Simple Mills CEO on a mission to promote clean eating

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Simple Mills creates natural and gluten-free baking mixes. Photo: Michaelle Bradford

Simple. Clean. Whole. Three words that characterize current healthy lifestyle trends centered around clean eating, non-processed, simple foods and low carb, gluten-free, non-inflammatory diets.

From Whole30 to Paleo, these popular diets encourage a focus on clean eating and healthy meals made from scratch with whole and nutrient-dense foods.

As a result, entrepreneurs like Katlin Smith, founder and CEO of Simple Mills, have created successful niche businesses based on the demand for clean, natural and non-artificial products.

How Simple Mills started

Simple Mills, which Smith launched six years ago, began as a natural baking mix company. It has grown tremendously in those six years and nearly tripled brand growth and revenue in 2018.

Its expanded product line now includes crackers, cookies, and frostings. Its footprint encompasses 16,000 grocery stores, up from 1,600 just 3 years ago.

In an interview on NBC’s Today Show, Smith said her company is the largest natural baking mix brand, second largest natural cracker brand and third largest natural cookie brand in the United States. And, Simple Mills has more than doubled in size every year it’s been in business.

Kaitlin Smith Simple Mills, clean eating
Katlin Smith, CEO and founder of Simple Mills, spoke at Startup Grind Chicago. Photo: Michaelle Bradford

Not bad for someone who didn’t plan on starting her own company. Smith told entrepreneurs at Startup Grind Chicago’s May meeting that although she didn’t envision starting on this path, “I think you kind of end up in the place you’re supposed to end up.”

Employed as a consultant for approximately three years, Smith said she worked long hours and traveled a lot. “I was eating a lot of processed food, and a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have been eating,” she added.

“I really wasn’t feeling my best, and I wasn’t feeling like myself. And I was talking to my friend about it, and he suggested to me that I might clean up my diet, and that might change my health. It really didn’t occur to me at the time that food impacts more than your waistline.”

So, Smith decided to experiment with clean eating alternatives. She replaced the processed food and sugar in her diet with simple, wholesome ingredients.

“[The results] shocked me,” she said. “Everything changed. And I just couldn’t believe that food could impact all these aspects of our mental and physical well-being. And once I realized that I was like, ‘I have to do something about this.’”

Smith decided to start her own food company because that was the best way to change what people eat.

“I think business drives a lot of what happens in the world,” she explained. “It’s much easier to change the world through business than it is through other things. So, I kind of realized that if I could make a company that made a product out of very simple, whole food ingredients, things that were more nutrient dense and worked harder for you, but also kept it really simple and tasted really good, then eating well would be a lot more personal for people. And the more personal for people, the more people are going to do it. That’s the easiest way to change how people are eating.”

Smith used her spare time on the weekends developing recipes, baking and doing product demos at Whole Foods.

Within three months of launching in stores, Simple Mills became the best-selling launch of mixes on Amazon, she said.

When asked what’s next for Simple Mills, Smith said “… we in general really just believe in taking all of these places in the grocery store where you see a lot of processed ingredients, a lot of ingredients you can’t pronounce, and also a lot of empty food. Food that has a lot of carbs and sugar and isn’t working very hard for you. We have a lot of ideas. Certainly, in the categories where we play and in other categories as well. And I just think there’s a lot of places in the grocery store where we can help make things easier and tastier.”

Goop Founder Gwyneth Paltrow chats with Sarah Jessica Parker in new podcast

Goop podcast, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker

On the heels of a humorous and disturbing article published in The New York Times Magazine on lifestyle and wellness brand Goop, actress and CEO and Founder Gwyneth Paltrow chatted with former Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker in a newly released Goop podcast. The topics ranged from motherhood, business, and books, to former co-star Cynthia Nixon’s campaign for New York governor.

Goop, a $250 million company, has come under fire recently for making unsubstantiated health and wellness claims. The Times article goes over many of them in amazing depth and witty and condescending detail. These “cultural firestorms,” as Paltrow refers to the accusations of critics, have prompted the company to hire a lawyer to vet claims made on the popular site with traffic of more than 2.4 million unique visitors, as well as hire professionals with science degrees and a full-time fact checker.

Amy’s Kitchen partners with Vera Whole Health to debut healthcare centers at its plants

Amy's Kitchen Vera Health care centers
Care at the new centers will include ongoing progress checks, with Amy’s Kitchen fully covering costs for prescriptions and services conducted onsite. Photo: Vera Whole Health

POCATELLO, Idaho – Organic food maker Amy’s Kitchen held a grand opening for its new health care center at its Pocatello, Idaho plant.

In a partnership with Vera Whole Health, a direct-to-employer primary care provider in the Western United States, Amy’s Kitchen transformed its existing onsite health services, first launched by the company in 2011, into whole health wellness centers in each of the company’s three U.S. plants.

Two fully redesigned Amy’s Kitchen whole health primary care centers and new wellness programs were launched at Amy’s White City, Oregon, manufacturing facility with a grand re-opening in June, followed by the Amy’s Santa Rosa, California, facility, which opened later that month.

The new Vera wellness and primary care centers prioritize preventative health and will be staffed by a dedicated team of mostly bilingual medical providers specially trained in individual health coaching. Amy’s employees will have the opportunity to establish wellness plans for not only themselves but also for eligible family members. Care will include ongoing progress checks, with Amy’s Kitchen fully covering costs for prescriptions and services conducted onsite. Employee access to the new wellness centers is in addition to the full range of health insurance benefits that Amy’s Kitchen also provides.

“We specialize in creating good-for-you foods that fuel a healthy body, mind and spirit,” said Amy’s Kitchen Global President Xavier Unkovic. “Our Amy’s Kitchen team is in many ways the soul of our company and vital to our mission. We want to ensure that our employees and their families enjoy top-notch medical care with attention to their personal goals and overall wellness. Vera’s approach to whole health aligns with our goal of better serving our team and helping foster health-minded communities.”

Amy’s Kitchen is a family-owned company that has been a pioneer in the organic food movement since its start in 1987. Its products are available in the U.S. as well as more than 25 other countries around the globe.

The Skinny on Virgin Coconut Oil

Skinny & Co., virgin coconut oil
Skinny & Co., virgin coconut oil
Photo: Skinny & Co.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Much has been written about the benefits of coconut oil from beauty aids to health boosters, including weight loss and improved brain functions, just to name a few. According to published reports, scientific studies show that virgin coconut oil provides the most benefit.

One Indianapolis, IN-based company, Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil, says it makes the only 100 percent, virgin, raw coconut oil in the world. Their coconuts, harvested by hand in Vietnam, go through a cold-press extraction using the company’s dehumidifying Nutralock System process that removes  moisture without using heat.

Founded by two brothers, Luke and Matt Geddie, the company exports  coconut oil manufactured at its Vietnamese plant back to the States to be sold at its American headquarters run by their mother, Joy Reece.

Google Reveals Wearable Device for Medical Research

Google x wristband, wearable device, health tracker
Google x wristband, wearable device, health tracker
Photo: Bloomberg/video capture

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — Google recently revealed a wearable device similar to Fitbit but aimed at the medical research market, not consumers, according to published reports.

The health-tracking wristband will “measure pulse, heart rhythm and skin temperature, and also environmental information like light exposure and noise levels,” Bloomberg says.

The device was created by the life sciences division of Google’s super-secret lab, Google X.

Online Organic and Gourmet Flavored Nut Store Opens

Kraze Foods
Photo: Kraze Foods

STERLING HEIGHTS, MI — Nuts consumed in small portions are not only delicious but offer numerous health benefits. Consumers now have a new way to access raw, organic and gourmet flavored nuts with the opening of Kraze Foods online retail store.

On Kraze’s website, it states that its “goal is to provide you with high quality, nutrition-dense foods that are healthy and bursting with flavor.” The company also says its organic nuts are soaked and dehydrated for five days to activate enzymes that aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Consumers have the choice of several flavors including: Chocolate Orange Walnuts, Maple Mesquite Pecans and Spicy Cashews. The nuts are available in 3-ounce packages and 1-ounce snack packs.

Although Kraze’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, launched in March, did not reach its goal the company pressed forward anyway to make its products available to a larger market.

“We are determined now more than ever to get our quality products into everyone’s hands,” said President Sheryl Burns, “and [we] are convinced we will have repeat customers. That’s how confident we are in our process and the taste of our three uniquely flavored nuts.”

Kraze Foods, located in Sterling Heights, MI, was founded by David Adinarayan and Sheryl Burns.