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Brand Alchemist Podcast

Business & Economics Podcasts

Brand Alchemist Podcast dives deep into what makes the world's most sought-after brands tick, trip, and triumph. Join Taja Dockendorf, Founder and Creative Director of the CPG branding, marketing, and launch agency, Pulp+Wire, as she interviews the top brand owners forging the path forward and making magic along the way.


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Brand Alchemist Podcast dives deep into what makes the world's most sought-after brands tick, trip, and triumph. Join Taja Dockendorf, Founder and Creative Director of the CPG branding, marketing, and launch agency, Pulp+Wire, as she interviews the top brand owners forging the path forward and making magic along the way.




The Alchemy of B.T.R. Nation

Ashley Nickelson is the Founder and CEO of B.T.R. Nation, which produces on-the-go, better-for-you snacks that reimagine typical vending machine food. B.T.R. Nation has tens of thousands of customers nationwide and is distributed in over 600 stores. After her parents were diagnosed with cancer, Ashley became their primary caretaker and spent years eating out of hospital vending machines and cafeterias. With a background in biochemistry and food studies, she began making protein-packed plant-based snacks. In this episode… With many consumers becoming more health-conscious, the market is saturated with natural, better-for-you food options. However, even while promoting fresh ingredients, some brands begin manufacturing their products with refined and engineered ingredients over time, replicating their original flavors while cutting costs. How can you maintain a commitment to real food ingredients while differentiating yourself in the market? With a unique mission to replace toxic vending machine snacks with plant-based, protein-packed snack bars and bites, Ashley Nickelsen produces her products with real food for authentic flavors. She launched her brand in DTC channels to build initial brand awareness before transitioning into retail, where she focused on creating eye-catching packaging to attract new consumers. Yet consumers are often inundated with innumerable snack options, so to generate a loyal customer base, you must instill your mission into every endeavor from marketing and packaging to manufacturing, expansion, and innovation. In this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Taja Dockendorf welcomes Ashley Nickelson, the Founder and CEO of B.T.R. Nation, to talk about the brand’s evolution. Ashley shares why you shouldn’t focus on cost when manufacturing products, how to raise capital to build brand awareness, and her vision for the brand’s expansion and innovation.


The Alchemy of Kiddiwinks

Jenna Liut is the Chief Commercial Officer and Co-founder of Kiddiwinks, a plant-based prebiotic milk for kids. As a marketing and business development specialist, she has experience in food and agriculture systems, storytelling, consumer behavior, and early-stage startup operations. Before Kiddiwinks, Jenna hosted the Eating Matters podcast and was the VP of Product at Ambrosia, a startup fighting food waste. In this episode… Plant-based milk has been sweeping the market over the past 5-10 years as more consumers develop dairy intolerances. However, options like almond and oat milk lack the vital nutrients present in cow’s milk, and many children with dietary restrictions find the texture and taste unpleasant. How can you produce and market functional beverages for a niche audience? After recognizing her own child’s intolerance to milk protein, Jenna Liut partnered with research developers and nutrition experts to develop a tasty plant-based milk fortified with essential proteins, fibers, and vitamins. When launching and marketing a functional new product, customizing the messaging and packaging for your target audience is crucial, so Jenna created distinctive and lively designs tailored to kids. You must also remain consistent with your products to maintain their original benefits and characteristics, especially with a young consumer base. Throughout the process, you may attract consumers outside your initial scope, as Jenna discovered when teens and parents of young children began consuming her products. In today’s episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Taja Dockendorf returns to interview Jenna Liut, the Chief Commercial Officer and Co-founder of Kiddiwinks, about building a functional brand for kids. Jenna explains the difference between traditional plant-based milk and Kiddiwinks’ functional beverages, her long-term vision for the brand, and the lessons she’s learned along her journey.


The Alchemy of Kalamata's Kitchen

Derek Wallace is Co-founder of Kalamata’s Kitchen, a multimedia platform that encourages children to explore the world through food. Inspired by an episode of Chef’s Table, he creates a curious and compassionate generation of eaters by using food to introduce kids to new experiences and cultures. Derek has experience in marketing, branding, go-to-market strategies, enterprise sales, and community program development. In this episode… Every business starts with a vision, but creating a sustainable company requires executing your idea with a strategic plan and a compelling story. Although vision-oriented entrepreneurs may experience discouragement and rejection, true impact occurs if consumers resonate with the mission. How can you position your idea in front of your target audience? After searching for an age-appropriate and engaging medium to share his love of food with his son, Derek Wallace created relatable characters around a pledge to encourage kids to experience diverse foods. Through multi-channel content creation that integrates his initial vision into every touch point, Derek can create an authentic brand with a loyal audience. You can engage your consumerbase by fostering unique experiences that encourage customers to participate in your ideas. When you focus on storytelling, your customers will share your legacy. In today’s episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Derek Wallace, Co-founder of Kalamata’s Kitchen, joins Taja Dockendorf to talk about his mission-focused brand. Derek explains how to execute a vision without going over budget, his personal growth as an entrepreneur, and his company’s evolution from a book to animated content.


The Alchemy of Ithaca Hummus

Chris Kirby is the Founder and President of Ithaca Hummus, the leading fresh-crafted hummus brand. After launching a lemon garlic hummus made with fresh ingredients, Ithaca became the fastest-growing hummus brand in America, sold at over 8,000 retailers nationwide including Wegmans, Whole Foods, Publix, and Sprouts. Chris started his career in the culinary industry as a professional chef. In this episode… Fresh ingredients are expensive and difficult to mass produce, so some growing CPG brands compromise on product quality to reduce their COGS — but for mission-focused brands, skimping on ingredients is not an option. Learn how to maintain freshness while navigating growth and manufacturing challenges. As a formally-trained chef, Chris Kirby prioritizes fresh ingredients and quality, so he built a sustainable business model around transparency and education. He teaches his audience the difference between chemically-extracted and expeller-pressed seed oil, facilitating informative dialogue about healthy fats. With a Detox Project-certified hummus brand, Chris ensures his chickpeas are glyphosate-free, delivering healthy products to consumers. When striving for high-quality ingredients, Chris emphasizes the value of cultivating relationships with outsourced partners and vendors. In today’s episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Taja Dockendorf sits down with Chris Kirby, the Founder and President of Ithaca Hummus, who shares his journey of creating a clean-label hummus brand. Chris talks about the brand’s expansion from hummus to salsa, his entrepreneurial evolution, and the genesis of Ithaca Hummus.


The Alchemy of Fruitful Brands

Nicole Cardone is the Co-founder and CEO of Fruitful Brands, the umbrella company of SorBabes and Fudgy Pop. SorBabes offers artisanal, flavor-dipped sorbet bars and Fudgy Pop produces rich, dairy-free fudge bars. After working as a financial analyst in the private financial sector, she created disruptive frozen food products focusing on flavor, quality, sustainability, and human and animal welfare. Deborah Gorman is the Co-founder and Owner of Fruitful Brands, SorBabes, and Fudgy Pop, where she focuses on reinventing and innovating classic treats. The brands have been featured in Fortune, Buzzfeed, PopSugar, and more. As an experienced food industry professional, recipe developer, and chef, Deborah’s skills include innovation, R&D, and business development. In this episode… Sweet treats like ice cream bars and fudgsicles are nostalgic for many American consumers. However, many of these products are now white-labeled, sold in bulk, and made with artificial ingredients some consumers can’t tolerate. Today’s resourceful guests have developed a unique way to innovate their product line while educating and targeting consumers. Business partners and frozen treat trailblazers Nicole Cardone and Deborah Gorman recreated sorbet with frozen fruit bars after becoming dissatisfied with traditional options. Their staggering success inspired them to create similar products using chocolate. Yet sorbet and chocolate are distinct categories in consumers’ minds, so Deborah and Nicole founded a separate company to launch and market chocolate-dipped pops as exclusive products. Managing juxtaposing brands with products in adjacent categories creates opportunities to emphasize their similarities and differences through educational website landing pages. In today’s episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Taja Dockendorf hosts Nicole Cardone and Deborah Gorman, the duo behind Fruitful Brands, to talk about managing two diverse brands under one company. Together, they share SorBabes’ first packaging designs, Fudgy Pop and SorBabes’ innovation and growth plans, and how they partnered to reinvent the frozen food category.


The Alchemy of Secret Island Salmon

Daniel Del Coro is the Head of US Business Development at Secret Island Salmon and its parent company Salmones Austral, which specializes in sustainable seafood. With over 15 years of experience in the food business, he has partnered with award-winning chefs and worked in management, sales, branding, and marketing with startups, mid-market sustainable food brands, and nonprofit organizations like Slow Food New York City and New Amsterdam Market. Daniel studied leadership, crisis management, and survival skills at the National Outdoor Leadership School. In this episode… Seafood is a rapidly-expanding category in the CPG space. However, the controversy about wild versus farmed seafood has created misinformation among consumers. Farmed seafood like salmon is believed to be contaminated with chemicals, pathogens, dyes, and antibiotics. How can you educate consumers about sustainable aquaculture? As an advocate for sustainably-produced food, Daniel Del Coro is leading the initiative to destigmatize farmed salmon. With the world’s population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, food production must increase by 60%, so responsibly-managed seafood farms are crucial to ensure quality food. You can develop informative and engaging campaigns to educate consumers about the differences between farmed and wild-caught seafood, creating space in the market for both production methods. Join Taja Dockendorf in welcoming the Head of US Business Development at Secret Island Salmon and Salmones Austral Daniel Del Coro to this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast. Together, they discuss how Secret Island is revolutionizing aquaculture. Daniel also addresses how the seafood industry has evolved, Secret Island’s new product innovations, and the company’s emergence into the retail space.


The Alchemy of TUYYO

Stefanie Garcia Turner is the Founder and CEO of TUYYO, a modern line of Hispanic food and beverages made with natural ingredients. With nearly two decades of experience in the natural products industry, she has helped hundreds of brands scale in various roles, including procurement, supplier business development, and sales and distribution management. As an advocate for good food systems, Stefanie has spoken at events like the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and is a member of the nonprofit organization Slow Food. In this episode… Innovative CPG brands are paving the way for diverse products that introduce consumers to bold new flavors and cultures. But when certain consumer demographics aren’t familiar with the product line, launching and positioning the items in the market can be difficult. How can you educate consumers to accelerate product innovation and grow your brand? Stefanie Garcia Turner’s line of Latin-inspired agua fresca powders gained rapid traction among families with small children and anyone wanting to incorporate a simple, refreshing beverage into their daily routines. But she struggled to market her instant coffee, as the product isn’t widely consumed among American shoppers. When educating consumers on item use, you must determine the ideal sales channel and revise your messaging to attract various demographics. Additionally, partnering with brokers can help you maintain an upward growth trajectory by marketing to specific audiences. The Founder and CEO of TUYYO, Stefanie Garcia Turner, is Taja Dockendorf’s guest in this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast. Together, they discuss Stefanie’s journey as a female and minority business owner launching culturally-diverse beverages. Stefanie also talks about how TUYYO’s consumer base has evolved, her love of agua fresca, and how she developed her beverages.


The Alchemy of Haven’s Kitchen

Alison Cayne is the Founder of Haven’s Kitchen, which produces globally-inspired fresh-made sauces. After teaching home cooking for over two decades and owning a cooking school and cafe for eight years, she launched a line of fresh sauces in pouches. Alison is the author of the critically-acclaimed book The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School and has contributed to publications such as the New York Post, Forbes, Architectural Digest, and Food. She also hosts In the Sauce, a podcast about building CPG brands. In this episode… With CPG brands launching versatile products in multiple categories, founders must position these items strategically to capture consumers’ attention. But these marketing efforts must extend beyond in-store channels to accommodate evolving consumer behaviors. How can you navigate demands, product innovations, and brand positionings to scale and expand in a digitally-focused space? With a line of diverse, homemade vegan sauces, cooking connoisseur Alison Cayne launched her products in multiple categories to emphasize the various features and teach consumers how to cook with them. She began collaborating with brands in similar categories to market her products and educate consumers. But with the introduction of digital channels, advertising exclusively in stores became difficult. Instead, Alison recommends integrating digital marketing with in-store discounts and incentives to streamline product innovation and expansion. Tune in to this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast as Taja Dockendorf sits down with Alison Cayne, the Founder of Haven’s Kitchen, to discuss how she grew her brand through multiple sales channels. Alison shares her love for home cooking, how she educates consumers about her versatile products, and her greatest personal and professional lessons.


The Alchemy of Sayso

Alison Evans and Chloe Bergson are the Co-founders of Sayso, a premium cocktail company offering tea bag cocktails. After meeting at Harvard Business School and bonding over their shared love of food and drink, Alison and Chloe noticed a lack of homemade cocktail options. They began experimenting with all-natural ingredients in tea bags and created delicious cocktails and mocktails. In this episode… When it comes to the CPG beverage space, consumers are always looking for authentic and easily accessible alcoholic or mock drinks. With so many options on the market, how can you innovate to meet evolving demands and reach new audiences? After creating a cocktail mix in tea bags, business partners Chloe Bergson and Alison Evans knew they wanted to position the product as an innovation in the drink mixer space. But consumers began using the product as a mock tea, so Alison and Chloe refined their messaging and designs to eliminate confusion and convey the item as a versatile drink for everyone. They encourage other spirit and drink brands to identify market demand and release multiple item variations to evaluate product-market fit. In this Brand Alchemist Podcast episode, Taja Dockendorf welcomes Alison Evans and Chloe Bergson, Co-founders of Sayso, who share their experiences testing, learning, and innovating in the spirit industry. Together, they discuss Sayso’s product line evolution and how they navigated the difficulties of positioning the brand on retail shelves.


The Alchemy of Meet Your Staff

Charlie Weisman is the Founder of Staff, which reimagines household items with bold colors, unique materials, and pleasing characters. After being stuck in a tiny New York City apartment during the pandemic, he founded Staff with the mission of bringing joy to the mundane. The disruptive launch of Staff’s first product — a plunger with a smiley face — pays homage to Charlie’s grandfather, who had a lifelong career as a plumber. Charlie is a former Guinness Book of World Records judge and advertising executive. In this episode… The lifestyle space is a broad category, and it’s often difficult to promote products and generate sales. This is especially the case with long-lasting, slower-moving products. How can you maintain relevance and gain traction in the market? As an innovative visionary, Charlie Weisman created household essentials with distinct functions and fun displays. But durable products like toilet plungers and oven mitts are often one-time purchases, so he launched additional clever and creative products to elevate sales. Charlie recommends breaking into new markets to connect with a wider audience and initiate product demand. Join Taja Dockendorf in today’s episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast as she welcomes Charlie Weisman, the Founder of Staff, who shares the household brand’s unique story. Charlie talks about Staff’s product iterations, pressing challenges in the CPG space, and how he generates awareness for his brand.


The Alchemy of Fresh Bellies

Saskia Sorrosa is the Founder and CEO of Fresh Bellies, which produces savory snacks focused on combating childhood obesity. By offering vegetables without added sugar and seasoning with Latin-inspired herbs and spices, Fresh Bellies helps shape nutritional preferences early to encourage healthier choices later in life. In 2019, the company debuted on Shark Tank season 10 and launched with GS Entrepreneur Cohort in 2021. Before founding Fresh Bellies, Saskia was the VP of Marketing for the NBA. In this episode… The food system in America is broken. Prepackaged snacks contain artificial coloring, harmful chemicals, and copious amounts of salt and refined sugar. With these widely-available and cost-effective foods on the market, is it possible to offer fresh and healthy alternatives? When manufacturing nutritious food options, many brands reengineer inexpensive ingredients to reduce their COGS and production times, resulting in low-quality products. As an advocate for clean ingredients, Saskia Sorrosa believes in augmenting the flavor of whole foods using authentic spices and seasoning. While building and sustaining a functional CPG brand requires you to be flexible and pivot to embrace unpredictability, Saskia says to observe your initial mission of producing nourishing foods with quality ingredients. Join Taja Dockendorf in today’s episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast as she sits down with Saskia Sorrosa, the Founder and CEO of Fresh Bellies, to talk about her mission to redefine the food system. Saskia shares Fresh Bellies’ flavor profiles, the brand’s goals to expand its product lines, and how she differentiates her products in the market.


The Alchemy of Pulp Pantry

Kaitlin Mogentale is the Founder and CEO of Pulp Pantry, an upcycled food brand transforming fruit and vegetable juice pulp into nutritious, convenient snacks. With a passion for sustainability, she founded Pulp Pantry to reduce food waste and promote a sustainable future. As a Shark Tank veteran, Kaitlin has been recognized as a next-generation leader by CSQ magazine and named Woman of Entrepreneurship by Comerica Bank. In this episode… With upcycled food becoming a retail and consumer commodity, brands are pioneering sustainable, functional products. In 2022, over 100 brands and 300 products became upcycled certified. Learn how you can reduce food waste, fight climate change, and meet evolving consumer demands with innovative products. Sustainability and food waste activist Kaitlin Mogentale recognized an opportunity to leverage vegetable pulp — an often-disregarded resource in the food system — to redefine traditional veggie chips. By creating familiar flavors and harnessing various social channels and networks to relay her message, Kaitlin has amplified her impact to educate the public on the growing upcycled food movement. She advises other upcycled food brands to launch in basic categories with mainstream flavor profiles to target new audiences. In this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Taja Dockendorf interviews Kaitlin Mogentale, the Founder and CEO of Pulp Pantry, about how she built and scaled a certified upcycled food brand. Kaitlin describes her process for educating consumers about the upcycled food movement, her plans for future mission-based innovation, and her experience marketing her brand on Shark Tank.


The Alchemy of Adam Brown

Adam Brown is the Founder and President of Sircle Media, a social media strategy firm. In his role, he works with CPG, beverage, and spirit brands to help them navigate social media strategies and execution. Adam is also an investor and advisor for several CPG brands including Actual Veggies, RIND Snacks, and Mezcla. With nearly 25 years of experience in digital marketing, he has held various positions on both the client and vendor sides. Adam’s writing has been featured on websites like Social Media Today and The Salesforce Marketing Cloud. In this episode… With so much volatility in the CPG space, brands are reducing their budgets to conserve finances. For CPG-focused agencies, this indicates decreased conversions and a delayed sales cycle. How can you build and sustain a thriving agency that can persist and grow through these unprecedented challenges? With extensive involvement in both brands and agencies, Adam Brown understands how to structure an agency to meet client needs while maintaining profitability. While most agencies offer comprehensive branding and digital marketing services, Adam has developed a niche for his firm based on his strengths, experiences, and vision. Narrowing your focus benefits clients and allows you to hire adaptable talent that aligns with your business’ identity. Throughout his journey, Adam has learned that having transparent conversations with brands helps them recognize value propositions, thus boosting conversions and cultivating relationships. Tune in to this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast as Taja Dockendorf welcomes Adam Brown, the Founder and President of Sircle Media, who shares insights for agency success. Adam discusses how brands’ declining profitability has impacted the agency sales cycle, his criteria for investing in CPG brands, and the value of niching down to embrace your strengths.


The Alchemy of Atlantic Sea Farms

Briana Warner is the CEO of Atlantic Sea Farms, which creates innovative products from sustainably-farmed sea greens. In 2022, the brand received the Fast Company Brands That Matter award. As CEO, Briana has forged a path for seaweed aquaculture by working with fishermen to grow and create national demand for kelp as a climate change adaptation strategy. She has received various awards, including the Eating Well Food Hero and SFA Business Leadership awards. Before Atlantic Sea Farms, Briana served several tours as a diplomat in the US Foreign Service and created the first economic development programming suite at the Island Institute. In this episode… Conventional CPG companies often structure their brands around their products, integrating a mission as the derivative instead of the driving force. Today’s guest has pioneered kelp products by executing a mission to expand the fishing and farming industries for environmental health and sustainability. What can you observe from her efforts? Maine’s fishing industry relies on consistent lobster harvesting. Yet the volatile nature of Maine’s waters places family fishermen and the coastline at risk. Purpose-driven innovator Briana Warner has created a supplemental income source for fishermen by initiating a demand for regenerative kelp, helping offset climate change for future generations. Accordingly, she has restored a precarious industry while producing healthy kelp products for consumers. In this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Taja Dockendorf welcomes Briana Warner, CEO of Atlantic Sea Farms, who shares her mission to offset climate change and transform the fishing industry. Briana explains how Atlantic Sea Farms supports independent farmers, how kelp farming has evolved, and her company’s innovation pipeline.


The Alchemy of Ashley Albert

Ashley Albert is the Founder of The Matzo Project, an artisanal cracker company manufacturing traditional Jewish snacks. As the 10th-best female shuffleboard player in the world, she is also the Founder of The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, where she has introduced hundreds of thousands of new shuffleboard players to the 100-year-old game. Ashley is a 25-year veteran of the New York City voiceover industry. In this episode… The creative process is integral to developing all aspects of a pioneering brand. As today’s guest demonstrates, this process is never straightforward, always intricate, and sometimes even beautiful. Multifaceted visionary Ashley Albert couldn’t settle on a single career, so she pursued multiple. From voice acting and sports to creating a distinctive CPG brand, she has tested ideas that failed and learned from them to carve a personal path to success. Ashley discovered that one of the most demanding aspects of formulating a brand is prompting your team to execute your precise vision. When facing disappointment over a project’s outcome, she says to communicate expectations so your team can understand your creative process and interpret your ideas. In this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Taja Dockendorf welcomes Ashley Albert, the Founder of The Matzo Project and The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, to talk about her creative process for developing a CPG brand. Ashley shares her unconventional hiring strategy, how she channels her creative energy, and how she sets expectations with designers.


The Alchemy of Beans

Sarah Wallace is the Founder and CEO of The Good Bean, a female-owned business making tasty and nutritious bean protein snacks. Through the acquisition of Beanitos chips, The Good Bean has become one of the largest bean-based brands in the country. Born and raised in India, Sarah is passionate about the diversity of food, culture, and sustainable agriculture. She is also a Founding Member of (Included) CPG, which advances diverse representation in the CPG industry. In this episode… Historically, the CPG industry has competed for consumer attention, with innovation focused on profitability rather than functionality. With so many trends, profit-driven brands, and industrialized products in the market, how can you deliver value and encourage diverse innovation? CPG veteran and diversity advocate Sarah Wallace says that authentic innovation occurs within niche product categories. Her purpose and value-based approach to innovation in the bean category allows her to market culturally diverse products and pioneer original categories. You can facilitate meaningful innovation by supporting brands with underrepresented founders who bring unique perspectives and recipes to the CPG space. In this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Taja Dockendorf welcomes Sarah Wallace, Founder and CEO of The Good Bean and CEO of Beanitos, to talk about disruptive innovation in the CPG space. Sarah explains how to generate consumer awareness, the category distinctions between her bean brands, and The Good Bean’s acquisition of Beanitos.


Alchemy of Kevin’s Natural Foods

Kevin McCray is the Co-founder and COO of Kevin’s Natural Foods, a line of healthy entrées, sauces, and seasoning blends making clean eating taste delicious and align with busy lifestyles. He began as COO of CalChef Foods before forming a partnership with renowned entrepreneur Dan Costa and creating Kevin’s Natural Foods. After battling a severe autoimmune disorder, Kevin cured his condition through the Paleo diet and developed Kevin’s Natural Foods to help others eat clean. In this episode… As natural food and lifestyles become increasingly prevalent, consumers are recognizing that meal prepping is time-consuming. Many brands have developed packaged meals to address this challenge, but they often lack flavor. How can you encourage consumers to incorporate fresh foods into their diets through tasty and convenient options? Health-conscious entrepreneur Kevin McCray has developed a line of clean, delicious, and practical sous vide meat dishes. As an innovator in the grocery store’s refrigerated aisle, he says that this space provides an opportunity to target natural shoppers through appropriate pricing and minimalist packaging. Additionally, you can gather pivotal feedback through transparent focus groups that allow consumers to voice their concerns and preferences. These may include digital meetings and surveys with comprehensive, probing questions, helping you refine your products for the customer. In this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Co-founder and COO of Kevin’s Natural Foods, Kevin McCray, joins Taja Dockendorf to discuss how he meets consumer demands in the natural food space. Kevin shares how he leverages consumer feedback for product iterations, the benefits and challenges of selling in retail, and his brand’s future product innovations.


The Alchemy of Before

Steve Thorp is the Co-founder and CEO of Before Self Care Company, which manufactures custom, dentist-approved toothpaste made with clean ingredients and packaged in a 100% recyclable plant-based tube. As a serial entrepreneur, he has founded many influential brands, including Postmark Brewing and Vancouver Urban Winery. Steve’s experience in sales and marketing has provided him with a real-world perspective on developing meaningful brands with a lasting impact on people and the planet. Jamie Collins is the Co-founder and CMO of Before and the Co-founder and Creative Director of Analog Design. For 25 years, he has designed and marketed iconic brands in multiple industries, including action sports, real estate, food and beverage, consumer products, fashion, technology, and tourism. Jamie’s dedication to healthy, active living helped him shape a unique vision for Before. In this episode… The toothpaste industry is largely unexplored, with little to no product innovation. Toothpaste manufactured with petroleum-based chemicals and bleach dominate the market. Yet self-care and healthy living is becoming a priority, so consumers are seeking natural products made with clean ingredients. What can you learn from one of the first all-natural, environmentally-conscious brands dominating the toothpaste business? Before’s products are crafted intentionally with quality, functional ingredients and packaged using plant-based plastics, encouraging consumers to prioritize oral health with an enjoyable experience. From simplistic yet heavily-branded packaging to purifying toothpaste customized for consumer needs, Before provides an authentic value proposition. Founders Steve Thorp and Jamie Collins are passionate about consumer and environmental health and inspire other product disruptors to observe customer feedback and take responsibility for their environmental impact to build an impactful brand. Listen to this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast as Taja Dockendorf invites Before Co-founders Steve Thorp and Jamie Collins to chat about revolutionizing toothpaste. Together, they discuss creating a unique and innovative brand experience, how they developed and launched plant-based plastic, and the challenges of competing against established toothpaste brands.


The Alchemy of Actual Veggies

Hailey Swartz is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Actual Veggies, a brand that’s redefining the plant-based protein industry with its line of veggie-only burgers. The quarter-pound, chef-created veggie burger patties are made with fresh vegetables, grains, and a signature spice blend. Each burger variety holds a vibrant color indicative of the vegetables used. In this episode… Plant-based and veggie burgers are garnering widespread acclaim in the CPG space. Yet many of these burgers are mass-produced with preservatives, creating chalky and dry textures. As consumers become increasingly health-conscious, they’re seeking plant-based burgers made with fresh ingredients. So how can you pivot to align with these evolving demands? When launching and positioning a plant-based CPG brand, it’s essential to consider each grocery store’s trends and layouts to market accordingly. For instance, some buyers don’t want to integrate veggie burgers with the grocery store’s meat section, whereas others are receptive to incorporating clean, whole foods into their diets. Hailey Swartz conducts AB testing and collaborates with grocers to develop and promote her plant-based burgers with real veggies you can see and taste, meeting consumers where they are in the process. She advises assessing competition, opportunities, market share, and consumer and investor feedback to innovate in the dynamic CPG landscape. Actual Veggies’ Co-founder and Co-CEO, Hailey Swartz, is Taja Dockendorf’s guest on today’s episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast. They talk about developing, marketing, and selling an all-natural veggie burger brand. Hailey also addresses evolving trends in the plant-based market, the challenges of launching and growing a brand during the pandemic, and how she recreates traditional veggie burgers.


The Alchemy of Made with Local

Sheena Russell is the Founder and CEO of Made with Local, a B-Corp Certified snack company. As a social entrepreneur, she creates real food bars and granola mixes with ethically-sourced ingredients to connect people to the planet. Made with Local creates social impact through partnerships with local farmers and food producers. The brand has grown to reach over 3,000 grocery stores across Canada. In this episode… Many natural and organic snack brands are often dry and bland, with minimal variation in texture and flavor. This is because the ingredients are mass-produced in factories with specific product lines. Learn how one company cultivates a community to self-manufacture locally-sourced, tasty snack bars. Sheena Russell began self-manufacturing her products in an exclusive bakery to gain control of quality and profit margins. This has allowed her to innovate and scale her brand into new markets. To maintain fresh, natural ingredients during growth, Sheena builds a network of local farmers who align with the brand’s mission and values. Establishing a disruptive brand that outperforms CPG competitors requires developing exceptional products and creating a community of supporters. In this episode of the Brand Alchemist Podcast, Sheena Russell, Founder and CEO of Made with Local, joins Taja Dockendorf to talk about how she created a social impact snack brand. Sheena explains the importance of building a community to gain brand recognition, the benefits and challenges of self-manufacturing, and the brand’s goals for innovation.