Well, as much as you care to share. But there was like a little bit of a component to the founding part of your parents mission was kind of grounded in something more than just wanting to create something natural or for the better of people. Can you expand on that a little bit as much as you’re comfortable?

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah, my parents both are definitely from a faith based background. They really believe that you have a responsibility to give back. And in the early days, as many people may know, it was kind of considered private to give to courses and really that whole the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is giving. And so my parents have supported a lot of different courses over the years. One of the ones that we’re still really doing a lot with is the Eugene Mission. They’re probably one of the best, most progressive missions that I’ve ever heard of because they actually give people an opportunity to get back to life. They’re not just feeding them food, they’re giving them a chance to actually potentially have a job and a life and all that. So that’s an example.

The first sentence of our mission statement is built upon a belief in God, which is probably pretty unique in the natural foods industry and we’ve been selling to co-ops. We’ve been selling to other like-minded companies that might not share that exact value. But the value we’ve all shared is still faith in general. Faith in what we’re all trying to accomplish with our brands and then also the genuine relationship. I don’t know the whole story, but my dad tells a story from the early days when he didn’t have everything he needed and just all the people that came together to help him in what he really needed to do to get this business off the ground. I think that’s a lot of what the industry was built on. I sell to the same brands are our neighbors, we’re neighbors we’re in Oregon and we’ve organically grown. We have a good relationship and all those organizations are in Eugene. I think what’s different is that people really do want to support each other and yes, of course, sometimes you’re in competition, but at the same time, we all believe that we’re doing something good to help people or help the planet and healthy food is such an important thing.

Diana Fryc: Well, our industry has that superpower type of thing, that’s what we do, is we’re trying to help people live longer and live better lives and so it just is a natural fit. It’s become a bit Hollywoodised in the last couple of years. I say that tongue in cheek, but I think that’s still there. I love the founding stories simply because religion always seems to be polarizing. But if we look at kind of any religion at its basic premise, it’s all about giving back. And so I like this extension that this was an extension of not just a passion but well, their faith. It just kind of naturally came together. So let’s talk a little bit then. Since then, of course, the torch has been somewhat handed to you. I don’t know how much, but you could talk a little bit about that and how is this transitioning and how much of the business is sitting on your shoulders and how much is still shared among the rest of the family, your parents or whomever else might be there?

RaeJean Wilson: Well, I think we’re really 2020 as odd of a year as it’s been. My dad’s really, I would say, officially retired.

[00:10:00]

One thing I realized for other people who’ve been in business that I did not understand is for him, this company was his hobby. This is what he did for fun. So I could never really figure out why he didn’t want to retire. He reads The Wall Street Journal every day. He watches the commodities, the food commodities and I’m like, what is this all about? But now he’s happy with his bees in his garden and he’s really focused on the special soil that he needs to make his berries grow. But in 2015, officially, the torch was passed to myself and my brother. So my brother and I kind of took over as leading the business and in 2015 there was still some extra hands in the cookie jar giving us advice. And my mom, she’s amazing; she really, truly loves the brand, loves the products, and uses them. So she’s been instrumental over the years. But yeah, we took that over and it’s been more challenging, I would say, in the last two years, especially as natural foods have become more mainstream and popular and we’ve got the big people out there involved in selling our products, but it’s become very competitive. We were doing this before.

It was cool and I was laughing a little bit, probably back in 2017, I said it’s sort of fun to be cool now. But yeah, we’ve transitioned and I think one of the challenges has been helping the founders to understand that we are not trying to change the values of the company, our core values, our faith, genuine relationships, healthy living and stewardship, and those are pretty unique, but how they look and feel and sound and how we include everyone in what that means to them, and then also I think our SAVE the BEE has made that a little more possible. And that was my first time GloryBee really put themselves out there in terms of sharing something they were passionate about.

But it was again, the company’s been giving to causes, but it’s never been visible. And I think what’s cool about it is it was authentic. That’s what I’ve really told my employees. I said, yes, it is. Again, it can be part of marketing, but at the same time, we were already doing this. This is not something that we’re doing just because it’s cool but to give back and be part of something bigger than yourself. And again, like you mentioned and we’ve talked about before, that it isn’t about one business or one company, it’s about all of us doing things together to make this world better. And SAVE the BEE gives us a way to do that that is very relatable to people and especially people who care about quality food and they care about the environment.

Diana Fryc: Well, let’s jump to that really quick, why don’t you tell us a little bit about SAVE the BEE program. Why is it important to you? Why is it in your mission? Well, let’s just start with that.

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah, well I can’t take credit for coming up with it. My younger brother, Alan, he came up with the idea in 2012 that let’s have this course and we give one percent of our sales of retail honey and bee supplies to the product, which equates to probably $75,000 or $80.000 a year. But that’s just for those products. But then really what made us a great team is I’m the marketing person and I was like, “You know what? Why don’t we open up the doors of our company and let people see what’s inside the walls and who we are?” And we just started inviting people to learn about the bees and the issues with the bees. And so now this is a really cool program. I even have a full time employee who has been with it. So that was big. She’ll be coming up here two years with me. So what we do is we really just reach out to our customers and other businesses in the community and we ask them to be part of it. And typically, we’re asking for a donation for the course, but also that allows them to promote that with their brand.

[00:15:00]

So we’re very fortunate. We have some really cool partners. We’re working, Franz Bakery makes the SAVE the BEE brand. You’ve probably seen it.

Diana Fryc: Yes.

Raejean Wilson: We have some ice cream folks that have put that on there. We’ve worked with Oakshire Brewing. They make us beer every year and Hub is, I think a brand you’ve seen probably up there. They are recently making a really cool, kind of darker beer that they’ve been doing like these more limited releases and then we have some Kombucha folks that have done the SAVE the BEE. So what happens that’s fun about the program is people can do their own thing, but we do allow them to put our SAVE the BEE logo on their brand and then by doing so, we’re working together, so this year we will eclipse six hundred thousand dollars that we will have raised for SAVE the BEE. And what I love to say is that, honestly, every penny that people give goes to the course because I do it as part of our business model. It’s a lot sometimes to facilitate all that, but at the same time, it’s kind of for the good of all of our food supply and our environment and everything that we all need to keep our favorite pollinators healthy.

Diana Fryc: My goodness! Well, in the news, in our industry, we hear a lot about what’s happening with bees, and there’s efforts in multiple people, different types of brands and that sort of thing. From the work that you are doing in the SAVE the BEE program, is there something specific that the BEE program, like is it going to a certain geographic area? Is it going to a certain thing? And then what kind of I’m going to use the incorrect term kind of ‘return’ are you getting on it? Not so much what’s your benefit? But what’s our benefit from what are we turning around at this point?

Raejean Wilson: Well, I’m very excited to share a really awesome statistic that I really love to share that has to do with the program. OSU is where the majority of our money goes to; that’s Oregon State University. We also give to WSU as well. So both have honey bee labs. OSU has just recently put out research that indicates that the research they’re doing is providing the beekeepers five million dollars a year in savings and benefit. So that’s kind of a big deal because the things they’re doing to help the commercial beekeepers keep their hives healthy is offset by this potential benefit, whether it’s a reduction in loss of colonies or knowing how to treat their hives. What we love about OSU and WSU also, of course is doing a great job; is really what they’re doing is they’re pretty hands on and grassroots. They’re really working with the beekeepers and the farmers, helping people to understand how pesticide use affects things, how crops that are all GMO might also affect the health of the honeybees, because there’s actually research that connects to the fact that there is less nutritional. So the nutrition of the bees is a very important factor.

Dr. Ramesh, who’s head of OSU’s lab, he’s just this incredible guy. We feel very fortunate to have him as a partner. And the money we’re able to give when people contribute to our SAVE the BEE is kind of a big deal, is there’s not a lot of controls put on it. So usually when you’re part of a foundation, there are a lot of stipulations as to exactly what the money is used for and because we’re able to give him, let’s just say, one hundred thousand dollars a year to produce that specifically or some of the things we feel are important tied to the beekeepers and tied to the farmers. So it’s been really nice to have a cool partner like Dr. Ramesh and all the folks who work in the lab. And so really, that’s where our money goes.

[00:20:00]

And we also give to Incap, which are tied to the reduction in pesticide use and helps farmers to understand that Bee Girl, which is she’s kind of semi famous in Oregon, and she goes around and does a lot of education, and one fun thing that I still want to attend is she has a beekeepers ball when there’s no Covid but you can imagine if you’ve ever ran into a bunch of beekeepers and I’m just being honest, I love them. They’re unique. So a beekeepers ball would be very lively and fun, probably like no other ball either you or I or anyone else has ever attended.

Diana Fryc: For sure. So GloryBee is a B Corp and supports food for health and sustainable future initiatives; I could say that in addition. You guys are really about extending that hand, doing the work and there are a little bit of this food chain and people and planet, is this your translation of your parent’s vision a little bit?

Raejean Wilson: Yeah, I think so. The B Corp actually, I get to take a little credit for that. I love the B Corp, which we became certified in 2016 because it really allows you to be measured on things that are important and very ethical. For example, how much people get paid, how much people get paid at the top to the bottom, what’s the living wage, for example, how many men and women we have in the organization, it measures that our suppliers are things are ethically sourced; all sorts of ways that we take care of our business and volunteering and giving back all those things are being measured. But you’re being measured against other companies that also believe that those things are important.

I think one of the things that my brother Alan, our president brought up is when you think of the industry we’re in with what we do because we also distribute food and we have food from all over the world, I think it definitely translates and supporting fair trade, which we do not actually sell tons of products that are really largely fair trade, like honey, cocoa and things like that. But we don’t sell coffee. So there are a limited number of suppliers that would be affected by that. But making sure you’re really looking at those.

I think when you think about stewardship, sometimes people get that really focused on just specifically giving money. But it’s also about taking care of people that you do business with. And I’ve always thought of it and it’s a reciprocal relationships. And I think the food industry specifically gives us an opportunity to affect that. So if we buy honey in Brazil from a small community, that might help pay for an entire year of what it costs that family to support itself, or especially when we buy a container load of organic coconut oil, which we’ve visited the farms and we visited the people that are producing those products easily, that would be double what they would typically make in a year to supply it for their family, things that we can’t even fathom. So I think that’s part of stewardship.

Also, just really being fair with our customers has been really — I give my dad credit for that. He’s always said we’re not trying to price gouge our customers. We’re trying to make sure everybody is successful. So I think the B Corp is a big deal. I think the sustainability really also is part of that and it’s an ongoing education, as everybody knows. Like, what does that really mean? Sustaining your future for the next generation, your food supply, how you do business, the choices you make; it’s kind of big. And I would say I really feel myself I’ve only really became more educated about that in the last 10 years.

[00:25:00]

I would say 10 to 15 years. In the beginning, I was like whoa! So the B Corp is a big deal. We still have a lot of ways we can improve. Last year we were able to become one of the change makers and we got a bronze for. But my director of sustainability told me, even though I thought it was a good score like, “We’re going to get a higher score.” And I’m like, “Okay.” So he’s in charge of the suppliers, which is a huge way that we can continue to do this, because there is a lot of countries we do business with where they’re providing most of what we purchase here in the US in terms of organic foods, because as people probably may not always realize, there actually is no certified organic honey in the US.

Diana Fryc: Is it all overseas?

Raejean Wilson: Aha, it’s because of the farming practices. And GloryBee was one of the first suppliers to be able to get our honey non GMO certified, even though honey generally is non GMO, but just to get the certification. I think the values and then I think also just the relationships. We’ve had a really long standing history with the companies we do business with, and I find over the years that the employees, whether they came and gone for different reasons, they really do stay connected to the company. We’re not perfect, but definitely caring for people is a huge part of our business. But I think that food and beverage and what you’re talking about health, it is very relational, so it would make sense. I call food a love language.

Diana Fryc: It absolutely is because you think to yourself as a human being, and especially when you go all the way back to being a child and the food that’s provided to you and when you grow up, your connection to your past and your connection to your family or with the people you love, the common denominator most of the time is food. There’s meal around it. There’s a special meal, there’s a special ingredient, their special beverage and so there’s a translation there, that’s an extension of how we then take that and we care for other people in that same way. What do we give as gifts most of the time? Food and beverages, right?

Raejean Wilson: Yeah, even more. Today it’s like I always used to say, growing up, going to some event, there was tea, coffee, maybe if you were lucky, hot chocolate and tap water. If you were really lucky you got Tang or something. But today, you go to any event where there are tons of beverages and typically some snack and people kind of pride themselves on being able to provide something really special. Other brands like GloryBee really do it up and I love having their products at an event or something where we can proudly promote somebody else’s brand.

Diana Fryc: As I’ve been interviewing people because of course I’ve been in the natural’s industry from my point of view since about 2011 and then prior to that I was an organic buyer since the mid-90s. My parents were immigrants and so kind of eating back at that natural level that was not really a new concept for me. It was just kind of the ability to access. And now that I’m older, when I started to have a job etcetera, I went that way. But I’m just distinctly seeing a difference in the people and leaders that are B Corp driven and not B Corp driven and not in a good or bad way. But I notice, just as you’ve identified, part of your leadership style has to do with the care of not just doing a good job or taking care of what’s mine or what’s ours, but a little bit more broader and I think that even extends into like that just becomes a way that you lead because, of course, leading is always by example. We see this all the time.

[00:30:00]

If you’re a leader and you behave this way, then everybody who follows you will behave in the same way. So I just find it interesting and most of the people in the natural’s industry are familiar enough with a B Corp to know that the rigor behind the certification process is no joke. It’s not any different than maybe Six Sigma or ISO certifications. It’s no joke. You are not just paying somebody because we just went through the process, we just finished, it took us four years, but we just got our certification in the summer and it challenges everything. It challenges the way you do and the way you see everything.

RaeJean Wilson: It does, and I think what you’re saying is important for people to understand, because it is a challenge, but it’s worth it. It doesn’t have to be the first year; it’s going to take you time.

Diana Fryc: I just think this is just kind of a fun one when we spoke last time; one of the things that you said to me was, we can’t do good in the world by ourselves, and I think that might have been something that you got from your parents. I don’t remember exactly or maybe this is yours, but I love that statement in everything that you’ve just said, like every which way that you’re talking about how you do your business you are taking, your employees into consideration, your suppliers in the consideration, your family, your community, all of it, which is a fun relationship for me because your supply of honey and bees are kind of an example of you can’t make honey on your own, you can’t pollinate on your own. So in some ways, there’s a nice little synergistic relationship going on there. I find it to be kind of a powerful POV. Now, of course, you probably don’t remember the context of the statement, but I know that it has a specific meaning for you. Or maybe do you remember like when you made that statement where does that come from? Is that an extension of you? Is that learned?

RaeJean Wilson: It’s interesting you would think that possibly being like the boss’s daughter, that it would have been easy. But I’ve always had to prove myself because people have doubted that I really knew what I was doing and so that kind of started in the beginning, and so part of that did force me to really think about how everything’s interconnected. Unfortunately for me, that is somewhat natural for who I am, but when I think of everything we’re all trying to do in this world and how important that is and I heard it recently since we had even spoken that the word belonging is such an interesting word and I hadn’t thought about it recently, but when I think about something and I think of belonging and I think about our industry, how can we all belong and how can we all be part of something bigger than ourselves?

And I know for example, no matter what the course is, but I love this causebecause it connects to our industry in such a big way. Saving the bee is a huge part of that. But it can also become very relational because it’s from the next generation of beekeepers, which it’s not an easy job, just like a farmer. We’ve even had it called the redheaded stepchild, because that kind of it’s a different world and then when you think about the people that are affected, we’ve been very fortunate. We ran into some really unique folks and there was a man in Africa, and I can send you his information. I mean, his organization is called Stars of Hope. What does this he specifically targets women in Africa to teach them how to become beekeepers so that they provide for their families. And so that’s in because a lot of the times women become outcasts for various reasons and so they don’t have a way to be provided for. So it’s just kind of cool how it touches so many different ways. And even when you think about our Food for health, we work with a local organization, the School Garden Project of Wayne County, and they basically are teaching these kids how to garden and how important the pollinators are.

[00:35:06]

And just, I guess the humanity aspect is we’re trying to say to all of us, I know we also give money. Part of what we also give to as family works. It’s an organization up in your area. You know what I love about that food bank? It’s a lot of us better brands that are giving to this food bank. So not only do these people get to pick their food when they go through the line because they’re humans, why should they be given a bag full of groceries, which is not the stuff that they eat? And so it’s the coolest thing to just see what our industry has done and how much people care and how much people are willing to give.

I think just food in general, like you mentioned, typically food is something you give. It is something you share. And I wonder if that isn’t a huge reason that the natural and better for you brands have. They’re thriving because it is what it’s about. It is about sharing. It is about giving back. Because typically, if your friend wanted half of your drink, your kombucha, I mean, you probably wouldn’t say no. Absolutely not. So I think that’s a lot of what it’s come from. And also, just with the values of the company, it was a very, very big deal for our founders that something was written in to our articles of incorporation that we did give back as part of the business model that we have, and I believe for B Corps in general, that is one of the things they ask you to consider. And so that was the big deal that we would still have the freedom, no matter what, that we would be giving to courses that were important and supported what the company was all about.

Diana Fryc: That’s so interesting. I mean, it’s not that it’s unique because specifically in the natural industry. That’s part of the reason why so many of these brands exist. Most of it is because there’s a personal need has come up in the marketplace. But then on the other side, you have these companies who want to start a business and they are in love. I’m just going to make something up here like they love making chocolate chip cookies, but that’s not necessarily better for you. But what they want to do with making chocolate chip cookies is like save the whales. And that is how they’re able to do it. And I love that part of our industry is that people are so willing to give, whether it’s their expertise or their money. It’s great to always talk with somebody who’s with the brand that has been around since before natural’s was popular, especially in the 70s, that was really when right on the very, very beginning when, even in the 80s and 90s, the organic section was the size of a shoe box and looked like stuff that people questioned all the time.

And of course, now food science and farming practices has evolved to the point that what we’re transporting and growing food all over the world. And now we get to solve another level of problem. Love that. And I love that you and your team, you’re not just looking at bees, you are looking at all parts of the food cycle.

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah, it’s good. I agree with you. It’s interesting when I think back to the early days and I remember how ugly a lot of the organic products were, they were frightening and then we’re double the price that they are. Now there’s not that much twenty five percent maybe difference in price, and then just nobody knew what it was, but it was cool. It’s cool to be part of something in the beginning and I’ll certainly see how it goes.

Diana Fryc: Oh my gosh, I have stories. When I was in college, I used to clean houses for people who had environmental allergens. So I was a ‘naturals cleaner’ in the 90s, as part I was working for college. That was college money. My friends thought I was working for they were called freaks at the time and now it’s like it’s everywhere, but it’s kind of crazy.

[00:40:00]

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah you cannot imagine my parents with their Birkenstocks, peanut butter and honey sandwiches and Nancy’s yogurt for dinner.

Diana Fryc: Our time is almost up. Last couple of fun questions that I like to ask. One specifically, it’s always about what is something interesting about what you guys do, whether it’s bees or processing or anything that is kind of happy hour factoid that I can take?

RaeJean Wilson: Well, I always think it’s fun to remind people that in order for you to enjoy a product like honey, bees have to travel –I think it’s 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey. Let me double check that. I got that written down. Yeah, a beehive has to travel. So that’s kind of interesting, and especially because honey is on trend and it’s the number one sweetener for fast sweets natural outside of, of course organic sugar, because just sometimes people are challenged to find the right honey to be perfect in their product. But I think that’s interesting fact. Just to think about that, another one I had here, let me look back for you. Well, just that I think when it takes two million flowers for bees to produce a pound of honey.

Diana Fryc: It’s unbelievable!

RaeJean Wilson: The bees would have visited all those floral sources. So like living where you live and we live BlackBerry Honey, of course is amazing and you have lots of it because we live in a very…

Diana Fryc: And we could lose our berries for that.

RaeJean Wilson: Yes. And so knowing that those are kind of fun facts I think, so just knowing that when you’re sitting there having today, you can have a cocktail and there’s honey in it a lot more often. Honey and coffee; people drink honey in their coffee.

Diana Fryc: True. What other brands or trends? This could be in your industry, but are you excited by anything else that you’re seeing out in our natural’s world or even not, it could extend out there just in regards to food or beverage?

RaeJean Wilson: I think the food waste is a big deal. I’ve been excited to learn that some of the bigger companies are really making that a priority. I was actually doing some research on the new female, I believe, CEO of Clif Bar and she’s really pretty innovative and it’s pretty cool that that’s a woman. And then just to know how important that is, just the food waste and waste in general. But food waste is kind of a different animal. And for me, I like that because I think it’s like taking things to the next level. I think the better for you brands have already done a lot. This is another way for us to give back and it’s forced me.

I don’t know where you’re at but I have a twenty four year old son and the girl is twenty one and then I have a nineteen year old son and I am doing my Christmas shopping, making sure that every brand I buy from, they are going to force us to be even better. I need to make sure was it ethically sourced and it doesn’t even necessarily need to be expensive. But how were the people that made that product treated or do they plant a tree for the sweatshirt I just bought? Those are kind of cool things. I also think how do those brands like GloryBee that have been around for a while stay true to who we are? And also remember, that’s new consumer who are going to keep us on our toes. They can ruin us in five seconds and I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but I heard that the Covid pandemic has forced us five years forward with technology.

Diana Fryc: Well, that feels like it for sure. In some ways very good, in other ways not. But I definitely feel like all the research that we’re seeing is Generation Z has the fire of Millennials in regards to the no tolerance of things, but a different kind of compassion or the fact that they have compassion.

[00:45:00]

Millennials have compassion but of course we’re talking about whole cohorts, but they’re very different in how they show up and I think Generation Z is going to have an impact in a much different way than we could have guessed a year ago, just simply because of the change.

RaeJean Wilson: I think so too and they’re super smart and they probably read more than we realize because they’re reading every day. I’m shocked how they can recite things that I would not consider myself to be as educated.

Diana Fryc: Before I go, how are you keeping yourself sane and centered these days?

RaeJean Wilson: I kind of think that I’ve had moments, but because I am very focused on the people that work for me, my job is really to think about what they need and so it’s a nice distraction and so that’s kind of how I keep myself sane in general. Sometimes when I stop for a minute, I’ve had a few moments where I’m like I just want to do what I want to do right now, and I can’t because I need to be careful, keep my parents safe, and not have thanksgiving in an enclosed environment. So things like that. But generally and also by thinking about what other people need helps me a lot to stay grounded. And I have this incredible team of people that works for me and they’re just amazing. So it makes it fun and we’re always on our toes and we’ve been learning a lot about technology this year. So it’s been kind of a fun distraction making internal videos. 2020 has not been so much fun though, as some of the previous years. I said I’m looking forward to a little more fun.

Diana Fryc: Yes, less fires, less Covid, less everything.

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah.

Diana Fryc: Well, I know I’ll be able to share some of your company’s social handles, but if people wanted to connect with you directly, are you a LinkedIn type of person?

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah. You can message me on LinkedIn. I believe if you go to the website also my cell phone is on there. I really do not love voicemail. So if you want to email me or text me or LinkedIn message me, that’s the best way and I would love to connect with people and I appreciate you just giving me this opportunity.

Diana Fryc: Well, really excited to be a neighbor to the north of you guys and we’ve spoken over the years and it’s really great to learn more about you and I know there are lots of other things that we could talk about, everything from strength finder. That’s a whole separate topic for another time, I’m sure.

RaeJean Wilson: Let’s do it. I would love it. And also, I wanted to mention I have some of that same art in my house that you have behind you.

Diana Fryc: You do? This one of be kind?

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah and I think the one above. I have the one that says I think be happy and then I have one that talks about your children. It’s really cool. I’ll send you a picture.

Diana Fryc: Please do, I love these things.

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah I do too. Well thank you.

Diana Fryc: Thank you so much for your time. I hope you enjoyed this.

RaeJean Wilson: I did.

Diana Fryc: And I look forward to maybe seeing you in person soon and if not a conversation again.

RaeJean Wilson: Yeah, I’m going to have Jesse send you some stuff. So I want to send you some products that we have.

Diana Fryc: Oh, I appreciate it, thank you.

RaeJean Wilson: We’ll follow up. Have a great day.

Diana Fryc: All right. Thanks RaeJean.

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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