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.”

Korean firm acquires $29.29 million stake in online organic grocer Thrive Market

Thrive Market
Photo: Thrive Market

LOS ANGELES – Online organic and natural foods grocer Thrive Market, based in Los Angeles, California, sold a $29.29 (US) million stake in its firm to Seoul, Korea-based GS Retail, according to The Korea Herald.

The Korean firm, parent company of GS25 convenience stores and GS Supermarket, is looking to not only learn from Thrive’s unique business model, which saw exponential growth since its start in 2014 but feature several of Thrive’s more popular items in its own retail operations.

Thrive Market
Photo: Thrive Market

Earlier this year, Thrive co-founder Gunnar Lovelace told FoodNavigator-USA that the company has experienced such a growth spurt over the past few years that it “had to stop marketing because the business was growing so fast we couldn’t handle the scale. This year alone we’ll grow well over 50 percent,” he said.

Lovelace also told FoodNavigator that the company had identified more than $250 million in potential capital from interested aligned investors.

How it works

Thrive has streamlined the retail model offering its more than 400,000 members access to a curated list of organic and non-GMO products including food and health and beauty products at a wholesale cost. All items are shipped to its customers in 100 percent recyclable packaging and its shipping facilities are zero waste.

Memberships cost approximately $59.95 for a year. According to the company, each new membership sponsors a free membership for a low-income family.

For more information, visit thrivemarket.com.

 

 

 

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.

Aerial Yoga Craze Goes Global

AntiGravity Fitness, Aerial Yoga, Christopher Harrison
AntiGravity Fitness, Aerial Yoga, Christopher Harrison
Photo credit: AntiGravity Fitness

New York — Exercise routines scale new heights as the aerial yoga fad from AntiGravity® Fitness goes global.

The company recently expanded its floating yoga classes, which are in many respects reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil acrobatics, in Asia, and it now has more than 250 locations globally.

Founded by Christopher Harrison in 2008, AntiGravity incorporates moves from traditional yoga, Pilates, and barre methods.

“The human body is the greatest work of art ever created,” said Harrison, “and each person is its caretaker. AntiGravity techniques are celebrated around the world as a methodology for health and a philosophy of lightness. When practitioners open up space in the body, space is also opened in the mind; AntiGravity techniques help people to open up and feel free.”

Through the use of a silk hammock, aerial yoga participants progress through a number of movements hanging upside down. Harrison says the inversion “decompresses the spinal column, helps refresh the circulatory and endocrine systems, and fosters greater joint mobility.” The strength required to remain suspended in air for a period of time also works numerous muscle groups and tones the core, arms and legs.

The company’s future expansion plans include Vietnam, Dubai, and Bahrain.