Angela Sutherland and Evelyn Rusli – Co-Founders of Yumi, the organic baby food startup that is disrupting the baby food industry

Episode 121

Angela Sutherland and Evelyn Rusli are disrupting the baby food industry and are on a mission to build a healthier generation with their “direct to families” baby food company, Yumi. On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow, the former investment banker and business journalist co-founders share how they built an entirely new food ecosystem, the process behind funding the company and how they moved past their fears of change to start their own company, and the life-altering lessons they've learned along the way.

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Transcript

Kara Goldin  00:00

Hi everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin Show. And I’m super super excited to have my friends Angela Sutherland and Evelyn Russi on the show today, they are the co-founders of Umi, which is direct to consumer meal delivery service that uses organic nutrient-rich ingredients to support a baby’s mind in their formative first 1000 days. And they founded it back in 2017. When I and that’s when I first met you guys, I remember so fondly. And you guys are both based in LA still Correct. Correct. But I guess you know, where there are people based these days? Do you know? Yeah, exactly. Work From Home, Zach could be anywhere. So fun. And so that the two friends had this, I guess, Angela, you had this idea. And then Evelyn had some different experiences. She was a Wall Street Journal, reporter and really, the rest is history. And we’ll hear a lot more about that. So very, very, very excited to have you guys here. Welcome. Thanks for having us. It’s an honor. Yeah. Thank you for having us. Welcome. You guys. We’re very excited to have you here. And so talk to us a little bit about you, me, and well, let me back up. So how did you two meet? Yeah, so it’s a funny story. my now-husband, who I actually wasn’t dating at the time, we were friends first for a long time.

Evelyn Russi  01:32

You know, he was telling me about his close friends Angela and her husband. And he has actually introduced us. That was the first person I met through him of his like his friend network. And he was like, By the Way, ANGELA is absolutely brilliant. you’ll absolutely love her. And you should be nice to her. Because at some point, you too, are going to start an amazing company. And I was like, what I was just like, it’s such a bold claim, right? And I was at the time at the Wall Street Journal, I was an innovation reporter. And you know, certainly, in the back of my mind, I was thinking about, you know, what my next chapter might be, but, you know, I hadn’t even divulged that to Daniel at the time. And so I thought it was just a very interesting preamble to our first meeting. And you know, as you mentioned, like, the rest is history. Angela is absolutely brilliant. She’s become my closest friend. I mean, her family is like my family. But, you know, he was very pressured. And that ultimately, we did decide to start a company together. I love it. And Angela talked to us a little bit about your experience. Well, I mean, one of the best things about meeting Evelyn was me liking Dan more. Like, like, wow, you have good taste. But I think what was so funny about our friendship is we’re both big nerds. So you know, I was the math geek. So I just naturally like to research and do work. And everyone was a journalist. So by profession, she was also a big nerd. And we would just nerd out on things. And so the sort of origin of the company came from just us being friends and sharing your research. And I think that was one of the most, fun. Time, this was just like sharing back and forth research and ideas. That’s so fun. So did you both I always call myself an accidental entrepreneur, because it was never on my shortlist of things to go do. And I know, there is a list somewhere out there for so many, did you guys know, each of you that you were going to go and found a company at some point one day? Not exactly. So as I mentioned, you know, when I met Angela, I’m still very much a journalist, I really love the craft of writing and storytelling. And but as a journalist who was covering tech and innovation, I think I was also, you know, really inspired by the worlds of entrepreneurship and how it can be such a vehicle for positive change like you can really scale amazing impact and change the world through a startup, when done right. And when done well. And so I always was, you know, found that really fascinating, inspiring. And so I think I always thought like, my next chapter would have some kind of entrepreneurial bent to it. It could have been a nonprofit, it could have taken many different forms. But, you know, I certainly didn’t necessarily expect, you know, it comes in this exact form. And I think, you know, there were the seeds that kind of like, led to this moment of us starting the company, but it wasn’t necessarily what I thought was like a predestined path as a child or someone, you know, growing up, who ultimately became a journalist for 10 years of my life. That’s interesting. And how about you, Angela? You know, I probably would say that I lean more on the, I guess that I’d probably started a company. I think one of the things about me

Angela Sutherland  05:01

I love creating, and I love having ideas about different things that we would build together, whether it’s just my friends or if I joined something. So I don’t think I was, you know, hard and fast on the idea that I had to be the CEO of a company. But I definitely always wanted to be part of building something.

Kara Goldin  05:20

That’s awesome. And so you mean is all about babies? You guys? How did this idea come about?

Angela Sutherland  05:28

Yeah, well, because Mr. Like we talked about really deeply rooted in research. So it came because I was pregnant. So I got pregnant, I did what all millennial parents do, which is I took the Internet, and I started researching a lot. But I started researching a lot. And I started finding that there was a large amount of research dedicated to early childhood nutrition. And I was raised in the Midwest, where I was taught that kids are resilient, and it doesn’t really matter what they eat. And it turns out, it’s exactly the opposite of that, you know, kids are the most fragile, and their brains are growing to 80% of their adult size by h2. So they actually need the right amount of vitamins and minerals to make that happen. And all of these doctors epidemiologists, as they all knew about it. But the average parent didn’t know. And so I was sharing this back and forth with Evelyn. And what we realized was, you know, there’s a big group of people that are going home and cooking their food. So you have this like a mass exodus from the market, when, at a time when you’re the busiest in your life, you just had a baby. And so why are all these people cooking every meal, leaving the marketplace, it’s because they didn’t feel comfortable with what was at the market, you know, you have 10 different fresh dog food companies, but no fresh baby food companies. And so what I started thinking about was, not only is there a really obvious product gap, but there’s also a huge brand gap like there is no brand that, you know, the majority of parents really trust to get it right for their kid, and so on. And I made it our mission to solve that.

Kara Goldin  07:10

And did you feel like there were what how did you think about differentiating because there were, I’m just thinking plum, organic and happy baby and some of these others out there? So while you weren’t creating an obvious new category, talk to everybody a little bit about the difference, as you guys saw?

Evelyn Russi  07:32

Yeah, one of the things that I think we did that fundamentally change the structure, and what we would offer as a company was thinking about it kind of going backwards. So think about the pain points we were trying to solve, which as Angelo articulated was a product, but also an information gap, it was a brand gap, and there were all these different avenues where we could solve for that. And so when we looked at what we could do, and how we could support families, it was kind of like starting with the questions that we could solve for, and then back end into the, into the experience. And so I think that’s why, you know when we thought about what relationship we could build, why we were drawn to initially, you know, building out it’s, etc, business, you know, given that this world has changed so much with new technology platforms, and everyone is so mobile, mobile phone oriented, we thought that there was a real opportunity to also redesign the relationship that we could have with consumers by being in their homes every single week with deliveries, and giving them guidance that was beyond a food product. So you know, we never wanted to be just one product, you know, on a shelf, we wanted to create an entire ecosystem around that and provide guidance every week on you know why we’re giving you this meal, and how it correlates to your kid’s development. So I think like a lot of it stems from this route of like, how do we solve for both that product and information gap and this idea that the consumer was craving a fundamentally different relationship with their kid’s food brand?

Kara Goldin  09:03

Definitely very, very interesting. And I guess none of those products were really I don’t know, doing the extent that you all are doing around direct to consumer, and really having that direct relationship with the consumer in the same way. I think clearly you guys really, were instrumental on kind of building, building that out for sure. So so many entrepreneurs have great ideas, but they just don’t know how to get started in my book, as you and I were talking about earlier, my book undaunted, I talk a lot about that, that it’s not just about the idea, but it’s also about just getting out of the gate and the execution of it. So how did you all kind of think about this and how did you get started?

Angela Sutherland  09:46

Yeah, I think part of being an entrepreneur is a little bit of courage, right? So you have to be a little bit courageous, a little bit unfazed, and scared of what’s next. You know, there’s and I think another part is finding a good team. And I was really lucky to find Evelyn, I think, between us, we were able to, you know, both like logically approach it, and, you know, emotionally approach it and understand like, what the risk is and what the reward is. And I think having that was an invaluable part of the experience, I think having a co-founder that you really trust, and respect makes this experience much, much easier. You know, I joke but that per day, the boyfriend introduced to us and I married her first because, you know, it is a marriage, you’re jumping into something together. But having her alongside me, made this experience, not just one of the most rewarding experiences, but also one of the most fun experiences. And I

Evelyn Russi  10:48

think like, even though Angela and I are very different, we have very different backgrounds, we joke that we occupy opposite sides of the brain, she was the math major and I was the English major, you know, there’s a lot that actually we have in common in terms of kind of our ambition and tackling problems and our excitement around being creative on creating solutions. And so, you know, I think like, to that point of like, what courage can do, when you have a co-founder, and you’re thinking about redesigning an experience and redesigning a product, I think you tend to lean towards this, you know, area of, you know, why does something have to be the way it is like, why not have the courage to create something that’s weird or fundamentally different, or solves a problem in a way that hasn’t been done before. And so I think that was, you know, what was so great about our partnership is, you know, we, when we started from the square one of building it up, we took so much joy and you know, excitement in that process, and really encouraged our each other to think very outside of the box of how we could support families. And so I think that kind of created the foundation of the architecture of like, what would eventually, you know, impact how we thought about designing the product and how we thought about the interactions. And you know, how we thought this could be different.

Kara Goldin  12:08

I love that you were both aware that you had different skill sets going into this, that even though you’d like each other, it sounds like right off the bat, it was really, you were really conscious about that because I think that that’s such a big issue for so many people, they go to whatever business school and they find each other, and then they’re really not clearly different skill sets. And I think that that’s where we see some of the challenges down the road where it almost ends up being a competition. And it’s you two are just so clear about the different skill sets on both sides, which I think is just awesome. So the first product, what was it perfect? I’d love to hear your perception on that your first product that you launched,

Angela Sutherland  12:53

no, I mean, absolutely not. I think part of when you first launch is actually getting to know what it is you’re looking for. I mean, the best part of DDC and the system that we’ve built is how iterative it is. And so you get immediate feedback, you understand immediately what parents want. And so while we’re, we’re always very sure on the product quality, and that was always going to behave to be perfect from the beginning, what we launched was not perfect for everybody. I mean, when we first launched, it was only a variety pack, so only different ingredients that we’re going to give, versus now we have a much more, you know, like system like the systematic approach that is inclusive of everybody on any type of scale where you start, you know, we have we started with basically one stage before now evolved to 10 stages. And I think what, you know, exciting about the DDC relationship is how much you can learn and how much your product can change because of that.

Evelyn Russi  13:57

Yeah, I mean, I think it never feels like the work is done. And that’s what’s exciting about having something that is living breathing. And we can always fiddle and make it better and more relevant to the consumer. Like one of the things that we learned early on was actually how relevant, you know, the content side of it was in terms of having content every week that was tailored to that child to that stage of development, given how many milestones are happening. And so one of the Initially, it was something that we printed out and we put in the box, and we realized that we actually made sure that the content was facing up, Lee, you know, we certainly saw a surge in you know, how long a customer was on the program. And so like, being able to get those insights and trying to listen to that data and then figuring out Okay, so that is something that the customer values, how we can how can we better surface it, how can we create other digital touchpoints, like knowing that this is going to be the core of the product? I think there was just a lot of learning in those early days. But uh, yeah, I mean, we kind of always see this as this iterative process

Kara Goldin  14:59

I talked about About that, that it’s just getting your product out the gate and see what you’re going to learn from the consumers. And it’s, I think so often people just get stuck, right? They start agonizing over Exactly. What is the packaging? Is it is it perfect. This is this. And that’s why and, you know, for us, when we launched our product, it was, it was really not taking into account what we would learn from lighting, and how it would hit the shelf and how we would and how we would be impacted by-products sitting next to us like vitamin water that was super bright and colorful, and things like that were just game-changing, the consumer couldn’t see our product. And so while I always say, of course, you have to have a safe product, especially in the food industry, and beverage industry, you just get it out the door, and actually, and have it be pretty good. And see what happens, because you’re gonna want to revise it. And for sure, and I think that’s what I’m hearing out of you all, too.

Angela Sutherland  16:06

I had this mentor who said to me that perfect is the enemy of the good. And I still really believe that, that if you push her perfectly, then you’ll actually never ship and you just have to ship? Because then because you don’t even know what perfect is like you actually have to get the feedback first to know what perfect is. Absolutely.

Kara Goldin  16:26

I think that’s so so key. So you get it out the door. fundraising. So what has that been? How have you all funded this company? You know, there’s

Evelyn Russi  16:38

different stages of fundraising. And initially, you know, as you’ve probably experienced, that was friends and family and people wondering like, Oh, well, you’ve never done a food company before. So what is that gonna

16:50

look like?

Evelyn Russi  16:51

So, you know, I think it’s, it’s very interesting at each stage that we’ve been as we’ve scaled this company, but initially, there was a big question mark around like, should this exist? Right? I remember, there were these earlier meanings were, you know, the,

17:08

I think, like,

Evelyn Russi  17:09

it’s matured a lot over the last few years, but we’ve definitely had some male VCs who asked us, you know, hey, well, don’t women like cooking? You know, that was one of the questions that we actually got. And so there was this, you know, question mark around, like, how much innovation does the kid’s food space need? And I think now, you know, we’ve definitely come to a place where we’ve proven out the need for it. And that, in fact, not every woman just wants to be tethered to the kitchen. And so I think we’ve come a long way. And so, you know, at every stage, I think the questions are different. But, you know, initially, it is kind of like explaining kind of why this needs to exist in the world of having that unshakable belief in your thesis. But, uh, you know, I think there, it is just kind of like continuing to push through the process, just like, in that commitment to making the product better, and always being open to like, pushing through that you kind of have to push through fundraising, push through all the nose. I mean, I’m sure Karen, in your history, you’ve heard many, many notes. And like, certainly, we’ve heard our share, and it’s just, you know, having such have this fundamental belief that this is gonna have to exist in the world. And we believe that we have a unique vision, and we believe that this could really help and support families, you know, just have it, you know, as open-minded as you have to be as a founder, there are certain things that should be unshakable.

Kara Goldin  18:31

Yeah. And you’re always going to find stupid people in the world that will say stuff. And, you know, it’s something else I talked about, it was actually cut out of the book bit just because the book had had to be cut at some point because it was so long. But my story like that is when I went out to raise money in Silicon Valley and went to my first VC. My husband, who is my chief operating officer, and he was, I think, like, 15 steps behind me was parking the car and coming in and very nice partner in this firm, came to the door to greet me. And he was making small talk, he thought, but he said, so I know you have four kids, like who’s watching it? Yeah. And I thought, and I, and I just didn’t really mean to do it. But I stopped for a minute and I said, Oh, my God. And he said, Is everything okay? And my husband walked in and I said, Oh, yeah, so we actually, there’s this thing called babysitters, did you? And he said, Oh, yeah, yeah. And I said it’s amazing. Like when you actually have to work and you have to come to this really important meeting. You can hire a babysitter to watch your kids, did you? I mean, it’s amazing. And my husband was like, on the tail end of this and he was just not really listening and, and then the guy said to my husband, he said, I think I said something really stupid that I probably should have said, but I didn’t intend to actually say that. And so anyway, he wasn’t he I just said, I said, we’re all good. And we went on to, you know, pitch the product and whether or not that’s the deal with that VC or not because he was so embarrassed by it. It was interesting, because when we walked out, my husband said, So wait, what happened? And I told him, and he said, Wait, I don’t understand. So does he just think I’m a deadbeat dad? Like, why would he ask you that question? And I anyway, I just, it’s the thing is, is again, you know, the moral of the story is, you’re always going to run into stupid people that say stuff. I think a lot of times, they just don’t even know what they said, right? They’re just so stupid, that they will say stuff that is just offensive, and you know, and whatever. I just, you know, you can let that stuff bother you, or what you guys did you just moved on? And yeah, I mean, it’s just, it’s, I’ve heard it all over. Yes, of course. You know, I mean, it’s just as it’s just whatever, you know, as long as you have each other and your friends and you’re, you know, it’s what the best part is, is when these people come back, and I’ve had a few of these people come back, including that person. And, and remember that conversation and remind me and I say, Oh, yes, I do very much, and kind of joke about it. And he, he said I should have invested in you guys, I just really, I didn’t see it back then and blah, blah. And I’m like, yeah, you probably should have moved on.

Angela Sutherland  21:41

I love it. I love it.

Kara Goldin  21:43

I know, I love when they come back and own it and resurrect it. You know you don’t have to do the work anymore. Let them and so anyway, it’s awesome. So primarily, so still, like friends and family and a few other people involved as well. What were the biggest obstacles you faced when really starting up? I mean, how did you like it, did you have fears about it? And start I mean, here you left big companies, Goldman Sachs, Toyota, you know, Wall Street Journal. I mean, what, like, How are you feeling? Do you remember? At the time when you were doing, you have days when you just felt? Oh, my God, what am I doing?

Angela Sutherland  22:26

Yeah, I mean, absolutely, I think that’s part of it is you’re going to go through at your soul searching part of like, Oh, my God, if this doesn’t work out, I’m gonna be like, without a job, you know. But I think, ultimately, that’s what makes you push harder, right? You know that this has to work. And I think this, it’s, it’s actually a really rewarding and good feeling. If you don’t have anything to lose, then maybe you just give up. But the fact that we have things to lose like you have a life that you really, like, you want to make work, you’re going to make this work, you know, and I think it pushed us to be better to make this the right thing to make this the best thing that we could possibly do. And I think we believed in ourselves, you know, I think we knew, as Evelyn had said, Before, we knew this product had to exist, and we knew that we were looking at it in a way that was very different and can make a big difference. And so if you believe in yourself, then there is no option but it to work.

Evelyn Russi  23:32

Yeah, I think like for me, it was also looking at what are like the different realities here. Like that thought experiment. Okay, so if I don’t do this if I play the more conservative path here, what does life look like? And what kind of regrets would I have? I think, like, when the conviction is so strong, and you imagine that reality, or like, you kind of get bummed out by it, or like, oh, like I would have played the safe thing. I was like, you know, what would that ultimately lead me to? And I think what was exciting about, this path was like, you just would also learn so much about yourself and how to scale business. And there was so much richness in the path that we ultimately chose, personally, but also like, you’re obviously taking a chance on making an impact in the world in a specific way that we thought needed to happen. That it’s like, the counter reality to that becomes really unsavory. Like, do I want to look back on my life and think about like, oh, like, what if I had been more courageous to do the thing? What like, you know, and I there was even this moment, I actually don’t have kids yet. You know, something like my husband I was talking about, but you know, people are always surprised here that I don’t have kids and yet, I’m part and co-founded this kid’s company, but I thought about like my future kids. And what I wanted to talk to them about when they asked me ultimately, you know, Mom, what do you do and why do you do it? And I just couldn’t imagine the kind of answering it on that counter. I wanted to tell them, you know that the passion I had for my job, why I did it, what we thought we could do. And that was like, really, I think poignant for me was just thinking about, like, what example I wanted to set for my future children

25:13

that wasn’t born yet. But

Kara Goldin  25:16

that really resonated. You are going to eat my book up. I mean, this is a big topic that I talked about that I didn’t know when they were as little as your kids. You have to write I do have to Yeah, yeah, as little as your kids. But there’s a story in there about my son who’s now 18. But when he was 12, and we were at the dinner table, and he saw Sheryl Sandberg on TV talking about lean in, and he said, Mom, I just realized that women aren’t CEOs. And I thought, Oh, my God, do I have to talk to him about this right now? I’m like, gonna wring his neck, right? And that’s bringing up this topic. And then you spend, then he just went on not sort of knowing kind of the nerve that he was hitting with me. He said, I just, you know, realize this, but I don’t really understand it. Because I don’t know, you seem like you do a pretty good job. And what I realized at that moment was that we were, I was, I was basically pulling him through a world that was different than the rest of the world. And so the next day, he came back to me, he plays a ton of tennis. And he came back to me and he said, why is it that women play on girls play on their teams and boys play on their teams because there are girls that are better than boys it at tennis that I want to play with, but I’m not allowed to? Oh, and I said, Well, maybe you should change that. And he said I think I’m going to because I just think that it’s just it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t understand why we’re dividing it by gender, it seems really dumb, and just like walked out of the room. So again, you can actually I didn’t get it when they were little. But as they grew up, and you know, now teachers have said to me, your kids are so fun, all four very different personalities, but he’s they’re so fun. Like, they actually understand fundraising, they understand the culture, they understand the content, they understand data, like there’s, I mean, they’ll just sit there when we barely talk about like, plastics and bottles. My kids like, first, well, it’s not exactly that clear cut, you know, carbon neutral. Anyway, and they’re like, Whoa, you know, the goldens are in the room are in the house. And so anyway, it’s really fun, and you’ll see it Your kids will, they’ll, they’ll see you fighting for things and, and, and then also just other things that, you know, you’re working on. Yeah, no, I

Evelyn Russi  27:41

just send my kids to my feed. And then you can raise them because your kids are awesome.

Kara Goldin  27:47

It’s so funny, but also just finding your passion. I mean, that’s People always ask me, are your kids gonna, you know, take over hint, are they? And I’m like, man, I don’t know. I mean, they’ve had insurance, ships that hint, but they’re also I want them to find what they want to get up and do every single day. And they don’t know what that is.

Angela Sutherland  28:05

It sounds like your daughter’s already writing. Yeah. On Friday playing it’s, I feel like she’s gonna be great.

Kara Goldin  28:11

Yeah, I mean, someday, she’s that the other day, she’s thinking about going into medicine, you know, like she’ll and whatever, like, she’ll do whatever she, you know, really, like floats your boat, right. And that’s that, that’s the thing that if you, you know, are willing to work hard at finding what you actually want to get up and do every day is, it’s actually kind of challenging. But if you figure it out, then you know, you actually want to do the hard work. Otherwise, it’s like hard work sucks. And I think that that’s an important lesson for anyone or any kids or, etc. So, anyway, you’ll read more about it, but it’s, it’s pretty exciting. So what’s the biggest advice for obviously, your two women that have started a business? What would you say is kind of the biggest things that that you’ve learned about? starting a business? Maybe that you didn’t anticipate? Just because this is your first startup, both of you,

Evelyn Russi  29:09

I think, I guess this could intersect into female related or not, but I think there are things like you don’t know, you don’t know. So like having this a very open-minded perspective around like, the true nuances of the challenges and kind of the complexity and the variants of things you might face as a co-founder, I think like, when I was on the outside looking into the world of entrepreneurship, I I definitely didn’t properly appreciate, you know, the kinds of fires and the crazy things like CEOs like even on a day to day basis have to contend with and you know, just as a co-founder, I think it’s just very interesting to understand that the unique pressures and the dynamic of that I think, like, it’s easy to make one decision like you could imagine like, okay, I can figure out like payroll, right, but then you’re gonna have to make dozens and dozens of decisions simultaneously, especially in the beginning. And so kind of like understanding the nuances of that, and the stress that that can cause and kind of ceiling yourself for that, I think was one of the things that I found really eye-opening, like having that true appreciation for the, you know, how challenging and yet how, you know, there’s so much opportunity and like, personal growth that comes with being co-founder, and then also kind of counter to that is, knowing that sometimes, you know, more than you think, and maybe that kind of speaks more to, you know, a female founder nature of this, I think there’s, you know, been times, especially in the beginning, where it, I doubted myself a lot, I felt the imposter syndrome, and I think that’s something maybe you never fully shrug off, you know, it just comes in manifests in different ways. But that, you know, you should have that courage to be, you know, a creative thinker, the box thinker, and like, in the world to try it in different ways. And I think like, you know, having confidence that, you know, you can add value, and you can look at things from a different perspective, that might kind of yield, you know, 10 x or interesting outcomes, I think is like, you know, also part of that advice. So,

31:14

like, on one,

Evelyn Russi  31:15

it’s the humility of the experience, but on the other hand, is like, you know, you fought through so much to get here, you know, you’re probably going to figure this out or bring something to the table, that’s different.

Kara Goldin  31:28

Absolutely. I feel like the topic of health in general has, there are certain industries during the pandemic that has just kind of jumped and gone faster. And obviously, the virtual online world, like the zooms of the world, but in addition to what I’m seeing in our consumer, is that we have a lot of new consumers who are waking up and realizing that they’ve got to take their health into their own hands and that they’re not, you know, especially during a time when, even if people get COVID, it, they don’t really want it right. For the majority, there are some crazies out there that actually did want it, and definitely don’t want it. They don’t want it right. And so I think that it’s, you know, we started this pandemic, where people were joking around, you know, they were drinking, they were eating Cheetos, whatever, it’s along the way. But then I think that that sort of dried up, some people gained weight, and weren’t able to sort of figure out kind of the balance of, you know, continuing to exercise and do all of those things. But I think, for the most part, I feel like people are really trying to pay attention and stay healthy. And how did they do that? And it’s not a conversation about masks, it’s really a conversation about, you know, what you’re putting into your body. And I think that is so critical. And I would think that for your industry, people are sitting at home looking at their kids and saying, I need them to stay healthy too. Because if nothing else, you know, they’re if they get sick, I get sick, right? And do you feel like you’re seeing that a lot? Like in terms of new customers?

Angela Sutherland  33:16

Sure, absolutely. I mean, I think one of the great, things that we like to talk a lot about is how, you know, how health develops and how you a lot of your health is from the inside out. So know what you eat really does impact it like, what, how much by how many vitamins and minerals, like how, how well, you know, what we all do, our system is so to speak. And I think what we like to emphasize is that healthy eating begins early. So it begins in childhood. And I think that’s actually something that post-pandemic preparedness, a lot of parents feel they want to get right with their kid, you know so that their habits are great. It’s it doesn’t matter, you want a set that that child on the right path. And I think what we’ve seen, obviously, with the pandemic is an increased focus on health. But I do think that, ultimately, this the sense of taking care of your child will trump anything. So even if I’m still eating Cheetos, like I, I still want the best for my kid, I want them to be healthy, and I want them to have to be set on the right path. And I think we’ve seen that definitely increase over the years as trends get out more healthy. But I still think it’s a fundamental feeling of being a parent.

Kara Goldin  34:35

Yeah, I totally, totally agree. Have you had a failure Evelyn, and along the way that you think it is something maybe that you’ve really learned from? It can be a hard situation at the time, but what’s one where you look back on and you say, wow, I really learned my lesson or,

34:56

or,

Kara Goldin  34:56

you know, in some way Yeah, I mean,

Evelyn Russi  34:59

I think what’s so interesting about this experience so far for me has been this idea that it really forces you to contend with your strengths or weaknesses, and be just honest with who you are. And I think like, as a journalist, as a storyteller my previous life, like, you’re kind of an, an island in a way working in a newsroom. And you’re kind of like working through the stories you have, you have an editor, you’re kind of just like, you know, you’re working on a story, you ship it, or on to the next one. And because there are so many moving pieces that are interrelated, and as co-founders kind of have this disproportionate, obviously tentacles into all these pieces of organization, you kind of very quickly realize that like your strengths, and your, your weaknesses do have an impact on the organization. And so the best thing you can do is be brutally honest with yourself. And so I think through this process, I’ve, I’ve realized, you know, my own, I wouldn’t, I don’t know if I call them failures, but the things that I see as deficient are things that I can really improve, whether like, initially, when we started the company, I think I took on too much on my plate, I would kind of like dive into the details on things and just allow myself to get overwhelmed. And so it’s like, it’s those things that like, the mirror is so close to your face because you have to deal with it, because you know, it has some, you know, significant impact on the organization, overall. And so it’s kind of contending with those, like, you know, personal like demons or struggles that you have, but at least like the honesty just allows you to move forward some semblance of clarity. And I think like, that has been so interesting for me personally. But you know, I think I definitely feel like there’s, and this is probably also weakness I have to get through is like, feeling like you’re, you’re failing of, you know, little things every day, like, you know, you can’t master everything, you can’t be perfect at everything again, like you can’t, you know, just always aim for perfection, I think I used to also be a perfectionist in many ways. So that kind of like discovery and realizing the importance that it has, and like how you can unlock so much value for the company, in that honesty, and that conversation yourself has been like a really important learning experience, at least for me,

Kara Goldin  37:13

I totally agree with you on that. I think that that’s the key thing. And just really learning from those times. I think that the other thing that you said, in there that I’m such a big believer in is that it’s not a race, right. And so I think that that is while you, you know, try and do as much as you can during the day. That’s another thing that I learned along the way that it’s a great product. And a great strategy is high and above more important than something that is just that you just race to do. Because you feel like someone’s going to get you, you know, and it’s I’ve seen it over and over and over again. And I think it’s great to have goals. But the key thing is really to realize that, you know, I mean, I’ve been doing this now for 15 years, and we’re still standing because we in many ways, took our time to have a quality product, and took money from the right people and all of that. And so I think being able to really stop and kind of recognize that is something that is just so critical.

38:25

Yeah, absolutely.

Kara Goldin  38:26

What would you say in terms of both of your biggest strengths?

Angela Sutherland  38:31

Hmm, I think it’s almost easier to talk about the other person. I can say that I think Evelyn’s biggest strength is her ability to empathize and communicate. And so that cuts across everything. So it sounds like it would just be some softer thing, but it applies even to, you know, fundraising and being able to connect and under, like, have other people connect and tell the story. She was able to do that for customers and allow them, understand how parents want to connect to a company. And I think her ability to try to really look and see what are the connections? Like what are the points that people want to feel? How do they like it, what is the story here that we’re trying to tell them? How are we trying to build this brand, I think has resonated across you know, again, like from fundraising to brand building to also intra company like so, you know, like the office dynamics, being able to understand sort of how to help people within the company grow. And I think that I think her biggest strength is her deep ability to connect. Yeah,

Evelyn Russi  39:50

and I would say one of Angela’s biggest strengths is as being such an active and ambitious thinker and so she I mean, I’ve met many people in my life. And I always believe that you’re kind of the average of the people you spend the most time with, right? I mean, that’s, I know, it’s like kind of a cliche saying, but I feel very lucky that animals my partner, because she kind of like, pushes me to think more ambitiously, and also more actively. And so it’s like when I say that, I mean, like, Angela will never phone something in and the, in the course of a discussion or a debate or when we’re, whether we’re talking about a product, or we’re talking about life, we’re talking about the headlines in the news, it she always has this lean-in kind of like, I guess, I think perspective or just, you know, posture when it comes to thinking. And so that manifests itself in a myriad of ways that have been incredibly beneficial to the company, it’s like, and she’ll, you know, it’s she’s such a curious and creative thinker that she’ll, like, you know, push everything to the limits of what you thought was possible with, like, a line of thinking. And so, you know, you can imagine how that allows us to create such interesting, like ideas, whether it’s about the experience of the product, or like, why can’t this be this way, instead of the way it’s been done? 100 years, right. And so it’s always kind of like, that break the mold type of active thinking that, like, pushes me to, you know, I think, be more aggressive and ambitious, and how I’m thinking about questions. And I think that is, you know, very much manifested in, in the company and the path we’ve carved and how we problem solve. And so I would say like that, that’s just something that is very hard to probably articulate, but can be so magical to have this, like, you know, her being my co-founder, and like, just, you know, trusting that, like, I know that, you know, the company will be going in places that are really exciting and different. Because our CEO, my co-founder, is it you know, that’s a core quality that she has. And so it’s been really fun just to kind of be able to revel in that and to have that in a partner.

Kara Goldin  42:02

So basically, if people want to find the two of you Where did they do that? Obviously, you me online but also just share sort of where to people find to follow you to and figure out more about what’s going on. I john

Angela Sutherland  42:20

Evelyn is deep into Twitter.

Kara Goldin  42:25

Twitter too. I’m all over it. And as and fright as scary as it is, I just got into tik to about a month ago and oh, my college Oh, it is good, right? They’re frightened by it slightly so I was on fyp edit like my 15-year-old was just almost hiding because his friends were texting him it was hysterical So anyway, it’s I’m still don’t have the following that I have on Twitter but it’s I’m just doing it just to see what’s going on

42:57

there. But oh my god, tik tok

Evelyn Russi  42:59

is fascinating. I think it tick-tock we’ll know more about like, people’s interior like psychology and like what they actually care about, then maybe any other service that for you page algorithm is utterly fascinating. I’m more of a listener as opposed to a poster on Tick Tock but I do think that’s really interesting. And yes, you can also find me at hello you meet calm or at you me on Instagram. But and I I’m also these days more reading on Twitter than I am posting. But it is a great way to kind of learn about people’s perspectives. And I, I think it’s a remnant of the days when I used to be a writer and I still can’t fully wean myself off of it.

Kara Goldin  43:44

Yeah, no, I really, really love it as well. So and how about you?

Angela Sutherland  43:49

Yeah, I think for me, I’m very traditional. So I actually just invite all emails, just Angela and Malia, me, and anyone that’s interested to talk to me.

Kara Goldin  43:58

I’m interested to talk about that. That’s awesome. Great. Well, everyone, if you liked this episode, I loved it. I love chatting with the two of you. And it’s a great story. And if you liked it, give great reviews on it and subscribe and all that kind of stuff. And everybody has a great rest of the week. We’re here every Monday and Wednesday with great stories on founders and CEOs and just overall people that can really enhance what you’re thinking about in your life and hopefully your business. Thanks so much, everyone.