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 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. Thanks for joining us today. 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, highkey, and many other market leaders. We provide strategic brand and design services for leading brands in the food wellness, beverage and fitness industries. If your goal is to increase market, share, drive growth or disrupt the marketplace with new and innovative ideas, give us a call. Let’s talk. You can find out more information at www.retail-voodoo.com or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. So today, we get to meet Miss Kristin Schroeder, who is the Co-founder and CEO of Moonlight Beverage Company a woman-owned functional beverage company based in Colorado. Thank you. That’s so awesome. We have two new employees that work out of Colorado. And the company recently launched two patented first to market beverages that harness the power of nitric oxide and nitric oxide, known as the miracle molecule. And the products are Wingman Smart Energy and Love Life. We’re gonna learn about them a little bit more here this this the session I guess Kristin brings her chemical engineer interior design superpowers to the beverage industry and is about to change the category again. So before we learn about how you’re going to do that, Hello, Miss Kristin, how are you today? Hi,
Kristin Schroeder 2:26
thanks for having me today.
Diana Fryc 2:27
Yeah, where are you calling? Or where are you from? Where are you? Where are you working?
Kristin Schroeder 2:31
I am working in the mountains of Colorado near basalt, which is about halfway between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. And it is snowing today.
Kristin Schroeder 2:42
Diana Fryc 2:43
earlier about not the right time. A little
Kristin Schroeder 2:46
early, but it was snowing pretty hard a little earlier today and some of the mountain passes close. So that was a little bit of a surprise.
Diana Fryc 2:53
Oh, all right. Well, you’ve got the fireplace behind you there. So you’re I do enjoy your cozy. Well, hey, let’s talk about that. I want to talk about Moonlight Beverage. And I want to talk about the two products that you have underneath. So let’s start with Moonlight Beverage. Why does it exist? Why did you create it? Well, I’m
Kristin Schroeder 3:16
co founder the company. And the original idea started with my husband, his family had a four generation family dairy that grew into a very large CPG food and beverage packaging company. And they were not for sale. And then finally somebody made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. So the family members sold and he was looking for something to do. And he did a whole bunch of research came across the Nobel Prize winning studies of three scientists on the miracle molecule, nitric oxide. And he said everybody should know about this. And then with me having a science background, I looked at what he had found. And we agreed that everybody should know what nitric oxide is just to be as common in everybody’s lexicon as vitamin C. So it’s a critical molecule that helps everybody’s health and we wanted to come up with a way for people to have access to it and develop these two beverages. And they’re unique enough that we were awarded a US patent for the formulas.
Diana Fryc 4:18
Awesome. Now tell us really quickly the difference between the two products. They’re both
Kristin Schroeder 4:23
based on a blend of amino acids that help the body generate nitric oxide, but because the branding the messaging and the purpose of the products are so different, we tweaked the formulas and then set up different brands and different messaging in order to communicate the story of nitric oxide to the consumer. So Wingman Smart Energy is an adventure type performance beverage and it’s bringing functional ingredients and the energy drink into a new elevated concept. And I drink one every day. In the afternoon while I’m working and if I go skiing I Definitely need one are for hiking at altitude. And then with the Love Life brand that one is specifically for vasodilation. So we tweaked the ratio of the amino acids on that one. And when the initial research was done on the nitric oxide, it was about cardiovascular health, which fits in with our Wingman brand. So they soon learned that there were other benefits. And the discovery of nitric oxide led to Viagra and Cialis. So really, yeah, big market, and Viagra, and Cialis are targeted towards men. Our product works for everybody. But some women are kind of left out in the cold. We developed our brand for women.
Diana Fryc 5:42
Hmm, right, we were talking about that when we prep for this call and and you’re so generous, you sent some samples over and I had to explain to the folks in our office, I’m like, this is the beverage you that you drink at work, if you want to try this, take it home, let’s make sure that we keep you know, and they were just, of course most in our studio, we have we have one male person we have one male, like she’s my business partner, and the rest are all women. And so those products went home. They good. So that’s super fun. And, and these just launched this year correctly. Correct? Is that
Kristin Schroeder 6:24
right? Man? Um, we were ready to launch that one nationwide, January 2020. We were going to launch it in the gym and fitness segment. And we had a contract with a national distribution company. And then every gym in the country shut down. Right. So we weathered the storm in 2020 launched the Wingman and very select markets and kept the company going. And then we chose to wait until this year and we just launched Love Life now. So we decided that it was just too much to try to launch both brands.
Diana Fryc 6:56
Is there a certain market in the markets that you’ve launched women in? Are you seeing Pardot? Go ahead and finish? Oh, I was gonna say, where are they performing the way that you had hoped? And are there certain markets that are doing better than others.
Kristin Schroeder 7:14
Our home base is Colorado and the product does well here because not only does it help with energy, it helps with high altitude. So it’s really helpful in the ski communities. Like I said, I drink on it before I go skiing or hiking and altitude. So um, people that live at altitude understand the nitric oxide story. And people who are really into working out in gym and fitness understand nitric oxide, my husband I originally from Minneapolis. And when we first started working on this, we were talking about nitric oxide, we got a lot of blank stares. So as we’re launching the product, we’re being selective on the markets that we’re going into, and educating one market at the time, I’m working on getting market penetration of specific areas before we go nationwide. So it’s available nationwide, on Amazon, and on our website, and then it’s in brick and mortar and select markets.
Diana Fryc 8:06
Okay, now, you talked a little bit about nitric oxide, and kind of these, I’m going to call these extra benefits that there’s an energy component. There’s the I call it in the office, I said if this is for sexy time, you know, it was a
Kristin Schroeder 8:25
message your way putting it. So it is it’s a signaling molecule that helps with all of the systems in your body. And on the Wingman can. Here’s the Wingman, it says hurt body mind, which sounds a little woowoo. But when we’re talking about heart, we mean cardiovascular, we’re talking about body, we’re talking about muscles. And we’re talking about mine, Rex talking about brain function. And we do have some other ingredients in here that support that work synergistically with the amino acids. So we’ve got ribose in there, everybody wants their caffeine. And then we’ve got cognition, which is a nootropic for brain health, and then some B vitamins. So all of these ingredients work synergistically together to help your entire body help your brain, your heart, your muscles, for peak performance.
Diana Fryc 9:13
Mm hmm. And this, in my notes, I said you want to change the world with nitric oxide, you’re also saying that it should be as common and as as vitamin C, what’s the disconnect? Is it that it’s just new or has is there some sort of legacy with it or
Kristin Schroeder 9:32
it was discovered in the 1990s and there was a cardiovascular work and it’s you know, biochemistry and of science and a lot of times people’s eyes glaze over when you’re talking about science. What we have found is in the last couple years oddly with the pandemic, people have started to know more about nitric oxide because there was some studies done about people who had severe cases and were in hospitalized and they were giving them nitric oxide really into their lungs and the studies that it helped. And we knew from our research and the work we had done that it does help with the immune system. But we’re very respectful of people and want to be very careful about the claims we make. Then on September 7, there was a clinical study published site showing that l arginine, which is one of the amino acids in our product, could reduce the symptoms of COVID significantly. So now we’re feeling confident that we can make the immune claim. And another quirky thing that came up in our team meeting this week is when we were first doing SEO and doing Amazon keywords for people to find us online. Nobody was really looking for nitric oxide. And this last week, we found out the cost per click on nitric oxide has gone through the roof. Everybody’s looking for nitric oxide. So the word the message is finally getting out there. Which is is great. So we’re feeling like we’re poised at the right time with our products.
Diana Fryc 10:56
Interesting. Okay. Well, I want to step back before Moonlight Beverages for just a moment and kind of talk a little bit about your journey of how you got here. You know, you started out as a chemical engineer, then you made it is not really a pitstop, because you did interior design for a while before you got to new light beverage. Can you share the story of those where you’ve been and kind of how those experiences are helping you in this brand new endeavor, new ish endeavor.
Kristin Schroeder 11:32
So when I was in school, I was always interested in science and art, and problem solving, and creativity and just interested in a lot of different things. So it took me a long time to decide what to major in. And I really liked doing artistic things, but I also really like science. And I thought, well, the VINCI didn’t limit himself to either art or science, he did both, I can do both. But I had to pick a major and I decided that it was a lot easier to decorate my own house than it was to set up a chemical processing plant in my house. And I really liked science and women were really being encouraged to go into STEM only they didn’t call it stem back then. So I majored in chemical engineering. And I worked for a Fortune 100 company for a number of years. And the pivot point was one day, my husband needed to be in the dairy with a very high profile customer running a big production run. And I needed to get on an airplane and go do a manufacturing run. And we had a daughter throwing up and it’s like, okay, who doesn’t get to go to work today. And I was like, this is a problem. So from a work life balance standpoint, and then also it’s like, well, I was getting kind of tired of making flat, gray, clear black and white tape, one to play with color. So I quit my job. And I went back to school and I got an Associate Degree in interior design started my own business, which gave me the flexibility to beat the school bus, but to still have my own business. And something that was interesting there is that I was surprised at how often my engineering training helped me with my interior design, really, problem solving. And I’d be working on a fabric, it’s like, Oh, I’ve run this test to tell us how long this fabric is gonna last and working with people and the problem solving. And it always comes down to communication. So I did more of remodeling and structural type things versus picking out furniture. And I really enjoyed it. And then when Carl’s family business sold, and he was starting this other project, he’s like, Okay, this is going to be a big project. So we joined forces and dove into this. So he’s got the background and CPG. But we both have business experience. And we both have manufacturing experience. And then I also have a communication background with my engineering.
Diana Fryc 13:44
i It’s so interesting to me, because I think people outside of the people who are not in in design or marketing or even in, you know, engineering, whether it’s chemical or other engineering, they I think they oftentimes think, oh, design is very artistic, and it can be but most of the time, what we’re designing is solutions, you know, whether they’re you know, on packaging, we’re fixing a problem, how do we communicate this, this and this, and we’re doing something for stores this, this and this? And I think the processes are fairly similar. I’m not an engineer, but there’s engineers in my family, but the thinking through and the research and the development, the trial and error is very similar process. Am I wrong? In that assumption?
Kristin Schroeder 14:34
You are correct. Okay. It’s all about critical thinking and problem solving.
Diana Fryc 14:38
Mm hmm. And I just, it’s always interesting to me to see somebody go from something that’s considered very technical to something that’s creative, even though it has a technical application that Jenna who runs that manage or marketing and innovation over ecos has a similar Cassie was in chemical engineering, and then went to fashion school. And now she works in innovation for ecos similar type of thing where these backgrounds just kind of come to coalesce together and make design thinking more robust. If I was to kind of use the use those words to kind of describe that. I find it refreshing that you’re following your passions, though, because when you went into interior design, there was a genuine interest there. It wasn’t like it showed up and you said, Sure, I’ll do it. But that was that was a decision, right?
Kristin Schroeder 15:33
Yeah, I had always been interested in that. And I did have a difficult time trying to decide what to major in because I like so many different things. Oh,
Diana Fryc 15:40
I Yes, I can tell because now you’re in CPG. And that is its own beast altogether. Yeah, the CPG part
Kristin Schroeder 15:49
came from take your wife to work day. So this was Carl’s idea. Is the one that filed the patent, I’m co inventor on three patents from my technical work as an engineer. And then when he came up with this idea, I said, this one is unique enough, we’re going to need to go through the path, the patent process on this and protect the idea and he kept wanting help and wanting help. And it’s finally it’s like, Alright, we’re done with take your wife to work day. We’re just going to partner on this.
Diana Fryc 16:15
Yeah. And do you guys have your own swim lanes, so to speak, when running the beverage? Or is there heavy overlap.
Kristin Schroeder 16:22
Um, there’s some overlap, but we do try to carve it out. And what I say is divide and conquer. So we’re both very different personalities with our Myers Briggs, the only thing we have in common was we’re both extroverts. So we’re both comfortable telling the other one, I wouldn’t do it that way. So we divide things up, we both have manufacturing experience, but Carl’s handling that part, and I’m working more on the creative and the marketing pieces, and then doing the, the strategic part and some of the executive roles. So yeah, we do divide and conquer, because there’s a lot to do in a small startup. And then we’ve roped both of our daughters into helping us. Our one daughter is a graphic designer and an artist, and she’s done our packaging and our branding. And then her other daughter has a double major in supply chain and marketing. So even though she has a full time job, she’s participating in the business to
Diana Fryc 17:17
really, it was it, can you describe kind of those? I’m just imagining being either incredibly bumpy is a very, you know, in the very beginning, or maybe even now, because I work with my husband as well. And there are times when the swimlanes overlap quite heavily. And we have distinct differences. We’re on Myers Briggs, we’re almost on opposite ends of the spectrums in every way, shape, or form. But in places, I’m just curiously, was it a smooth transition? Or you know, what, how did that go?
Kristin Schroeder 17:54
Most days, it goes pretty well. I got a little interesting when everybody was on lockdown, because both of our daughters moved in with us. And all four of us were doing zoom calls out of house. Oh, well, that was a lot of overlap. Now they’re both off doing their own thing. So you know, with any kind of business relationship or personal relationship, there are some days that things are smoother than others, but we always come to an agreement and get to the next step.
Diana Fryc 18:18
And as you’re moving forward now your your husband, of course is in CPG and he’s in dairy so probably knows quite a bit on beverage. Do you rely on him quite heavily or where are you getting your mentorship? Where are you Where are you getting your? Where are you being guided in regards to
Kristin Schroeder 18:38
just a really strong advisory board? We’ve got three individuals who have extensive CPG experience we’ve got Alan Murray, who was president North America tetrapack and a long relationship with him from the dairy business and then Don Kremen who was with Hormel, he ran their one of their divisions, and then Mike pick it whose family invented muscle milk. So we’ve got some pretty high powered advisors guiding us and then we have a strong team
Diana Fryc 19:08
working with us. Nice. Well, and Muscle Milk muscle milk was a category disruptors. So that’s probably really fantastic for you to have on for guidance there.
Kristin Schroeder 19:20
Yeah, Alan also worked at next foods and good belly.
Diana Fryc 19:24
Okay. Well, there you go. Yeah. And I don’t know if this is, you know, because your company is still still in its infancy, you know, these first couple of years. But do you have any of those moments? Where did you have a moment where you knew that you were onto something? Was there something that happened? That you’re like, Yeah, this is the right thing. Was it something that somebody said or did you just instinctively know,
Kristin Schroeder 19:52
once we saw the research and how important nitric oxide was and how much it could benefit people were like, Okay, we think there’s something here And then we did the first iterations of the beverage in our kitchen, mixing up the powdered Amenas. It really is and whatever, and then tasting it, and then I’m using a pulse oximeter to see did it make a difference, and it doesn’t make a difference actually. With activities, you know, I’d drink wine and then go mow the lawn. And like when I was a little easier, and then curl, drink it before we play hockey, it’s like, hockey was a little better today. It’s like, Well, I think I’m gonna drink too. And it’s like, okay, so from personal experience, you know, we were our own guinea pigs. And it’s like, okay, we can feel a difference. And then we gave it to friends and family and had other people try it and did some beta testing. And people are like, you know, I like this. And then with the the Love Life, that one is really personal. So when we ask for feedback on that, all I want to know is did you like the taste? Did it improve your evening? Would you buy it again? Would you recommend it to a friend? I don’t want to know the details.
Diana Fryc 20:54
Yeah, of course. And you, this is just brand fresh in the marketplace in strictly DTC play right now.
Kristin Schroeder 21:05
Right now, it’s available on Amazon and on our website, and we’re pitching retailers. But as you know, there’s a cycle and you’d have to get into the line readers and whatever. So we’re anticipating that this one is going to hit the brick and mortar about Valentine’s Day, on your order 2022.
Kristin Schroeder 21:22
it’s available online. Right now we’re giving out samples and having people try it out. And we’re getting some nice orders in on Amazon, through our website, but it’ll take a little while to get it on shelf.
Diana Fryc 21:35
Of course. In that experimentation phase, were there any? This is usually a question I asked. More kind of like it from your entire experience, did you have any moments that you care to share that kind of has helped you through this development phase?
Kristin Schroeder 22:00
Well, it was a surprise, the day that we mixed the Amenas in with a fruit juice, and it turned from pink to purple. It’s like okay, so now we’re going to be really careful on what things we mix together. So the amino acids are safe. There’s something that your body uses, naturally. And we were very careful not to get too cute with the ingredient list and start mixing all kinds of things and stay really clean. So there’s no artificial sweeteners. There’s no artificial flavors, no artificial colors. We wanted to be in the green space with things that are authentic and genuinely healthy for you. As far as surprises. Carl and I both have so much product development and experience that we didn’t get surprised too much. Probably the weirdest thing was the fact that there was a cam shortage. There’s like, well, can there not be aluminum cans? So it was the pre pandemic, the beginnings of some supply chain issues. And we both have so many decades of experience in manufacturing is like, Well, what do you mean, there’s no aluminum cans, but he has no runtime. So that was a little bit interesting. And pearls experienced in the dairy and his vast network of understanding beverage packaging and all of the contacts he had came in really handy.
Diana Fryc 23:13
I bet because I if I remember correctly, we get a lot of aluminum from Canada and China, but I don’t know that we do a lot of the US sat right there’s a couple of
Kristin Schroeder 23:26
big players you know, there are some coming out of Europe and Balkan as a big supplier. So Right. Part of it was deciding what size can and where you got to run with and getting your supply chain. And yeah, making sure that you’ve got solid relationships has been really important.
Diana Fryc 23:45
Interesting. And when you think that, you know, what, what’s Where’s, where’s the pride coming in? Like usually I asked, What’s your proudest moment so far that you know at this time, and it could be with Moonlight Beverages it could be with at any point in your career. Let’s say one of the big things
Kristin Schroeder 24:07
was the day the patent was allowed, because getting a patent on a beverage is not a trivial meal. And we feel really good about the ingredients that we’ve got in the product. And it’s nice to know that it’s been vetted so you don’t get a beverage patent without showing and you know, functional beverage without showing that there’s efficacy and that the last is real. So that was a big celebration day is the the day we got the news that the patent had been allowed.
Diana Fryc 24:36
Oh, I’m sure. Kristin, I am really enjoying this conversation. We’re kind of coming up against the last few questions I I have to ask everybody when we wrap up the show. First of all, the first one is I love it when my guests share some sort of interesting fact about their theater the industry or the product Just I call it your happy hour. Happy, happy hours. I don’t know, happy hour factoids that you share with your girlfriends when you’re having a drink? Do you have anything about either about nitric oxide and you shared some interesting facts already. But I wonder if there’s something that people would be surprised to know about it.
Kristin Schroeder 25:20
We mentioned happy hour and the Love Life actually makes a great Happy Hour mixer. is really good for happy hour.
Diana Fryc 25:28
Are you? Are you speaking from experience?
Kristin Schroeder 25:31
Yes, that is mixes quite well with your favorite spirits.
Diana Fryc 25:35
Really? Okay, good. Should I just okay, I’m gonna have to try that. Okay. Thank you for that. Okay.
Kristin Schroeder 25:43
The fun things we did was to try it with different spirits and come up with some recipes. And then we did some mixology and came up with some unusual recipes, like adding young sprigs of rosemary and sure, coming up with names for him. So the recipe development was kind of a fun thing.
Diana Fryc 26:02
Yeah. I and I’m sure that, you know, cocktails, or mocktails. Either way, you could probably have a lot of fun with it. Yeah. So it’s a fun product to work on.
Kristin Schroeder 26:13
And then there are times where we’re talking about the product. We’ve got everybody on the Zoom call, and it’s all the ladies on the call and one of them will say, Carl, cover your ears. We’re gonna talk girl talk now.
Diana Fryc 26:23
He’s probably heard it all by now.
Kristin Schroeder 26:25
I think so. Yeah.
Diana Fryc 26:29
Um, are there any the next question? I like to ask everyone? Is there any leaders out any other women leaders that you kind of would like to elevate simply admire or rising stars for the work that they’re doing right now. And it could be in category or not.
Kristin Schroeder 26:46
So somebody that we’re very fortunate to have as an advisor on our team is Cherie Jackson, and I know you interviewed her recently. So she is the chief everything officer at Frooze Balls. Yeah. And she’s fabulous. We love her marketing savvy. She’s come up with some really fun taglines for his like warning goals get crushed with Wingman. And we are really fortunate to have access to her wisdom and her humor and for creativity, so we really like working with her. And then we’re also very blessed to be working with Heather Collins at HC marketing. She’s got a lot of experience in CPG. So I have a lot of business experience, but not so much CPG experience and we really appreciate her knowledge in the natural food space. And then, about a month ago, something popped up that really surprised me. So Maria Shriver, the Kennedy family super famous, recently stepped into CPG. Right? I thought, Wait, I want to learn about this. So what I thought was interesting about it is that she’s a high profile person, and she decided to roll up her sleeves and go into CPG. And I’m thinking why? Well, then she’s working with her son, right? We’re working with our family. And then the really interesting thing about their snack bar as a defender called Marsh is that they’re for brain health. Yes. And a lot of people are talking about, you know, your muscles and endurance, and due to personal family experience, they’re passionate about brain health. And it’s like, I like that. So we got cognizant, and our Wingman, which is a nootropic, which helps your brain and it’s like, Okay, I think this is one of the next waves is that there’s going to be more emphasis on whole body health, including your brain and heart body mind, and I’m really interested to see what they’re able to do with that. So we’re gonna be tracking that brand.
Diana Fryc 28:40
Mm hmm. You might want to check out somebody that I interviewed. I don’t know that her episode has gone live yet. Erika Lepczyk her with a brand called memory. And it’s a it’s a supplement brand that she’s created specifically for brain health but to offset Alzheimers because her research has shown that most of Alzheimers conditions the conditions of Alzheimer’s comes actually from lack of certain nutrients and nutrition and that most cases of Alzheimer’s could have been avoided. But once you start degenerating, there’s you cannot recover from it per se or at least not yet. But you can actually stop it from happening because it is not something that is put as it when like when it runs in your family. It’s not something that runs in your family here. It literally is based off of brain health. So you might want to check her out that’s and I will and any m o r e so check her out. She’s also working in that space. Thank you so much for that. What brands or trends are you? Do you have your eye on? We just I guess we just talked about brain health is that kind of what is interesting you right now outside of what you’re doing?
Kristin Schroeder 30:01
Well, we’re really looking at the functional ingredients. And you know, as we’re getting older, it’s like, how do you age gracefully? How do you stay active? So the ingredients that we put into our products are to not necessarily turn back the clock, but in order to be healthy and fit and active and still having
Diana Fryc 30:24
fun. So we’re
Kristin Schroeder 30:28
looking at the functional food space and then tracking natural ingredients and to see who can we partner with versus who is the competition and oh, well, how did you do that? Right? Oh, you stubbed your toe. We don’t want to do that. Right. Right. We’re tracking the whole industry.
Diana Fryc 30:45
Nice. Nice. Well, we have been talking when we are talking to right now Kristin Schroeder, Co-founder and CEO of Moonlight Beverage makers of Wingman and Love Life. Kristin, if people wanted to, where can they? Where can they find out more about what you are doing what you guys are up to?
Kristin Schroeder 31:06
Each one of the products has its own website. This one is drinklovelife.com. This one is wingmansmartenergy.com. And they can both be found on for sale on our websites and on Amazon. And then this one is available in select markets in brick and mortar.
Diana Fryc 31:21
Nice. Nice. Well, Kristin, thank you so much for your time today. And thanks for all that you do. I very excited to see what you tackle next. And happy to be connected. Thank you for the samples. And like I said earlier, I want to warn the team. I’ve already warned the team about Love Life to take it home. It’s just kind of you know, say that again for our audience listening today. And thank you, everybody for joining us today. Have a great rest of your day and we’ll catch you next time.
Kristin Schroeder 31:54
Thanks for having me. I enjoyed her conversation
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