“Meeting the needs of the consumer and meeting the needs of the environment sometimes is tricky.” – Kate Flynn
This week on the Gooder Podcast, I had the pleasure of talking with Kate Flynn, the founder and CEO of Sun & Swell Foods. We discuss the history of Sun & Swell Foods – one of the first food and snacking brands leading the way in the use of composable packaging. We also learn about the evolvement of sustainable packaging and Kate’s leadership in driving this hot topic. Along the way, we learn the amazing journey of a passionate leader in creating a more inclusive, accessible and affordable real food products for all consumers.
Fast becoming the leader and go to source for
In this episode we learn:
About the history and inspiration of Sun & Swell Foods.
Sun & Swell’s brand transition from a traditional CPG brand to a direct-to-consumer brand.
Kate’s journey from being a consultant in a firm focused on retail and consumer products to having a CPG brand herself.
The evolvement of compostable packaging technology.
How to create accessibility, affordability for mainstream consumers in the healthy food category.
The advice she finds herself consistently giving entrepreneurs who have family members or loved ones as their business partners.
About Kate Flynn:
In 2017, Kate Flynn, and her husband and co-founder, Bryan Flynn, launched their natural food company, Sun & Swell Foods. Their mission is to make healthy and sustainable eating more accessible with their collection of sustainably-packaged, organic, plant-based pantry staples and snacks. Sun & Swell is the first food company in the US to offer a wide array of healthy foods in compostable, plastic-free packaging.
With a background in business economics and nutrition and a penchant for creating her own healthy snacks, Kate brings a unique set of skills to Sun & Swell Foods. Early on, she pursued her academic career at UC Santa Barbara and graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School. Kate’s professional career included a consulting role as a brand strategist in the retail and consumer products space, where she focused on brand and growth strategy for various leading CPG brands. After spending nearly ten years in the consumer products world, she was looking to do something more purposeful and fulfilling that would positively impact the world. In 2017, Kate took a leap of faith to follow her real passion for health and wellness to start Sun & Swell Foods with Bryan.
Leading up to this, Kate had switched to a more natural lifestyle, including eating only ‘whole foods.’ She realized that eating a whole food diet made her feel better, both physically and mentally, and realized that she wanted to keep eating this way. However, when she looked around for packaged foods to accommodate this new way of eating, she realized there were no options available. Most packaged foods are made with artificial ingredients and loaded with added sugars, preservatives, and flavors. This realization sparked an idea, and Sun & Swell Foods was born.
When sourcing ingredients, Kate and her team buy organic ingredients as close to the source and farm as possible, seeking out small family farms. Sun & Swell is a Certified B-Corporation and a member of 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of the revenue to environmental non-profits addressing two areas the founders are deeply passionate about: regenerative farming and ocean health.
When not running the company’s day-to-day, Kate loves frequenting Santa Barbara’s local farmers’ markets and beaches and spending time with her husband and newborn daughter, Leila. Kate is also a Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert.
Guests Social Media Links:
Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EarthDay.org including 1 billion people in more than 193 countries.
Kurt Salmon was a global management and strategy consulting firm formed by the merger of Ineum Consulting and Kurt Salmon Associates in January 2011.
Accenture plc is an Irish-domiciled multinational company that provides consulting and processing services. A Fortune Global 500 company, it reported revenues of $44.33 billion in 2020 and had 537,000 employees. In 2015, the company had about 150,000 employees in India, 48,000 in the US, and 50,000 in the Philippines.
Clif Bar & Company is an American company that produces energy foods and drinks. The company's flagship product, CLIF Bar, was created by Gary Erickson and Lisa Thomas. The company is based in Emeryville, California, and is privately held.
Trader Joe's is a German-owned chain of grocery stores in the United States headquartered in Monrovia, California. By 2015, it was a competitor in "fresh format" grocery stores in the United States. By November 2019, Trader Joe's had over 503 stores nationwide in 42 states and Washington, D.C.
For over 50 years, ECOS’ mission has been to protect the health & wellness of people, pets, & the planet with sustainable & affordable cleaning products.
Walmart Inc. is an American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores from the United States, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Costco Wholesale Corporation is an American multinational corporation which operates a chain of membership-only big-box retail stores. As of 2020, Costco was the fifth largest retailer in the world and the world's largest retailer of choice and prime beef, organic foods, rotisserie chicken, and wine as of 2016.
The Kroger Company, or simply Kroger, is an American retail company founded by Bernard Kroger in 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the United States' largest supermarket by revenue, and the second-largest general retailer.
The United States Food and Drug Administration is a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2009, Tory Burch launched the Tory Burch Foundation to advance women's empowerment and entrepreneurship in the United States by providing access to capital, education and digital resources, as well as a Fellowship program.
Tea Drops are organic whole leaf tea shaped into fun drops that melt into finely ground plant fibre.
Peloton Interactive, Inc. is an American exercise equipment and media company based in New York City. It was founded in 2012 by John Foley and launched with help from a Kickstarter funding campaign in 2013.
Episode Sponsor - Retail Voodoo:
A creative marketing firm specializing in growing, fixing and reinventing brands in the food, beverage, wellness and fitness industry. If your natural brand is in need of positioning, package design or marketing activation, we’re here to help. You can find more information at www.retail-voodoo.com
3:47 Kate shares a little bit of history about her brand Sun and Swell Foods, what’s it’s all about and why it exists
6:00 Kate talks about her experience in transitioning from being a consultant in a firm focused on retail and consumer products to having a CPG brand herself
10:50 Kate talks about the process f how her brand is evolving from a traditional CPG brand to a DTC type of thing and the impact this has
14:10 Kate also talks about where she is in the process to have a Whole Foods kind of standard of product ingredients which is accessible and affordable
18:07 Kate also talks about the process that they use so that they can be able to lower their prices for their products so as to make them accessible to all people
20:00 Kate talks about the importance of understanding what the goal of your business is before making any huge decisions on what you want to lead with
21:54 Kate also advices other businesses owners the importance of picking the niche that they want to be known for and being really good at it
24:31Kate talks about why as a brand you need to know what you are leading with and how you are messaging that to your consumers
26:49 Kate talks about her leadership in the waste reduction, compostable packaging alternatives, how it starting to show up in the market and the impact it has and how she’s advising others
32:05 Kate talks about compostable packaging and if it would work on products that have a long shelf life of even up to four years
35:09 Kate talks about her experience in having her husband as a business partner and how they are managing their business and personal lives
38:01Kate shares her advice to entrepreneurs who have family members as their business partners on how they can manage everything and be successful
39:57 Kate talks about the importance of finding a reason to have a break from work for a few hours so as to avoid burnouts
41:07 Kate talks about the importance of having a mentor and also mentoring others behind you and why you should be in a network full of all kind of entrepreneurs
43:33 Kate shares what she feels is an amazing fact about their industry that most people didn’t know and would be amazed to know
44:55 Kate talks about other women leaders that she admires and would love to elevate in this podcast
46:11 Kate talks about the brands and trends that she has her eyes on and why
47:02 Kate shares some tips that she uses to keep herself sane and centered these days