Claire shares her learnings from founding an organic juice company, recognizing the large amount of food waste produced and seeing an opportunity to reuse or upcycle these byproducts.
In addition, Claire shares the importance today’s consumers are placing on sustainability as part of their purchasing criteria, her journey from finding a product to focus on, figuring out the manufacturing process and taking these products to market online and through retail partnerships.
Ken: Welcome to the Physical Product Movement, a podcast by Fiddle, we share stories of the world’s most ambitious and exciting physical product brands to help you capitalize on the monumental change in how, why and where consumers buy. I’m your host, Ken Ojuka.
In this episode, I talk with Claire Schlemme, Co-Founder and CEO at Renewal Mill, a brand focused on upcycled cookies, baking, mixes, and flowers. Claire talks about her journey from founding an organic juice company, recognizing the large amount of food waste produced in that process and seeing an opportunity to reuse or upcycle these byproducts.
She talks about the importance today’s consumers are putting on sustainability as part of their purchasing criteria. And she also talks about her journey from finding a product to focusing on figuring out the manufacturing process and taking these products to market online and through retail partnerships.
It’s a great conversation. I hope you enjoy it. Hello, Claire, how are you doing?
Claire: I’m doing well. Thank you so much. How are you doing?
Ken: Hey, pretty good. Pretty good. I appreciate you taking the time to jump on with me and I look forward to digging into Reno mill a little bit.
Claire: You bet. You bet.
Ken: Hey, to kick things off. Why don’t you just tell us a little bit about your background.
Claire: Sure. Yes. So my background is mainly in environmental management. So I have my master’s in environmental management and I was very focused on sustainability, primarily from an energy angle at first. So I was really interested in, um, carbon financing and doing work with renewable energy. Um, and it was. In graduate school I actually came to understand just how important our food system is, in the whole sustainability puzzle and creating a better, a better planet.
And it seemed like an area that at the time seemed a bit overlooked. Um, Well, like I said, there was a lot of focus on, on energy, which of course is an important piece of fighting climate change and moving towards a better future. But the food system also was something that just really intrigued me.
And I thought there were a lot of opportunities there. Um, so it’s something I was thinking about when I started a juice company in Boston. So I was a co-founder of the first organic juice company in Boston. And it was, it was my first foray into food. It was a really fun experience. I just totally fell in love with, um, with the food space and feeding people and sourcing these great ingredients from, um, you know, New England farmers.
But one of the things I saw in that position was actually how inefficient some of our food production can be. So we have a lot of pulp that fruit and vegetable pulp that would be left over from juicing. And it just seemed like a real opportunity. And, you know, I was thinking about, um, kind of how, how I learned that the food system was so important and this was kind of a light bulb moment for me that, Hey, these byproducts actually represent a really great opportunity to create a better food system and to create a more closed loop system and a circular system for how we produce our food and how we utilize all those resources that go into grow it and all that food. So I kind of came at food, um, you know, fell into food. When I, when I started the juice business and brought my sustainability background to it. And that’s kind of all, all, all rolled up into how I ended up at Renewal Mill.
Ken: Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah. It sounds like a blend of a couple of your passions. What do you, what do you think sparked your interest in the environment and sustainability and what continues to feel it today?
Claire: Yeah. So, you know, I think, um, certainly I, I had a childhood that was just spent outside.
I grew up in Northern California, um, in Sonoma County. So it was just a wonderful place to be a kid and be playing outside. We had, you know, the redwoods and beaches and we were very close to mountains and, um, and that’s definitely. It started me on the path to really love being in nature and being outside and really, really just, um, you know, finding that nature was recharging for me.
So it was something that I’d always been interested in. Um, I would say that, that it was more. Uh, kind of recreationally that I was, that I was interested in it. I’d never thought of it necessarily as like a career path or, or something that could be part of my career path until I graduated from, from college.
So I was, you know, I studied biology in college and I definitely was interested in the science side and the environmental side. I ended up actually having cancer in my early twenties, which was unexpected a bit, you know, obviously a big change and, and quite a big thing to go through when you’re a young adult.
Ken: I can only imagine. Yeah.
Claire: Yeah, yeah. But it definitely give me time to kind of stop and think about what did I really want to do and what really was I passionate about. And that is when I decided to go back to school, um, go back to forestry school and get my master’s in environmental management, because that truly was something that.
It was just so special to me. And it was quite a moment to realize, Oh, I can actually do that in my daily life. Right. This isn’t something that just has to be going hiking on the weekends. I can actually bring my passion for sustainability and for protecting the environment to the job that I choose. Um, so that’s, that’s what led me back to school.
And, um, and then into, into the sustainability field,
Ken: Oh, great. Um, yeah. Yeah. I never ran an organic juice business, but you know, a couple years ago, my wife and I were pretty into juicing. And if anybody wants to get a feel for food waste juicer and start juicing every day. Oh my goodness. I was so surprised how much coal you end up with, you know.
Claire: Totally totally. Absolutely. And there’s just an, it’s like, there’s so much nutrition in that poll and there are some like great things that you can do with it. Um, at the juice business that I started, you know, we would, we would make juice, pulp, muffins, and chips, and kind of, you know, try to find ways to reuse it or, or, you know, now we use the term upcycle it, but it’s challenging because there’s so much of it and that really isn’t the focus of what you’re doing when you’re a juice business. Right.
Claire: And that’s exactly why we saw a space for companies that upcycle like renewal mill, because you really do need somebody with extra bandwidth to be able to come in and build the bridges that funnel these byproducts back into the food service.
Ken: Understood. Yeah. Tell us just a little bit about, um, upcycling, you know, for those that may be listening that have never heard about the term and why is it important?
Claire: Yeah, absolutely. So it’s funny because you know, the term is trending. It’s something that we’re hearing more and more now, but it’s actually a very old concept, right?
So it basically means not having waste, utilizing everything that, um, that you start with. Uh, so finding, finding a valuable way to use something that previously didn’t have value. So we. For example, like our, our first product that we’re upcycling is the pulp that comes out of soy milk production. So it’s the soy bean pump that’s leftover very nutrient dense, lots of fiber and protein.
And in the current production system, in the U S there’s a great opportunity to utilize this, this raw source of ACARA as a new ingredient, because there, it would otherwise go to waste. But if we step back like 200 years to somebody who is making soy milk at home, say in Japan, that Pope would never have been something that would have gone to waste, it would have been used because you were much closer to that process of purchasing the soybeans.
You don’t want that to go to waste. You bought it. So you’re going to use all of it. Um, and you also have the. The incentives to use it because you’re, you know, you’re a person in a home that has maybe the time and the means to use it. Um, and the, and the drive to use it. Cause you have people that you want to feed.
So it’s definitely not something that’s new, but it’s something that, um, has become harder to do with the way that our food system has developed. So there’s a, you know, the incentives are more in place for folks to think just about, okay, this is my end product. How do I get there as cheaply and as quickly as possible?
And if there’s extra stuff that’s produced along the way, it’s easier for me to just trash it then to find a way to use it. So upcycling is really about finding those streams of food that are currently seen as waste or not having value and bringing them back into market in a way that, that has a lot of value.
Ken: Understood. And so was that your experience at the juice company that initially introduced you to this concept? Or was it something else?
Claire: Absolutely. No, it was definitely, um, it was definitely through juicing that I first saw like, Ooh, this feels kind of uncomfortable that we’re, you know, that we’re throwing so much of this away and, and not just that we’re throwing it away, but you know, when we throw that food away, we’re also.
Essentially wasting all of those resources that went into growing the fruits and vegetables to begin with. Um, so it felt very inefficient from that point of view too. And then kind of a third problem with it was the, you know, since we paid a lot for, you know, organic and mostly local produce, but we were wasting a good chunk of it.
The price point for what’s left the juice. Fairly high to cover the cost of the inputs that we’re using. And so we’re essentially ending up with, you know, fairly inaccessible nutrition, um, and wasting a lot along the way. So it was that disconnect that was kind of hard to sit with. And that’s what was sort of rattling around in my mind when I met the owner of a tofu factory.
And we just immediately bonded when we started talking about these byproducts and our by-product problems, um, because he had this very similar problem with his own ACARA and, you know, making soy milk, which is the first step to making tofu is. It’s analogous to juicing, right? You’re kind of squeezing the soybeans.
You’re kind of mashing them up, squeezing them out to get this soy milk. And then you have that Pope that’s leftover and the, the efficiency gains from upcycling were just remarkable. And that was kind of the first thing that drew me into this opportunity with ACARA since about 40% of the soybean mass.
So when the soybeans arrive on, you know, at the tofu factory, about 40% of that weight, It’s going to end up being in tofu. 60% of it is going to end up in the ACARA, which is currently, you know, which previously didn’t have a place in our food system. Um, even though it’s a fantastic ingredient in originals.
Ken: So was it just discarded or what, what did people typically do with it before.
Claire: Yeah, exactly. So there’s a couple of things that somebody might do, and it sorta depends on what’s what’s around the tofu factory. So, um, it can be used as like a filler feed for animal agriculture. So, um, farmers may come and pick it up for free.
That’s one way to offload it. If the tofu factory has enough kind of like space around it, it can be used as like spreading on fields, essentially. Like. Uh, composting option. Um, but there are places, there are some facilities in the U S where the, the only option is to haul it off, to have it go to landfill, which is obviously the worst option for it.
Given that, you know, we get additional greenhouse gas emissions from that methane when it’s decomposing in a landfill. So it’s, it’s any of those three, but obviously much more efficient and much better. If we can get that nutrition back to people.
Ken: Yeah and let’s double click on that a little bit nutritionally.
How does it compare to him to other ingredients?
Claire: Yeah. So it’s, it’s a total powerhouse for fiber. So it’s got a ton of fiber, very, very low net carbs per, per serving. Um, it also is a good source of protein as well. It’s naturally gluten-free so, um, so it’s not going to function the same way you would expect a wheat flour to, but it does function similarly to other alternative.
And gluten-free flours that you may already be familiar with. Like. Coconut flour or all men flour. And those are, those are kind of the ways that we utilize it as well. So we use it in our gluten-free formulations and also use it to create kind of entirely new new products as well.
Ken: Let’s maybe go back in time just a little bit.
So you, uh, I’ve become a little bit more aware of the environmental impact of our food system and just the vast amount of waste. And then, um, you end up running into, or meeting the owner of a tofu company. Is that right?
Claire: That’s right.
Ken: Okay. So how does this, you know, lead one, you know, one step to the next and to you deciding to, to found renewal mill.
Claire: Yeah. So the first thing I did when I heard about O’Mara was, was get my hands on something, because I was like, this, this sounds really interesting, but let me, let me see what this tastes like. Right. Um, so I was in Connecticut at the time. I found a wonderful little Tosha maker there who just gave me like a big bucket of his, of his own car.
Cause he was, you know, he, he didn’t have a use for it and just played around with it a lot. And it did not take very long for me to just totally fall in love with it. There was just. It was so versatile in terms of things you could do with it. So much nutrition in there. And what’s kind of, kind of particularly cool about ACARA is that because it has this pretty rich culinary history in East Asia.
It’s not a totally brand new product by any means. There’s already kind of a starting point in terms of how this can be used because folks have been using it and traditional recipes for a long time. And not only that, but it’s actually, you know, it already has a health halo around it in, um, for, for folks who are already familiar with it in, in Asia and it’s been the subject of several. Um, you know, it turns out I looked it up, um, as I started playing around with it and it turns out it’s been a subject of several peer reviewed health studies looking at the health benefits of it. So we know that it’s great for heart health. It’s great for weight maintenance, all these great things that have been actually proven to be associated with it.
So it wasn’t even, you know, it wasn’t an issue of starting from scratch here. It’s like we already know that this is a really wonderful ingredient. It’s just unknown to us here. And so that, that was where I kind of, that was truly the moment. I think, where I was like, there is absolutely something here.
And from that moment where we decided to actually start a company around this concept of upcycling and start with ACARA. We started looking into what else is out there. You know, it’s obviously like it can’t just be juice and soy milk. Right. And of course, sure enough, we realized there’s just billions of pounds of these different by-product streams that go to waste every year.
Um, so then we suddenly saw that this, this was not even, you know, a cool sort of niche opportunity, but it was a much, much bigger opportunity in the, in the food system.
Ken: And so besides Oclaro what other byproducts are there that you came across?
Claire: Yeah, so many. Um, and, and actually one of the things that was really interesting too, when we, when we started was that, um, really realizing that these byproducts is, you know, we’re, we’re, I’ve mostly been focused on how cool they are from a consumer point of view, right?
Like they’re so nutritious and they’re really great. And these new food sources from a manufacturer’s point of view, they’re a headache. Um, cause you produce a lot of them. Kind of saw from that tofu example. I mean, that’s a huge amount of product that you’re, you know, 60% of that soybean mass, that’s a huge amount that you have to deal with.
And so what we found was that when we started, um, you know, when we started the business, we, we got a lot of inbound requests from manufacturers doing all sorts of different types of food production that were like, Hey, we’ve got a problem. Like, can you come fix our byproduct? Um, so that really showed us, you know, there was waste coming from certainly any, any it’s usually coming from like that first step of processing.
When you bring a grain or a. Fruit or vegetable in from the field. So, um, uh, the potato skins that are popped off before potatoes go on to further processing, uh, the tomatoes that are, that are smashed up and left after tomato processing, um, the, all of when you press all of us to make olive oil, there’s that pumice that’s leftover that’s um, that goes to waste.
It’s similar to grapes that are, um, that are made, that are used for wine. Any sort of oil production where you’re, where you’re pressing on seeds like sunflower seeds, uh, or, or if you’re doing corn oil, the corn that’s, um, that’s pressed all of those cakes that are left over also all, all by-product streams as well.
Ken: And so your, your initial, um, product was, was a flower. Is that what you had in mind at the time? And then how did, how did you go about finding somebody to, to manufacture this and actually bring it into a consumable, you know, flower that somebody could use?
Claire: Yeah. So, so one of the things that we focused on first was okay, how do we, we, we love this by-product we think this is great.
Shouldn’t even call it a by-product right. It’s new, a new ingredient. How do we, how do we get this to market? And the way that the ACARA comes out of the soy milk production process is as a fairly wet. Hope. Um, so it’s prone to spoilage because obviously it’s very moist. Um, and we knew that we, as, as this bridge builder in the space, um, having that shelf stability was something that was really.
Uh, it was going to be really important for us. So the first thing we did was put together the production process that we wanted to utilize to turn that whole into a shelf stable ingredient. And the one that made the most sense was to dry it and mill it to create a powder or a flower. Um, there’s some variability around that.
We can obviously mill it to different particle sizes to create different. You know, I mean, it kind of more of like a, a coat, you know, like a breading or coding all the way to like a really fine flour that you might incorporate into a beverage. Sure. But generally that, that idea of dehydrating and milling was something that we kind of hit on early on as a, as a most straightforward way to turn this into a shelf stable ingredient.
Um, so yeah, so then we, you know, we worked with the tofu manufacturer that I had met that had inspired, um, inspired me to even look at ACARA in the, in the first place. Um, and we, I moved out to Oakland, which is where they’re based and started, um, started figuring out the production and how we would actually be producing out of their facility.
We had a pilot, um, production system go into their facility a couple of years ago, which is when we first were actually able to, um, produce Carra flour in a way that we can sell it, um, and start to use it to make products. So that was very exciting. Um, we, uh, we actually found. Fantastic product developer who works with us, um, to turn these flowers into delicious food.
And, um, she is Alice. Her name is Alice Madrid. She’s a five times James Beard award winning cookbook author. It was such a. It’s such a lucky chance meeting with her, but she is really an expert in the baking space and had just published a cookbook all around alternative and gluten-free flours. Um, so she was very much, um, working in this space and we kind of approached her and said, Hey, have you thought about these upcycled flowers, which is a unique and very.
A special subset of this gluten-free and alternative flower movement. Um, and she was intrigued. And I think from, um, from a big Baker’s perspective and a chef’s perspective was, was very curious to, to try it out and, and take on that, that task and challenge of, um, kind of learning how to use these ingredients for the first time.
Um, so that was how we actually produce our own, our own products that we make with the flour. And then we also sell the flower to other food companies who are interested in, you know, any of the myriad benefits that come with these upsides of flowers, whether it’s, um, you know, it might be the sustainability story, but some, some folks are actually just interested in it from the nutritional standpoint as well.
Ken: Sure. Sure. And so I’m, I’m interested in your initial go to market. So did you, um, did you launch and start actually selling the flour or was it only when, when you had the different mixes, you know, like your chocolate chip and brownie mix and sugar cookie mix, um, how did you initially approach this?
Claire: That’s really funny. So it was, it was quite an organic development of our first product. So our very first product is our ready to eat cookie. So it’s a, it’s a vegan chocolate chip cookie that we make using the NACARA flour. And, you know, when we first. Started out. We were really focused on the ingredient side of things and, and, um, you know, finding folks that were excited to use this ingredient in their own food formulations.
Um, and we would go around to different events and, you know, we’d exhibit and be at trade shows and whatnot. Um, and we’d be singing the praises of this Carra flower. And of course, in, in food, the first thing anyone wants to know is like, well, what does this taste like? Um, so we learned very quickly that we needed to have samples with us, even if we weren’t at the time, like a retail, you know, producer of packaged food or retail food.
Um, so we, we formulated our first, this first cookie. Um, and at that point we started getting a lot of people commenting like, Hey, this is really great. So where do you guys sell this? How do I buy this? Um, So that’s when we were like, you know, this actually makes a lot of sense for us while we’re building the pipeline for getting this into the food system in bigger quantities, as an ingredient to other food companies.
It makes sense for it. I mean, we can introduce this now. We already are with these cookies. Um, let’s, let’s, let’s build up this side of the business. Let’s build up our own product line. Um, so we started by bringing those cookies to market first. Um, we found a great home for them in office snacking programs.
So that was our, our largest customers were folks that distribute to offices. Yeah. In the Bay area. Unfortunately, when COVID happened a year ago, we pretty much lost that, uh, sales channel overnight. Um, when office shut down. So, um, so that was a moment for us to really pivot and we moved to eat. We’re really focused on our e-commerce and also move into brick and mortar retail.
And that was also the time that we expanded to do our baking mixes line. So that’s when we brought our, our brownie mix on and then subsequently over the past year, we’ve brought on our second cycled ingredient, which is our oat milk flour. And then two more baking mixes, our sugar cookie mix and our chocolate chip cookie mix.
Ken: So, do you have any, any other mixes in development or any other products or skews that you guys are working?
Claire: We do. Yeah. So we’re excited to expand in the baking mix aisle. So we have, um, we have a pancake mix that’s in the, in the works as well as a couple of muffin mixes as well. And then we’ll, we’re going to be going back to that original cookie.
And, um, we’re going to bring a new, ready to eat skew to join that chocolate chip cookie mix. Most, most likely something, uh, something in the peanut butter route. Not quite sure exactly what it’s going to end up being yet, but, um, but excited to bring another, another flavor of that ready to eat cookie to market to
Ken: Excellent. I would vote for peanut butter. So
Claire: It does seem like peanut butter is pretty popular. So.
Ken: All right. So, um, as you’re developing these, these flavors, how do you think about sort of your customer research or, or what are you doing to, to determine what you should be working on next?
Claire: Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great question. So one of the things that we do, so we, we utilize current customers that we have. So, um, you know, customers that have either found us through e-commerce, um, or, or I guess pretty much e-commerce some sometimes are Amazon customers. Um, and, and really what we, what we do is kind of. Do surveys or more in depth conversations with folks to understand, um, how to better, uh, you know, basically to understand either why they buy from us or is there someone that’s interested in our company maybe is on our newsletter list, but hasn’t purchased, you know, understand why they haven’t purchased. Um, and that helps us better, um, determine our strategy for new products that we’re developing and how we’re building our own CPG brands. Um, we’ve also done a couple of like, um, uh, consumer insight surveys. We’ve done one where we kind of had folks go through the process of purchasing a brownie mix.
Uh, utilizing the brand mix, tasting it and getting some feedback from how that process went. What would have been, you know, what was something that was a challenge for would have been a hurdle or what would they have liked to have seen? Um, we’ve done a more broader customer survey before we, um, it was right before we launched in a number of grocery stores.
And so we were particularly interested in identifying who, um, kind of our target customers were in that, in that area. And actually one of the surprising things that came out of that study was that, uh, or that survey I should say, um, was that there was. A lot more importance, placed on sustainability claims when people were making purchasing decisions than we had even hypothesized.
And of course, here we are, you know, like blow blowing the sustainability horn. I mean, that’s, that’s what was why we’re doing this. And we certainly have seen a lot of people like more interested in kind of the story behind our food and making sure that it’s, it’s more sustainable, but I was really, I was really surprised.
And of course this is just a stated. Stated preference survey, right? We’re not, we’re not actually looking at like revealed behavior, but, but it was really interesting to see that particularly with the younger, the younger folks, um, Sustainability claims were noted as being just as important, if not more so than things like organic claims on packaging, which, you know, organic is a very strong certification and that’s something that drives a lot of purchasing behavior.
So that was something that was like very exciting for us to see, but surprising, but also very exciting. Um, and it, and it helped influence. Our own strategy when we were redesigning our bags, because very early on, when we, when we entered into the consumer packaged goods space, um, we hypothesized that it would be better to have the sustainability and upcycling story.
Be more of a double-click put it on the back of package. You know, we’d lead purely with, with taste on the front of the package premium product tastes. Right. And this survey actually made us rethink that. And, you know, certainly we want to lead with tastes that’s food apps, you know, taste is King. We need to make sure that that’s that’s first and foremost, but it actually made us bring our sustainability claim to the front of pack.
Um, because we did see that this is something that people are really thinking about when they’re making decisions in the grocery store. Um, and this is really, truly our differentiator in the space as well. Um, and so it was something that we realized deserved the, the focus of the, the front of the bag.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. And even just the first line on your website, you know, fighting climate change has ever been so delicious, right. That’s putting that sustainability claim front and center, like you’re saying. And so a couple of things I noticed that you’ve been getting some press, um, Boston globe, um, San Francisco Chronicle.
You have an article, a great article in fast company Appetit. How have these, um, come about and, um, Is there anything that you’re doing to reach out to journalists and get some press?
Claire: I mean, I think, um, I think it’s a very interesting topic. It’s definitely one that we’ve seen, um, trending more and more. I mean, it’s been funny just in the.
It’s almost been about five years that I’ve been doing this. And when we first started, you know, it was like most of the folks that I would talk to, it was the first time that, that they were hearing some of these statistics around food waste. And, you know, the fact that 30% of the food that we produce goes to waste, um, And in such a short time, I would say that a lot more people are familiar, at least generally with the concept of food waste and the fact that it’s not a good thing, something that we want to solve or prevent, um, And so, um, yeah, so I think that, I think that, um, I think that there’s been a lot of interest in, um, in food waste recently and what those solutions can be for, for solving food waste.
And I think that that’s, what’s driven a lot of interest in telling, telling our story. Um, about how we can, we can fix this piece of the food system. Um, but that being said, we also do reach out to journalists as well. Um, because we’re excited about the story. So, um, when there’s particularly something new that’s happened, whether it’s.
Um, you know, bringing our second upcycled ingredient to market or, um, or having a new, new product that we’re developing or a new partnership that we have with someone. Um, you know, we’re, we’re always, um, you’re reaching out to folks to tell that story too.
Ken: And, uh, yeah. What about some of these wholesale and retail partnerships? Do you have any that you could tell us about.
Claire: Yeah, I do. I do. So we actually have, um, a new partnership that we’re, this is kind of a sneak peek of a new partnership that we’re just about to, um, just about to launch. So we are doing a joint new pro new baking mix product with a company, a single origin space company called burlap and barrel, which is, um, yeah, they’re, they’re a wonderful company that really focused on this.
Um, sustainable fair trade sourcing. Um, we’re all about sustainable ingredients sourcing. So, um, kind of, yeah, blending both of our, uh, both of them or approaches to sustainable supply chains and better supply chains in our food system. Um, we’re utilizing their cinnamon in, um, in a new snickerdoodle cookie mix that we are going to be releasing just in time for earth day.
So, um, so that’ll be coming out probably in the next couple of weeks.
Ken: Sounds great. And, and what about, um, you know, wholesale or retail? Where can people find you your product? Uh, today?
Claire: So feel free to visit our website, renewal mail.com. We have a store locator there. We’re in about 170 markets, or so most of them concentrated in Northern California, which is obviously where we’re based, but we’re also on many online platforms.
So we’re on thrive market. Uh, if you’re in the New York city area, where on fresh, direct, uh, we’re on good eggs in the, in the Bay area. And then of course you can always find us on Amazon and at our website, renewal mail.com.
Ken: Okay. Excellent. And so just looking ahead a little bit, um, with COVID numbers, hopefully, you know, moving in the right direction and things may be returning back to normal, uh, sooner, rather than later, I think we’re all, we’re all ready for that.
You know, what are you, what are your plans for the rest of the 2021? Um, and, and just into the future.
Claire: Yeah. So, um, so we’re very excited to be continuing to expand our, our own product line. As I mentioned, um, we are going to be doing some more, you know, the Snickerdoodles kind of kicking us off, but we’re going to be doing a lot more limited edition, um, more interesting and intricate flavors of baking mixes, which will be really exciting.
Um, so, so look for those coming, coming later this year. And then, um, there’s a few more products in the pipeline of other folks that are utilizing our ingredients that we’re looking forward to seeing those products come to market and grow. So one of, one of the companies that utilize our organic cauliflower is Tia Lupita, and they have a, an Oak Carra tortilla that actually we’ll be launching it.
Um, all of the sprouts locations, um, this coming, coming in the next couple of months or so. So that’s very exciting as well. Yeah, so, so lots of exciting things. And I think, you know, as you kind of alluded to, we’re very excited to be moving back towards some sort of normalcy that will allow us to, um, better, better connect with customers.
So, you know, we’ve lost the opportunity of course, of doing. Know, demos and being in grocery stores and talking to people and letting people try our stuff and hear our story. Um, so we’re very excited to potentially have that, um, to be able to do again as, as we move into the fall.
Ken: Well, let’s move, uh, just into the quick fire round.
Um, I’m just got four questions here. Just want your, your, the first answer that comes to your mind. All right. Uh, what’s one tool or resource, um, that you feel like you can’t live without.
Claire: Oh, my gosh. Okay. Well, I would say basic answer would probably be something like, uh, you know, like computer my phone. Um, I let’s see something more specific as a tool or resource. Honestly, I’m going to go with Wikipedia on this one. I’m constantly having to, you know, we’re wearing so many hats doing so many things throughout the day, and it is a very easy way to quickly learn, um, learn what we need to know to answer some quick questions.
Ken: Okay, good answer. Um, what is one book that has helped you, uh, in your, in your journey?
Claire: Let’s see, I’m trying to think of one that has been, this is I’m turning this, not into rapid fire question at all. Um, but, uh, you know, I, I’m trying to think of when it’s specific to. To the renewal journey. Um, the most recent one that I can think of that was, that was really inspiring to read was actually, um, uh, I just read, um, Jane Goodall’s book seeds of hope, which was. Which was really lovely. And I think, um, uh, just in general, I find her very inspiring, um, particularly this idea, you know, obviously she’s in a, in a very different space than food, but this idea of being so passionate about what you do and passionate for something that’s a greater good, um, I found really, really inspiring. So my own journey and in, um, with renewable.
Ken: Okay, that’s great. And what’s one piece of advice that you would give your 21 year old self?
Claire: Oh, you know, I think I would say that, um, just to have a like perspective on things that are perceived as, as failures. So I think one of the things that I’ve learned over the past 15 years or so is, is that, um, you know, it’s really.
Uh, you know, kind of seeing challenges as more like helpful hands that are kind of leading you in a different direction or a better direction has been a really wonderful way to kind of restructure when things go badly. Um, and it, and it really helps me kind of, um, Uh, see things through a different, a different lens to think like, okay, this didn’t work, but you know what?
That’s just a sign that, that, there’s another way to do this. And back to the drawing board and let’s brainstorm a little bit more and, um, and you know, keep trying and keep experimenting. And that’s the way to, to build something that, that truly is strong and is better.
Ken: Okay. Good answer. And, um, who is one person that you would love to take the lunch?
Claire: Think that I would like to take. You know, I’m going to stick with the sustainability theme here. Um, I would love to go to lunch with Rachel Carson. Um, that’s, uh, another person that I’ve just found really inspiring. Um, and, and I think hearing her story of really starting the, the, the modern environmental movement would be just fascinating.
Ken: Okay. That’s great. Well, Claire, as we wrap up here, um, how would somebody get ahold of you if they wanted to reach out to you?
Claire: Yeah, absolutely. You can always reach me. My email is Claire C L a I R firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to reach out. I’m almost always available.
Ken: And any parting words of advice for other people in the food space or in the physical product space that are grinding it out, doing the best that they can, any, any pieces of advice for them?
Claire: You know, I would just say, um, yeah know, I mean, I’m still, I’m still learning too, so it feels kind of, um, financial to be giving advice. But, but one thing I would just say is, um, you know, really. To the extent that you can just bring your authentic self to what you’re doing. Um, I think, you know, your, your passion, um, can really shine through with your product and with your business. And, and that is, that’s a really powerful piece of building a company and building, building products.
Ken: That’s great. Well, thank you, Claire. Um, appreciate it. Um, and you’ve given so much of your time and, and, uh, we just love hearing about your journey and how you came to be where you are now. And I think that there’s just a ton of, uh, just nuggets of gold in this interview.
So appreciate it. Thank you. Oh,
Claire: Absolutely. I, this was such a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on.
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