Gooder Podcast featuring Jessica Lyons
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“It’s important to be able to leave a footprint and get to know an impact.” – Jessica Lyons
This week on the Gooder Podcast, I had the pleasure of talking with Jessica Lyons, the Director of Promotions and E-Commerce of PCC Community Markets. We discuss the history of PCC Community Markets – the nation’s largest community-owned food market. We also learn more about PCC’s initiatives in building relationships with potential brands and what they do to drive organic as a standard. Along the way, we get to hear the amazing story of an inquisitive and resourceful relationship builder who continuously creates a thriving community around her.
In this episode we learn:
- About PCC Community Market and their involvement in the monumental changes within the food industry at a national level.
- About the vendor partner program that Jess is managing and some common misconceptions about this program.
- Customers’ high demand for product’s transparency in the food and naturals industry.
- How the vendor partner program has helped underserved and underrepresented communities in the food/naturals industry.
- About Jessica’s emphasis on creating a community, and following passions.
- Diana and Jessica’s personal stories about imposter syndrome and how to transform that into positive energy which creates growth and self-awareness.
About Jessica Lyons:
Jessica (Jess) Lyons has built her career following her passions. She’s been successful in a wide range of experiences throughout her nearly two-decade-long career, making her a valuable Swiss army knife in any workplace. Jess currently serves as Director of Promotions and E-Commerce for PCC Community Markets, the nation’s largest community-owned food market. In this role, she lives out her foodie fantasies with a company centered around community and scratch-made organic food with a sustainable twist. Her greatest achievements at PCC include project managing an overnight co-op-wide rebrand, overhauling the in-store sign program, and developing a strategic, revenue-generating vendor partnership program.
Prior to PCC, Jess’s enthusiasm for running was the starting line for 15 years in the outdoor industry. She gained retail and sales expertise during her 10 years with Finish Line and Fleet Feet Sports before joining Brooks Running Company to lead the retail marketing team. Her time with Brooks Running also included sales and customer acquisition, event marketing, and community partnerships.
A native Texan, she proudly builds upon her hands-on experiences and is a self-starter by nature. When she’s not working or running, she can be found leading community fitness, hanging out with her husband and son, or cooking up something plant-based in the kitchen.
Guests Social Media Links:
Brooks Sports, Inc., also known as Brooks Running, is an American sports Equipment Company that designs and markets high-performance men’s and women’s sneakers, clothing, and accessories. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Brooks’ products are available in 60 countries worldwide.
Ventures: they’re a nonprofit group in Seattle and they work with entrepreneurs. A lot of them are low income or people of color or immigrants or women that are basically incubated to launch their products.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) are items used daily by average consumers that require routine replacement or replenishment, such as food, beverages, clothes, tobacco, makeup, and household products.
UDaB‘s mission as an alternative breaks program is to create a variety of issue-based, service-learning experiences. Our programs are available to undergraduate students of all backgrounds and incomes during spring and winter breaks.
Hint Water is an American beverage company based in San Francisco, California, as an alternative to soda and sugar beverages. It was started by former AOL employee Kara Goldin.
The November Project is a free, open-to-the-public exercise group founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2011. The name “November Project” comes from the Google Doc that the founders shared to track their progress in November 2011. While sessions occur year-round, the name stuck.
Recovery Café Network (RCN) is comprised of Member organizations committed to serving people suffering from homelessness, addiction and other mental health challenges using the Recovery Café Model.
Lily’s Sweets is a line of delicious chocolate bars, baking bits and baking bars that have less than 1 gram of sugar per serving.
Diana Fryc: Hi, welcome to the Gooder Podcast, I am your host, Diana Fryc. As partner and CMO of Retail Voodoo, an award winning branding agency, I have met and worked with some of the most amazing women in the natural’s industry food, beverage, wellness and fitness. As such, I decided to create the Gooder Podcast to interview these great people and subject matter experts and have them share their insights and expertise to help businesses all around the world become gooder.
So today I get to interview a friend of mine, Jessica Lyons, who currently serves as senior marketing manager for PCC Community Markets here in the Seattle area, the nation’s largest community owned food market. In this role, she lives out her foodie fantasies with a company centered around community and scratch made organic food with a sustainable twist. Her greatest achievements at PCC include project managing an overnight co-op wide rebrand, overhauling the in-store signage program and developing strategic revenue generating vendor partnership program, which we’ll be talking about a little bit more today.
Prior to PCC, Jess enthusiasm for running was the starting line for her 15 years in the outdoor industry. A native Texan, she proudly builds upon her hands-On experiences in a self-starter and is a self-starter by nature. When she’s not working or running, she can be found leading community fitness, hanging out with her husband and son or cooking up something plant based in the kitchen. And like I said, she happens to be a good friend as well. Hi Jess. Welcome.
Jessica Lyons: Hi. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. How’s your neck of Seattle today?
Jessica Lyons: Somewhat sunny, a little bit warmer now. We’re doing well over here.
Diana Fryc: I know. So for those of you not in Seattle is literally from one side of town, can be completely different than other and the world where Jess and PCC corporate offices actually are closer to the sound, Puget Sound and they get more wind and rain and there’s literally 15 minutes from where our studio is. And weirdly enough, that 15 minute drive distance is sometimes 5 to 10 degrees and rainy or not rainy. So it’s pretty crazy. That’s why I asked how her neck of Seattle is.
Jessica Lyons: Very true.
Diana Fryc: So listen, before we get into the world of Jessica, I want us to start about PCC; now we worked with PCC. I want to say is 150 years ago now in the life of a brand, but now PCCs gone through some pretty large revolution. Why don’t you tell us who PCC is here regionally and then who you are at a national level specifically for those people that might be in the conventional channels and not quite clear who PCC is in the movement of natural’s and better for you products and brands?
Jessica Lyons: Sure. I’ll just start with for those who don’t know, PCC is the nation’s largest co-op. And so we were started in the 50s, 1953 by a group of 15 families who basically came together because they wanted to do good in the community and they wanted to bring more organic products through the food chain. So that’s who we still are today. Our goal is really to grow the organic food chain. We’re here to partner with producers and ranchers that fit in our sustainability goals and ultimately, we’re super passionate about food. It’s incredible to see the people that work at the company who’ve got these little side passions just because they love food so much and we really just take a lot of pride in making so much of our food in store from scratch.
As the nation’s largest co-op I think it’s an interesting time to see where co-ops are going and it’s been a struggle for many of them this past year. We’ve gone through a lot this year. But I think we have laid the groundwork for co-ops to grow and hopefully there will be opportunities for growers to continue to be a huge part of this industry. They’re important to the industry. They’re advocating for so many things and it’s just different and refreshing and a really awesome company to be a part of.
Diana Fryc: Thank you. And remind me if you – and you might not have complete visibility on this, but back when we were working with PCC, the people within PCC were actually very heavily involved in some really monumental changes within the food industry at a national level, kind of driving organic as a standard;
And an around efficacy efforts, is that still happening within of course, upper here?
Jessica Lyons: Yeah, absolutely, our SER team sustainability, environmental responsibility, they are constantly advocating moving the needle, challenging things, putting out standards that are beyond what they are. We just this past year, we launched a Chinook standard that really just puts a stake in the ground for what we believe in and we fight for things when they may not necessarily be the norm and it definitely separates us, but it also paves the way for so many others to do the same.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. So I’ve always, and maybe it’s because I think the Northwest is a leader in this natural movement. But I’ve always felt like PCC was kind of more the driver than the follower in a lot of what’s happening in naturals.
Jessica Lyons: For sure!
Diana Fryc: So I want to quickly jump in because for a couple of reasons. So first of all she’s a rising star in the natural’s community now. I’ve worked with her in the past. She’s inquisitive, resourceful community and relationship builder in every sense of the world and you have an important role at kind of this coveted natural grocery store that we just articulated. So it is a no brainer for you to join them and I’ll refer to them as PCC because that’s what we do here locally. You’re here at PCC and you’re using your relationship superpowers, helping build brands within the world of PCC so they can do more. Why don’t we just talk about what is your role? You’ve somewhat sort of built it coming into PCC, right?
Jessica Lyons: Yeah. So I came to PCC as a retail marketing manager. We were going through a rebrand and my role was really to take this rebrand and bring it to life and from there, I started to work my way up. I started grabbing some other things and pulled myself into another position and so now I oversee this department. We’ve created a lot of different opportunities. One of them that I’m really proud of is creating a vendor partnership program, which you briefly talked about in the introduction and that was just an opportunity that I saw. I came from the brand side when I worked at Brooks and my role there was to find placement in stores. And so I had that sort of thought bubble in my head as I came to PCC and I thought, man, we’ve got a great opportunity to find ways that we can lift these brands up.
When I joined, it probably wasn’t the best time to be thinking that far ahead and so I sort of sat on it and then when the time was right, it was an opportunity for us to do so. So we started small. We started with one brand to see how it would work and pulling them into our brand and really knowing that our language and how we speak is very specific to our shoppers and then we built that outward. We’re two years in now and it’s not only created a revenue stream for our marketing team, but it has been a massive growth sales impact wise and so it’s fun. It is an absolute joy and honor and pleasure to be able to work so closely with our sales team and to know that these brands are getting unique opportunities and to sort of shepherd from the beginning to the end and just see great results like it’s exciting.
Diana Fryc: So a is this unique within PCC, the Northwest Natural’s or is this a program that we’re generally seeing across as channel agnostic, so to speak? And if it is cross-channel how is it that your program works differently than others?
Jessica Lyons: Yeah, that’s a great question. I’ve talked to a lot of people about it, and I think in some ways it exists. I think in my understanding is that some ways people are forced to play a little bit and in other ways they want to play more. And so there’s also opportunities where brands can just send their POP to stores and we take a different approach. Ours are completely customized programs that we work with brands that we’ve chosen on a month to month basis to bring alive and so we’ve got tiered levels. And each of those tiers really depends on where does the brand want to be like? They may be smaller and or we might see a great opportunity to launch a new product.
What are all the touch points involved there? And so I work with them on that, and so, yeah, I think the unique thing is that we’re completely customizable and even with Covid, it’s been interesting because some of those things we couldn’t do, like sampling has gone away. If we can’t do sampling, what else can we do? And so really working one on one with them and I think that’s, from what I understand, a little bit more unique than some of our friends out there in the industry.
Diana Fryc: Do you run into a common misconception about what you can and can’t do in a vendor program over or under estimating standpoint?
Jessica Lyons: I think one of them is just how much we can talk about at one time. I think there are so many brands on the shelf, as you know. Everybody wants that space and there’s just not a lot of space and there’s not a lot of time to talk about it. And so I think with PCC, we really look for moments that sync up with what we’re doing or sync specifically to an initiative that we have going on and so we try to look for those moments. Maybe another common misconception, at least with us, is that, people think sometimes that they can just deliver goods and walk away. I’m working very closely to make sure that even though we’re going to we’re going to use our voice, but we’re going to make sure that it portrays what the brands want to see.
Diana Fryc: Got you! I don’t know if you can speak about a brand specifically. So if you can’t identify who they are, is there any one situation that you’ve seen in the last couple of years where you’re like, I can’t believe the velocities that came out of that was a surprise to everybody is do you think you have one of those moments?
Jessica Lyons: In a partnership situation?
Diana Fryc: Yeah.
Jessica Lyons: I remember doing a black cod promo with Alaska Seafood that blew my mind. It’s a fish that people love and they cherish and it’s melty and all the fun things when it comes into season like Pacific Northwest. We love it.
Diana Fryc: We love our fish.
Jessica Lyons: We love our fish. And it was a complete shock that it blew up and a simple lift, a simple message, a simple follow through of all these touch points just really showed I think it was like a 500% lift, it was beautiful. It was awesome.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, especially on a product with that kind of a price point, that to me is pretty amazing.
Jessica Lyons: Yeah, and we did some unique things– I think a lot of people don’t know how to cook it. So we thought, okay, well, let’s do it. We call chef inspired where we pre-marinate it for you and made it easy to do and so just thinking through ways and that was really fun to see. That one’s an anniversary every year.
Diana Fryc: Well that’s sometimes what happens, hey.
Jessica Lyons: Yeah.
Diana Fryc: So one of the things that I want to talk about and this is my not so secret mission that I’m on with this podcast, aside from elevating amazing women like yourself, is challenging our naturals better-for-you industry to start thinking differently about underserved community. Now PCC while, it has a small footprint compared to the rest of the retailers here, it kind of has an oversize footprint on its impact in the Seattle marketplace and it’s already done some work in taking care of communities that are kind of being excluded from naturals right now. We’re doing better, but there’s so much more to do. In your day to day role in helping these brands reach these audiences with better-for-you communication and about PCC and underneath the PCC mission, what is PCC doing that you can speak to? And is there anything that you do specifically within this vendor program that is either helping entrepreneurs or the community at large or demographics that haven’t been really serviced well?
Jessica Lyons: Yeah, I think this is a great question and I think I’ll just start with the fact that all of us are learning and all of us are trying to find the best way to approach this, including PCC. You mentioned it, but we’ve had unique opportunities in some of our stores that we needed to place product because it was what the community wanted from us.
And so we’ve done that for years and years. But I think it’s been two or three years now. We’ve partnered with a group called Ventures here in Seattle, and they’re a nonprofit group and they work with entrepreneurs. A lot of them are low income or people of color or immigrants or women that are basically incubated to launch their products. And so are our merchandizing team works with them. And every year, again, I think it’s been two or three years now, every year during Christmas, we bring in some of their products, like extra products, and we have them in the store and some of them have grown into products in our store. So that’s a really cool initiative that we have and it’s been fun to see it grow.
And then in general, just from a vendor partnership, it’s always on our radar to find places where we can lift voices and lift products that are new to us or are fitting into this demographic where we’ve partnered and now we’ve got this opportunity to lift. And I think sometimes there’s this custom, they may not have the money; they’re new. Let’s just say that this is a great opportunity and let’s lift it because it’s really the right thing to do and it really gives them a leg up and gives them an opportunity and I think that’s really great. It’s been fun to work with some of these brands.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. Two years isn’t really like a tremendous amount of time in the whole world of CPG. What kind of benefits are you seeing from these initiatives? Are you seeing because these products are being brought into your store that you’re getting a different kind of reach, you’re able to talk to new audiences, or are we just seeing a proliferation of new types of products or flavor profiles coming into PCC? What does that look like?
Jessica Lyons: Yeah, I probably see the latter. Our members are very much a specific demographic that I’m sure it changes over time as we go into different areas. But in general, it’s probably similar. And I’d say our shopper is probably very similar as well, again, pending the areas. But I do think, to your point, the flavors that we’re seeing on ourselves, the products that we’re seeing on ourselves; that is just becoming more and more noticeable and I think it’s unique to see.
One of the things that we haven’t really talked about is PCC standards, and it’s one of the biggest challenges that I would say that we come up against. It’s not that these products don’t exist. They do. They’re everywhere. The challenge that we have is that we have so many standards on what we can bring in that it limits. And so one of the things that our team, I think is just incredible and this goes across the board; if somebody submits a product that they see potential and then work with them and tell them, “Hey, if you did this, this and this, this would make this product more viable for PCC.” And so they don’t just say no; they try to go back and they try to build a relationship when they see potential in something. I give kudos to the team for all the extra work they do there, because they really don’t have to do that. But they do and I think it gives opportunities. And I’ve seen brands change formulas or change packaging just to have the opportunity.
One of the unique things about PCC and the general like co-op world when we think of it, is that we create buying power because we’re 15 store chain. We’re no steward over it. But when we’re bringing in a product in 15 stores, that can be a huge lift for a product and that can create an opportunity that may not have been there if they were just one or two e commerce. So right now it’s a lift and it’s important.
Diana Fryc: And I think we sometimes as an industry — there’s a certain phase for every kind of CPG when we’re reaching down and we’re helping those underserved and under connected and underrepresented founder owners kind of live their dream. It’s so much easier to work with a brand that has that capacity, first of all, from a time commitment, but also an interest in raising that growth. You can’t do that necessarily if you’re a small manufacturer with Costco or Kroger, like they can’t bring you in, you can’t take care of them and we need some real strong leadership at the smaller footprint size to kind of help grow and nurture those brands.
And they’ll, of course, be loyal brands to you forever for that, right?
Jessica Lyons: Absolutely.
Diana Fryc: But PCC isn’t necessarily into PCC solely for themselves; yes, you need to make a profit, but it is very much community driven and all about doing what’s right for the community and I think that I just love that symbiotic kind of relationship that’s being built through initiative. Like, that’s pretty great.
Now I’m going to talk a little bit about we’re going to move away from PCC. I’m going to talk about some kind of tricky and I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like you and I have a little bit of a kindred ship here, right? So you and I met when you were working at Brooks and we were actually working with Brooks at the time. Also a smaller company with a disproportionate consumer footprint in a related category, like Brooks was selling the percentage of shoes that and product they were selling compared to in Nike and Adidas was pretty big considering the size of the brand. First, let’s start with, what draws you to these types of brands? I feel like there’s a community component, but I could be wrong. Is it just that you’re following the opportunities or do you feel like there’s a draw one way or another? Can you even articulate it?
Jessica Lyons: A little bit in my bio; I’ve personally followed my passions through most of my career, through my entire career but I do think there is something to smaller brands. I think it’s you’re scrappy, you’re figuring it out. You’re nimble; you’re making some calculated risks at times to get ahead and I think working for Brooks was interesting because to your point, like they were gaining market share very, very quickly. But at the same time, it was this small company out of Bothell, Washington and to know that behind the scenes is to really love them even more to see what they were doing as a brand and wow, the past three or four years for them has just been incredible. And still, it’s not huge. It is not nearly at a level, but they are leading in so many ways. And so, yeah I think personally, I feel I also have a tendency you and I have talked about this before, where I feel like in a smaller company for me, like I can touch and understand and be a part of a lot more and I think for me, maybe without even personally recognizing it, I think it’s important to do that. And I think it’s important to be able to leave a footprint and get to know an impact.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, I get that. I think I’ve gone back and forth between large and small, but I find that my sweet spot, of course. Now I’ve been here at Retail Voodoo since 2006, but before that it was kind of back and forth; small, large, small, large but small is where I’ve landed for that reason. This is the next kind of where we take that term, right. Where you and I like I said, we share a little bit of a personality trait. We have this I’m going to call it imposter syndrome thing going on. I don’t think people outside of our bodies or outside of our inner circle might know that because they just see who we are as personalities. It might drive us both because we’re both high performers. But I wanted to talk about it a little bit with you simply because we are good friends and we can talk about this sort of thing in a way that other people maybe not want to, because I don’t think anybody really wants to say that they feel like they have imposter syndrome publicly. But boy, have I heard it from a lot of women and mostly women as well.
Jessica Lyons: It’s real.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, it’s real. From your perspective, you here you are moving from here to here to here and when we were talking about even having this episode, that was one of the things that you said that I was like, oh, my gosh, we’ve got to talk about this. You’re like; I have a little bit of imposter syndrome, like. So tell me a little bit about it and how and where do you feel you run into it most and then how do you wrangle that beast?
Jessica Lyons: Yes, certainly! I think to your point, people wouldn’t necessarily probably look at me and say, like she has imposter syndrome and I think the same; you and I show up in a big way. We show up like we are grabbers, we are doers. We are motivated.
And maybe it feels us and thank God for that. If I was too confident, maybe I wouldn’t be so confident. But, I have a friend of mine that we go back and forth on this on Instagram and we talk about it. And where it comes from is possibly a myriad of places, depending on who you are and your life, depending on where you’ve been, depending on what companies you work for and what communities you’ve been a part of, it definitely shows up in situations where I feel I’m comparing myself to other people.
Not necessarily I think that people are comparing me to other people, like I’m comparing and kudos to these women you’ve had on this podcast because it’s incredible to see and to be inspired by these women that are just like kicking butt and starting companies and founding and being in all these places because it’s just inspiring to see. But I think any time you are looking to someone, you can just feel I want to be at that level. And I think maybe to your point, it fuels and it gives me motivation to do better. It keeps me curious. It keeps me wanting to reach and keep wanting to learn.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, for me it shows up like this, like I can articulate this. So when I was in college and late in my junior year, I was in a marketing program at the UDaB and the UDaB was currently, for whatever reason, disassembling their communications program. And my professor at the time said, “If you want to be a creative person, you shouldn’t be at the UDaB, you should go to art school.” And I literally at the end of that quarter quit college and I went to art school and now here it is, 25 years later and I’m out here bumbling around and I don’t have my four year degree completed. A lot of these women that I’m talking to have MBAs and that freaks me out like, why are they even talking to me? They’re returning my phone calls. What the hell? So usually kind of like what you’re saying is for me, it’s when I’m running across somebody who’s accomplished what I hope to accomplish someday and has the credentials that I don’t have and so I kind of get wrapped up in my head and that’s how it shows up for me.
Jessica Lyons: Yeah. I’ll share a similar story, actually. And this is one that I sometimes share to people when they ask me about like, what’s your path? How did you get there? I had just a unique family situation where I didn’t have the A means to go to school and B I couldn’t, I was helping to support my family and so I’ve been working since I was 15. I have literally had a job since I was 15, but even at 15 I was a hustler. The first job, was like I started and within a couple of months I was a lead there. I remember at one point I decided I should go back to school. So I went and I started taking classes again and I was probably four weeks into the class at this time. I was managing a retail store in a fairly large mall outside of Pittsburgh.
And at the end of the class, the professor calls me up and he was like, “What are you doing here?” And I was like, “I’m here to get my degree.” And he goes, “You could teach this class.” Here I am give me that degree. He looks at me, he goes, “You could teach this class. I’m going to tell you the best thing.” At the time I was young. He said, “Get your money back and go work the way you work. You will learn so much more being in the position that you’re in right now in life.” And twenty years later, I have followed him, I have listened to that message over and over again but still, it’s the credentials that sometimes get me where I’m, I can’t put that after my name. I’ve got twenty years of hard evidence and hard learning, but yeah, the credentials I think that’s an interesting part of it and you just don’t know.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, I think there’s so much weight especially now I think in the last five or ten years that secondary degree has become kind of a cachet and not to say that there isn’t anything to be learned from that, but it is certainly intimidating. This is what I do.
I don’t know what you do, but like, for example, I’m interviewing amazing people like this. And my engineer Matt, he’s heard me say this a number of times in my calls. I’ll say I’m really intimidated by your success. And so if I trip and I stumble, that’s what’s going on and I’ll get over it in just a moment. I think on the getting it out into the open and the honesty I’ve always seen to be responded so well, and there’s this kind of reciprocation from this other person that; how do you know that an advanced degree or success in business is going to intimidate somebody? And so it’s this kind of you can see this physical shift in them, not an embarrassment, but just kind of like, oh my gosh, I’m talking to a human here, right? I kind of bring the guard way down. But that’s always been my approach is to just kind of acknowledge it in front of the person or even just to myself out loud. Sometimes just hearing it like, oh, I’m intimidated by this person because I’m blank.
Jessica Lyons: Yeah, I think that’s great advice, actually and I think it humanizes us. I think to that person, they may not know that you see them in that way and they may share a story that was like, oh, my God, listen– I feel like as humans, it’s so second nature. It’s like there’s always that strive. If you strive to be a better person in life, you are constantly looking at inspirations but I think your inspirations, even when I think of running it’s like intimidating you. Do you have this imposter’s in here? People ask me all I’m like, oh, you’re such a good runner and I have the same imposter syndrome in running as I do and you know me.
Diana Fryc: Yeah I do.
Jessica Lyons: I’m super humble about what I’ve done and I’m just like, wow, and the truth is like I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I don’t need to have an imposter syndrome and so maybe it keeps us growing. Maybe it keeps us fighting and I’m okay with that.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. So are you able to identify when other people come to you for advice, whether it’s personal, professional or running or something like that. Are you able to identify that like I know what we’re talking about it’s very, very specifically right now and you may not identify as imposter syndrome, but can you see it when other people come to you and they’re like, I don’t know how to look like, are you able to go, okay, here’s what I think is going on. Have you considered blank? Can you see it? And then if you do, what do you say?
Jessica Lyons: So can I see imposter syndrome in other people?
Diana Fryc: Yeah.
Jessica Lyons: I’ve never really thought about that because I feel like I’m really giving the advice that I should give myself.
Diana Fryc: Isn’t that funny? Okay, fair. Totally fair; I don’t think that I see it in other people either. I frankly I think you and I are the same. I think those of us that are afraid of being caught tend to have a little bit bolder personalities just like a little bit of a facade in some way, shape or form. But then we’re also just driven to make sure that whatever it is that we believe in ourselves isn’t true. So we keep moving forward and forward.
Jessica Lyons: Yeah, or maybe it keeps us humble, maybe it helps us to — a friend of mine the other day, he said to me, he said, “I wish you could see yourself the way the world sees you.” And I was like, “I appreciate that. But I think not being able to see the entire picture enables me the opportunity to them to keep wanting.” So yeah, I think it’s really interesting and I actually think it’s a conversation that should be normalized much younger. We talk a lot about normalizing conversations and it’s like you say, with girlfriends or guy friends and they let’s talk about what this is, how did you get here? Like, what is it and how can we help you get over this hurdle or just understand this hurdle? And when it shows up and when you need to be okay with it or to fight it?
Diana Fryc: Yeah, for sure. I think so. I think this podcast is all about normalizing a lot of different things that we’re not seeing right now in the natural. It kind of ebbs and flows, of course. But I think also kind of like mental headspace can be normalized too, I think. I think of a lot of people out there that probably share a lot of our thoughts that, I think of like Kara Goldin over at Hint. I think she talks publicly a lot about things that she regrets, maybe not regrets, but things that she’s like, listen, I did this, this and this, and that’s normal. Like, don’t freak out about it. Just keep going.
Jessica Lyons: Totally. Her story is awesome.
Diana Fryc: Well, outside of like I said, you are this community builder, so it makes sense that you’re working at a place with community. Your whole job is to create relationships and community. But you also outside in your personal life, you extend into some social activities like the November Project. I don’t know if you’re still working with this group. Covid may have shut it down for a while where you were working with homeless people and getting them involved in running, which seems like the most bonkers thing you could ever hear you could think of. And yet when you talk about the organization, it makes complete sense what you’re trying to doing, what that group is trying to do. Why are these initiatives so important to you and how do they fill you? You might even talk about what that project is does? I don’t remember what it is, but I found it so fascinating.
Jessica Lyons: Yeah. That’s a beautiful organization. It’s called Soul Train and it comes out of Recovery Cafe. I actually after I had my son, I didn’t have the capacity to stay involved, but I was involved for a couple of years beforehand and kind of rejuvenating the program. And yeah, it was exactly what you said it was bringing exercise and introducing people to running, starting with a walk, many of them, and the confidence that it built in them in the community that it gave them and the place that they were welcome. And I watched it change many lives, give them goals, see them just explode as humans. And so yeah, that was a great program to be a part of. I have always been drawn to community. It’s something that I did when I was younger. I was always involved with sports and I think there was some softball specifically and basketball and volleyball. And those are very much team sports. I didn’t actually find running until much later.
Diana Fryc: And that’s from your dad, right? That running part?
Jessica Lyons: Definitely. The interesting thing about running is, while I enjoy it as a singular sport, I think it’s my meditation, it’s my movement meditation. When I’m alone, it is also brought some of my greatest communities and opportunities. But I think community for me, it is a place where people find themselves. It’s a place where you find a connection. And you mentioned November project, and I haven’t led that group in a couple of years. But I stay involved with the group and I kind of run a virtual running group as a spinoff. Go on a year strong, but it’s again, it gives me great joy to see people find community and to know that they belong to a place and to know that they can show up in whatever form they are that day and be part of something that is bigger than them.
And when they might not have ever connected in life, and that was the beauty of November project. For those who may not know, it’s a free fitness movement that is in 52 cities globally now. We happen to have one in Seattle and it’s been around for I think we’re going on six years. And it’s people from all walks of life. It is all abilities. It is colder by day, but like runner by morning. And we’ve got people all over the place and people make us better. And I know I’m better when I’m with people. I think that’s why I throw myself out there probably a little too much sometimes to create community, but it’s always been a benefit for me and hopefully a benefit for others.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, I think for me I think maybe a little bit for you too, I think these external communities are a chosen family. Like things get tricky at certain points in your life. And for those of us who had trickier upbringings where things weren’t like awesome or stable, I’m just putting some real general terms out there, as an adult, these communities are like chosen families in some way, shape or form, adopted families. And so I don’t know if that’s how you see. But for me, that’s always how it’s shown up.
Jessica Lyons: Yeah. I mean, growing up, I was very involved in church and that was my community. And just through the years and moving and I don’t really have a practice anymore, so to speak. But you move somewhere and you don’t know how to find it.
And I think as we get older, it is so much harder. And we have families, it is so much harder to find community. And so if I can be someone who creates community or lets people feel a sense of community, that’s fulfilling.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, it is. So this just super fun. I learned even more about Jess and I’ve known her for years now, of course, with a little one. We haven’t spent much time. And now that you live 15 minutes away, it’s kind of hard to get together on the regular. Again, those of you in Seattle will understand that whole geographic mess. We’ll just put that kindly. But so that was fun. So thank you. There are some questions that I ask every guest. And so this is where and we’re now at that time. And the first one is, is there some sort of fact or story about the industry or any of the products that you work, either PCC or Books or something else? So sort of I call it a happy hour tidbit, something that I’d share with my friends when I connect with them that you’d like to share.
Jessica Lyons: I don’t know so much is like a fact or a story like I’m just really inspired by the innovation that’s going on right now and our customers are demanding so much more. They want transparency in products. They want to see everything from a carbon footprint to like very specific labeling. And I just am so in awe of brands that are stepping up to this challenge, because, let’s face it, it is not easy. And it is ultimately going to make us all better in the long run. And so I don’t know. I think it’s interesting and I think it is an inspiring time to be part of this industry. And I’m very excited to see where things go, like why settle? Let’s keep up in the game.
Diana Fryc: Exactly. I just spoke with Cynthia Tice, founder of Lily’s, and she’s now like so the next thing she wants to tackle is packaging waste. So I’m like, okay, I’m done running a brand. Now I want to save the world a different way. I’m like, let’s do it. I love those stories. And she’s like, I got to figure it out. And that’s all. When I see those kind of folks like that who’ve been in the industry for a while, ready to take up the torch and do something else that’s super exciting for me from an innovation standpoint, I love that. You might have one or two women leaders or rising stars, whether it’s in our industry or not. Who is it that you are just interested in following and why?
Jessica Lyons: Oh, good question. Well, two women you introduced me to over at TOP, the organic project, Denielle and Thyme. I am crazy inspired by what they are doing. And you want to talk about people who are kicking some butt. It is awesome and again, like, they found an industry of period products and said, like, no, we can make this better and we’re going to make this better and they are doing it. So, I’m just going to give a shout out to them. I think that is an inspiring place to be.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, they are incidentally, the hardest working humans. I am not joking. Denielle is everywhere.
Jessica Lyons: No doubt.
Diana Fryc: When do you sleep woman? I do not know. She’s pretty great. What brands or trends are you keeping your eye on right now?
Jessica Lyons: So, yeah, I eat a plant based diet, so I am once again like really loving all of the plant based products that are coming out right now. And it’s more and more and more from the milks and YOK to Oatmeal’s. If nobody’s paying attention to what they’re doing right now, they’re a great brand. And even brands that are just, again, challenging themselves to say like this is a movement that’s not going away, like people are waking up to the sustainability of it, to the wellness behind it. And they’re seeing how it fits into their world. And so while they may not eat a plant based diet and everything, having options in beauty and health care and in all of these things, like having those as an option is going to separate someone in the organization.
We were working with a soap company who just the other day decided, you know what, we’re going to remove beeswax. Why? Because we can do it without it. And this was in soap, it’s like if you can do it and it still makes your product great, why not. So, I think personally I’m following those and it’s awesome to see and like I’d love to uplift and make sure that they’re getting their space too.
Diana Fryc: Oh my gosh. So how are you keeping yourself sane and centered these days?
Jessica Lyons: Running as we’ve talked about before. Just trying to give myself the space to actually tap out. And I think that’s been a conversation I’ve had with a lot of people lately of, how do you actually walk away? I heard a really cool story the other day of a woman, she was having a really hard time and she just couldn’t disconnect. And so her family stepped in and they said, “Mom, you’re not allowed to come home until you shut your laptop, you put it in your backpack, and you walk up to us and say, I’m home. And at that point, we will talk to you. You have left it all there and you are now like that is your cue.” And I just thought that was a really great practice because some people aren’t blessed enough to have an office. They’re working from their kitchen, it’s like, finding a practice that you can say this is where the day ends. I think is really, really important.
Diana Fryc: Oh, I love it. Hey, if people want to connect with you, what is the best way? Do you like LinkedIn? I know you’re pretty active on Instagram. What’s your preference?
Jessica Lyons: Yeah. Either are great. I think LinkedIn is a great place to find me. I’m probably more responsive on Instagram, but yeah. Either of those are great.
Diana Fryc: So you’re under Jessica Lyons with one L, L-Y-O-N-S correct?
Jessica Lyons: With L-Y-O-N-S. And then Instagram is Lyons’Queen117. And of course, my last name is Lyons.
Diana Fryc: Oh my gosh. Well, thank you, Miss Jessica, for your time today and for your commitment to the good work that you’re doing at and with PCC for the community at large. I, of course, appreciate you. I appreciate what you bring to this conversation. So thank you.
Jessica Lyons: Yeah. Thank you for having me and thank you for just kind of riffing on some candid conversations and hopefully someone can hear it and take away something that we said today.
Diana Fryc: All right. We’ll see you soon.
This episode is sponsored by Retail Voodoo, a creative marketing firm specializing in growing fixing and reinventing brands in the food, beverage, wellness and fitness industries. If your natural’s brand is in need of positioning, package design or marketing activation, we’re here to help. You can find more information at retail-voodoo.com. And so there you go. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today. And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to this channel and share with your network. Until next time, be well and do gooder.