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#20 Financial Planning Success with The Good Food CFO

UMAI social circle cpg podcast

#20 Financial Planning Success with The Good Food CFO

Sarah Delevan joins the UMAI Social Circle podcast to dive into the financial side of business and talk about strategies to create a proven financial model that will meet your business and life needs while avoiding burnout.

Sarah, founder of Sarah Develan Consulting and host of The Good Food CFO, has helped over 50 good food businesses improve their financial performance from sourcing to product and pricing, and is now sharing how to build proven financial methods that will help scale and achieve a profitable and sustainable business.

Let us break it down for you…

[00:45] Introducing Sarah Delevan.

[01:31] Hear Sarah’s wild journey and find out how the universe was on her side.

[07:10] Sarah immerses herself in the farmer’s market, rancher and fishermen environment to understand the full spectrum of being a buyer.

[08:54] Why terms such as “organic” aren’t as important as mission driven good food. 

[10:58] Going in depth into the three tips for growing a profitable business.

[16:33] Accessing different pathways to cater different brands.

[18:37] Data is the driving factor for decision making.

[19:30] Evaluating what brands should consider when pricing their product.

[22:58] How to evaluate when to increase pricing to the consumer.

[26:20] Taking data and metrics and turning them into actionable goals.

[32:36] The approach to implementing discounts from a financial lens.

[35:01] Breaking down pricing across different channels.

[39:27] Leading with data gives you the power to make smarter decisions.

[40:46] The factors that contribute to the struggle in growth.

[42:27] Build a business that is also right for you and your needs.

[44:25] “Right-sizing” a business.

[46:44] Sorting out your business to avoid burnout.

[49:46] Financial tactics and trends that are working for CPG brands.

[53:42] What it means to be the only food business consultant in the world that is certified in the profit first method.

[56:50] Connect and learn more with Sarah!

[44:10] How and where to find Buttermilk Creative.

Mentions from this episode: 

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Stay in touch:

Join UMAI’s Facebook Group: CORE 3

#20 Financial Planning Success with The Good Food CFO

[AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT MAY BE SUBJECT TO MINOR TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS/VARIATIONS]

Narrator:
Calling all consumer goods, business owners and marketing professionals, does planning content ahead of time stress you out? Do you want to run Instagram and Facebook ads, but just aren’t sure where to start? If your answer is yes and yes, that our mini course was made for you. It’s 100% free and packed with essential tactics that you can implement as soon as today. To join in visit our website @umaimarketing.com/minicourse. All right, let’s get on with the pod.

Alison Smith:
Welcome to the Umai Social Circle, where we talk consumer goods tips to help business owners and marketers grow. We’re Alison and Karin co-founders of Umai Marketing, and we’re being joined here today with Sarah Delevan. The Good Food CFO, she’s helping CPG business owners understand their finances and build profitable food businesses with confidence. Welcome, Sarah. We’re so excited to have you.

Sarah Delevan:
Thank you so much. I’m super excited to be here.

Alison Smith:
Awesome. Well, you have a really unique background and perspective to the food biz because you’ve been in the food business starting all the way back in 2012. So can you tell us a little more about that journey and how you got to where you are today?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. This is a great question. And I often joke, “how much time do you have?” when I get asked that question, so I’ll try to keep it concise for the listeners, but I do want to mention that my journey into the food industry in general started through my skin and the health of my skin and the health of my body as well. I struggled with acne for years as a teenager, that only seemed to get worse as I got older, really painful and really uncomfortable. I’ve seen dermatologists for a really long time. When I moved out to Los Angeles from the East Coast, I met a doctor who for the first time really looked at my skin and asked me questions like “How many green vegetables do you eat? How much water do you drink and how much soya are you consuming?” Which turns out for me soy is not good.

Sarah Delevan:
Soy might be great for other people, but I had to, for the first time really think about what was I putting in my body and how was it affecting me? And so we cut out certain things like soy and cows milk cheese and things that she thought maybe were not so great for me. And that combined with the fact that Michael Pollan’s book Omnivore’s Dilemma came out at the exact same time. And I read that I was like, “Oh my God,” food is medicine. Everybody needs to read this book. I’m only going to shop at farmer’s markets. I mean, I went all in. It was like very, very intense. I wanted to quit my job and start working at farmer’s markets except no one would hire me because I had an MBA. And I worked in an office for eight years or whatever it was.

Sarah Delevan:
And people were like, “You’re going to lift boxes and get dirty. That’s not going to happen.” So I weaseled my way into a marketing role. I was a strategic marketing person, numbers based marketing strategy in my previous life. And I weaseled my way into a volunteer role at a farmer’s market by doing some analysis for them, and then quickly jumped into a marketing manager role. And it was in that role that I saw how meaningful local sustainable food was for so many people, regardless of what their income level and demographic was. And that for me created my first vision for what my life might be like. And that was, I wanted to own a store that sold all of this amazing food that was grown and raised and caught locally.

Sarah Delevan:
And fast forward. I met a woman we were introduced to one another, the City of Santa Monica, or the mall in Santa Monica wanted to open a store, very aligned with what I just described to you. And we were introduced to each other to open this store together. It didn’t work out in terms of the lease and all of that was sort of crazy, long story, a little bit shorter. We ended up starting a pop-up at Handsome Coffee Roasters, which is just like new coffee shop in Downtown LA. And that was our food business. That was our entryway. And we still had our eye on the prize of opening a store. We built our business according to what I would consider industry standards, right? How we priced, how we attempted to grow our business. It was all based on what we saw on Google and what other business owners were telling us. It didn’t work.

Sarah Delevan:
We were working our tails off literally from 4:00 in the morning, till 10:00, 11:00 at night. We had amazing customers. Our sales were growing, but the expenses were growing along with it. And we ultimately just reached a point of exhaustion where it was like, we can’t do this anymore. If we do do this, the whole model has to change. We have to become a delivery business and that’s not what we got into it for. So we made the really difficult decision of closing down the business. And that was pivotal because we saw firsthand what the closure of a business like ours, how it affected the community and how it affected their connection to their food and to the farmers. And all of that. And then I became so keenly aware of all of the other good food businesses that were making amazing products, had amazing clients, regularly selling. They were very busy, but they were still having to close their doors because the numbers just weren’t working out.

Sarah Delevan:
So that’s the path to the point where I became a buyer. And in that role merged my buying experience from my own business, with the financial stuff that I had just learned and that I wanted to contribute to that business in an effort to make them more financially sustainable. And the work we did there was super exciting. And when I left, I was able to do that same kind of work for three more businesses. And then I had a really great job opportunity at a startup and quit my job, gave notice, was going to start that business. And they called me three days before my start and they were like, “So we lost our funding and we’re going to be closing. And so you don’t have a job.” And I was like, “Okay, great. Okay.” I was like, sat on the ground. I was like, “I do not know what I’m going to do.”

Sarah Delevan:
And I’m not kidding you that day. An email came through from a chef that I had worked with before, who was asking me to consult for April Bloomfield at the restaurant that she was opening in LA. And I was like, “Okay, universe, let’s do this.” And so that was the start of my consulting journey. And it’s just kind of been evolving from there.

Alison Smith:
Wow, what a ride.

Karin Samelson:
Oh, that’s so amazing. Yeah, I do love how the universe just answers a call when you need it. Very cool. So you said that you were a buyer primarily for that grocery business. Right? So that’s incredibly interesting how you have that perspective as well. I mean, this is really all encompassing for CPG brands.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. I do. Yeah. You guys are so right. That my experience is extremely unique because number one, I don’t have buyer experience at a corporate level. My buyer experience is at farmer’s markets. We traveled to farms. We traveled to ranches. We would meet the fishermen at the dock and some cases, I’ve been up at 3:00 in the morning to do that and buy fish right when it came out of the water, it’s a unique perspective and a unique experience I would buy from behind the tables at farmer’s markets. So I did that. And then I was also understanding how a food business, because I worked for a catering company after my business closed. And I could see how cost does matter and how important pricing is and just how to put together a recipe and all of these really interesting things. It’s like so crazy that I can look back and see how every single part of what I’ve done led and allows me to do what I do today. I don’t know that anyone would have the same kind of perspective as I do. It’s pretty wild.

Karin Samelson:
And a passion for good food. I mean, that’s so important to us as well, to work with mission-based brands and that’s where you’re rooted. I think that’s super incredible. And what a great place in California to be able to have so many farms around you.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. I especially love that aspect that you made those relationships. You went and you talked to the fishermen and the ranchers and met them on their grounds. I think that’s helps you understand how the full spectrum of things actually works. Really.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. It’s interesting too. One of the big things that I learned through the process is that greenwashing is a thing and it can be harmful to farmers sometimes. Right? So organic certification is great, but it also costs a lot of money. And there are a lot of farmers doing really great work that is beyond organic standards. And because they don’t have that certification and it can turn people away from buying from them. So that has always been part of our mission too. And especially at the catering company that I worked at, it was like, people would call and say, “Is everything that you sell organic?” And we had a script. “No, it’s not, but here’s why. And here are the standards that we buy from adhere to.” And so that’s really important for me too. And that’s why I don’t just talk about organic or use buzzwords and just stick with good food or mission driven, because it’s just such a variety of ways that food can be grown and raised. That is good for people and for the planet. And it’s just exciting to be a tiny part of that universe.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. We definitely see terms get misused by the bigger brands. And I think that’s something that consumers should definitely be aware of, for sure.

Karin Samelson:
I have lots of experience with being on the customer service side of a CPG brand, where you were getting all of these questions that were like, “Do you really know what that means?” But going back to, you’re the Good Food CFO. So that is a beautiful explanation of how you got to where you are now. So moving into the financial part and how to build profitable food business with confidence. You’re super active on social, which we love always any brand owners, any brands that are active on social, of course. And you had this video that’s reel on three tips for growing a profitable business. So can you dive a little deeper into those tips because we all need to know these three tips?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah, for sure. Thank you for complimenting me on one of my very first reels. So I’m still getting used to that whole thing, but yeah, I think that these are three really important tips for especially new or budding food business owners to think about and to implement. So number one was create a financial model and people get a little bit nervous about this because financial model sounds technical, but at the end of the day, it’s just a spreadsheet. And it’s purpose is huge though, right? So this simple spreadsheet allows you to see the future of your business. It allows you to see what are my expenses? What do my sales goals need to be right to cover these expenses? To be able to pay myself? I love to share this example of a cookie business.

Sarah Delevan:
The business owner reached out to me, it’s early on in my consulting business. And she was like, “I had this great idea, everyone loves my chocolate chip cookies and I’m going to open as a cottage food business. And I just want to make sure that I’m charging the right price.” And so we did the work of building a super simple financial model. And what she realized in the process was that the number of cookies that she was going to have to churn out to make any money was basically going to provide her with maybe three hours of sleep, no free time. And she was never going to want to make another cookie or even see another cookie after a couple of months. Right? So that’s kind of the power that starting with a financial model has it eliminates burnout, right? It helps you see what is the reality of my business?

Sarah Delevan:
What does it look like if I don’t like what it looks like I can put it on pause and I can think about how can I build this business from day one in a way that aligns with the life that I want and the financial life that I want and also be the business that I want. So my tips for making a financial model would be just start with your expenses. The things that you know are going to cost you money. If you’re looking at renting a kitchen or having the production space, you might not know exactly what that amount is, but just put in your best estimate, plugin an amount of money that you either want or need to pay yourself from the business in order to really commit yourself and work in it full time. And then from there build the sales goals.

Sarah Delevan:
And that helps you to see that cookie business owner. What is the reality? What is the production need to be? How much do I have to sell? What are these goals look like? And how do I feel about that? And then number two is identify your most profitable sales channel. And this is important because primarily I work with businesses that are zero to five years old, right? And probably all three of us know that this is a critical time for businesses of any kind, but particularly food businesses. Right? Getting to two years is a big achievement. Getting to five years is like, “Okay, I’m secure.” My job is to get food businesses to succeed. And primarily we need to focus on zero to two. And then we can look ahead after that. So CPG brands, a lot of them think I got to get into retail. I got to get a distributor agreement, right? I’ve got to grow my business this particular way.

Sarah Delevan:
And I want to share the message that you don’t have to do it that way. You don’t have to grow your business, just like everybody else. You have the power, you have the opportunity to say, “What’s my most profitable channel? Through which channel can I best sustain my business and meet my financial goals?” And so I support this idea of identifying that channel and then going there first and building that. And it’s all with the idea of, we want to change our food industry in order to do that. We have to be successful. Let’s get past year two, let’s make sure we’re making enough money to get there. And then we can look to the future after that.

Sarah Delevan:
And then the third tip there was to track your results over time and to take action based on the data. And I’m sure that both of you can relate to this, right? When you’re doing marketing campaigns or marketing strategies, you’ve got to say, “Okay, well, what did I do? What was the return? And then either, do we keep doing that? Do we need to tweak something? What do we need to tweak?” It’s the same for food businesses when we’re looking at the inside and the operations. So let’s take someone who’s producing their product internally. We want our labor cost, for example, to be a consistent percentage of revenue. Because what that means is that we’ve got consistent productivity and that we can count on what our profit margins are going to be month to month and week to week.

Sarah Delevan:
So we want to track that, what are our labor cost as a percentage of revenue over time, right? What are my ingredient costs over time? And we track this information and if something is unstable or something is kind of hopping around over time. We can look into that and say, “What can I do as the business owner, as the leader to change this, to get some more consistency inside my business, to be more financially sustainable.” So I think those are three super important things for all food business owners to do. So I’m glad that it resonated with you as a real.

Alison Smith:
Definitely. And I love that you talked about not every channel is for every brand. So for example, we’ve worked with brands that don’t initially get into retail. We know retail is so important, but they don’t do it initially. So I’m curious to know how you identify that, is that brands preference, or are you testing and then tracking profit and making decisions based off hard numbers?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah, that’s a great question. So it’s a little bit of both. Whenever I start working with a new client or someone joins the group coaching program, the very first thing we do is talk about what are your big business goals. So what do you want for your brand? And then what do you want for yourself? Or in other words what do you want your money to do for you? Because we start businesses both with a mission, but also to earn a living, right? Most of the time from that business. So we start with what do you want to be? And if you want to be a national brand, then you’re going to have to go retail. Like, that’s part of that big goal. If you want to be the best regional, let’s just say sauerkraut, right. Or fermented foods brand in your region.

Sarah Delevan:
Well, that maybe could involve retail, but it might not have to involve a distributor. You might be able to distribute regionally direct to the retailer. So first getting real clear on what do you want to be as a business? And then looking at the options for how to get there from where you are is one of the big steps. A lot of folks are in multiple channels when they meet me. So they’ve got their e-commerce, maybe they’re on Amazon, maybe they’re thinking about working with distributors. And at that point we do go through the process of analyzing what each channel look like now, are there areas for improving the profitability there? And or which one is most profitable and how do we feel about growing in that channel? Sometimes the most profitable channel also isn’t someone’s favorite, or it doesn’t have a huge opportunity for growth. So in that case, we’re like, we identify, okay, we’ve maxed out that most profitable sales channel. What’s the next one? And then let’s tackle that.

Alison Smith:
That’s so interesting.

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. I love how you take it step by step and first looking at goals, because you never know, not everybody’s goal is to be the number one brand in their category across the nation, so I think that’s so smart. And then looking at hard numbers data first, I love that.

Sarah Delevan:
You can’t have a conversation with me without data coming up of people will ask me hypothetical questions from time to time. And my answer is always, I got to see the data. There’s no instinctual of responses for me. It’s like, what numbers do you have? Let me analyze the numbers and we’ll make a decision from there. So everything – data drives everything for us.

Karin Samelson:
Cool. Well, we have more questions based on that and forecasting and whatnot, but next we want to talk about how should, especially with super small CPG brands, maybe they’ve just at the farmer’s market. They haven’t really got into retailers yet, or they haven’t put their product online. How should they even go about pricing their products? And when, if ever, should they reassess how much their products cost? Because things changed so much over time.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah, I love this question. It’s probably the number one most common question that I get asked, “How should I price my product?” And I’m going to take it back to the financial model. There’s a reason that that’s one, the number one tip on the three tips for building a profitable food business. Because when it comes to pricing, I take totally take a holistic approach. And that means looking at your business as a whole. And in addition to that, you’ve also got to really understand the cost to produce your product. So if it costs a dollar, let’s say to produce your product, that’s really important information. If in your financial model, you’ve identified that you need to hit, let’s just say a cost of goods sold target of 30% of revenue. You’d now have all the information that you need to price your product.

Sarah Delevan:
It costs you a dollar. Then what is your price point need to be to hit that 30% cost of goods target? And I’ve got that formula somewhere on my blog, I always forget it despite the fact that I talk about it all of the time, it’s cost times one minus or one divided by the cost of goods sold percentage, but literally you just need those two pieces of information and you’ve got your suggested retail price and you understand, “Okay, this is what I need to do to have a gross profit margin. That’s healthy enough to support my operations and paying myself.” So that’s how you do it. And then I recommend that you assess your costs as often as possible. So this is going to look different. So for CPG brands, I’ll use a popsicle company that I work with for example, they buy their ingredients twice a year, some ingredients they’re only going to buy once a year and they buy it by the pallet, right?

Sarah Delevan:
They’re going to analyze their costs every time they buy that pallet of product, they’re going to say, “Okay, what is it going to cost to be this year? And how does that cost increase or decrease affect the cost of my product? And then the profit margin of my product. Do I need to shop around for another resource to get this ingredient?” So they’re looking at their costs and then how it affects their pricing. Whenever they’re making these really big purchases. Someone who’s buying let’s say seasonal strawberries or figs, or one of my clients makes dandelion jam. And I don’t know if she’s buying the dandelion or if she’s foraging it, but let’s just presume she’s buying it from someone.

Sarah Delevan:
She’s going to analyze her cost when every time she purchases her ingredients, it’s just a good practice to know, especially for a seasonal business. When does the price drop for the seasonal product? When is the optimal time for me to buy this ingredient? All of those things just provide a ton of impact, power, knowledge, in your business and for you as a business owner.

Alison Smith:
That’s interesting because I feel like the first steps when you start to realize as a brand maybe you’re just up on you come to market, you don’t work with anyone like you when you first get out there really the first steps would be looking internally to try to make efficiencies, but that last ditch effort to increase your profit margin of actually increasing your cost to consumers. When does that happen and how do you go about that?

Sarah Delevan:
You mean raising your price to the consumer?

Alison Smith:
Right.

Sarah Delevan:
When it’s happened? That’s also a really good question and I’ll preface it by saying it’s different for everybody, right? It depends on the goals of your business. So let’s say for example, you’re at the farmer’s market, you’ve done all of the efficiencies that you can and you know what your sales limit or sales capacity is there, if that sales limit and that price or that profit margin on your product is not going to get you the bottom line results that you need to stay in business long-term, that’s when you know you’ve got to raise that price. There’s a really, I love the episode. I think it’s episode number six of the Good Food CFO Podcast. And we talked about a goat farmer who sells goat milk. And he was having a conversation with another consultant and saying “I just I’m closing my business because I just can’t imagine selling my goat milk for $12 a jar.”

Sarah Delevan:
And she was like, “So you’re going to take the reality of not being in business? I’m sure that there are people out there who will pay $12 for your goat milk, because it’s so beneficial to them and to their health and to their family.” So it’s interesting – if it comes to the point where your business isn’t going to work, absolutely raise your price. You might find that there’s other points in time before that, that you might also want to raise your price. Maybe you’re not paying yourself right. Or maybe you want to invest in a team member and you just need those finances internally, the dandelion jam, she was a group coaching member. She just shared with me the other day that she used to sell her jams for $5 a jar at the farmer’s market. She now sells them for $12 a jar.

Sarah Delevan:
And it takes a lot of mental work to be able to get there. But she reached the point that you just described, where it was like, I’ve done everything internally. It’s not going to work if I continue to sell at $5, but can I really raise the price to what it needs to be? And she did it, she had the courage to do it. And now she’s growing her brand, which is really exciting.

Alison Smith:
Her customers are willing to pay and stuff is there.

Sarah Delevan:
Absolutely.

Alison Smith:
Yeah.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. I mean, it’s dandelion jam. Hello. For other jam is like chocolate pear. I’ll have to share the name of you if-

Karin Samelson:
Please do.

Sarah Delevan:
… I don’t know it’s in the show notes maybe-

Karin Samelson:
We want the show notes.

Sarah Delevan:
… I just linked to her because it’s like…

Karin Samelson:
That is incredible. And I feel for that goat farmer, but it has been proven that people are, and you’re the Good Food CFO, right? People pay more for good food. One that is raised with purpose. And I think that that’s just really important to note because that fear of pricing too much when people would never pay that much for X, Y, and Z is so real for so many.


Alison Smith:
Yeah. Very scary. So we wanted to ask you about more about setting sales and revenue goals for small to extra small of CPG brands especially the ones that are newer to market. So you’ve been talking a lot about different, key metrics. So can you just explain more about the best way to pull those metrics, best form of action to actually understand and set these goals?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. So if you’re a business that’s operational and that’s already selling, you want to be tracking your data, your financial data on a monthly basis. Right? And I highly recommend that everyone invest in a bookkeeper. It’s one of the best investments that you can make in your business particularly if you can find one who has food industry or CPG specific experience, we’ve got a great list of bookkeeping resources and companies that we refer people to inside our community. So if you’re looking for someone we can help you out there, but these bookkeepers range in price from 250 a month to $500 a month. So we can find someone that meets your budget, but it’s so important because number one, time is your most valuable resource, right? And you don’t want to be spending your time as the CPG brand, founder and probably key employee also doing the bookkeeping.

Sarah Delevan:
And it’s potentially not your strong suit. You may not know how to utilize QuickBooks right. So if you can budget for a bookkeeper. Number two, if you can’t budget for a bookkeeper, get an Excel sheet and just start to track your expenses. We have something called the know your numbers template inside the group coaching program, which is a really simple way to categorize all of your expenses. So the data entry is really easy, the categorization is really easy and it spits your monthly numbers out into this, what we call a profit assessment. And you can see high level, the key metrics that you’re talking about. So what’s our revenue, what are our costs of goods sold by both ingredient and packaging, labor and then our other cost of goods sold, but just like shipping and merchant fees and all of that kind of stuff.

Sarah Delevan:
So it breaks that down for you. So you can see what are those numbers look like in my business? What are my operating expenses, right? All of these high level things that you need to be keeping your eye on so that you know where to focus your attention if you see what I call an orange flag, like Hmm. My ingredient costs are creeping, creeping up. That’s an orange flag. Let me look into that. So it just starts with seeing this high level analysis of your numbers. So that’s my recommendation on how to get access to that information. Hire a bookkeeper if you can afford it, or just make a simple spreadsheet or utilize one of our tools to get that information down.

Sarah Delevan:
And then I think there’s five. I haven’t gotten them in a while, but you want to track your revenue month to month. And literally have it side by side. So you can see how it’s trending, track your cost of goods sold as a percentage of revenue, do that monthly side-by-side so that you can see how that’s trending, do the same with your operating costs and then break out your ingredients, your packaging, and your labor costs, and look at those as a percentage of revenue as well. And because that information alone is going to provide you with a ton of insight into your business.

Alison Smith:
Totally. And you’re saying once a month, really-

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah.

Alison Smith:
… is all that you need to look back at these numbers?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah.

Alison Smith:
Good decision.

Sarah Delevan:
Absolutely. If you get into it, if you’re trying to look at these numbers once a week, it’s like things aren’t hitting like your rent you might pay your rent on the first, and then you look at your numbers at the end of week one. Well, you’re probably not going to be profitable for the month or for the week because you just paid a big bill. So you want to give yourself a little bit of time for the numbers to fall into place and then analyze them on a monthly basis. And it takes, depending on how many receipts you have, and depending on if you have a bookkeeper or not, the process of reviewing your numbers is like a 15 minute situation. 15 minutes to 60 minutes and you’re done once a month.

Alison Smith:
Totally doable.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah.

Alison Smith:
And I like how you said what to look for. So you’re looking for orange flags, which basically is just like creep, anything that’s creeping up. And that’s where you know where to focus your energy for the next month and try to reduce costs.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. I mean, we know this as business owners as well. There’s never an end to your to-do list. It’s like an endless amount of things that you think you should be focusing on or feel like you need to focus on when you’re looking at your numbers on a monthly basis, they’re telling you “These areas of our business are good. Keep on doing what you’re doing.” These area is a creep area where things are maybe inconsistent or looking a little, like “I might need to investigate it.” Great. That’s where you’re going to focus your attention. So it also helps to streamline your mind and how you’re spending your time. And I think there’s a lot of benefit in that.

Alison Smith:
Yeah, because otherwise you’re just kind of guessing, right?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah.

Alison Smith:
The data.

Sarah Delevan:
The gut instinct is great to have in life, not so great when it comes to your numbers. Emotional decisions are also not super great when we’re reactive, we can make decisions that aren’t necessarily warranted. People raised their prices a lot when they don’t need to, which I think is a really interesting thing because they feel like, “Oh, no, I don’t have enough money on the profit line. I must need to sell more or I must need to raise my prices.” And it doesn’t always have the effect that they want it to. And it’s like, if you took your emotion out of it and you had the numbers there, you could see really what was going on.

Alison Smith:
Right. And just to reiterate, that would be final step, right?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah.

Alison Smith:
Okay.

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. And that’s so interesting. I mean, we see the same thing on the marketing side with the emotion that you have as a brand owner where some decision-making can be a little bit rocky, just because of how invested you are in the brand and the product. So yeah, looking at data to be able to control that a little bit more, and I think that’s a really good note across the board as a founder. So this is a question I was really looking forward to hearing from you is we talk with business owners all the time, obviously about offering steady promotions, steady discounts throughout the year to drive traffic, to drive sales. And a lot actually are nervous about being seen as a discount brand. But promos are so essential to digital marketing efforts. So how should business owners approach implementing discounts?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. I love this question so much and I do want to put a little disclaimer on this one’s like, I’m not a sales strategist, I’m not a marketing strategist. So this is from my purely financial lens and I’m going to take it right back to that financial model again. If you are going to be offering a discount or a promotion, you need to know how much of a discount you can offer, right? So if your business is operating with a 20% gross profit margin, that means 20% of all the revenue you’re bringing in is available for you to cover the operating and other expenses in your business. If you offer a 20% discount. And this example is like, if you discounted 100% of your sales for a month, at 20% off, you would have no gross profit. You would have no money in your business to cover those expenses. Right?

Sarah Delevan:
So it’s kind of an extreme example, but it’s just to illustrate what the effects are. So you need to know how much can I give and still be operating in a financially sustainable way. And once you understand that, I think I heard a CPG consultant give this tip in regard to retail discounts, do a little bit of trial. And see, for example, if you get the same results from a 15% off discount, as you do from a 20% off discount, and if you do then just stick with the 15. Because you’re getting the same result, the customer feels like they’re getting a great benefit and you’re maintaining that 5% difference. So I think those are my primary tips for approaching that, know how much you can give and then see what the least amount you can give is while still making it a good deal for your customers.

Alison Smith:
Right. I like that you said basically AB test it. AB test, like go with the least amount. But again, through just your purely financial lens, we wanted to ask you about how brands should think about pricing on different channels. So do you break out your channels? For example, your e-commerce if you’re on Shopify, your Amazon retail into those monthly financials so that you can understand, okay. We price it here on Amazon, we price it here on retail or is it across the board?

Sarah Delevan:
You’re spot on. So one of the big things that I do talk about it but I surprisingly have not mentioned here yet, is that your financials, if you are working with a bookkeeper, they should be as detailed as possible in terms of the sales channels that you have. So exactly what you just said. If you’re selling on, let’s say your own Shopify website, you’re selling on Amazon, and let’s just say you’re selling direct to retail, just to keep it simple. You want to have your revenue broken down by each of those channels that you can see very clearly what’s coming in from each and then your expenses are going to be detailed as well. So with Shopify, we’ve got Shopify merchant fees, we’ve got our Shopify monthly fee for just being on the website. Then if you’re shipping through Shopify, you’ve got your shipping costs through there.

Sarah Delevan:
If you’re using any apps, you’ve got that there. You want to collect all of that information and see what are those costs for Shopify? Because that’s how you see how profitable that channel is for you. So, same as what we’ve been talking about before, just sticking with the Shopify example. If your profit margins are lower on Shopify, maybe it’s because you’ve been offering free shipping and the actual shipping costs are eating in at your profits. You might decide to charge for shipping. You might decide to do what one of my clients does, who I don’t want to give too many details about her business. So it’s a ingredient will say she sources and sells and ingredient. The ingredient is fresh. So it has to be shipped frozen. The shipping costs are astronomical. For her to offer her product on her Shopify site, with shipping as its own line item, people would say, no, they would abandon cart over and over and over again.

Sarah Delevan:
So for her, the strategy is to increase the price of her product to build in the cost of shipping. And as people buy more and the shipping cost per unit reduces, she passes on that savings to the customer. So that’s all to say, when you record that information separately, you have, again, just so much knowledge and information to make really informed decisions about your price. And about which sales channel to grow on. And Amazon is another great example because I had, and maybe you guys agree with this, I’m not sure, but people often say that if you’re going to be on Amazon, you want to be available via Prime because people go to Amazon and they want stuff fast. So if you’re in the Prime program, it’s going to cost you a little bit more as a business. And so people who shop on Amazon, they’re like, “Okay, I want it tomorrow. Or I want it this afternoon. And so I’m willing to pay a little bit more for it.”

Alison Smith:
They’re not price shopping, yeah.

Sarah Delevan:
No. So crank up your price on Amazon to whatever it needs to be for you to maintain your margins on the channel. And you’ll know what that is. If you’re looking at your revenue and all the costs associated with that channel, and then just to hit on the final example, retail. We don’t have total control over what the retailer sells our product for. We have control over what we’re selling our product to the retailer at. And of course that influences the shelf price. But I try to tell people, don’t get too hung up on what the final retail price of your product is. If for example, I’m trying to think whole food. They want to sell your product for a dollar or $2 more than what you ideally want it to be. You have the power there to offer an everyday low price situation for them and bring your shelf price down. But just remember that that affects your costs, that affects your margin. And so make that decision really wisely with all the information that you have at your fingertips.

Karin Samelson:
Trusting that the retailer, they want to sell your product. They want people to buy it. So they’re going to make it competitive, hopefully. But I think that advice is so incredible where a lot of people are like, “Oh, I can’t be a couple dollars more on my website than I am on Amazon.” It’s like, “Wait, why not?” You want to be able to make money from this. And we’ve had clients that are refrigerated and glass and it’s just like, ooh, and people still purchase. It’s the convenience and it’s the loyalty to the brand. So building that community is so important and then pricing.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah, and I think this is an area where I’m all about collaboration. So I’ve got a range me expert that I worked with for some of my clients, I’ve got a co-packing expert that I work with some of my clients, I’ve got a branding person that I work with with some of my clients and the same would go right like when someone is thinking about what is the price point and what is the discount that I want to offer? What is the promotion that makes sense? Having the financial information and also the customer insights and the market research and all of that, it comes together. My belief is that we can’t do anything in our business, in a vacuum. And that goes for financial decisions as well. I might say to you, “Oh my gosh, your product absolutely needs to be $15.”

Sarah Delevan:
And that part you might say, “But I’ve done the research and it’s not going to sell, the max that I can do for my consumer is 13.” It’s like, “Okay, well then let’s work with that.” But it’s just, again, going back to the information that you have, gives you power to make really smart decisions.

Karin Samelson:
Leading with data. You say it again. Awesome. Well, so what is a common denominator that you see with working with smaller CPG businesses that are just struggling to grow at the rate that they want to be growing at?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. This is an interesting question. What’s floating through my mind right now is the definition of the word grow. What does growth mean? I actually think it’s a little bit different for every business. Do they want to grow units sold? Do they want to grow profits? I think number one let’s get clear on that. I think that’s big. And I think that that’s something that a lot of people don’t think about. But I will say with that said, typically when someone says, “We want to be growing,” we’re talking about sales, right? We’re talking about top line growth. And I actually think that a common denominator is that people focus on that instead of efficiency and bottom line growth. And that the case for me when I owned my food business, we thought in order to be successful, in order to pay ourselves more, in order to stay in business for a long time, we have to sell more.

Sarah Delevan:
And so that’s what we did. That was our approach. And that’s, as we sold more, our costs went up. And the reason that that happened was because we had not done the work yet to get efficient inside our business. How could we add another location? What were those costs going to be? And then how much would we need to bring in from that location to make this worth our while? And we just weren’t thinking that way, we were solely focused on that top line growth and it was eating away our profits. So that’s a huge, common denominator that I see. And I want to change the language tip to be a bit closer to the question that I pose, which is like, what is growth, right? What is it that you want to accomplish with growth? And I think if we start thinking about it like that, there’s going to be a lot more clarity, there’s going to be a lot less burnout and there’s going to be a lot more successful food businesses out there.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. And that is not just food that is every single business where, yeah, you’re thinking of all what you’re saying. You’re thinking about more sales, more sales, more sales, but you’re not looking internally.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah, how many-

Alison Smith:
It’s so easy. I mean, I’m not faulting anyone because everyone does it as a business owner, you’re just in it and so you don’t really always consider those things.

Sarah Delevan:
I think we’re also inundated and I fall prey to this in my business as well. There are people out there who are like, “I make five figures a month and I’m a six figure business annually or and I get to do it from a hammock somewhere.” And it’s just like, that’s not, you just need to shut that out and go, what are my goals? What are my goals for me? What are my goals for my day-to-day life? What are my goals for my client and how can I best serve them? And it’s so funny this morning, I had an exchange on Instagram from another real that I posted. We’re talking about right-sizing, build the company that is right for you.

Sarah Delevan:
I had a conversation recently with a business owner who said to me, “I kind of liked being at home with my girls.” He’s a dad, he’s been working like crazy. He would love to be home to make dinner for his wife who has a great career. And to his girls who I think are both under the age of like 10 or 12, then if that’s what you want, you can create a business that achieves that goal for you. And your financial goals. So just, what do you want?

Alison Smith:
What do you want?

Sarah Delevan:
Build that business?

Alison Smith:
Love that

Karin Samelson:
Did you call it right sizing?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah.

Karin Samelson:
Never heard that before.

Sarah Delevan:
Which I can’t take credit for creating that word. I first heard it on second life when the host was talking to, I can’t remember her name. Oh Joy. She was talking to Oh Joy and Oh Joy was talking about how she was on this rapid growth in her business. And at some point she was just like, “Wait, why are we doing this? We’re growing for the sake of growing. I have this huge team now there’s this pressure to continue to sell and to continue to increase that top line. But I don’t feel the joy that I used to in my business.” And so she had at the time gone through the process of rightsizing and I didn’t think much about it at that point in time, but it’s one of those things that just sits with you. And I think about that conversation often, and I think about what’s the right size for my business.

Sarah Delevan:
And when I have a client coming to me and they are stressed out and they’re burnt out and they need a break, it’s like, “Do you want to close up shop? Or do you want to take a vacation and come back and rightsize and build the business that’s right for you and stop chasing what you think you should be chasing?” I think it’s something that every one of us, I think as one of you just mentioned, every one of us has to work through this.

Alison Smith:
Really. I love that term.

Karin Samelson:
Me too.

Sarah Delevan:
It’s cool, right?

Alison Smith:
Love it. Yeah. I mean, we talk about marketing FOMO all the time, where businesses look at other businesses and they’re experiencing what looks like just like overnight success. And it just makes them feel down in the dumps and that they’re not doing enough. And it’s really like, the food business is so fun, but if you allow it to, it can take over your life. And I liked that. You’re asking people to really think about what is that work-life balance? What do they want out of this? Instead of just saying, how do we make more?

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. The answer is not always more revenue or more sales. It’s kind of.

Alison Smith:
It’s interesting. You don’t usually hear that, but I couldn’t agree more, I think, that’s such a logical and effective way of doing it because man burnout is real and no one wants to get to that place.

Sarah Delevan:
Okay. I’ll share a little burnout story just to relate. At the end of our food business back in 2012 is when it ended. Right? Or no ended in 2014. I think that’s like a blur. I had a stress rash on my left hand that literally took up my whole hand and it was embarrassing, I was having a drink with a friend and we were talking about “What am I going to do?” And talking about the business. And every time I would talk about it, my hand, it would itch. And she was like, “Are you noticing that every time you talk about the business, you’re itching your hand?” And I was like, “Oh no, I didn’t.” I didn’t even notice that. And it was like the burnout, the stress, the anxiety had gotten so real for me that not only were my so tired and so puffy, but I had a physical rash on my hand that took time to go away.

Sarah Delevan:
And I think just like when I talked about acne at the beginning. And for me putting food into my body made a big impact on the outward appearance, like stress and anxiety affect us. And I didn’t realize it until it was on the outside. And I could only imagine what it was doing to me, on the inside. And that is with me. I don’t forget that. I don’t forget the discomfort and the pain of making the difficult decision to close the business. And I think it’s important that I carry that with me when I have conversations with food business owners or conversations like this with you, it’s like, I get it. I understand how real that is. And I know that it might sound crazy because not a lot of people are saying “Don’t sell more.”

Sarah Delevan:
But there’s a reason, there’s a reason that I say that and I want you to sell a ton, but I first want you to sort out the inside of your business so that when you start selling a ton, you’re not going to get burned out, your profits aren’t going to disappear. And you’re going to like, again, I said it already, but you’re going to be able to create the life and the business that you want for yourself.

Alison Smith:
That’s amazing. It’s a way to think about things that I’d like to continue with because yeah. I mean, the stress is real. And it’s so crazy that your body was trying to tell you that in so many ways, but you’re so wrapped up and doing the grind every day that you don’t don’t even notice, so.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. People were telling me like, “Oh, it’s like, don’t eat this kind of fat or stop eating potato chips.” That doesn’t have anything to do with it.

Alison Smith:
It’s not the potato chips.

Sarah Delevan:
No.

Alison Smith:
Oh, we’re going to switch gears a little bit. But this is a question we really wanted to ask you just because we think that you are someone who is changing the financial space in the CPG world. So what are some CPG financial innovations that you’re seeing or some new tactics maybe that CPGers are using?

Sarah Delevan:
I’m going to be a little bit brazen and say that what we’re doing is a trend. And what we’re doing is what I hope more CPG founders and business owners will connect with if it’s right for them. But when I set out at Sarah Delevan Consulting, the mission is to change our food system and to do that one profitable food business at a time. But it has evolved since then to what we’ve been talking about doing it right. Still achieving that mission, but on our own terms, by creating the type of business that we want to. And that’s what I want the trend to be. That’s the innovation that I want to see. I don’t want finances to be overwhelming to people. I want them to be easy to understand. I want people to feel confident about it.

Sarah Delevan:
And have help when they need it, but to own some of it themselves with confidence. And I’ll share this with you too, inside the coaching program. There’s a particular founder that I have in mind. It’s very important to her that her team is well educated and walks the walk of diversity equity. All of that, that she has an education fund for them, that she is supporting them both as humans and as teammates and that she wants to keep them around for a really long time. And I think, I might be speaking out of turn here, but I think most financial advisors would say, “Well, you don’t have the money for that. That could be a goal in the future when you’ve got XYZ, number of sales or when your profit margin is a certain percentage.” The approach that we want to take is if that’s what you want, if that’s meaningful to you, and if that’s core to you and your business, let’s figure out a way to make it happen.

Sarah Delevan:
Let’s figure out how much you need to be allocating or putting aside for that fund to make that happen. And that is what I want to see in the CPG space and in the food industry as a whole, because I don’t know a single mission driven food business owner who doesn’t have some other goal for their business, whether it’s like that person and her and her team and wanting to be an active participant in changing the way that people act right in her business and in the world, or if it’s donating to environmental causes or political causes or whatever it is. I want people to be able to do that and for their vehicles and their business income to be a source for that. So I want us to be the trend. Yeah.

Alison Smith:
I think you’re doing it.

Sarah Delevan:
I hope so, yeah.

Karin Samelson:
Yeah. I think that’s inspiring and important to say, because I feel like all of these smaller brands that do have these really tight budgets and there’s all these wishes to be this or that, or all these conversations about becoming a big corporation and things like that. It’s just like maybe later, maybe later. It’s like, if something means a lot to you, figure out a way to get it done. I think that’s really awesome that you’re helping to do that.

Sarah Delevan:
Thank you.

Alison Smith:
And even from a marketing perspective, that’s such a powerful way for those extra small brands to stand out is to have those types of platforms where consumers can relate. And like these people going beyond just liking their product.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah.

Karin Samelson:
Okay. You’re benefiting the marketing too.

Alison Smith:
Yeah, thank you.

Sarah Delevan:
My pleasure.

Alison Smith:
So closing it out a little bit, we understand that you’re the only food business consultant in the world certified in the profit first method. We have to hear more about this.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. Thank you for bringing that up. It’s kind of wild. To think that you could be the only person in the world of something it was a little bit mind blowing, but yeah. I’ll give a little bit of a backstory in the beginning of this year. So January, 2021, I read the Profit First book after hearing about it from so many people for two years. And I recently did a podcast episode about my journey to discovering Profit First and implementing it in my own business to see how does this really work? Is it practical? I was immediately hooked on the process. I think every business of every kind should be utilizing this strategy because it is so powerful. But despite that, when I read the book at first, I was like, “Could this be helpful for food businesses, particularly mission driven, food and beverage businesses?”

Sarah Delevan:
And so I went to the certification team and I was like, “Hey, I want to learn more about this.” And I mean, to be honest, I wanted to challenge them and be a little bit tough on them. And I think I was, and they were equally tough on me, which I totally respected. Because they have a philosophy that they believe in and that they believe can work in any industry. And I wanted to prove that it could work for food and it does. And so it’s really exciting. We are the only financial consulting agency for food businesses. I’m the only food business financial consultant that has this certification. And we worked with them to make customized tools. So if someone has read the Profit First book and they’re like, “Well, I’m not sure how to implement this in my own business.” We’ve created tools that speak directly to mission-driven food and beverage businesses to help them identify what we call the financial success formula. And to roll that out, according to the Profit First philosophy. So super exciting.

Karin Samelson:
Oh, that is super exciting. I mean, it’s a book that we have on our list to read now. So encouraging everybody else to pick it up and learn something new.

Sarah Delevan:
Yeah. I think the other thing that’s super exciting about it to me is that all the things we just talked about, building a business on your own terms and doing what matters and putting money towards the things that matter Profit First has proven to be a tool to make that a possibility. So the founder that I was just talking about, we’re in the process of implementing Profit First in her business. And it’s given her the strategy is basically, okay, let’s take a percentage of your income every month and put it into this bucket for education so that you can support your team in the exact way that you want to, and you don’t have to wait until you’re making a million dollars a year. You can start to do it right now. And that’s, oh, so exciting.

Karin Samelson:
Giving them their financial freedom. I love it. Awesome. Well, Sarah, it’s been such a pleasure to have you and to learn from you and grow with you. So would you want to leave the audience with a link or call to action?

Sarah Delevan:
For sure. So I’d love connecting with food business owners on Instagram. So you can find me @sarah.delevan.consulting. See all of my reels that I have been creating these days. And check out the website sarahdelevan.com or the goodfoodcfo.com. We’ve got brand new programs if you’re interested in Profit First, there’s a bunch of information there about that as well. And so just check it out and connect with me. I’m here to support you and to support our joint mission of changing our food industry.

Alison Smith:
Amazing. Thank you so much, Sarah.

Sarah Delevan:
Thank you guys for having me.

Narrator:
Umai Social Circle is a CPG agency driven podcast based out of Austin, Texas. We’re excited to share more behind the scenes insights, chats with industry leaders and whatever else we learn along the way. Follow us on Instagram at @umaimarketing or check out our website, umaimarketing.com. Catch you back here soon.

 

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#19: Andy Kurtts Unwraps the Mysteries of Branding and Packaging Design

UMAI social circle cpg podcast

#19: Andy Kurtts Unwraps the Mysteries of Branding and Packaging Design

Founder and Creative Director of Buttermilk Creative, Andy Kurtts, joins UMAI Social Circle podcast to chat about what goes into branding and packaging design to get it on the shelves and into consumers’ hands.

Andy, who led in-house design at specialty grocery store, The Fresh Market, and has worked on branding and packaging design for for brands such as meltemi greek yogurt, Creative Snacks, Publix and Wegmans, is sharing what makes or breaks your packaging, how to create stand-out packaging to attract your audience, and so much more.

Let us break it down for you…

[00:47] Introducing Andy Kurtts, Founder and Creative Director of Buttermilk Creative.

[1:24] Get to know Andy and his journey from being a kid in art class to being the founder of his very own creative agency.

[6:29] The ins and outs of designing packaging while working with parameters.

[7:50] How having a grocery design background translates into designing for his own clients.

[9:49] From the big picture to the small details; the things that can qualify and disqualify packaging no matter how good the product is.

[12:33] What your packaging needs to help your brand stand out to buyers.

[16:39] Understanding and targeting what consumers look for on the shelf.

[20:41] Channeling different personas to design packaging that fits the audience.

[22:40] Portraying the brand’s story in a small space.

[24:07] Embodying the customer avatar to translate feedback in order to create a design.

[26:53] Aligning on the ambiguity and interpretation of mood boards.

[29:27] How it started vs. How it’s going: Rebranding edition.

[32:57] The outlook on sustainable packaging. 

[35:43] Exciting packaging innovations to explore!

[38:44] Brands that will help with your packaging and branding inspo!

[40:23] How Andy gets inspired to design stand-out packaging.

[43:01] Presenting and designing strong options that you’ll be proud of.

[44:10] How and where to find Buttermilk Creative.

Mentions from this episode: 

Follow Buttermilk Creative –
Instagram 
Website 

Stay in touch:

Join UMAI’s Facebook Group: CORE 3

Read – #19: Andy Kurtts Unwraps the Mysteries of Branding and Packaging Design

[AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT MAY BE SUBJECT TO MINOR TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS/VARIATIONS]

Narrator:
Calling all consumer goods, business owners and marketing professionals. Does planning content ahead of time stress you out? Do you want to run Instagram and Facebook ads but just aren’t sure where to start? If your answer is yes and yes, then our mini course was made for you. It’s 100% free and packed with the central tactics that you can implement as soon as today. To join in, visit our website at umaimarketing.com/minicourse. All right, let’s get on with the pod.

Alison Smith:
I’m Alison, Co-Founder of Umai and we’re being joined by Andy Kurtts, Creative Director and Founder of Buttermilk Creative, a full service design studio that’s done the branding and packaging for The Fresh Market, Fire Cider, Publix grocer and Wegmans and that’s just to name a few. Welcome, Andy.

Andy Kurtts:
Thank you so much for having me, Allison.

Alison Smith:
Thanks for being here. I’m excited because to me, branding and packaging is just a difficult mystery, so I’m hoping that you can demystify some things for me today.

Andy Kurtts:
I’ll try.

Alison Smith:
Good. Well, let’s start with your background. How did you get into design?

Andy Kurtts:
Sure. I always knew when I was little that I wanted to be in some creative field. I was lucky enough, through sixth grade on, I have some art class in every single semester, whatever. As it got closer in high school, I got closer to figuring out what I was going to study in college, I started being very intentional about the classes I could take. We had a vocational high school here that you could travel to, and so I filled up my courses, junior and senior year with computer arts and photography and commercial art and all that kind of stuff. Digital illustration.

Andy Kurtts:
When it came time to going out for college, I knew I wanted to do something creative. Initially I went to study fine art painting and realized very quickly that that’s basically one in a million kind of thing. That’s like training to be a star athlete or star actor. The thought that a gallery is going to pick you up is crazy. I quickly retooled and recalibrated and ended up going to the Ringling School of Art and Design. Now it’s called College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, to study illustration and design there.

Andy Kurtts:
That’s really where that it all jelled with me of this intersection of fine art and business. Studied there for four years and then worked at a print shop right out of school, doing everything that they needed. That was eye opening because in school they don’t teach you about separation, print plates, all the kind of limited color printing, offset, all that kind of stuff. And so I got a bit of a trial by fire because the woman who ran the press was just, she didn’t take anything from anybody. If I mess something up, she was right there.

Alison Smith:
Were you printing shirts or just anything that-

Andy Kurtts:
Anything. Business cards, brochures, they did digital printing an offset and letterpress printing. It was everything, as a full service print shop. That was really neat, because I got to literally design something and then see it be made into a plate, and then go on the press and then get printed like 5,000 copies or whatever.

Andy Kurtts:
Then my wife and I moved up to North Carolina and I started working at the fresh market and running their in-house design team. It was really there that I really found a love for packaging design and especially food and beverage, which is what we now focus on. During that time there, we did a ton of stuff, that I think when we started tracking our projects, we had 500 projects a year or something.

Andy Kurtts:
A lot of that was the packaging design and that was really interesting to work on it there because there was no line work. Which when you think about a private brand design, look at a grocery store, it’s normally, put the logo at the top, product photography, item name, it’s sent. For them, everything was a blank slate. What we did was we would look at the maker and the manufacturer for inspiration, the product, if there were any history there, and really just dug into that to inspire the look of the packaging.

Andy Kurtts:
While it was maddening having to restart every time, we wish we had some plug and play options for some of this stuff. It really helped me refine how to design packaging for a wide variety of people. I was there for seven years, and then six years ago started Buttermilk Creative, just basically doing what I had a lot of experience doing with the fresh market, but just with our end clients. It’s really neat, the specialty food and beverage industry is very, actually pretty small. A lot of the folks that I worked with at the fresh market went on to work at other places or for other brands and just the network really grows itself.

Alison Smith:
So cool you get to do your passion every day. That’s awesome. But with the fresh market, when you’re saying you’re doing packaging design, is that their self-produced products or is it other brands got help from y’all, or how does that work?

Andy Kurtts:
It’s like any kind of private label program.

Alison Smith:
Okay. Cool.

Andy Kurtts:
They would go out source manufacturers that are offering white label service or whatever. That was interesting too, because we would have to design with them whatever parameters. For instance, there was this company that made croutons, and their box was very distinct. We had that on the shelf at the first market, and then the fresh market started working with them on making fresh market brand crouton, but it came in the same shape of box. We had to be very clear in our design, because already the form tied them together, and so we had to be very clear on how we designed that crouton packaging so it didn’t look anything like the people who made it. Unless it’s some kind of exclusivity thing, like grocery stores don’t really want you to know who’s making their products.

Alison Smith:
Interesting. I just love that you have that background in grocery. I’m really curious, now that you’re working with other clients, how does that affect your overall design?

Andy Kurtts:
I reference it all the time, daily. It really has built this great foundation and education for designing for brands. Because even if you’re trying to get on to a mass market conventional grocery store or a super-duper specialty grocery store, the rules of the shelf are pretty much the same. Even before you get on the shelf, you have to get on a grocery buyer’s radar.

Andy Kurtts:
Then even before that, there’s a category review schedule. I got exposed to all this really inner workings of grocery stores that help my clients navigate all that. Now, by no means am I a broker or anything like that? I have no idea. That is not our specialty, but if a client calls me up and is like, “Hey, I need quick samples or mock-ups because I’m going to a category review meeting or I’m sending stuff in for category review meeting with our broker in two weeks.” I know exactly what they need and I could just crank it out for them. No more, no less.

Andy Kurtts:
Just being able to see that, and then also being able to see when there were samplings and cuttings. That’s where they get a ton of samples and they lay it all out in the test kitchen and just go around and rate and eat everything, and sample everything. There’d be a whole-

Alison Smith:
That sounds awesome.

Andy Kurtts:
Oh man. But if you were invited to, let’s say the ice cream cutting, you also had to go to the olive oil cutting. Something that’s, or the vinegar tasting or whatever. They were like, “You guys can’t just cherry pick. If you want to be involved in this process, then you have to take the good with the bad.” But no, it was really neat because we could really see from the VP level to the coordinator level, to a specialist level.

Andy Kurtts:
What resonated with them packaging wise, outside of all the other stuff, ingredient quality, margins, distribution, all that kind of stuff, all that business stuff but then we also could hear what aesthetically stuck out to them, but then also, what disqualified a maker. If their nutrition facts panel wasn’t formatted properly, or they didn’t have a UPC code on their packaging, it could be the most amazing, best story, the greatest product ever. But if it wasn’t compliant, wasn’t shelf-ready, then it was too much work to go back to that maker and say, “Hey, you need to do this. You need to do that.”

Alison Smith:
But they’d get cut just because of those?

Andy Kurtts:
Yeah.

Alison Smith:
What do you mean exactly by the nutritional facts not being formatted? It’s oblong or what?

Andy Kurtts:
Yeah. It’s crazy what people do to… The FDA provides lots of different formats for your packaging. Most people just think of that traditional just table version. But there’s a version where it’s just words. That would go on a really small package. But a lot of folks just take… Because you get a JPEG image of your nutrition facts and from whoever, the lab or whatever. Then you’re like, “Okay, well I need to take this format and then just slap it on this label or whatever.”

Andy Kurtts:
They just shrink it or they squeeze it or they compress it. While technically you have a nutrition facts panel, well for one, it’s not doing the consumer any good because they can’t read it. And then there is a potential that it’ll get flagged by the FDA, and then you have to fix it and there might be fines associated with that, so just that awareness of all the different formats in which one can go with which size of label. The size of label really drives everything.

Alison Smith:
Wow. That’s something so small I feel like a lot of people could easily overlook but… So those are the no nos. Are there any, you talked about grocery buyers resonating with certain types of packaging. Is there anything that stands out that people should look to add to their design?

Andy Kurtts:
I think it’s always having, if you don’t clutter the packaging but having good call-outs that are relevant to your customer and the category that you’re in. If it’s like, this is a very generic example, but if you’re making an energy bar, then make sure you mentioned keto and paleo or whatever. Really being able to… Then any relevant certifications or logos, like USDA Organic or Non-GMO, that kind of stuff. That really resonates with grocery buyers because they know that all of those certifications to use those logos costs money.

Andy Kurtts:
Well, first of all, you have to get your product approved and your facility approved and all that kind of stuff. Then you have to keep it up and you pay for that every year, so obviously you’re invested in whatever-

Alison Smith:
The standards.

Andy Kurtts:
Exactly. I think that means a lot. Beyond that, it’s very… They’re really looking for stuff that is going to stand out on the shelf, it’s going to be different than what they currently have. If you have the ability, then you go to whatever store you’re going to try to get into and really look at the set and really understand, okay but everything’s dark or everything’s brown here. Let’s say like the granola set. Everything’s either really light or really brown, so maybe we do a bright bag four ours or whatever.

Andy Kurtts:
They’re also, this is nothing I have control over, but they’re also looking for what the format is and how many they can get on the shelf and all that kind of stuff. If you have some funky shape or something and your competitor can get four bags on a shelf, and because you’re a crazy shape, you can only do two, that’s going to hindering you. And aesthetically, it’s all very subjective, I think from from the… Everybody has their own tastes.

Alison Smith:
Yeah. Like fresh market’s going to be different than Walmart.

Andy Kurtts:
Even within those organizations, we had super conservative people that were grocery veterans that were like, “No, you got to have the Starburst in the corner. Then there were other folks who were really in touch with cutting edge trendy design, and they would push us to be more out of the box and be more subtle and whatever. It just ran the gamut there too. You’ll find the same wherever it is.

Andy Kurtts:
That’s why we work with a lot of other grocery stores, is that we have worked in-house at a grocery stores, so there’s already a bit of a learning curve that we’ve already gotten over. Because it’s a quirky world and to take a designer who maybe has been working in an agency environment and then say, “Okay, now you’re going to freelance with this in-house department at a grocery store.” It’s a totally different animal. That’s a value add that we bring, is that we can just get plugged into the team right away.

Alison Smith:
Very cool. Huge value. I love that tip, just go to the store. When you’re starting your branding journey, go to the store and just be different. It’s so obvious but. We talked about grocery buyers, what they’re looking for. Like you said, it’s going to vary. But anything specific that consumers are looking for? How can brands know what their consumers are going to look for on the shelf, I guess?

Andy Kurtts:
Well, that just goes back to knowing who your target customer is, and speaking to them. And really having a laser focus on who that is, and being as specific as you can. Way too many, I think, brands out there skip over that process. We talked to one of our clients early on, and we were like, “Okay well, who’s your target customer?” And they said, “Anyone with a mouth.” And then we say-

Alison Smith:
Oh gosh. I’ve heard that so many times. I’m like, “That’s not right.”

Andy Kurtts:
That’s not right. It’s understanding exactly who that is, and then that’s creating your messaging and your packaging all around that, detaching yourself from it and really focusing on who that… Because you could be a 30 something year old dude like me, who wants to make something that’s targeted for older women or something. I’m going to need to really research, which we’re actually doing right now. We’re making a packaging for powdered supplements that is going to target gen x women. I had to take a step back and say, “Well, what’s going to resonate with that?”

Alison Smith:
How do you figure that out? Or you’re just on tic-tac?

Andy Kurtts:
Well, not tic-tac. Did I say gen x? What was the ’90s? Who was the ’90s and early 2000s? Was that gen x?

Alison Smith:
Millennials.

Andy Kurtts:
Before millennials. Whatever that generation was before millennials.

Alison Smith:
Gosh, I don’t know.

Andy Kurtts:
It would be people like women who grew up in the ’80s, late ’70s, early ’80s into the ’90s come of age in the ’90s. It turns out that that demographic is not spoken to, really. Our client, we worked with a person who does marketing research. When you think about powdered supplements, you’re going to automatically think, it’s a younger crowd. It’s possibly skews female, health-focused exercise, and you do all that and you’ve basically just described every core customer for every powdered supplement brand out there.

Andy Kurtts:
She uncovered this untapped demographic for this type of product. I think those folks are… That demographic’s just as interested in eating good food and being healthy and active and all that kind of stuff, as the younger crowd. We didn’t make the packaging look like a Nirvana album cover.

Alison Smith:
But you’ll be sick.

Andy Kurtts:
[inaudible 00:19:51] to me. But we knew that that, again, that wasn’t really… That while they might’ve listened that music, it’s visually probably wouldn’t have… it would have been weird. We just worked on how do we get just really try to put on our target customer hat? Because it doesn’t look like a design that I would necessarily be attracted to. But-

Alison Smith:
I think that must be really difficult to… Like you said, you’re 30 something year old man, constantly having to design for other people, which makes a great designer. But tell us more how you get into that, like you said, the customer avatars. Are you listening to Nirvana every night and drawing like you do or what?

Andy Kurtts:
I just try to immerse myself in the research and just really try to check all the assumptions at the door. I also have great help from my wife who isn’t in the creative work on a day-to-day basis. She’s a studio director so she is invoicing and sending emails out and doing that kind of stuff, and managing other things. She really can look over my shoulder and say, what are you doing? Who’s who is that? Who are you designing for? And really helps ground me. Because I will get fall back into some just things that I like visually that do not fit. And so that’s a super help as well, having someone with fresh eyes look at it.

Andy Kurtts:
But it’s just leaning into it and by now I think I don’t really… My goal is not to make something cool. It’s to make something that the client is going to be happy with and is hopefully going to make them a lot of money. Whether I think it’s cool or not, or aesthetically pleasing or whatever is… It’s part of it and I’d like to think that what I’m making is going to look good on the shelf, but would I put pink at the top of a box or whatever? Maybe not, but if that’s what the client wants and feels that it’s going to resonate with their customer and it’s going to fly off the shelf, then I’m beak up there.

Alison Smith:
I like that. We just talked about the customer avatar, how you get in that zone. But how do you tell the story of a brand in such a small space? How has that done?

Andy Kurtts:
Oh man.

Alison Smith:
Sounds like a challenge.

Andy Kurtts:
It totally is. It’s even more challenging. I worked on these gourmet butters, and the cup is about an inch and a half tall. That design space was about an inch and a half tall, so then the cup is slightly taller. I had to sum up this whole story of this amazing butter that is developed by this the maker is from France and he’s got this whole culinary background and his grandma made this type of table-flavored table butter or whatever, all into this little tiny thing.

Andy Kurtts:
It really, you’re just looking for anything that you can pull from the history or from the story and integrate. If it’s a color, if it’s a little symbol, if it’s a… I don’t know. Then you have to also accept that you’re not going to be able to get everything across on that packaging too. There’s other opportunities with the website and other places to further tell the story. It’s a balance.

Alison Smith:
Finding that customer, that target customer, if you’re a part of process in any way-

Andy Kurtts:
Yes, that’s right.

Alison Smith:
… how can branding people help with that process?

Andy Kurtts:
Yes, we are part of that process. There are plenty of specialty studio or firms that help with that specifically, but we can help embody that avatar. Once you nail down who that persona is, then that is really when we can start humming along with… Because that’s going to inform objectively the work that a founder might… This goes back to what I was earlier saying. You as the founder might hate the color orange. But when I present something orange to you and you bring up, “You know I hate the color orange.” It’s like, “Well, but your target customer, prove to me that your target customer hates the color orange.” It just gives you as the designer a leg to stand on when… Because that’s the worst thing, poison pill for a design project, is the subjective feelings that come into play.

Andy Kurtts:
When people give criticism or try to give criticism who aren’t used to giving criticism, like art school, we were so used to being torn apart at a critique that that really doesn’t… none of that bothers me. Also giving constructive criticism. But a lot of the founders that we work with, they’re not used to that, and it’s uncomfortable to talk about design. You can either accept that you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

Andy Kurtts:
Because I can’t tell you how to run a snack company. I don’t know the first thing about how to set up a line to fill bags of chips. I’m not going to tell you anything about that. I think a lot of people assume that, “Design is easy. I can get feedback.” And it’s not. The sooner you can accept that and just say, “I’m out of my element, but I can help you walk through what you’re feeling.” And then translate it into actual feedback that will help the design.

Alison Smith:
Design is difficult to talk about. Because I don’t know how you communicate design. There’s Pinterest and I think that’s a bridge to help people communicate their feelings.

Andy Kurtts:
Exactly.

Alison Smith:
But it’s hard.

Andy Kurtts:
Anywhere along the way… A good way to do it is through a mood board, which is basically just creating a Pinterest board and aligning on what a client means when they say clean and modern. It’s like my interpretation of clean and modern is going to be different than your interpretation of clean and modern, so let’s align on that. Then if that’s what you want your packaging to be and it aligns with your target customer, then we have a baseline.

Andy Kurtts:
But sometimes a mood board is too conceptual for a client, and they’re like, “What am I looking at?” So you’re going to actually use that font. It doesn’t say our name or whatever. Because you can also put font choices on mood boards, along with color and along with just overall look and feel. We do a case-by-case basis because we’ve presented mood boards where people just got way too literal with them and just couldn’t get away from them. And they thought that literally that’s what their packaging was going to look like. And it was like, “No, we’re just trying to capture a mood here. Mood board.”

Andy Kurtts:
Then trying to help your client. I know that it’s hard to give feedback, and so I’m not going to overwhelm them with a bunch of design terms. Because I know if a client doesn’t like a font, they can’t reference and say what it is. They’re not going to say, “Well, I just want the surf to be more humanist.” Or whatever. I know what that means, but-

Alison Smith:
I did not.

Andy Kurtts:
When they say like, I don’t know, just that font feels too cold. If it’s like a sans serif, then I’d probably need to explore some serif more warm, friendly fonts that’s more human looking. Versus something that looks more computer looking.

Alison Smith:
That’s so interesting. It really is. I love that you have to dissect what someone’s trying to say on a constant basis to get it right. It’s very cool. But you did talk about the evolution of brands, so I just wanted to ask, should a brand design their packaging knowing that in the future they’ll most likely want to do a refresh, or should they design something that’s withstanding time?

Andy Kurtts:
Sure. Especially for a startup brand, you can almost guarantee that whatever packaging you launch with, no matter if you invest $500 or a million dollars, you’re going to redo it very quickly. A lot of the startup brands, we try to steer away from. They should look at more economical options because… Then come to us afterwards when they’re out there for a year or so.

Alison Smith:
Because I can see that getting someone really stuck on launching, is the branding has to be right and it’s just like just put it out. Okay, cool.

Andy Kurtts:
Yeah. I just, an article that I wrote for the Startup CPG Spotlight blog. It was whatever, published last Friday. It’s going to be a series where I talk to founders about what kind of packaging they started with and launched with, and what the packaging looks like now.

Alison Smith:
That’s the social media trend that’s happening right now. I love it.

Andy Kurtts:
Exactly. That’s what it’s called. It’s called, what is it? The, this is how it started, this is how it’s going.

Alison Smith:
And this is how it’s going. That’s so cool.

Andy Kurtts:
Thank you. The one that just published is with the folks who started Bare Bones Broth and it’s Kate and Ryan Harvey. I talked to Kate about it. When you look at how they started, looks nothing like what it looks like now. Some of that was due to just the challenges of a small brand. They had to do a label on a stock bag. Versus now, they can get bags printed, and it’s beautiful, full color bags.

Andy Kurtts:
But then it also was, you can tell the design aesthetic wasn’t as obviously polished. But they just needed to get out there and just learn along the way, versus getting hung up because you can almost guarantee it’s going to get redesigned. Then for more established brands, then obviously I’m trying to create something that’s going to be somewhat timeless so it doesn’t look like… you can tell something was designed in 2020 or whatever.

Andy Kurtts:
But you can pretty much guarantee, just based on a lot of different factors that you’re going to get a redesign, or you should start exploring a redesign around five years. That’s really… But then the shelf life of most designs, if the company sticks around, is around 10 years. But if you really want to keep things fresh and keep on top of revisiting call-outs or revisiting small tweaks that might improve your packaging and visibility, then five years is a good rule of thumb.

Alison Smith:
Great. I love having those hard numbers. I know it’s not a hard number, but I think that’s really helpful to wrap your head around. I would love to get your input on sustainability where sustainable packaging, what things you’re excited about in that realm or where we’re moving towards for that.

Andy Kurtts:
I’m really excited, but then also frustrated because the options are super limited. And it’s really going to take someone like a Coca-Cola or one of these large CPG companies to really lean into sustainable packaging, then that will help everyone else be able to-

Alison Smith:
As it’s got to go down the chain.

Andy Kurtts:
And it’s just so expensive right now. But it’s critical. Now, I did hear something interesting the other day, that we focus a lot on compostability and making something that you can throw away. They were basically like, “No, no, no, whether you’re throwing it into a landfill or doing some compostable thing, you’re still generating trash and waste. And really what we should really be focusing on is reusability.” That’s one thing that I’ve been really inspired by seeing how folks are doing the reusable thing.

Andy Kurtts:
There’s this soap company that sends out a little dissolvable pods. Your kit that you buy has the pump in it or the whole thing. Then you do a subscription and then in a month or whatever, they just send you a little pod, pop in there and shake it up with water. That’s really neat to think about how you can apply that reasonable, re-fillable to other industries.

Andy Kurtts:
Every client we work with, we try to help them navigate sustainable packaging or explore sustainable packaging, or just lesser impact packaging, just because it’s hard. Sometimes just that the investment just isn’t there and the budget isn’t there. Our business is on the line and so we can’t push them too much, but we do try to have a conversation when it comes to format and substrate. We try to bring that up.

Alison Smith:
You give the options. I completely agree. It’s got to start from the top because it’s just, it’s probably way too expensive. I know a lot of brands start with glass and things like that, but as they grow, they just can’t keep up with that, so… Any other packaging innovations that excite you?

Andy Kurtts:
Let’s see. There was this really interesting company that I talked to, that they do this neat thing, I think it’s called Phantom Graphics maybe. Basically what they do is it’s only with clear pressure sensitive labels right now, but they’re exploring other materials. But basically, they through printing on top of the label and behind the label, a certain pattern, it looks like the image that you’ve printed is moving. It’s hard to describe but it’s really cool.

Alison Smith:
Like a 3D thing?

Andy Kurtts:
Yeah. When you were a kid, did you ever have books that had overlapping black and white images and when you moved them over, they look like they’re moving?

Alison Smith:
Yeah. I think I know what you’re talking about.

Andy Kurtts:
It’s not a hologram, it’s not a lenticular printing, which is like when you have something that you move back and forth and it’s like texture. This is something totally different. I don’t know, it was just fascinating to me that they have been able to… Pressure-sensitive, printing on clear pressure-sensitive labels, it’s not the oldest type of packaging printing, but it’s not particularly new. But they’ve been able to make something that’s old new and interesting.

Andy Kurtts:
You can think about the implications for… You could put a clear label on a beer can, and that would be really neat. Because it’s already a funky category and always looking for ways to innovate. We are actually potentially going to work with them on one of our clients who she makes, called True North Beauty. She makes skincare with chaga mushrooms, and she’s got this beautiful Malakai pattern as part of her packaging. To just think about how, if that Malakai looked like it was moving, almost like water moving around.

Alison Smith:
Cool.

Andy Kurtts:
I don’t know. That would be appropriate for a category. Because you just expect to have really beautiful rich packaging experiences with health and beauty.

Alison Smith:
Well, if that project goes through, definitely ping us. I need to see that.

Andy Kurtts:
For sure.

Alison Smith:
Cool. Well, that’s exciting. My final question is something that we like to ask everyone. It’s a difficult one though, so what are some of your favorite brands or packaging designs right now that we can all look at and get inspired by? It’s hard to choose favorites. We know.

Andy Kurtts:
I know, I know. Let’s see. Who are some of the… Okay, here. I’m going to name some studios that I am constantly amazed with what they’re putting out. Just because I followed them, and then you get to look at their work. Is that okay?

Alison Smith:
Yeah, that’s great.

Andy Kurtts:
There’s this one that’s basically who I consider just about the leader in this natural products packaging design world, is Interact in Boulder. Think of any like when you’ve gone to Expo West or one of the trade shows and there’s a really cool brand and packaging, that they probably had a hand in it. I’ll always look into them on a daily basis like, who are they working with or who did they launch, or I try to guess if I see a cool new, natural product out there. I’m like, “I bet Interact had something to do with them.”

Andy Kurtts:
Another really neat one is Miller, I think it’s Miller Creative in New Jersey. They do a lot of super great work. Look on their Instagrams. That’s where the best place I think to see things. But it’s funny. I do packaging on a daily basis, but it has become noise to me as well. I look for inspiration outside of packaging.

Alison Smith:
That’s cool.

Andy Kurtts:
Because if you just look at packaging, then you’re just going to [crosstalk 00:40:10] forever-

Alison Smith:
They all merges together maybe.

Andy Kurtts:
Yeah, what everybody else is making.

Alison Smith:
How do you get inspired? Let me ask you that.

Andy Kurtts:
Oh man. By art and just trying to expose myself to as much things outside of the design world as I can. You have to on one hand, be in tune with it so that you’re creating things that are within the same visual trend or vocabulary, so that customers, what you’re designing is going to resonate with customers. But on the other hand, you can’t. You have to infuse different new inspiration so that you don’t look like everyone else.

Andy Kurtts:
Just because of my background, I love art and I love painting, and so I’ll pull out… I’ve got a whole bunch of art books and that’s where I’ll look for… A few years ago, there was a California olive oil that I was designing, and one of my favorite movements is painting was the Bay Area, figurative movement. There’s this one particular painter named Richard Diebenkorn, and he did these really neat geometric paintings.

Andy Kurtts:
They were basically looked like landscapes, but they were geometric. They’re amazing and they have a lot of texture and everything. I basically designed the… Because it’s California olive oil, this was a California art movement. I tied those two together and made the label look like that. One of the ideas.

Andy Kurtts:
The other idea was a cliff with the ocean, would look very quintessential, like Highway 1, you pull off the side of the road. That’s the option they went with. But I still had that other option which had a ton of all this art history associated with it. I’ll do that a lot.

Alison Smith:
Were you like she’s so [inaudible 00:42:25]?

Andy Kurtts:
Yeah. I was like, “It’s a slam dunk.” And they were just like, “I don’t know. I just really liked the seaside one. It just really sums it up.” And I was like, “Okay.”

Alison Smith:
Oh man, that must be hard. You need to frame all your favorites too and just be like, this should have won.

Andy Kurtts:
Oh man, I long ago have stopped to pick and favorites with my designs and just… You just can’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t be proud being associated with. That was the rule of thumb when I first started was… One of the techniques we used was always included a really bad one so that the other two look really good. And-

Alison Smith:
You actually do that?

Andy Kurtts:
Yeah, we would.

Alison Smith:
Also behavior 101 is like, “Don’t really give them choices. Give them a bad choice and a good choice.”

Andy Kurtts:
Yeah. Now we just limit the options and we only present just a couple options that we feel really strongly about, and they could pick either one and we would be happy. But my favorite designs, my hard drive is filled with so many of those that just never see the light of day.

Alison Smith:
Sad. You should have a second website of Andy’s graveyard or something.

Andy Kurtts:
Yeah.

Alison Smith:
That’d be cool.

Andy Kurtts:
I’ll try that.

Alison Smith:
Well Andy, this was really fun and I learned a lot. Thank you for talking to us about branding and packaging.

Andy Kurtts:
You bet.

Alison Smith:
Everyone needs to go check out Buttermilk Creative. Can you tell people where they can find you or reach you?

Andy Kurtts:
You bet. Yeah. Buttermilkcreative.com is where you can see us. Then on Instagram we’re Buttermilk Creative. Then we are on Clubhouse and I love Clubhouse. I host a show every Tuesday at 3:00 PM Eastern with my friend, Kirk, who’s also another… Kirk Fizzola, who is another packaging designer on the West Coast, and we just have a blast. We talk for an hour just about anything packaging related.

Narrator:
Umai Social Circle is a CPG Agency driven podcast, based out Austin, Texas. We’re excited to share more behind-the-scene insights, chats with industry leaders and whatever else we learn along the way. Follow us on Instagram at Umai Marketing, or check out our website, umaimarketing.com. Catch you back here soon.

 

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UMAI social circle cpg podcast
UMAI social circle cpg podcast

A Podcast for Food, Bev, and Wellness Biz Owners and Foodies Alike

UMAI Marketing Co-Founders Alison and Karin just launched a podcast!

Every other Thursday, they’ll share irresistibly inspiring food, bev, and wellness brands as well as interviews with CPG industry leaders.

You better believe these two are gonna peel back some layers to reveal the why behind work – what makes this modern world of social media marketing + advertising so special? Let’s find out together.

Pick an episode, any episode – 

#1: Our Founder Story, How Karin & Alison Met

#2: Creating a product that’s *actually* different with Natural Stacks

#3: Siete Foods Mukbang, How They Nurture a +300k Community of Engaged Followers

#4: Shaking up the Market with Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Eggs and Exo Cricket Protein

#5: Kettle & Fire Mukbang, Their Unique Approach to Increasing Average Order Value

#6: How the 1st Ever Coconut Milk Ice Cream, NadaMoo!, Earned Its Way Into the Freezer Aisle

#7: Pabst Brewing Brand Director on Climbing The CPG Ladder

#8: Culina Yogurt Mukbang, the Blueprint for Founder-Forward + Eco-Minded Content

#9: Behind an Accelerator Program, Mentorship, & 2020 Trends with Alyssa Padron of The Ronin Society

#10: Uplifting Female Founders, Pitch Deck Pitfalls, and Getting Funded With Springdale Ventures Principal Caroline Fabacher

#11: The Best Biz Owners Stay Humble & Scrappy, Words of Wisdom From SKU’s Chief Operating Officer

#12: Marc Nathan on Mindfully Scaling Your Biz & Building Community

#13: The 360° CPG Experience With Notley’s VP of Marketing, Emily Kealey

#14: Poppi Mukbang, This Insta-Worthy Rebrand & Influencer Network Is Poppin’ Off

#15: Should You Clap Back?? Responding to Negative Comments on Social

#16: Surviving to Thriving on Grocery Shelves with Alli Ball, Creator of Retail Ready®

#17: Amplify Snack Brands’ Sr. Supply Chain Planner Explains Big-Picture Inventory Strategy

#18: Food Styling and Product Photography Tips with Ashleigh Amoroso

#19: Andy Kurtts Unwraps the Mysteries of Branding and Packaging Design

#20: Financial Planning Success with the Good Food CFO

#21: Joi Chevalier on Thoughtful, Repeatable Management Systems

#22: Formulating Authentic Better-For-You Products With Marissa Epstein

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