Gooder Podcast

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Enabling Healthy Living featuring Mae Steigler, Organifi

CEO at Organifi

In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, Diana Fryc is joined by Mae Steigler, the CEO at Organifi, to discuss how Mae successfully runs an organic brand. Mae explains the impacts of eating organically-produced foods, ways to empower your team to be sustainable, and the importance of educating people on eating healthy. Plus, Mae talks about some of the leadership skills she’s learned and how she helped the company pivot during the start of the pandemic.

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Key Takeaways

    • Erika Cottrell explains Harbor Wholesale’s distribution services

    • How Erika ended up at Harbor Wholesale

    • Erika describes a recent acquisition she was a part of at Smuckers

    • Advice for integrating two different company cultures

    • Why authenticity is key to building trust

    • Erika’s proudest moments: mentoring fellow employees and watching them grow

    • What’s next for Harbor Wholesale?

    • Erika gives a shout-out to fellow powerhouse women leaders

    • Trends that Erika is watching: plant-based foods

Quotes

Chapters

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. A brand consultancy focused on building,growing and revitalizing brands in the food, beverage, health and wellness industries. If youare ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy thatgives your brand an advantage, please visit

https://retail-voodoo.com/contact set up a discovery call today.

Produced by Heartcast Media.
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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 0:43 

Hi, Diana Fryc here and I am the host of the Gooder Podcast where I get to talk with the powerhouse women in the food, beverage and wellness categories about their journeys to success and their insights on the industry. Really quick, this episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. Retail Voodoo is a brand development firm. Our clients include Starbucks kind, Rei, PepsiCo, and high key and 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 and innovative ideas, that’s is easy to say, give us a call and let’s talk. You can find out more information at retail-voodoo.com or email info@retailvoodoo.com to learn more. Now, before introducing today’s guests I want to give a big thank you to Miss Jessica Windell for making this connection. Jessica Windell is the founder of Maven Consulting, a Strategic Communications and Public Relations consultancy working with consumer brands. To learn more about them and how they can help you and your business, you can check them out at www.mavenconsultingco.com. All right, well, our guest today is Mae Steigler, who serves as CEO of Organifi, maker of premium, great-tasting adaptogenic blends. Responsible for the brand’s overall alignment, Mae is driven by her passion and responsibility for the development of organic people and processes. Having played a key role in building the company since inception in 2014 to an average growth of 60% CAGR year over year since inception. That’s the first time I’ve done CAGR as an intro so you get a first prize for that Mae. With Mae’s leadership, Organifi has been named one of Inc 5000 fastest-growing companies four times and awarded Forbes great places to work for the last three years. Well, hello, Mae,how are you?

Mae Steigler 3:02 

Diana, so good. Thank you for having me here. I so appreciate it. And a huge thank you to Jess as well. We go back almost 10 years now and have amazing gratitude for that powerhouse woman.

Diana Fryc 3:15

I would say that she and I are kindred spirits when it comes to work ethic and it sounds like you’re in that same kind of club.

Mae Steigler 3:24 

I take that as a huge compliment knowing Jess. So thank you for that. I can’t imagine keeping up with her. Good to be here Diana, so thank you very much.

Diana Fryc 3:34 

Of course, Mae, where are you located today?

Mae Steigler 3:37

I’m in San Diego. I’ve been here for 10 years. Right on the water. Absolutely love it in San Diego. That’s where we’re headquartered at Organifi as well.

Diana Fryc 3:47

Okay, that sounds amazing. I was born in Santa Monica, which is not close to San Diego per se. Not lesser than Seattle. And what I remember is just it feels more like a community there than really a city or a town.

Mae Steigler 4:10 

I think that’s what has me enjoy it so much. It doesn’t feel like the big city that it kind of is. Lots of small communities. So definitely didn’t grow up in a big city. So this feels like the big city I can handle.

Diana Fryc 4:23

I love it. Well, let’s talk about Organifi here. I always like it when brand owners and leaders get to tell us about their brand. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Organifi and why it exists.

Mae Steigler 4:37 

Love it. Organifi really exists and was born out of the idea that healthy can be delicious and can be easy and enjoyable. So I think really importantly recognizing yep, there it is. We came from building basically a community of individuals that were looking to transform their health to the power of real foods through juicing. And it was really hard to juice now 10 years ago, if I remember buying a juicer and trying on getting it set up in the kitchen, and then all the grocery shopping, and then the washing and the prepping even like the room in your refrigerator to store the bonus was really tough. So yes, prior to founding Organifi, we were running a educational company around the power of real foods and juicing. And so it’s really the brand was created with the idea that this has to be easier. This gives me more fun, and it’s still such an important transformation tool and deriving great methodology to bring adaptogens and super foods into your diet.

Diana Fryc 5:45 

Well, thank you, I was looking at your, you are muted. There you go. There you go. So thank you for that. I wonder if you could share a little bit about your journey to becoming CEO of Organifi. I’m completely fascinated by this farm life through fit life to building a multimillion-dollar nutrition company. Tell us a little bit about that.

Mae Steigler 6:15

Well, it’s a longer story.

Diana Fryc 6:17

In about two sentences. Could you do that?

Mae Steigler 6:20 

Well, it’s a wild adventure.

Diana Fryc 6:21 

Yes. Tell us. Tell us the highs.

Mae Steigler 6:24 

Yes. Growing up, I grew up in Northern California on yes, kind of like a farm, was 40 acres. Both my parents are horticulturalist and botanist. So we had gardens ate from the garden, I thought that was pretty normal. Normal people grow food in their garden and have that incorporated in their upbringing, I actually was craving Eggo waffles and, of course, and Applejack cereal and hoping to go to fast food one day as a child, so I remember. But of course, reflecting now have a ton of gratitude for that. But in college, I actually studied Emily nutrition and was very focused on the food system and really wanted to solve animal welfare issues and thinking there has to be a better way and got heavily involved in agriculture. I went to Cal Poly and big focus and a hands-on learning in kind of food systems in general and one into r&d in that space. And I kind of laugh now and reflection, but I would have been disowned by my parents, I almost worked for Monsanto. And my parents known, it would have obviously broken up the family potentially all because they were really involved in the early organic, CCOF and obviously, growing our own food growing up was a big deal. So that kind of felt like the opposite. As I was at farm level, though, I really got to recognize that so much of the impact of what we were feeding animals, I was actually there to do early diagnosis of illness and prevention of overusing antibiotics with the dairy industry. So it’s very much like doing research and development, trying to early diagnose mastitis and pneumonia based on actually improper nutrition. And so it’s a really, really clear through essentially animal health a clear example of when we don’t eat what our bodies are designed to consume, that results in disease. And while I was trying to solve for that, I recognized that the larger issue was actually consumer demand for this food system. And it was this dysfunctional food system that we were as consumers demanding, and so I realized I was solving the wrong problem. So I went back and studied human health, and I got involved in personal training and coaching. And that’s really when I met Drew the founder of at the time FitLife TV, the education company before Organifi as 11 ish doesn’t 10. And we started working together and designing basically coaching for whether it’s companies related like corporate wellness, and individual coaching for really empowering people to use real foods to transform their health. That was Drew’s journey. He was really has an incredible origin story in transforming his own health with the power of real foods and we are coaching people how to do that. And so again, kind of collapsing the storyline I was involved as employee number one essentially pre Organifi and was able to build our company to this point in growing the team and designing really opportunities for customers from the very early stages and there’s a ton of obviously story and a lot of that but started really connected with our customer and coaching program. So translated my animal nutrition information and knowledge and education to human health, and then into coaching programs and then into basically team building around that solution.

Diana Fryc 9:58 

So fascinating.

Mae Steigler 10:00 

Unconventional for sure.

Diana Fryc 10:02 

It’s unconventional. But you know what I love about it is my business partner and I were working together. And I mentioned before we started our call together was that we started working together in 2006. And when we change from generalist into better for you foods are at the time we said we were in naturals and organics, we made that choice based off of what was happening with his, with my business partners, oldest son’s health. He had gone through several years of just been chronically ill. And we removed a couple of foods from his diet, that were just what we would say, are industrialized products now, and by removing those elements went from being sick and in antibiotics almost on a quarterly basis, to not being ill for three years. And the two of us said, we want to at the time 2011 naturals industry was growing, that is definitely not what it was now, it was still kind of not mainstream. And we said, let’s take our multinational CPG big company, expertise on brand building and bring it to these other brands so that we can mainstream this concept of food as medicine for the body or not medicine, per se. I mean, it’s kind of overly simplifying it but if you eat closer to the original food format, chances are, you’re going to have a much healthier diet. Some people are not affected by it. But there are many who are. And we just don’t have the education quite there yet. So that is so interesting to see that parallel because the timeline is about the same that 2011 mark.

Mae Steigler 11:52

Yeah, and so powerful to just have that example of what’s possible, right? When we give our bodies what it naturally needs. Again, we have like, the most incredible human capacity to maintain homeostasis and health, that baseline of healthy living and firmly believe whether it’s something the body can’t tolerate or not. It’s so interesting, if you start with the approach of removing the inflammatory foods in your diet, the things that while you can tolerate and your body’s handling, what would your state of health energy recovery look like if you remove them? It’s that huge space in between, there’s lots of like, performance optimizers and people living the biohacking, like best life, but there’s this huge space for just the everyday human to say, what would it look like if I had better energy or more energy? Didn’t have maybe bloating or an upset stomach most days, right? We think these things are normal. But when we start taking a closer look at our individual nutrition, it’s amazing what our state of health can elevate to.

Diana Fryc 12:58

Exactly, yeah. Well, so as you mentioned, before Organifi, you had some roles and r&d and fitness, education and training. In the role that you’re in now, you’ve been in kind of CXOs CX roles, or C suite, from a fitness and education fitness training standpoint, do you feel those roles were like, literally integral to your leadership success?

Mae Steigler 13:31 

I do. I feel that in kind of even coming back to that first question, arriving in this role, having been able to sit in those seats and or build out those roles themselves had equipped me to be in this seat better for sure. So I feel like unconventionally, no, I didn’t go to school for this. And I think often looking at balancing even my own perception of qualification for the seat. And what I continue to lean on is the fact that I’ve been in that seat prior and or built that capacity in the business prior. And so it’s just the historical experience. And I so, I mean, so many of them, yes, have played into me being able to have the context to continue building the company in the direction that you want to go. Yes. And the balancing effect that I get to do consistently is ensuring that that historical lens isn’t the only lens and really looking at how can I bring in talent and resources and mentorship in areas that certainly the company hasn’t been experienced yet in and even our internal team isn’t already bringing that in. So it’s been a really interesting balancing experience in both of those meaning heavy on historical but it’s been so insular. So I think it’s that balance for sure.

Diana Fryc 14:57 

Were there any foundational skills or philosophies from that time that you still leverage on a regular basis? Or is it all kind of mushed together kind of hard to pull apart?

Mae Steigler 15:09

Well, I like the practice of pulling it apart whenever I can, there’s always a lot of learning to be had in that and foundational, and as I kind of spoke to is being, at least in the role long enough to understand what success criteria can be before bringing on a consultant before bringing on a true internal hire. And so we often built that way. So we’re self-funded we didn’t have a bunch of capital to kind of grow on. We built the business in the way that we knew how and best to serve the customers. And so in doing that, it really applied this kind of beautiful constraint to how we grew. And very much looking at industry examples that we could and building our best version of that internally. And then hiring, again, contractors or consultants, and then bring it in-house. Yeah, that was a pretty clear format for us to grow from. And I think the challenge when we didn’t do that was, if we went right to consultants, or even hiring in the talent that we didn’t actually know how to manage and we didn’t know enough about it made it really hard for us to know if we were successful or not.

Diana Fryc 16:24

Interesting. Yeah, because I think many people expected with lots of experience and no experience really feel like financial acumen, or really solid sales skills alone, kind of define the company or a brand’s ability to grow kind of, especially in those early stages, right. My experience is seen that it’s really team leadership and team building, and development that is the essential part of leading growth and having success in a brand. And so I think you answered this, but I’ll ask it from a different way. When you move from a director role into a C suite, how did you go about building and growing your teams? Was it literally the approach that you said, where I just sit and I look at best-case scenarios, or were there other elements from your coaching and your education background that you kind of brought in to round it out?

Mae Steigler 17:22 

Yeah, I do think what served us well, and as we grew teams, a key approach has always been strength-based recruiting. So we were always looking at bringing in someone who was yes, aligned with the direction of the company, but also like, it was part of their reason for being that they wanted to develop into a seat. So we always, and we still do in the recruiting process connect with ikigai, right, the reason for waking up in the morning. And it’s a long tail for our connection with longevity and health, too. So we kind of map it back to the company vision and mission. But that was a really key part in bringing on people that, yes, we built out of kind of necessity, the roles and in the early stages, when it was just five people. We were building seats, because when we saw the room to grow there, and we can meet customers in those new channels that say it was like, really early days podcast sponsorship are really early days influence marketing, we were trying it on to see if it would work. And when it gained enough traction, at the time really early, maybe it was like 10,000 a month in revenue, or in customer impact, then we’d say great, let’s bring on someone who’s not only great in this seat, but also loves it, and wants to do this. So then we apply that lens to building the seats out at that point really specifically, and bringing on people that saw it better than we did at that point. So as we had enough experience in those seats, to at least know, hey, we’re bringing on we’re hiring up right, where we’re bringing on people that have higher capacity than we do in those roles. It definitely created and I think another area that I often am cognizant of as being a generalist, and it knowing enough about enough is also kind of dangerous. And so it hasn’t really yeah, and making sure that serving the company where I really can be clear that here is the limitation of my knowledge in this space, and bring in experts when we need to. And I definitely in the last 10 years have hit points where I had to really recognize and come to terms with the limiting belief that I didn’t have the background and education that most people we hired had, right. And or the expertise right and getting to overcome, whether it’s imposter syndrome and all the things that people have to kind of get through, but doing it for the right reasons not to kind of hide and cover with talent and pretend I know all the things. We can’t know everything especially as the business as it’s grown as fast as it has, we’re always at a new stage. And we’ve never been a $60 million company we’ve never been, you know, at this stage even writing at Omnichannel. So anyways, it’s definitely been a learning and continues to be a really important learning stage for myself.

Diana Fryc 20:19

That’s really awesome and a lot of self-awareness happening.

Mae Steigler 20:25

There’s no such thing as too much of that.

Diana Fryc 20:28 

Especially when you’re in the leader when you’re in the hot seat, absolute self-awareness is critical. It’s so funny. I had heard about ikigais speaking up for the first time when I interviewed Jennifer Norman, almost two years ago. I don’t know if you know who she is. She has a beauty brand out of SoCal called The Human Beauty Movement. And she built all of her positioning based off of the concept of ikigai. So that was our podcast. So I might send you the link after if you want to listen to her. She’s pretty fantastic.

Mae Steigler 21:03 

I would absolutely love to listen to that. Thank you. Yeah, you hope that in this lifetime, right? We get to live into that and connect our career and kind of even speaking into where you guys shifted focus from general to more specific, and being really clear on the contribution you’re here to make, and then sharing that the work you’re doing is connecting to that because that contribution loop is one well research for longevity, but just is so key as human beings here, right? We have a lot of choices. Keep them aligned for what lights you up and brings you to life for sure.

Diana Fryc 21:43

Well, and as you were talking about learning those things, learning where you end where your team begins, and what your role is in shaping their paths, not just your path, I know that in some way, there’s some visibility on like, well, I’m, maybe there isn’t. I don’t know. But this concept of your brand sustainability, meaning, how are you setting up the brand for growth, when you can’t be in the hot seat? Whether it’s 10 years from now? Or you step out and there’s an emergency or crisis? Like, how are you setting that up? How are you empowering your team to be sustainable, regardless of how you can contribute on a given day?

Mae Steigler 22:29

It’s definitely something that we continue to work at. And I think with a lot of these things, it’s like, hey, developing team, like, you’re never going to have to buy a new team. But this spot have been particular is really interesting to continue to look at. And I think a big part of it is, of course, decision criteria decision framework, we’re definitely in a phase of re-teaching that and ensuring that there’s enough transparency and what are the key business? Kind of what makes the business run? And can you ensure that the leadership team, the directors, or VPS, are clear on that so that they’re able to make sound decisions? I think the indicator that we don’t have it right is anytime a lot of decisions are being escalated, right? Well, we haven’t empowered the team to have the, whether it’s even as simple as autonomy given via budgets and decision making. Hey, if it’s less than $50,000, it’s your decision and we’ll review it every month, right? And go back and learn together if something was and maybe it’s 10,000, or maybe 100 bucks, whatever it needs to be. But I think that speaks to the sustainability and building teams is one imparting decision making framework so that the team can begin to think like me, and ideally better, because they’ve got more context and details. And oftentimes, I find that we’re at different stages in the business, absolutely needing to re-design those and re-engineer those frameworks. And so much of this also has to do with the ability to take the time to review, like, reflect on decisions made and make better ones going forward. And that’s where we often I still see a lot of opportunity there for our team to do that. Well and together so how are we learning together so that that strategy that we’re going towards is executable by the leadership team, not by my directing?

Diana Fryc 24:26 

Yes. I love it.

Mae Steigler 24:29 

So a couple parts there for sure. And I think a lot of that is coaching, training and development time with team which is such an investment and so important and then frameworks and kind of like more operational flow rhythms, which is review and planning.

Diana Fryc 24:45 

Okay, wonderful. And then so speaking of leadership, sustainability, we have to still have to ask this question because we are still in the COVID. I wonder if you brought anything any new tools to your toolkit, I don’t use these weird representative terms. But during COVID, what did you bring new to? How you manage teams? Or did you? Was it just kind of doubling down on what you’re already doing?

Mae Steigler 25:17

I think it’s both right. So we did, we were highly hybrid. So we had a great HQ in San Diego. We sublet it. And so we were able to transition the team fully remote. And it was always, we never had like nine to five hours, we didn’t have any of that kind of framework we had to move away from. So in many ways the transition was easy. The really important thing, though, that kept our focus and still does is culture and interaction with the team. So we always had an HQ where team members could visit, but our internal team, and our local team is the majority of the company and really thrived with the we do a lot of in person events, we do a lot of workshops, we do a ton of weekly, there’s a schedule of events that happened. And we did need to transition that fully to online. And it really helped in some ways bridge are already remote culture, but then challenged our local in person culture. So it kind of forced the homogenization of those two, which undoubtedly was hard. We kind of had to normalize the expectations across the team. And truly the remote team, I do think benefited a lot. And the local team felt like it was less than which was challenging to balance. So the tools you brought in, bringing everything on Zoom and online wasn’t a huge stretch for us. Because we already did hybridized zoom every day on the daily huddle, we just did it in a room with a remote team. So then we didn’t have the room anymore. And there was a pretty big adaptation phase for things like morning meditation, things like book club, things like heart talk, which is more like a toastmasters, thing we do every week. But we still did them. I think what was interesting, and the tool was more of a competency of resilience and perseverance to figure out how we adapt. And so I wouldn’t say it was a cool software, we plugged in, like a bunch of stuff failed, and it was horrible. But the persistence to say, hey, we know how good it was, how do we one recognize it won’t be that way. But how do we get a crate that same caliber and now again, we’re hybridizing, which is like, doing pickleball tournaments once a month or something or doing a potluck, just to kind of bring that back or flying couple team members in. And we do that on a more regular basis, just recognizing how important that connect is. So zooming out, if you looked at the transition, one, we were super lucky as a brand that it wasn’t a big stretch for us. And I’m really grateful that we had so much capacity to just be fully digital and online. And our team didn’t depend on office space. And we even moved a full call center online, like, in a week. So really grateful for what felt like easy. And then I’m still so curious. And as kind of like what this is going to make possible for new work, we were already on the edge of like, just kind of disruptive, like, we don’t believe in conventional formats. But I do think we really get to try those on now in a really big way. And yeah, prove out what’s helpful for where, we more broad, sweeping corporate management.

Diana Fryc 28:39

Wow, fabulous. You were already kind of evolving before COVID. So COVID might have accelerated a few things, but that seems like a natural to your culture to be adapting in any given time.

Mae Steigler 28:58 

And I mean, thank you. I will say I think we just never kind of conformed to the conventional and it wasn’t my like, hey, we’re the cool by design at all. We’re unconventional because I don’t think we knew better. I want to offer that too. I think we got to lean heavier on kind of the weirdness and we kind of like woowoo culture of just like this is who we are, we’re going to try to lean heavy on it instead and balanced. I think the other side with a quick I will mention is we did open up a lot more conversations and check-ins with our teams because there was a lot more stress, a lot more change a lot more. So we did and we still now been heavy on that which is just like where we used to be able to do a huddle in the office, we do now more video huddles was like, hey, check in this event happen, whether we’re transitioning team members, whether you know, even division changes, we just bring the full committee together and say, “Hey, let’s talk about this.” So it feels much more open despite being virtual.

Diana Fryc 30:04

Yeah. That’s interesting. And it sounds like it’s working.

Mae Steigler 30:10 

Yes, good question is like, how do you know it’s working? I think that the level of participation and just leaning in that the team offers is always the indication I’m looking for and kind of, I guess, pressure testing against to say, hey, is this working? are team members willing to resolve hard spots? Are they willing to show up to the conversations? And myself as well? Am I willing to keep leaning in right, when things are challenging? And so, I mean, I get to keep looking at is that working as we evolve and over even like culture, performance surveys, and all kinds of stuff? We’re always looking at how can we balance the metrics within the feeling of the culture in the company?

Diana Fryc 30:59 

Yeah, totally understand that. Wow. Well, looking back on the path of Organifi today, what are you most proud of? I know, it’s very hard to find a single moment. But when you’re thinking in this one second, what is it that you celebrate?

Mae Steigler 31:20 

I really celebrate, and the thing that if I looked at, like the legacy of this company, for me, personally, there’s two standout that I think the first being choosing the aspirational lane to speak to and showcase, hey, it is possible to enjoy healthy living. When we were in this era of marketing, kind of like fear-mongering kind of in this like era of early like 10 years ago, especially but it was much easier to say, you know, lose 10 pounds now. Instead of saying, here’s what’s possible, if you feel your best. And so I’m really proud of taking that more aspirational approach to really show people how they could feel and to be very much internally focused on demonstrating with our employees. So like, we run challenges, we sponsor personal training, we sponsor races, we’re always living into that. And so it’s just the authenticity with the brand and the aspirational voice and intention we’ve had, I’m really proud of that. And second is from the very, very beginning, in Fitlife days, that was the content company before a company for Organifi, we were speaking into the possibility of meaning into organic, and that was when, like, organic was still nothing of what it was today. It was like what it doesn’t clean 15, and so, really proud of where the brand’s built from those very clear foundations of quality and making that very accessible for people. So we always, in the early days, were hearing conversations and customers say, “Hey, I’d love to eat organic, but it’s way too expensive. I can’t make that work.” And so, in building the quality product we did, we said, hey, we’re going to make everything USDA organic, we’re going to set a standard that wasn’t even really in the supplement industry. And it hardly is today, which is leveraging basically third-party quality standards to make sure everything that our label says is in the product is always in the product. And we did that with USDA Organic. Yeah. And so we’ve always leaned in on making the aspirational, approachable and accessible for customers. And instead of buying a $19 juice every day, we really tried to make that possible with our first product, the greens powder, to say, hey, you can have ashwagandha every day, you can have Moringa, chlorella, things that are hard to access. And today, even still seeing the industry is so much bigger, right? It’s so exciting to look at, like how huge these wellness spaces and recognizing it’s not FDA regulated at all, there isn’t really a lot of ability for customers or consumers and the industry to lean on knowing what they’re getting. And so starting from that place of using quality standards, it’s what we’ve always elevated the last seven years building their organic brands, but starting from that place is something I’m really, really proud of, and then even the supply chain side in partnering with vendors and in just industry partners that also do good in the industry, because it’s a way of doing business that has a ripple effect, whether they’re supporting clean oceans or social justice, you name it. That’s been a really cool way to do good in business.

Diana Fryc 34:59 

I love that There’s something that you said that I’m going to highlight it for just a moment, because one of the reasons why I started this podcast a couple years ago was, I was seeing the shift of leadership in women with the acceleration of investment capital coming in from tech. I was seeing women being moved out of leadership roles, again, kind of bringing in kind of the traditional old-school CPG. And we love our male counterparts, but I was also wanting to balance in our community. And we’re seeing a shift there. Removal of women as money was coming in and better for you brands was becoming more and more lucrative. And part of the reason why I was frustrated by that is because it was all about performance and margin for brands. And this better for you category started out as this kind of holistic hippie culture and everything was expensive, because it was expensive. And now it’s expensive, because we’ve kind of set this standard and there’s a little bit of a lead ism to it, we’ve got huge margins in these products. And some of this information messaging and product really should be filtering down to middle and lower-income families. But we’ve put it so far out of reach it oftentimes kind of saying, “Well, I’m sorry, but unless you are in the 1%, I’m not making a product for you.” I really want to applaud the fact that accessibility to product and a lower price point, whether it’s because of the size of your container, or just reducing your margins, or what have you, allows a new audience net new audience number one, I want to say net new audience to your product, but also allows us to democratize healthy living. So I thank you for doing that. That’s super important.

Mae Steigler 37:07

Thanks for mentioning that. Food sovereignty and food access, even health sovereignty in general is such a fascinating spot right now in general. And where we came from is free information, right? We made YouTube videos, it was always like, hey, go buy these very inexpensive vegetables, right? Like you can transform your health with what’s in the grocery store. And really recognizing even that for some communities and demographics is hard. I am very grateful to bring him back with the team right now as a lot of that educational content. And we definitely took time away from that kind of building on this bank of education we had created at FitLife. And so it’s a really exciting chapter for us. And we’re very much zooming back into that recognizing that there is a growing disparity and access and information. And there’s been some really amazing things happening today with organizations supporting whether it’s classes and or even donation-based, there’s actually a place that open just down the street from us that’s doing donation-based cooking equipment for families in need and just supporting with classes and education on how to eat well for the basics. And yeah, I think our education system needs a lot of support in that space. And so beyond that, as companies and brands right now we have this huge opportunity to sighs some of it. And yes, it of course, donating and we’re partnered with vitamin angels, which is our end of the spectrum. Like I love that. And what’s all the in between, there’s so much more in between that can be addressed and impact you’ve made there that equally just inspired by a lot of really strong brands today doing well by that.

Diana Fryc 38:58 

I love it. Thank you for doing that. Well, what’s next for you or the brand.

Mae Steigler 39:05

I mean, as we’re kind of speaking through this interesting chapter of returning to education and content that’s really on the near term horizon for us is bringing together these two powerful brands and companies we had made FitLife TV content engine and Organifi physical product powerhouse, and getting to bridge the gap for consumers that can either as you mentioned, maybe those that can’t, for now, justify even our 15 pack of green juice the lower quality servings, but they can start taking action towards their health again. So just that reminder of what’s available for consumers to try on and feel better about that isn’t and I am not allowed to say this is not pharmaceuticals or is not something that you’re going to have to buy as a solution but really learning how to work with your body instead. So bringing back that just intuitive wisdom that we have is educating on it. So I’m really excited about a content chapter that is coming with Organifi and a lot of the differentiation in the industry to empower consumers to as we were kind of speaking about discern quality in the industry. We talk about food not being the same as it used to be 50 years ago, we talk about glyphosate, identifies messages. So clear above USDA organic, we talked about glyphosate residue-free being in so many, such a key area to focus on and how just pesticides are kind of everywhere right now. And so how do you support your body as you’re talking about avoiding inflammatory factors, and compensating most effectively with it. So I’m really excited to lean in on educating consumers just in the industry in general, to your point, and as we do have the opportunity and my goodness, the wonderful opportunity to choose what we put in our bodies, and as we elect health products and better for you products. And so what you do here, highlighting those, how do we discern what’s right for us at this point, and focus on not only the best quality, but is it working for our bodies right now. And this is more in my historical experience in the health industry. And as I was a personal trainer for some time as my interim chapter between animal nutrition and Organifi, and the thing that we saw happen in that industry, and just personal training and coaching industry was, there was this large kind of mass diets and programs phase. And then there was this really beautiful shift into individualization. And I feel like in the industry right now, as you look at telehealth, and all these are coinciding trends, and really excited to be part of and support the individualization of supplementation and, and just nutritional direction for ultimate health.

Diana Fryc 42:06

I love it. I’m really looking forward to seeing how that manifests. Thank you. Well, Mae I am really enjoying our time together. We’re kind of wrapping up our time. There’s a few questions that I like to ask everybody. This first one might be a tricky one. We’ll see if you’ve got one, right. This is the fact I love it when somebody shares an interesting factor or simply a story of their industry or their brand, the products. And I wonder if you might have something that you can share that’s interesting about maybe an ingredient or I’m not sure what?

Mae Steigler 42:43 

I love this question. Yes. I think as I was talking about glyphosate residue-free, it’s sometimes a tough one to wrap our head around. And essentially, just the interesting fact about glyphosate is it originally was in a mass antibiotic. So when it first got did and are terrifying. And so kind of the reason why we focus on ensuring and testing for glyphosate residue-free in our products is really the scary kind of toxic load of that product that is sprayed around up ready, right. It’s one of the key products that includes glyphosate in it, and it sprayed on the majority of crops, terrifyingly, but originally it was very much like nonselective herbicide prior to that is an antibiotic. So as we’re looking at, like what goes into our body and our food system, and that’s just an important call out as we ideally put the highest quality best things in our body. So look for glyphosate residue-free labels. I think if you go to there’s a couple of certification bodies currently, but detoxproject.com, there’s a whole bunch of products that are glyphosate residue-free testing, and I think we’ll definitely see a lot more of that similar to how USDA Organic continues to grow, but grew in the beginning as well. Scary, but as a fun fact.

Diana Fryc 44:03 

Fun fact. Fun fact. Well, that is great Intel for those that are wanting to make that next level choice. Thank you for that. I wonder if there are any women leaders or women rising stars out there in our industry or not that you would like to elevate or admire simply for the work they’re doing right now?

Mae Steigler 44:25 

A call out I listened to a podcast with her a couple months back. Sara Cullen, she’s the founder of Gem. Gem Nutrition as the edible vitamins. What I love about what she’s created, and what I find inspiring is finding the spot between true form like vitamins, was just like, slamming a whole handful of whatever you got right? And bringing that back to gap nutrition with real foods. So I just love the branches built and the mission they’re on is really inspiring for sure, so a woman CEO that I’m yet inspired by.

Diana Fryc 45:06 

Okay, Gem Nutrition. I’m going to check that out.

Mae Steigler 45:09

Yeah, they’ve been around for a little bit but they make little bites that are again, gap nutrition format according and vitamins, the daily vitamin stuff, just interesting stuff over there and founded for great reasons.

Diana Fryc 45:27

I love it. Wow. Well we have been talking with Mae Steigler, CEO of Organifi. Mae, where can people learn more about you and Organifi?

Mae Steigler 45:40 

Thank you. LinkedIn is always a great spot to direct message me or of course on social at Organifi for our team and we’re always on there. So definitely check out the company at Instagram Organifi and LinkedIn Mae Steigler

Diana Fryc 45:57

Wonderful. Thank you so much for your time today. So happy to have met you finally, and to have spent time with you. And I really look forward to seeing this content work, frankly, I’m very excited about, so very excited to see that when might we start seeing that work produced?

Mae Steigler 46:15 

Definitely, I would say earliest ended this quarter. So building the team around this now and it’s such a cool time to pull in our r&d team on this and our product team to get to share that knowledge. We’ve got such powerhouses on that side. So I’m very excited. But end of the quarter into q2.

Diana Fryc 46:32 

Great. Okay, well, thank you. And thank you to our listeners today. If you liked this episode, please share it with a friend. Otherwise, I want to thank you all and have a great rest of your day and we’ll catch you next time. The Gooder Podcast.

Outro 46:52 

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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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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