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The Changing World of Allergens Featuring Catherine Jaxon, Mission MightyMe

Co-founder and Co-CEO of Mission MightyMe

In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, host Diana Fryc is joined by Catherine Jaxon, the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Mission MightyMe, to discuss ways parents can prevent food allergies in their children. Catherine explains the importance of introducing microdoses of the allergen foods into babies’ diets early, the types of allergen foods we have, and the products Mission MightyMe creates to help prevent food allergies.

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Key Takeaways

    • Catherine Jaxon talks about Mission MightyMe and why it exists

    • Catherine explains the importance of introducing microdoses of the allergen foods into babies’ diets early

    • The types of allergen foods

    • What products does Mission MightyMe produce and how are they used to prevent food allergies?

    • Catherine talks about competition in the industry

    • What kind of initiatives does Mission MightyMe support?

    • Catherine explains their path in the right direction and the feedback from customers

    • What triggered Dr. Gideon Lack to do the LEAP study

    • Who was Catherine’s mentor and what other women leaders does she admire?

    • What’s next for Catherine and Mission MightyMe?

    • The brands and trends Catherine has her eyes on

Quotes

Chapters

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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 crushed 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. This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. We are a brand development firm. Our clients include Starbucks, Kind, Rei, PepsiCo, Heike, and many other market leaders, and larket 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 and let’s talk. You can find out more at retail-voodoo.com. Okay, everybody today I get to introduce you to Catherine Jaxon, who is a food allergy parent really important hang on to that and a co-founder of Mission MightyMe a company on a mission to end the Food Allergy epidemic by making it easy for parents to include peanuts and other common food allergens in their baby’s diets early. And is now recommended to help prevent food allergies. Catherine and her husband JJ started the company with a world-renowned pediatric allergist Dr. Gideon Lack. Did I get that right Catherine. Excellent. Dr. Lack’s groundbreaking research changed pediatric feeding recommendations around the globe to help avoid allergens in infancy by introducing them early and often. Because of their daughter’s experience with food allergies, the Jaxons decided to partner with Dr. Lack to develop a line of foods to help other families prevent them. Prior to founding a MightyMe, Catherine was an award-winning journalist with CNN Anderson Cooper 360 and CNN presents documentaries. Okay, so that’s a little bit more about her very excited to talk to her but I really want to give a quick shout-out to miss Jess Windell founder of Maven Consulting Group, a Strategic Communications and Public Relations consultancy working with consumer brands. She introduced the two of us, me and Catherine and had her on the podcast last year we talked about PR trends and strategies great episode, you might want to find that, but if you want to see about how Maven Consulting can help you or your brand, check them out at mavenconsultingco.com. Okay, Catherine, how are you today?

Catherine Jaxon 3:36 

I am great. Thank you so much for having me on Diana, and want to echo your shout-out to Jess because she’s just wonderful. I’m so glad she connected us.

Diana Fryc 3:47 

Yes, she’s good people and an incredibly hard worker.

Catherine Jaxon 3:52

She is fantastic. She’s the anti, we call her the anti-PR firm, which is exactly what you want.

Diana Fryc 4:01

Yes, yes. Oh my goodness. Okay. Where are you located? Where are you recording from? And is that in the same location as your business?

Catherine Jaxon 4:12

Yes. So we live in Atlanta, Georgia. And it is a beautiful spring day here in Atlanta. I always say there’s no prettier place on the earth than Atlanta in the spring. If you can just take the fallen out of the picture.

Diana Fryc 4:27 

Yeah, I have a friend, dear friend from Atlanta. She calls it going back which she lives here in Seattle. When she goes home, she says I’m going back to Hotlanta.

Catherine Jaxon 4:36 

Hotlanta the ATL.

Diana Fryc 4:41 

Oh my goodness. Well, when I learned about your product, I was just thrilled because there’s so many people in my world that have had children suffering from food allergies, and so I am really excited if you could just quickly tell us about Mission MightyMe. Why does it exist? What is it and why does it exist?

Catherine Jaxon 5:06 

Sure. Well, as you alluded to food allergies are just have become this huge public health problem. I mean, one in 13 children today have a food allergy. And our oldest daughter is one of them. So we actually have children on, we had children on both sides of the feeding guidelines. So the feeding guidelines completely changed between our first child and our third child. So when our oldest was born, the common medical guidance was to avoid giving babies peanuts, tree nuts, other common food allergens in infancy. Which, of course, we followed the new guidelines as new parents. And unfortunately, she went on to develop an allergy to most tree nuts. And since then we sort of have become a food allergy family and learned all we could about food allergies, made sure we had an EpiPen and every diaper bag when she was younger. Now we made sure she has them in all of her bags. Now that she’s 12 years old and out and about on her own a little bit more. But one of the things that we learned is that once those foods were removed from infant diets, which started in the year 2000, the rate of food allergies increased by more than 50% in children. And the rate of nut allergies tripled. So massive increase in food allergies once we as a country sort of changed our feeding practices. Now fast forward to 2015, our third child was born. And it was the same year that this groundbreaking research came out showing that actually introducing peanut foods early in the first year of life, and then keeping them in the diet consistently until age five, dramatically reduced the risk of peanut allergy by up to 86%. So it was this incredibly groundbreaking study, it was called the learning early about peanut allergy study or LEAP. And I read about I’m a former journalist and a researcher, I read about this study and said to my husband, JJ, I said, we have got to do this for James, to help avoid another food allergy in our family. Of course, that discovery from the late study has gone on to change feeding guidelines around the globe, reversed the old avoidance guidelines. So now the guidelines and many countries say introduce all common food allergens, early when a baby is ready for solid foods. But we tried this with James and found it really difficult because nuts and nut butters are a choking hazard. And the entire baby food industry is allergen-free, and has been for two decades. So we just saw a real need for products that would make it easy for families to follow these new prevention guidelines and just help parents get proactive about food allergy prevention. So we reached out to Dr. Gideon Lack who led the LEAP study. And he was also frustrated because the research was not being implemented quickly enough. And he really felt the mission of if we can get these foods and babies diets, we can potentially prevent food allergies and reduce the burden of food allergies on our society. But it’s hard to do that without consumer products that normalize it and make it easy. So we partnered with Dr. Lack, and we also partnered with another co-founder of ours, Todd Slotkin, who is a food allergy dad, and was also one of the original co-founders of fair, the largest food allergy nonprofit. So the four of us teamed up and decided we’re going to launch our own line of foods because there wasn’t anything out there, like we wanted as parents and as a doctor. And that’s how Mission MightyMe came about.

Diana Fryc 9:28 

Well, I’m good for going down a rabbit hole. So let me go down there real quick. I have a couple of questions, just simply because I’m so interested. You were talking about kind of like is the increase in rate of 50% increase in the number of children that have food allergies, that I kept that correctly? Yeah. So when we’re talking about numbers here, just because 50% sounds really, really huge. Do we have like a set of numbers? Did we go from like 1 million kids to 1.5 million kids? Or do you have a sense on what those numbers are? I’m just curious.

Catherine Jaxon 10:09 

Yeah. I mean, currently, there are 5.6 million children with food allergies, in the United States, and that has just been a steady, dramatic increase over the last two decades. And there, of course, could be other factors at play. There are lots of theories as to why but one of the major changes in feeding practices that we can point to culturally, is that we took those foods out of baby’s diet in the year 2000, and never put them back in. And so what the LEAP study showed us is that there is actually this magic window for prevention of peanut allergy, specifically, where if you can get peanut foods and a baby-safe form, of course, into a baby’s diet, and you can even get them in the diet consistently. That’s very important. It’s not like test it and then stop, but if you can get the peanut foods in the diet consistently, you can dramatically reduce the risk that that baby will develop a food allergy, but it’s a window. Two-thirds of peanut allergies develop before age one. So getting these foods into the diet in the first year of life, and for high-risk babies even earlier, the guidelines recommend four to six months for high-risk babies, it’s so important. And while the most definitive research has been done around peanut, the guidelines for other allergenic foods have changed as well, just because it was such a definitive clinical trial that Dr. Lack led around peanut introduction. And so the thinking is that it very well may apply to all other foods. And it certainly can’t hurt to introduce them early in hopes of preventing food allergies to those foods as well.

Diana Fryc 12:20 

I’m so fascinated about why nuts? Why not bananas, or eggplants or corn, you know what I mean? It’s like, I bet I could probably go talk with an epidemiologist or a scientist somewhere and they would break down the molecular structure and goes, blah, blah, blah. But it’s just so fascinating to me that it’s like nuts.

Catherine Jaxon 12:46

Yes, I agree. And Dr. Lack would be like, the best person to explain that in very scientific terms to you, but basically, an allergy to any food is our body, thinking it is something bad, a foreign invader, something attacked. And so our body mounts an immune response to that food, and it’s an overly aggressive immune response. And, again, Dr. Lack could describe this much more eloquently than I could but not have certain proteins that tend to trigger that type of reaction more often then other foods. Now, of course, there are other top there’s the top nine. And peanuts and tree nuts happen to be one of them. But there’s also there’s dairy and egg and soy and fish and crustacean and one out. But what’s interesting about all of these foods, so we took them out of the diet of children for such a long time for a babies, and these foods are often some of the most nutrient-dense foods to eat. They’re incredibly healthy. And they’re the types of foods that you want in a developing body and a developing brain. That kind of is you want in that diet. You want to get eggs, and wheat and nuts and tree nuts, and yes, developing bodies, all of it.

Diana Fryc 14:26

Yeah. I think that’s probably like, that’s a whole other topic, like, how did we, as a global culture start to change the diets? I’m sure it was like, well, easier for the kids like, that’s a rabbit hole that’s on a different mountain.

Catherine Jaxon 14:51 

We’ve definitely had a culture of avoidance, fear of foods, fear of germs, fear of everything. I do think it’s kind of come back to roost us.

Diana Fryc 15:07 

So let’s go back here. And I want to talk about this idea that for those families that are living with this, they’re already in, they’re already aware of the changes in diet protocols. And hopefully some of them will start hearing about your product now, if they haven’t already. But for the rest of us who don’t really have that element in their family life on a regular basis, we still live in a world where like peanut allergies kill people all the time, which they do. But we also still live in a world where you cannot recover, you can’t, you will always have it. And what you are saying is actually we can actually outgrow food allergies, by way of this understanding of I’m going to call it micro-dosing, because I think a lot of people understand that term. And I think that’s effectively what it is, but maybe can you talk a little bit about that, like, we can? Is it just with nuts? Are we trying this with other kinds of allergens at the same time?

Catherine Jaxon 16:18 

Yeah. Well, just one point to clarify. Once a child or anybody has developed a food allergy to any food, they have to avoid it completely. So that the window has closed at that home. Now, if they’re working with an allergist, there are oral immunotherapy desensitization kind of things that they can do, but it is not a cure. Currently, unfortunately, there is no cure. I’m so hopeful for our oldest daughter and the millions of other kids with food allergies, that there will be a cure. But until there’s a cure, really our best defense against food allergies is preventing them from happening in the first place. I love the Benjamin Franklin quote, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure that you don’t have to deal with it in the first place. So that’s why it’s so important to start early, before allergies have a chance to take hold. Really that immune window, I mean, for, as I mentioned, for peanut allergies, two-thirds of peanut allergies develop in the first year of life. So that window is like, it is very hard. And most dieticians, nutritionists will say like, by age two, that immune profile is sort of set. So as you want to try to get these foods in as a baby, the earlier the better. I will say the current guidelines do recommend that high-risk babies concerned that that means severe eczema or an existing food allergy basically are the two like highest risk factors for a child developing a food allergy, that those babies see a doctor first and possibly do allergy testing before introducing. But for the rest of the population, the guidance is just to go ahead and get it in to the diet as your baby starts other solid foods. And the reason is, because that window does start to close the older they get. Now, I will say you mentioned just kind of like the fear of a reaction, which is very real. For us, especially having like an older daughter, who we’ve seen have a reaction, now we’re trying to suddenly do this with our sweet little baby, our six month old baby, it can be very nerve-wracking for parents. But a few things that gave me confidence to do it, and that we really tried to educate in our messaging, and all of our materials. And the way we talked to parents is that the safest time to introduce is actually under age one. There a severe reaction under the age of one is incredibly rare. As babies get older, they already have a reaction can increase the severity of a potential reaction, but you’d much rather find out that your child was allergic to something at six months, then you would at age three like we did, when they’re having just a terrifying, violent, reaction to food.

Diana Fryc 19:42 

Well, can you talk about this component then from a parent’s perspective. And then also, from a brand perspective, you live in a household that many people do, in which case you already have people in the household that have an existing allergy. and you’re trying to ensure that this youngest one does not live with the same condition. You are bringing that allergen into your home? How do you ensure or is the dose of the MightyMe small enough that should your older child come in contact with it, they’ll be okay? Like, can you talk about that? Because I’m sure that happens in a lot of households?

Catherine Jaxon 20:25

It does. And we get that question a lot from customers. It very much depends on your allergic child-specific situation. We’ve got, some children just really cannot be around it. Don’t feel comfortable around. Little children, especially, you have to just make sure because they don’t know any better. You have to make sure it’s out of their reach. But we actually have a mother, well, first, I don’t know if I got into kind of what we developed yet. But so the two products we currently have, because it’s part of why we developed in the way we did, your question, is a quick dissolve peanut stuff that contains more than 50% peanuts, but it’s in a little puff form, which is the puff that are in every diaper bag. They’re sort of like babies just ubiquitous. Babies love puff. So it’s quick dissolve to avoid the choking hazard of nuts or nut butters, because very important, you cannot give a baby nuts or nut butters. So they dissolve quickly, but they do contain enough peanut protein. And then the next product that we launched is a also a puff that contains peanuts, and four different tree nuts. So we have hazelnut almond, cashew, walnut and peanut. And this little quick dissolve puff, is the only baby-friendly puff on the market that contains peanuts and multiple tree nuts. So it’s also just an easy way to get those nuts into baby’s diet without the choking hazard risk, but they also we develop them in a way that they are not messy. They’re contained. So in our house, for instance, our youngest two can eat them, they’re not leaving residue all over the counter. Our oldest daughter is old enough to know not to reach her hand in the tree nut bag. She can have the peanut bag because her allergies to tree nuts. So we purposely developed them in a way that they weren’t sticky and messy, like peanut butter, which gets everywhere. And it’s just very hard to clean.

Diana Fryc 22:50

Or like Cheetos were.

Catherine Jaxon 22:52 

Yeah, all over the place. And also that they could be eaten on the go out of the house. So, some families will feed them to their children in the park, clean their hands and back to the house they go. We have a grandmother who her daughter is severely allergic to peanut, the grandmother comes over to the house feeds the baby, the peanut puffs in the garage and a highchair, wipes the baby down, and brings the baby back to the mom. Food Allergy parents will go to all lengths. But importantly, like we wanted to create these for families who maybe have an older child with a food allergy or trying to prevent their youngest for developing one. But really for all families because we know from the research, that it’s important to get these foods into all kids diets, whether they’re high risk or not high risk. The latest USDA dietary guidelines say, get these foods into all diets when babies are starting solids regardless of risk factors because it’s so important to establish some tolerance to these foods that tend to be the bigger allergens.

Diana Fryc 24:16 

I’m just fascinated because I’m thinking of your product. And from a business standpoint, I’m thinking your product is really fantastic because from a competitive standpoint, the Gerber’s of the world can’t do this because they’d be bringing allergens into their family, into the brand family, which can create confusion. And so not only have you come up with this novel product, but there’s not a lot of competition in there because there can’t be from a safety standpoint, for brands. I’m just thinking of how amazing like you’re solving a problem but you’re also creating a product in a category that can’t really have a lot of competition from established brands. It’s so brilliant. And I know it wasn’t an intentional per se, but like, wow.

Catherine Jaxon 25:14

Yeah, well, thank you. That’s very kind. We actually, it’s funny because we always say that for the first two years that we were trying to do this, and I kept saying there needs to be products out there that makes it easy. My husband kept saying, well, no Gerber needs to do that. Not us. He was in finance. I was in journalist for years. So we changed careers for this, but we believed in it so much. And for the longest time, nobody was. Now it’s interesting you mentioned Gerber, because they very recently did come out with a peanut puff. But one of the things that we had said when we were doing this is, the only a food allergy parent is going to know exactly what they want, and how to do this. So two of the three skews, at least the last time I looked, two of the three skews had zero grams protein. Well, one of the things that we learned from the LEAP study is that the amount of peanut protein is super important. So babies in the LEAP study ate an average of six grams of peanut protein per week, that’s actually kind of a significant amount of peanut protein. That is the equivalent of about six teaspoons of peanut butter. So we developed our pouches. So one peanut puff pouch would deliver six grams, peanut protein a week. So you didn’t think about am I getting enough? Now for most babies, you know, the guidance is just like, get it in the diet. And decent quantities. You’re not necessarily having to dose it. And we don’t want, we wanted to make this an enjoyable, fun snack that you think about dosing, right? But for high-risk babies, the guidelines do say try to reach a threshold of six grams peanut protein per week. So that’s why we made sure that one pouch would deliver it so you didn’t have to, like, think about too much. Make it like an easy, enjoyable snack that the whole family can enjoy as long as you don’t have anyone with food allergy.

Diana Fryc 27:32

Right. And the guidelines, as the science evolves, who knows? The puffs may extend into something more for those. Like, there was a while where we didn’t touch peanuts forever. And now, that’s not the case anymore. So who knows, in 10 years, the science might show us a different way to tackle food allergies, for those that are already sick, that have already established allergies. I just from a business standpoint. I mean, personally, you’re taking care of a lot of humans, and then to be able to turn that into a business, that is so novel, for me, fascinating. And I love it. Love it.

Catherine Jaxon 28:20

Thank you. And there is so much exciting stuff happening with desensitization. And as you were talking about oral immunotherapy. And we’re in conversations, a big part of our mission, and a big part of our company is giving back. So we give back products to food-insecure families, and they have access to food allergy prevention, we donate to food allergy prevention research. We’re donating product to a big food allergy Prevention Study. We’re donating product at cost to that study. And we’ve also been approached about giving our product for some of these trials where they are using products to desensitize already allergic children. But it’s just so important that that only happens with an allergist, under the supervision of an allergist. But anything that we can do to help further that research, and to help families who need access to products that make food allergy prevention possible, then that’s what we want to support.

Diana Fryc 29:31 

Yeah. And we talked a little bit about Emily Brown and the work that she did with the Food Equality Initiative, for those of you that don’t know that amazing work that she’s done to make sure that those people who don’t have access from a financial standpoint, to the foods, she basically created pantries within pantries for families. have food allergies. And she started this in Kansas, and has just made such a substantial impact. And I know you and Emily, at one point connected and have had conversations about this as well.

Catherine Jaxon 30:16 

Yes, Emily Brown is just an amazing human being. And when we first heard her story, and then I reached out to a mutual contact and said, you have to put us in touch with her, because she’s just doing such incredible work. And of course, she’s supporting children, she’s supporting families who have food allergies. But I just loved her and her story so much. So we’ve donated to the Food Equality Initiative, we’ve donated to the 7% Fund, which she started to help remove the racial disparities in care for food allergy families. We actually gave a lot of product to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas and her honor because we were just so inspired by her work. So we are very focused on supporting any research or causes that focus on food allergy prevention, but as a food allergy family, we want to support the Food Allergy community as well. And she’s just one of the best spokespeople for that community.

Diana Fryc 31:29 

Yeah. Tell me a little bit how you guys started this project? And you’re still kind of new, right? You’re not a 10-year-old company. But I’m curious, when did you and JJ look at each other and go, we’ve got a thing here. This is real, this is going to happen?

Catherine Jaxon 31:47 

Yeah, there have been several of those points. I think when we pitched the idea to Dr. Lack, and he not only said yes, I’ll help you develop your products, but I want to co-found the company with you, a big moment for us. That was 2019. And then, we launched our first product the peanut puffs, in March of 2020. And it was the week that the world literally shut down because of the pandemic. So not the timing that we had planned on. But the response has still been pretty amazing. We got 20 25% month-over-month growth, even through a pandemic. And then we launched our second product just this past January of 2022. And the response to that product was incredible. I mean, that kind of bumped us to a whole other level in terms of sales. And it’s just was so exciting to see, we thought that there was a real need for this. And we thought that other families would appreciate it and want it just like we did, but actually seeing that take place, seeing the proof of concept in the marketplace, and hearing from those families has been so amazing. I mean, one of my favorite things, and JJ, my husband and co-founder, one of his favorite things to do is just to read and respond to customer emails. I mean, people are so grateful and so positive. And we’ve been really lucky so far, our customer emails have just been incredibly like grateful and positive and supportive. And I do feel like we’ve tapped into a community that is excited about the product and excited that there is a solution to a big pain point that they were feeling, which is the pain point that we were feeling when we decided to start this.

Diana Fryc 34:16 

I would think, that it feels good to not only solve a problem for yourself, but then to find out that you’ve helped so many others, it probably even makes you feel like less alone. I know that when you’re in the throes of these things, it can be really easy to kind of go, I’m the only one dealing with this. I need some help and by building this community, I think you’d kind of create this de facto we’ve got this.

Catherine Jaxon 34:54

Yeah, absolutely. There are so many other parents out there who are going through the exact same thing that we went through, and trying to figure out how to nourish their children to the best that they can and avoid outcomes like a food allergy. And it’s been wonderful to hear from them and connect with them. And also just know that like, these products are really helping families and preventing food allergies. And that is the goal. I mean, we know that with mass adoption of early peanut introduction, like mass adoption across the country, we could prevent over 100,000 peanut allergies every year. That’s a million kids in a decade that wouldn’t have to live with a peanut allergy, and potentially other food allergies, as well. Just knowing that has that potential. And there are countries where they’re great case studies, because you see that play out. Israel is a perfect example. Israel most babies do start peanut foods and the first year of life, and Israel has a very low rate of peanut allergy, which was actually what gave our co-founder Dr. Lack The idea for the LEAP study. I’ll tell you just a quick nugget of this because it’s fascinating, but he was in Israel. This was around 2000 around 20 years ago, like we were just starting to see peanut allergies pick up in the US. He was in Israel giving a lecture to a group of Israeli allergist and asked how many of them have peanut allergies in their practice, and hardly any of them raised their hand. So stunned by that, that he sort of delve deeper and decided to find out, what the difference, found out that they didn’t have these avoidance guidelines in place that in Israel, babies were eating peanut foods. It was common cultural practice for babies to eat peanut foods, and the first year of life. And he conducted an observational study that found that children in the UK have similar genetic ancestry. Jewish children in the UK had 10 times higher rate of peanut allergies than their genetic counterparts in Israel. So that was really the basis for the LEAP study, because his hypothesis was that the reason for the lower food allergy rates and lower peanut allergy rates and Israel is that these kids were eating it too early. And then sure enough, the LEAP study proved that to be the case. But everybody thought that was crazy. It was so against the grain of common thinking at the time. Thankfully, he really believed in it and stuck with it and put the rigor behind it in a clinical trial that proved it.

Diana Fryc 38:09 

Wow, that’s so cool. I mean, we’re staring at it the whole time as a society. And it took one person to go, oh, so a little outlier data over here that suddenly turned into a possible solution. So great.

Catherine Jaxon 38:32

It’s amazing. And yes. I mean, it took 20 years to find the answer, but he did not give up. And he will say to this day, I mean, he had this hunch, but of course, everyone had to follow the recommendations at the time to tell patients and tell children not to include these foods in their diets. And maybe he’ll say to this day that he has serious remorse and regret over telling families to do the exact opposite thing that we now know they should have done. But nobody knew any better. And he thankfully stuck with it until we had enough data, like real data that could change the recommendations officially.

Diana Fryc 39:17 

Yeah. Wow. Fantastic. Just so fascinating. I could probably geek out with all of it.

Catherine Jaxon 39:26 

I can totally geek out on it. I probably sound too much.

Diana Fryc 39:31 

Well, let’s talk a little bit about how you are guiding your business at this time. Like you have a lot of science. We’re turning this science into a legit CPG brand. Do you have any mentors that are helping you kind of translate? I mean, it’s not complicated what you’re trying to resolve for, except for it can be, but I’m just curious. Do you have any mentors that are helping you kind of get this brand off the ground and in the right direction that have given you some kind of like something to point at, or a certain set of marching orders that you find are really, really helpful to kind of counteract the geeking out-ness, you know what I mean?

Catherine Jaxon 40:19 

Totally. Yes. I mean, ultimately, you have to tell a story. And it has to be compelling and personal and simple, right? All this even talking about the science all you want, but if that’s not connecting with people, it’s not going to do any good. I mean, we have so many mentors who have helped us, and in so many aspects, but one who I would love to just elevate and also she’d be a great podcast guest, her name is Julie Sweet. Julie, she’s the Chief Strategy and creative officer for Purely Righteous Brands. Purely Righteous did our initial branding. And we worked with Julie very closely on figuring out our messaging and our target market, and she just has such a smart brain when it comes to crafting a clear, compelling story and message. And so we loved working with her so much that we’ve roped her in and put her on our advisory boards to have her guidance regularly. But she would always say I mean, this is even the very beginning. She would say I think that one of your secret weapons is that you used to be a journalist. And you tell stories and you love storytelling and writing. And that is going to be so important for this brand. And I’m not saying we have figured it out. We are always trying to dial it in. But one thing that we landed on is that we wanted it to be simple, and approachable, and fun. And we didn’t come across as medicalized, scary…

Diana Fryc 42:16 

Super serious…

Catherine Jaxon 42:18 

Sciency, even though we have all the science, as much science as you possibly could, backing this product, we wanted it to feel like something that was fun and enjoyable. And parents wouldn’t have to think too hard about, do I have to dose it? Do I have to mix it into a bottle? We wanted it to be a food form that was familiar. But also totally different because it contain these ingredients, nuts. So Julie is definitely one of our mentors that has been from the beginning.

Diana Fryc 42:58 

That’s awesome. I love hearing that. Thank you for sharing that story. Tell us what’s next for Mission MightyMe or for you? Anything that we should be keeping our eyeballs on in the next several months?

Catherine Jaxon 43:12 

Yeah, so a couple of things, we are ready to move into retail. We had paused our retail strategy because of the pandemic and really just focused on e-commerce on our website and Amazon. And we’ve seen such great growth on both of those channels that we just kept going. But we think that people are now back in stores and discoveries happening again need to be where our customers are physically shopping. So we are about to start dipping our toe into retail with some select retailers but we have not gotten too far down the road might yet. And then we’re also going to be starting a capital raise coming up soon. So we’re going to be busy.

Diana Fryc 44:03 

Yes, you are. Oh my goodness.

Catherine Jaxon 44:06 

And of course we’re working on new products. So we’re adding new products on the market before too long.

Diana Fryc 44:14 

Okay, so I’m excited about that. I can’t believe how big the suite is going to look. Wow. Catherine, we’ve covered a lot of stuff today and our time is wrapping up but I have a couple of questions I like to ask everybody, you may have already answered one of these but I’m going to ask it anyways. Are there any other women out there in our industry or not that you would simply like to admire elevate for the work that they’re doing out there right now? And if so, who? Who is it and why?

Catherine Jaxon 44:53 

Yes. Like I said there are so many you mentioned Jess Mandel with Maven Consulting for PR I love her. She’s helped us a ton. Julie Sweet, of course. But in terms of CPG founders, we have really loved getting to know it’s a it’s a daughter-mother duo, who launched this concept called slumber pod. And slumber pod, if you remember back to when your children were babies and you would travel with them, and if they were in a crib in your room and they could see you, you wouldn’t sleep all night long because they’d be, mom, wake up. So, basically Katie Mallory and her mom Lew child’s invented this privacy tent that goes over a pack and play. You can literally zip and zip clothes. They blackout sleeping environment and see you but can be right in the same room with you. And they have been crushing it. Their stuff is always sold out because their cribs are always sold out because man for him. But anyway, they’re just wonderful. They’re great marketers. And I just love that it’s a mom and a daughter doing it together. And they’re great people too. Not food and beverage but might be fun to have on the podcast.

Diana Fryc 46:29 

Yeah. Big innovation. I love the innovative work. So I will check them out and I might reach out to you for an intro on that. But okay, cool. I like that. And then maybe when it comes to food, beverage wellness, I mean, you are in a category of your own right now. But I wonder what you’re watching and why.

Catherine Jaxon 46:56 

Yes. I think just a product that I love is wild friends. Not better. Started by awesome women, Erica Welsh. And I just think that they do a really good job of fun branding that makes you want to enjoy the nut butters and otters. Another sort of hero brand for us in terms of their messaging Thera Belly. It’s a line of baby foods that was developed by a neurosurgeon, mom, and they have a lot of science behind their foods. And I think they do a great job communicating the why and the science behind there. Digestible, and not too complicated. So they’re someone we look at, because we have a similar kind of value proposition, right? They have all this science and there’s a really important reason why to buy the product. You have to make it super simple. And then another brand that I think does that really well is Ollie Pop. I just love their branding, the whole like, why would you drink a probiotic soda instead of Diet Coke cool. For us, it’s like, why would you buy these baby puffs that are more than 50% nuts instead of the old puffs that are all rice. So there’s this very clear health, functional health benefit that Ollie Pop has. But what I think is really neat is that they’ve taken a very familiar form, which is cola soda. And they didn’t change the bottle at all. It looks just like a soda can still feel feels familiar. But they really broke a big rule, which was we’re going to put probiotics in it. And so for us, that was part of our thinking was starting the food line with puffs because they’re so familiar. Every baby eats them. But they have no nutritional value. They’re just rice with a few Halo ingredients sprinkled on top. But we thought no, we’ll make puffs that babies love and every baby will eat willingly but instead of making them you know, just rice and air and a few sprinkle a spinach powder. We’re going to make them more than half-nut butters and net flowers.

Diana Fryc 49:37 

There’s a nutritional value to it as well. So we’re not just solving a possible allergen issue, but we’re also delivering nutrients. I mean, it’s a small group, but so interesting. All of the brands that you mentioned, are all very sciency, and they’re all geared towards resolving a much bigger problem than simply taste. And I mean, look, we work with so many brands, our firm works with so many brands. And I also talk with lots of brands that come through. And it’s a fine balance between creating a snack that just simply tastes good. And meet some basic nutritional values, which in the natural space, thankfully, all the brands do. There’s another thing to be saying, and we’re going to hack this, and we’re going to take it to the next level. This is like biohacking for cause. A better description.

Catherine Jaxon 50:51 

Yeah. Love it.

Diana Fryc 50:52 

I love it. Oh my goodness. Listen, we have been talking with Catherine Jaxon, who is one of the founders of Mission MightyMe. Catherine, if people want to learn more about you, or Mission MightyMe, where can they find that information?

Catherine Jaxon 51:10 

Yes, so our website has everything missionmightyme.com. There’s also an early allergen Introduction guide on our website for people who have more questions that we put together to help kind of walk parents through the process. But yes, all of our information is on missionmightyme.com, or Instagram or Facebook at Mission MightyMe. And you can just shoot us a DM and I will get back to you. And the best emails, if nobody wants to go digging for it, the best email is probably info@missionmightyme.com which comes straight to our inbox.

Diana Fryc 51:52 

Excellent. Awesome. Thank you so much for your time today. Catherine, I have really enjoyed spending time with you. When are we going to be in the same city together so we can have a drink because I want to talk more and learn more? I also want to thank all of you listeners today. Thank you for joining us. If you’ve liked this episode, please share it with a friend. This is in particular I think a really fantastic one to share. Otherwise, have a great rest of your day. And we’ll catch you all next time on the Gooder Podcast.

Outro 52:35 

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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