Gooder Podcast featuring Christy Goldsby
Listen on Podbean, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, and YouTube
Food as medicine is not an out-of-the-box idea now. But back in 2011, it was not conventional thinking. After watching a friend struggle with food-related illness and attending the journey of wellness self-discovery, Christy went on a mission to change the diets of us all. The goal: refocus people away from diets fill with processed foods and bring back health empowerment through food choice . As she says – knowing what you’re eating may be the first step of and most powerful form of medicine.
Join Christy Goldsby, CEO and Founder of Honey Mama’s and I, as we discuss how her love of baking, innovating and caring for people developed into a healthy indulgence brand with the express goal of spreading vitality and playfulness into everyone’s life.
Innovation and change doesn’t happen in one moment. – Christy Goldsby
In this episode we learn:
- The genesis of the Honey Mama’s brand.
- How Christy’s health experiences combined with her baking background turned into a passion for caring for people beyond her immediate community.
- How slowing down and being present can be a powerful leadership tool.
- The long-term vision and impacts Honey Mama’s wants to make in the world.
- Why brands producing snacks should innovative and promote healthy snacking.
- How indulgent treats can boost our immune systems to prevent illnesses in more than one way.
- Fundraising during COVID and how Amberstone Ventures is poised to help spread Honey Mama’s vision.
About Christy Goldsby:
Christy Goldsby, CEO & Founder of Honey Mama’s, an award-winning premium melts in your mouth delicious, honey-sweetened cocoa bar in the refrigerated better for you indulgence category. Growing up in a family of cooks, bakers, farmers, and gardeners, the kitchen was always a place of celebration, creativity, nourishment and joy for Christy. She started Honey Mama’s as a way to share these celebrated family traditions, a passion for healthy living, and a love of the natural world. She was determined to create a treat that exudes vitality and playfulness, something you’d as likely take to a formal dinner party as enjoy on the hiking trail or share around a campfire. Made with pure honey as the only sweetener, Honey Mama’s are full of everything delightful: bold, deep flavors, and decadent textures and are naturally free from gluten, soy, dairy, and grain, allowing your body to thrive.
Amberstone Ventures – We started Amberstone to support entrepreneurs building breakthrough food and consumer product companies. We partner with brands at their earliest stages, providing the capital and insights necessary to scale efficiently into category leaders.
Diana Fryc: Welcome to the Gooder Podcast. Hi, I’m Diana Fryc, your host. As partner and CMO of Retail Voodoo and award winning branding agency I have met and worked with some of the most amazing women in the naturals industry, food, beverage, wellness and even 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, expertise and even passions to help our businesses around the world become gooder. I’m super excited to introduce my guest today; Christy Goldsby almost tripped over that there. Hello, Christy.
Christy Goldsby: Hi, so nice to be here.
Diana Fryc: Same here. Well, we’re not in person but–
Christy Goldsby: It’s the new in person these days.
Diana Fryc: Christy is the CEO and founder of Honey Mama’s. That is an award winning premium melts in your mouth delicious, honey sweetened cocoa bar in the refrigerated better for you indulgence category, super yummy. We’ll learn a little bit more about it soon. But a little more about Christy; she grew up in a family of cooks, bakers, farmers and gardeners and the kitchen was always a place of celebration, creativity and nourishment, and even joy for her. She started Honey Mama’s as a way to share these celebrated family traditions, a passion for healthy living and a love of the natural world. She was determined to create a treat that exudes vitality and playfulness and something that you’d likely take to a formal party as much as enjoy on the hiking trail or as you’re around a campfire. So welcome Christy.
Christy Goldsby: So nice to be here. It really is. Thanks for having me.
Diana Fryc: Yes, I’m so happy to get to talk to you in person this way. And how’s Portland today? I know that feels like such a loaded question with politics and BLM and fires, but really, how are you and how’s Portland today?
Christy Goldsby: Yeah, Portland is pretty wild place for being such a liberal mellow city. It’s just been full of smoke and yeah, protests and just the intensity of everything is real. I can definitely say that it feels like I’m doing great. The city is definitely in a weird spot. But it’s an important spot, I think, and so that’s kind of how it feels. It’s certainly feels different right now, but everything feels different right now. So I think that that’s okay and that’s kind of how I think we’re all experiencing it. It’s kind of like how do we take this and turn it into what it’s needing to be?
Diana Fryc: Oh, and are you or any of your community members like your Honey Mama’s or your family, everybody, nobody’s been impacted by illness or fires. I was talking with Kim at Coconut Bliss. Lee and the fires were so close to where she was and they’re okay. I checked in with him recently. But are you okay?
Christy Goldsby: Yeah, we’re okay. We had about a week of just really, really awful smoke in the city and then it came back again. For a few days, the air quality really has not been great, but it is cool out today. Anything it’s like sub 50 maybe so it’s cloudy. It feels actually, the air feels better than it’s felt for a long time.
Diana Fryc: So a little bit more like Portland than usual.
Christy Goldsby: Yeah.
Diana Fryc: Well, let’s talk a little bit about why we’re here today. First of all, huge chocolate fan. One of my favorite things about being able to do this podcast is I get to talk to people who produce my favorite products in the whole planet. Huge chocolate fan and Honey Mama’s has always had my eye as a shopper; I’ve been an organic and natural shopper. So I want to say since 98, or 99. So I’ve seen quite an evolution, but in the very beginning you’ve always had my eye. I like the concept of having indulgence and then having some benefits there at the same time. And I wonder being a pioneer in this real healthy indulgence, not like there are some healthy indulgence that are kind of a stretch but in true healthy indulgence, can you tell us how Honey Mama’s got started and why you felt this specific collective collision of indulgence and function was important for you at the time that you came up with the brand?
Christy Goldsby: Yeah, I think that it’s such a great question. I had run a family bakery for several years pretty as to starting Honey Mama’s.
I had worked in small family owned restaurants also for pretty much my whole life as early as I could start working and I love the connection, that food and gathering for meals and cooking together for others or for yourself kind of brings to us. So that always has been kind of central and core to my being. Then after suffering from some low grade kind of undiagnosed autoimmune issues myself for quite some time; once I was like, in my early 30s, right around the time I’d had a couple of kids and I was just really kind of struggling with some autoimmune stuff. And during that time, there just wasn’t a lot of information out there or doctors kind of looking at food as even something that was impacting our health in a way other than like don’t eat saturated fat and all that kind of the typical. And so I had this huge kind of aha moment, in 2009, I did a cleanse with a friend of mine, who had a very severe, very severe kind of acute autoimmune disease called Myasthenia Gravis. She was just having the hardest time understanding kind of what was going on, the doctors couldn’t figure out what to do with it.
I did a cleanse with her because it was recommended to her to do this in order to just try to see if she could make some headway because the diagnosis that she had gotten from the doctors at that time, were saying essentially, like your body is just going to shut down to the point where you’re going to lose your ability to move. And she was really not accepting that diagnosis. And long story short, we did this cleanse together, for about a month, it was a gut health cleanse, and I had a huge awareness around what I am putting into my body completely affects my ability to feel my best. And she completely turned around her autoimmune disease by discovering some very severe food allergies that she has really was what it came down to. So she was able to nip that in the bud and to kind of control it. So I had dipped my toes into the CPG industry when we had the bakery before I started the company, and I obviously kind of loved that world, but I wanted to because I was so impacted by this aha of looking at how food really impacts our health, knowing what it was like to run a brick and mortar space, I liked the community that was there.
But what I felt really in like passion to do was to take this conversation actually to a larger canvas, which was the grocery world, it’s where everybody shops, because it felt like a big and really radical and important change that I had undergone. I was recognizing this across kind of just in the news and knowing people and stuff and recognizing there’s some pretty big issues and gluten free was happening at that time. Not much else was happening at that time, as far as understanding what food allergies might be doing to us or whatever. I just wanted to reach more people through the model that I could create a simple product line and have the canvas to be part of that broader conversation about food and just inspire consumers to enjoy something that not only didn’t deplete the system, but that actually gave infused our bodies with health and vitality. The fact that it’s a treat came after several different iterations of ideas that I had had. So that wasn’t my original concept was to like do something that necessarily that was a treat, even though that was the professional background I had come from, I was just looking for what can I create? And I feel really glad and I think it was obvious that I landed where I did because it spoke to me the most. The minute that I ate the bar when I first made it, I was super excited about the flavor and the texture.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, it’s interesting how far medicine and our understanding of food has gotten closer and closer over the years. I was seeing a naturopath back when people thought I was insane. It was the early 90s and we had already progressed so far at that part and at that time as well.
And we were exploring diet from a macro level at that time, and I kept conversations with people that thought I was nuts. And here we are now in the world of gut health and fodmap and it’s just growing bigger and bigger. It’s so interesting that you had that presence of mind so early on. And I think what’s interesting and we might touch on this a little bit later, but the fact that it ends up being that chocolate, and I wonder if it’s because maybe women are a little bit more open to trying something new, and it’s very easy to kind of maybe dip your way into a new lifestyle through something that you’re already engaged in. It’s like, oh, it has chocolate in it! Especially where you were at 2011, 2012, when people were still kind of connecting naturals with sort of quality, you know what I mean? Like, there was a lot happening at that time. I’m curious, is there anybody still with you from when you first started? Is there anybody working with you still?
Christy Goldsby: Unfortunately, I don’t have any of my original employees. That’s so funny that you ask me such a great question, too. I really wish I did. There’s just I had such great people in the beginning. We have really wonderful people now obviously, though, there’s a woman who is with us still, Ivy Entrekin, and she’s been with the company for about five years. We’re an eight year company.
Diana Fryc: I know Ivy, yeah.
Christy Goldsby: She’s great. She’s done pretty much every role. She started doing social media for us part time back then and then has moved into all sorts of different things, including HR, and we just moved her into a full time, product development and innovation role, because that’s really where her background lies in and so she’s working with me and us to create new products and innovate. So it’s a really fun kind of lifecycle she’s got in the company.
Diana Fryc: I love those people that are with us from the very beginning, because they go through the journey with us. Now, granted, it’s from a different standpoint, but you have that kind of relationship with those folks that you can’t necessarily have with kind of with the other new ones. I always sometimes like to connect. You grew up in this baking family, baker family farming family, maybe a little bit. It seems like making things, producing things is part of your DNA that you come from this background. I’m curious, do you feel like; is it the making of the product, the innovative part of product? Is it the giving the product? Whether it’s a sale? What is it about the making of something that gives you some fire?
Christy Goldsby: That is such a good question. Because it’s like, wow. I think at the core of it, it’s just creativity. It’s just that we all kind of are driven by different things. And for me, I think the innovation and the experimental aspect, the kind of movement change growth experience that you have, whether it’s doing a project or making something in the kitchen and creating recipes, it is the innovation piece I think that makes me the most excited. I love to start with kind of like a seed of inspiration for something and then turn it into something that feels meaningful to me and I kind of do that with a lot of different things and certainly, that’s what the experience of starting this company was about. In the beginning, it was so much about it was very exciting too. I knew that I wanted to start another business after I had left the bakery and I wasn’t sure exactly what that would be or when it would be and then this whole process with the discovering kind of food as medicine experience that I had certainly drove me into that direction and it gave me I was like, okay that’s it, I need to figure this out. And so it was that like, I love that part of I guess it’s the creative process. Thinking of inspiration, thinking about how can I take this and translate this into something that is very meaningful, and then just kind of running with that and then that has continued really to translate into every different aspect of the company as we’ve grown.
Diana Fryc: And inspiration, you say you get your inspiration, are you out somewhere? Is it in the conversations? Is it just experimentation?
Christy Goldsby: It’s kind of all of it. It’s such a process that’s kind of like, for me with Honey Mama’s in particular, it was someone said to me once, I think it was like, such a brilliant thing. They said, changes and experiences occur not in one fell swoop, it’s all the tiny little micro adjustments that you make going up to that, and that’s kind of how I feel about that kind of inspiration piece. It’s like, yes, it’s like conversations, it’s experiences and then sometimes when you’re in that space of feeling kind of like uncomfortable, because you’re in between, maybe having clarity on something that you’re trying to get clarity on, or whatever it is, however, that translates for people between jobs or just anything. Those times are really important because there for me, it’s the forming, is the formation time and I’ve been through a lot of that and definitely during that time, but I think that it’s nice too. It is wonderful to break through those and then have that inspiration to be able to have clarity and then to do something and to take it and to recognize.
With Honey Mama’s it was that whole process for me of discovering food as medicine, for my own self, having all the professional background in the baking world and kind of we had a CPG line in the freezer section when we had Blue Gardenia Bakery, we did a cinnamon rolls of the corn rolls these take and bake kind of gourmet rolls and so I understood that landscape. And so one thing really led to the other and I thought that whole canvas of recognizing this is something that’s a much broader conversation and it’s just about meeting and enjoying that kind of connection with your community or your people over a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate cake and so that translated into another friend of mine gave me this really wonderful recipe for these little like raw food protein bar things that I ate and that led to the inspiration for this recipe and that really took place over like a one and a half year process. So that’s kind of how that has translated.
Diana Fryc: Wow. So you’re creative. I suspect you have other outlets as well as my husband is an artist but as a painter, but give him anything in the approach is always creative. So I’m assuming you still bake? Or like maybe yeah, I’m sure. Do you have a favorite recipe? Or is there a favorite recipe from the family that goes anytime you come over bring one of those?
Christy Goldsby: One of my very favorite recipes is a buttermilk chocolate cake recipe that kind of was the inspiration for a bakery that we had, it’s a recipe that came from my grandma on my dad’s side and that was kind of over the years transformed into this like really decadent cake that is just wonderful and lovely. And that’s I think probably one of my all-time favorite recipes and that people do request that for sure. Also, I think that the other one is probably just there’s a cookie recipe that’s also one of my favorites that people request that’s made with toasted oats and chocolate chunks and I of course use Honey Mama’s in that amount. Oh, yeah, it’s great, instead of chocolate chips. It’s a wonderful ingredient and anything like banana breads or you know those types of things you can really play with Honey Mama’s in making baked goods.
Diana Fryc: Wow, I love that, thank you. I’ve got it. Now I’ve got my project for the weekend. I’m thinking from our conversation that we had before, and then as I’m listening to you speak right now; this brand seems to be really an expression of who you are, and how you would like to have an impact on the world. Am I catching that?
It feels like the brand and you are very, almost inseparable at least the way it is right now. Am I catching that correctly?
Christy Goldsby: You’re catching it for sure. I think that the brand is definitely an expression of who I am. I think that, like I was saying before, for me, our brand is about connection kind of at every turn and it’s about connecting to self, it’s about connecting to others, through kind of endearment and love and authenticity and it is just a chocolate bar, that’s made with these really kind of I call them like life giving ingredients because they really add a vitality instead of detract from that. But that is 100% kind of what the brand at its core will always be about is connection and it’s an interesting time right now kind of with everything that’s going on with the pandemic, and civil unrest and everything else and we’re being forced to be separated from our people and that’s really hard on everybody, I think on the level that we really didn’t understand until now and it’s really changing the DNA of our culture. I think that for me, the company has always been about this connection piece. Well, that can happen on so many different ways and the simplicity of a pleasurable moment, and kind of sharing that with somebody goes a long way.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, it sure does.
Christy Goldsby: Yeah, it really does and kind of the texture, and flavor and experience of eating a Honey Mama’s bar really does kind of force you to be present and it’s just kind of like, “Oh my Gosh!” I kind of love that about treats in general, as they really do that for you. It’s just this moment of kind of like I’m just giving myself something sweet. But yeah, I think to me so much is just about this kind of connection to each other and wanting to have this, it takes a village experience. Again, we’re really experiencing that now as a culture and so always the kind of core of the company has been about slowing down enough to recognize, to spend time with people that you love to kind of celebrate your life and do that in really small ways. That doesn’t mean like dropping everything for a weekend going away, even though we all would love to do that all the time. But it’s just really kind of celebrating life and being a part of it and truly engaged in it and I think that the core of it really is kind of, at least for me, what food does for people and then that added piece where it’s about wellness and about healing is a huge part of that. It’s a huge part of that, because we as human beings, we’re always going through different phases of just being well or healing from something and just kind of the challenges of life in general. And so I think that if we’re able to have a treat, that literally can help kind of prevent illnesses, to strengthen our immune system, like we clearly need that more than ever at this moment and that’s just stress alone is such an immune depressant. But just that ultimately is my goal and I think it’s definitely a core of who I am. It’s just like, how can we refocus culturally in a way that puts emphasis on just this basic fundamental tools that are available to everybody all the time and it just comes down to empowerment; feeling empowered that we can make choices around kind of how we eat and help whether or not we thrive.
Diana Fryc: So I want to talk about this bite size moments that we talked about when we were first talking about doing this episode together and this kind of brilliance that I see about it. I kind of want to weave it in here and tell me if you think I’m a little bit nutty in my thinking. But what’s really great about your specific product compared to other types of indulgences is that you can have a piece in a moment in transition.
You don’t have to break out knife or silverware, and you don’t have to really get dirty. You can have it and it’s permissible because the calorie size is small. And one of the things that is really powerful right now that I think, and then I’ve heard over and over from other guests that I’ve had on, is this Millennials and Gen Z are really great about understanding, emotional and mental well-being, they’re not afraid to talk about it. And in a time like right now, where everybody’s worried about gaining weight, and they’re this and they’re starting to push away those things that are satisfying whether it’s satisfying on the mouth, or satisfying in the brain, or satisfying in its stomach, to have a product like yours, where the calorie count is small, but it’s satisfying the body’s needs in a way that you only need a little and it tastes good and it feels good. I just love that whole component and it can get messy to talk about.
But in an instance of like that bite size moment of self-care, maybe that’s what I’ll call it, that’s how when you were talking about it, and what you’re seeing now that’s how I’m seeing or feeling it. I think it’s really important for humans, but particularly the mother units of families, to make sure that they’re giving themselves permission to do those types of things because there will be other times in our life where we can be exactly the weight that we want to be or keeping to a specific diet or that kind of thing. I wonder if this next question kind of feeds into this, like, I know that you desire to care for people holistically, that was definitely obvious what we talked and there’s so much more anxiety and discourse happening right now. How do you make that connection using your brand between, I’ve got a product to sell you and caring for people in an authentic way? And we might have already talked about it, but you might just touch on it from a different angle.
Christy Goldsby: I think that’s a great question. And it kind of is just, I think, just continuing on what I was just talking about. I think that at the root of what we’re doing is that it’s not so much. So it is selling a product, I guess, and on its most basic level at selling a product. But I think ultimately what we’re trying to do, and do it well, is to shift and refocus our food system away from processed foods towards more simple Whole Foods. It’s such a basic and fundamental tool for improving and stabilizing our overall health and wellness. To me it’s a long term project and it’s also a long term part of a much bigger group of others that are doing the same thing. Does that kind of answer your question because I think that it’s just wanting to help inspire others to look at the choices that they’re making and really just kind of give to other businesses and the big guys. Like eventually the bigger businesses here to kind of get on this train which they already are starting to do; but to kind of move the trend in that way so that it actually just kind of replaces this fairly toxic commodities based food system that can be in the grocery store aisles that is generally full of stuff that hurts people and it’s all so connected.
Diana Fryc: It is, I agree.
Christy Goldsby: It’s all so connected.
Diana Fryc: When you look back at kind of this genesis of Honey Mama’s now I’ve seen 2011 and 2012 in the grand scheme of thing they’re pretty close, is a long time ago in the world of naturals on a mainstream adoption front, right? Natural has been around forever. And there are some countries that have never frankly ever really gone too far out of being really close to the food chain and away from processed. But thinking back to that time, and how now we’ve got multinationals involved, there’s a lot of innovation, there’s a lot of players, a lot of money and a product like yours at that time was lucky to survive.
Because there’s very forward thinking product innovation at 2011 and 2012; I wonder if you can share maybe what hurdles you had in some of your conversations with; it could have been with retailers, consumers, ingredient suppliers, and then maybe some unexpected surprises that you’re like, “Wow, those guys totally got it on the first conversation.” You can tell us both ends of the spectrum.
Christy Goldsby: I created the product in 2011 and then I got everything together, during 2012, kind of launched it at the end of 2012 before 2013. And during that time, I think, again, it kind of goes back to this thing around that the creative process, and even just the collective consciousness processes, like tying that into what you’re asking about, because there were gluten free things during that time, that was kind of it, everything tasted like cardboard that was supposed to be like gluten free. There wasn’t a lot of health stuff, protein bars, were just starting out. There’s a couple, like a couple versions on the shelf. I was going to do a very specifically functional product originally, which was just cultured vegetables, which was all about gut health. So it’s like homemade sauerkraut, essentially, with probiotics and everything. Now, those are actually pretty common on the shelf; Kombucha, Kombucha is super common. That was my original idea, I ran into a lot of different problems with it. And so I’ve had many of these experiences, I’m sure that you have too, but where you kind of just get a lot of signals that this is not the right thing. But you need to do something different, or regardless of what the situation setting is. But that happened to me. That was happening to me with a few things during that time and I would just kind of go, “Okay, I’m going to go back to the drawing board, and really kind of continue to figure out what works,” because I am creative. I’m also like really determined. So I’m like determined to figure out something that feels very right and to do it. And so I think that as far as kind of bridging the lack of awareness around kind of food as medicine during that time, or any of that stuff, it’s just this indulgence piece really kind of was key.
And just the fact that it’s relatable enough. And so I guess I’ll go into the hurdles piece of what you’re asking because the hurdles were, okay, first of all, I started at the farmers market. And so I had this built in group of people who were customers at the market who came from all over the world. I did the Portland Farmers Market downtown. So it’s a big, huge farmers market. And so I was able to have interactions with people where I was getting their feedback on their experience with it. And it was pretty much just like, people were freaking out. And they’re like, “What the heck is this?” So good with a chocolate bar, that whole experience, like what is that? And I pretty much right away was also approaching grocery stores. And so my hurdles were kind of like maybe a little bit upfront of like, okay, what is this? And where are we going to put this? And that was kind of something I was getting a little bit from buyers, but at the same time, and I think the surprise piece and the excitement in the positive flip of that was always like, “What is this?” And then I’m like, you just need to eat it. And then they’d eat it and they’d be like, “Oh my God.” And then they would just like have clarity, okay, we’re just going to put this in the refrigerator next to our desserts or whatever. And so, it was like that, there was just enough like the Paleo movement had just started during that time, and so there was like, just enough awareness. And I think buyers are also always kind of looking for something that is unique and different. And so I certainly saw that in the natural channel, which is where I really started but that piece was definitely huge. I think the fact that I was able to start with an indulgence was a really, really good thing during that time, especially because it really help to come across over.
But always the hurdle still is for us, it is kind of like consumers not knowing where to find it in a grocery store, because it’s like, would be something you would eat as a chocolate bar, but they’re like, not intuitively going to go to the refrigerator. That has always been a hurdle for us. And so I think that the cool thing about it is that it’s, it’s been part of, I think people like to be surprised, and then also share something that’s like, look at this thing I found. And I do think that has worked in our benefit, because people found it, and then they shared it. And it’s a really fun thing to share because it’s like, you don’t know about this, and it’s so fun, it’s so delicious or whatever. So maybe I’m kind of optimist, but that’s the experience that I’ve had with that just trying to kind of grow the company has always been like, the challenges do have that flip side, and you just got to be able to use that. That’s really been the experience there. It’s getting easier and easier and as we continue to grow, we’re finally able to start putting a little bit of money into marketing and because it’s always been experience for, Diana walks up to the booth or the demo stand at a grocery store, which we cannot do any more. So, launching it right now would have been a huge, huge hurdle because the experience of just like trying it, and then kind of getting excited about it is always just been huge. That was all of our marketing dollars went behind us me demoing the product.
Diana Fryc: Yeah, we just wrote an article about that last week is like, “Okay, well, what do you do when you can’t demo? When you can’t sample the product? Lots of phone calls came in after that. Let’s talk about this because not uncommon for smaller brands, you don’t have a PepsiCo budget, you can’t go out and you can’t even try to pretend and so you have to get in front of consumer. And there’s other things but you’re right, getting that in a person’s hands and that surprise and delight component is so great.
Christy Goldsby: Yeah. It’s kind of great. It’s an inner thing. I never really thought about that until recently, I started having a lot of awareness about that. I was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s super interesting. That’s real.”
Diana Fryc: Yeah. And what’s fun about it is because you are this indulgence, like I think people are more inclined to them. Kind of like if you were delivering the same type of ingredients solution in say, like a kale chip, you’re going to have maybe less people interest in that. No diss on kale, please don’t send —
Christy Goldsby: No, for sure. I love it.
Diana Fryc: Like the chocolate component is the thing that I think people are willing to go, “I’ll try this once because I know I like chocolate. So how bad can it be?” I think that’s great.
Christy Goldsby: Even those that don’t like coconut, they’re like, “Oh, it’s got coconut and I don’t want it.” I’m like, “No worries.” And they’ll be like, “Oh, I actually really like that. That’s great. Why is that it’s not like the overly sweetened coconut, whatever that I got turned off by as a kid or whatever.”
Diana Fryc: Yes. Coconuts come a long way too speaking.
Christy Goldsby: That has come a really long way.
Diana Fryc: Who knew? And FDA is still fighting over whether they want to call it a nut or not a nut and that is a whole another podcast. That’s where we can just get mad at the FDA. There’s a lot of things to be mad about that. Speaking of lots of changes around product and innovation and diets, talk a little bit more about how you seen the category change in regards to adopting a product like yours as part of a diet rather than like a special treat maybe.
Christy Goldsby: Yeah, well the category, certainly the refrigerated snacking category is blowing up. It’s been one of these things that year over year since I started the company, it’s really continued to grow. So knock on wood. I think that I’ve seen it change a lot perfect bar, I don’t know if you’re familiar with them. But it’s a wonderful protein bar that I’ve always loved it because it’s just delicious. And it really tasted like peanut butter. I just remember tasting that for the first time and being like, “Oh, this is so different than all the other proteins bars.”
I feel like I’m eating like a peanut butter cookie or something. And so I think the thing I’ve seen the most in the how the industry or the category has also changed is just that there’s a lot more awareness and attention in general to that kind of fresh snacking thing. And it’s just great, I think that we are starting to see the big guys come in there, Justin’s is owned by Hormel, and he just launched a protein bar in that category, we Perfect Bar totally is blown up on their own, I think by Mondelez now, which is a huge player. And so, we are definitely seeing a pretty massive influx of dollars coming into that space, which I really see is just a huge positive, because if the big guys are interested in putting money on the shelf there and they’re going to be putting non crap on the shelf, I think that that’s what we’re seeing right now. And I’m hoping that we continue to see the trending kind bar. I know it is launching some refrigerated products. I feel like it’s certainly only been positive, I feel like beforehand, when we first launched and over the years, people have said, buyers have said, the trickiest buyers have been like, “I don’t know where to put your product. I love it, but where the heck are we going to put it?” And I’m always like, “Well, do you have perfect bar? Put it next to that, because it’s where people will go, at least to our core demographic or going to probably be looking for a healthiest version of a protein bar that they can find.”
Diana Fryc: Well, right. And we know that the natural shopper shops the perimeter door, the challenges is that chiller space, or the cooler refrigerator depends on how you call it. But there’s only so much room, there are only so many slots in there. So I know that you are not just competing for another like product, you are competing against grab and go, you’re competing against RTD, you’re competing against produce and even dairy, it doesn’t matter who it is. You’re competing what slot are you going to get? I can respect the challenge. It’s not like they can put you in the center of the store without a significant investment. So I can understand that. And I actually am interviewing Mondelez in a couple of weeks about efforts in the space and I spoke with Frank last week. So you should expect to see because my goal, of course this podcast, is to like, I want to bridge the gap between the naturals community and the mainstream consumer because naturals community is over here, where this upper middle class group of people are going to eat that are healthy already eating healthier food, the naturals industry is not paying attention to anybody middle class and lower for a number of assumptive reasons. And these people are ill, they are ill, and they don’t get food and they’re not getting the education because our brands aren’t talking to them.
And it’s tough when you’re a smaller brand like you because you can’t communicate to them. And so when you bring on a Frito Lay, when you bring on a Mondelez and they’re coming in here, and they’re coaching and they’re moving people gently from like, okay, we’re going to go from a fried food to a baked food. Okay, now for the baked food, we’re going to deal with this. And they have the distribution, they have the resources, they’re moving slower because we’re talking about changing people’s diets starting from Super crab, and moving them this way. They’re not talking about people who are already where you and I are. And we’re already open to all sorts of things. So they’ve got a bigger job, and we need them to be advocates for us because that grows the natural category. But it’s also we really just need it for our people of the planet. This is not okay to be feeding people junk. It’s not okay.
Christy Goldsby: No. It’s just not okay. And the greed piece of that. I mean, I hope people don’t write and mean things if I say something like that, but there’s just this, like the natural and the conventional need the bridges got to get stronger. And that’s exactly what we’re hoping to be a part of that process. It’s like, giving people an insight and then allowing it to be most accessible to everybody to have. And so, in order for that to happen, the big guys have got to play the game.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. And I’ll tell you, it’s not that much of a secret that they’re coming this direction because obviously we see it, but they’re also a business. So it’s not like you can just suddenly stop selling Mountain Dew.
They’ve got to transition people from the buck 50 liter product to the $7 kombucha. There’s a transition that needs to happen there from an education to financial and then they’ve got a huge job, they’ve got the resources and the teams, and they know that if they’re going to move people off of this product, they’ve got to have a replacement in place. So it’s just good business on their part anyway to educate and find those through the law.
Christy Goldsby: It is, and it’s really nice to see that they’re bringing on the brands that they have brought on, because they are not trying to reinvent it in their own way, honestly, because you get that quality and the authenticity and the drive behind it that’s already there. And that’s a really positive thing to see. I do feel like it’s pointing us in the right direction. So it’s pretty exciting.
Diana Fryc: Yeah. Well, so let’s talk a little bit like things have changed in our planet since you started, since you were a wee little Baker and you started your own business, do you feel that your leadership style has changed? Or has it just matured into more of what you were already doing, as the business has changed, and has the environment changed?
Christy Goldsby: Well, I think that my leadership style probably hasn’t changed, I have changed a lot. Just in the sense of trying to run a business for this many years. I have grown a ton as a leader, and I’m recognized kind of where I think the energy needs to go, I would say it’s not so much that I’ve changed my leadership style, as I’ve probably more learned how to bring on a leadership team, that is the right support to work, to help the company grow how it’s needing to grow. And that’s, I think, the most important piece as a leader for the company that I’ve been able to do is to see where the needs are with the company in order to take it where it needs to go, because I’ve outgrown my role about 10 times now. And kind of put people into places where we’re going to be able to be really strong and continue to grow. And keep up and be real players in this what we were just talking about, where the big guys are coming in and putting money in there. It’s like, “Okay, I’m either going to get squashed and go bye, bye or I’m going to be a player in this.” I’m pretty determined to maintain that voice in the conversation. I think that’s really important.
Diana Fryc: That sounds like a different kind of awareness. You’ve grown a new self, bigger or different sense of awareness. So we’ve talked about a lot of change, you’re changing, companies changing, cultures changing, diets changing, other things have changed as subsequently we’ve kind of come to this eruption here for Honey Mamas, because in September, there was an announcement of series a funding that was led by Amber Stone Ventures, right?
Christy Goldsby: Yeah.
Diana Fryc: What can you share about what your hope, what you and Honey Mama’s is hoping to do with this funding? Is there an initiative or an opportunity that you’ve identified? Or maybe the question is, what’s next for Honey Mama’s as much as you can share?
Christy Goldsby: Yeah, so I feel really, really comfortable sharing kind of exactly what we’re doing, like I was saying, I think that, I’ve known kind of all along since I started the company that I had a certain bandwidth as kind of the main operator for the company, that the company, in its infancy had this certain bandwidth, and I could see that, I did not go to business school, I just have experienced kind of running a business, so I didn’t come from that world. But I do very clearly understand how the business functions on a highly intuitive level. So for me, I always saw this kind of potential need to do a fundraise and or be able to grow the business just on cash flow. So, once I recognized that we were going to need to raise money, I just have been creating relationships on that level for a couple of years really.
And it’s been just one part of that kind of leadership journey, certainly, but with Amber stone, once we started, we started working with them and brought them on as partners in the company. They’re just wonderful human beings. And I just actually met with them this morning and have a financial meeting, it was great. But our plan really is to just be able to put the dollars behind the bar, we want to be able to put this experience into as many people’s hands as possible. And in order to do that, the grocery industry is not a cheap industry to grow and to navigate. And so that is primarily, we are going to be kind of spending money on sales and marketing, trade spend and hires internally. I mean, we’re in a process at this moment, actually, of really bringing on a couple of really important players so that we can kind of take the bull by the horns, and just step more deeply into the game. And that’s kind of the core of it, we have some, we’re just about to launch, I can’t really talk about it at this very moment, because we haven’t fully expressed it yet. But over the course of the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be shouting about some pretty exciting news that we have just on the innovation front. And just ultimately, I will tell you this, it’s like giving, meeting people where they are and bringing products to the shelves that are more accessible to more people. And I think that that feels super exciting to me. So we’ve been in business for eight years, and it’s fun to kind of take it, it’s really like feels to me that it’s like we’re through the early school years, teenage years, and now we’re kind of going to college or something. That’s kind of where we’re at. So a lot of it is really about being able to — and we’re manufacturers so, we’re putting a little bit into that as well and being able to be even more kind of supportive of the team that we already have. So all the good things, it’s a very exciting time in that way.
Diana Fryc: So a series A during COVID, was that pretty much — and I spoke with Karen Huh, Joywell foods a few weeks ago and she said that crazy time. I don’t know where you guys were in your fundraise when COVID hit, were you pretty much settled down? Or were you like, “Oh, what do we do now?”
Christy Goldsby: We were supposed to be at Expo West. That’s when COVID hit and it shut down. Literally, I had flown down, we were going to participate in it shut down. And that was the week we were supposed to meet with like all the potential partners that we were interested in working with. So it was intense. But we had just such great relationships. And so it actually didn’t really impact our process. I think, if anything it spoke to kind of like who the right partners were, just recognizing that, okay, we could be in for a bumpy ride. And the world is changing very rapidly and kind of recognizing we’re into this for the long haul. So that isn’t as critical. Clearly, like, as far as kind of looking at, if the partnership was exactly right or not, but it was a crazy time for it to happen. And I had some moments where I was like, is this even going to happen? Pretty wild.
Diana Fryc: You poor thing, but you’re on the other side of it.
Christy Goldsby: Yeah, I think we finished it up around the same time that we had originally planned on kind of getting through all the paperwork and everything. So it didn’t slow us.
Diana Fryc: We talked briefly here. We talked a little bit about other kind of impacts you wanted Honey Mama’s to have outside, just this kind of gut health or food as medicine approach. I think there was somebody empowerment through food, some other things like that. What other impacts at the end of the day like 50 years from now you want people to say Honey Mama’s, had this kind of impact? What other things are you thinking planet wise?
Christy Goldsby: Ultimately, at the end of the day, I would like to be doing everything that impacts the world in the best way through and through. We’re highly conscious as a company of the environment, we’re highly conscious as a company of humanity and treating people with respect and giving them as much opportunity as possible. And if we can, in some way, just be a seed of inspiration and of player in that kind of on the largest perspective of kind of being a part of this process of moving the culture in the direction of healthier overall culture, I think that would be our kind of ultimate goal. I think it’s pushing kind of that conventional thinking enough so that people have the opportunity to wake up from the kind of cultural prescriptions of options that are on the shelf, and to high sugar, high processed, things that really damage their overall health, and more importantly, just their awareness of empowerment, because it really kind of comes down to that. So 50 years from now, I hope that people can or will be experiencing still this brand in a way that allows them to feel empowered as a human being in the world.
Diana Fryc: That’s fun. As an innovator and creator, we’re getting towards the end of our time, but as you’re looking out here, I can tell that you say you draw your inspiration from all sorts of places, you’re in inherently a creator. And you remind me a little bit of Jane Pinto from First Harvest, I don’t know if you know her or not. I’ll send you a link for an interview that I did with her very much like grounded in into the earth and that there’s a bigger cycle here rather than just consume, consume, consume. What trends or brands are you keeping your eyes on? What are you excited about? Who are you watching?
Christy Goldsby: That’s a great question. I think the biggest trend that I am paying attention to right now is the trend of empowerment. It just kind of keeps coming back to that for me. Look at what is happening. It is a trippy world right now, as we know. It’s like the empowerment of all people. There is this wild from every side. Everyone is feeling like their voice is roaring. Well, whatever your beliefs are, that is happening. And so I’m really paying attention to that. And what I’m liking out of that, is I’m liking seeing that I do feel like that it’s a really challenging time. But I do see this massive time of kind of upheaval that is occurring, I do see it being in the long run exactly what is needing — I better rephrase that, it’s not needing to happen, it’s just that I see that the positive of the flip side of this. I think that out of this, we will not accept as normal kind of where we’ve been and going back to that, we did not need to go back to the normal of where we were, let’s move into a new zone. And that is about more empowerment.
Diana Fryc: I love that. I’m going to have to connect you with you and Jane needs to just know each other both as brand owners but if a there’s a little connection there between you. So I’ll make sure I make that connection. Just the last kind of fun question that I always like to ask, what is it about chocolate or coconut or Portland that is some sort of fun fact that somebody, if they walk away with nothing other than that was a fun interview, but did you hear that red is the best color to wear with black glasses. Like I don’t know what it might be but do you have some sort of fun little trivia trip that people, when you tell them they’re like, “I had no idea.”
Christy Goldsby: Oh, that is so funny. I am awful at these kinds of questions. I think about Portland or chocolate. It’s more of a Portland thing I think than chocolate in particular, but I think that the Portland farmers market where we started, I don’t know if people know that, but Portland farmers market is a global farmers market.
People do come from all over the world and it has been a pretty critical part of the birth of a lot of really amazing companies and Dave’s Killer Bread started there and they sponsor the market and Ruby Jewel Ice Cream, she started there, and she’s just such a wonderful Portland company. Jacobson Salt has been a huge part of the farmers market. And so I wish that I had like a better answer to that, but that’s like coming up for me right away is like a fun Portland trivia kind of thing.
Diana Fryc: Well, you have a deep connection to that, because that’s where you started doing this special work
Christy Goldsby: I’m not doing it this season, just because we lost our market staff. And then we just decided it was not going to work out which is fine, but we’ll be back. We’ll be back next season for sure.
Diana Fryc: So, this is the first I’ve heard of Portland’s Farmers Market because in Seattle of course, Pike Place Market which I believe is the longest running undisrupted farmers market in the country or something Saini like that. Like, we hear about that. And for whatever reason, Seattle seems to be like the only city in the Northwest. But I mean, being in the Northwest, I know how special Portland is. Like, when people say Portland is wacky, you’re crazy, they don’t necessarily mean it in an insane way although, there still are the hippies there. But there’s a lot of things about it that are so special and unique and I’d never heard about the farmers market. So next time I go down, I’m going to make an effort to go there. Thank you for sharing that. Pals, everybody in the planet knows Pals. I just say this right now, if you are a book reader, and you are listening to this podcast, and you’ve never heard of Pals Books, just stop listening right now and go and Google them. It is the bookstore to go to in at least in North America. I can’t say for the world that.
Christy Goldsby: Yeah. It’s amazing. And I think Portland, if I were to say anything else about it, the market is a great example of it, it is a great place too, it’s good grounds for starting something. And there’s a lot of kind of support, I suppose for them for that here. Lots of good food starts comes out of Portland, for sure.
Diana Fryc: Awesome. And how are you keeping yourself centered and sane these days? Is there a practice? Or is it just chocolate?
Christy Goldsby: It’s a legitimate question. I think for me, it probably has more to do with just staying connected with people that I just love, and my daughters, obviously, but also movement is really important for me. And that’s if I don’t do some form of movement, whether it’s walking or kind of just taking half an hour for myself to whatever, dance, run or walk or even just meditate a little bit, I can just get feeling off kilter after a while, especially these days. And I think that that has continued to be the thing and I’ve tried a lot of new things because of this. It’s totally changed up that whole movement aspect. Movement always been a big part of my life, which has been kind of a really positive thing I’ve been doing. I’ve been trying all sorts of fun, new, like, little weight lifting classes online, and I’ve never done those. And I’m like, wow, this is actually feels great. And I love it. And so those kinds of things are keeping me sane and really choosing kind of how much time I spend on social media and just even reading the news. That’s been huge. I had to clip that.
Diana Fryc: Smart. Before we go, I wonder, if somebody wanted to reach out to you for any reason, is there a best way? Is LinkedIn the best way or do you have other methods?
Christy Goldsby: You can find me on LinkedIn for sure. And then just through our website, honeymamas.com.
Diana Fryc: Okay. That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your time and your insights and it was super fun to chat with you. I thank you so much, and I hope you had fun a little bit.
Christy Goldsby: I did. Thank you. That was really fun talking to you.
Diana Fryc: All right, thank you.
Christy Goldsby: Thanks, Diana.
Diana Fryc: 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 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.