The Journey From Buyer to Brand With Tuyyo Founder Stefanie Garcia Turner

The Journey From Buyer to Brand With Tuyyo Founder Stefanie Garcia Turner

Stefanie Garcia Turner

Stefanie Garcia Turner is the Founder and CEO of Tuyyo, a modern line of Latin-American foods and beverages consisting of real ingredients. Stefanie’s brand is inspired by the foods she grew up with and her passion for natural foods. With nearly 20 years of experience in the natural products industry, she is knowledgeable in product procurement, supplier business development, and sales and distribution management. Stefanie has worked with several emerging brands, learning the benefits and challenges of food retail.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Stefanie Garcia Turner shares her career journey with Whole Foods
  • Common mistakes emerging brand founders make
  • Stefanie’s experience working for brands and retailers
  • What inspired Stefanie to start Tuyyo — and the products she’s created
  • How a retailer’s layout affects the shopper’s experience
  • Tuyyo’s marketing strategy — and how to persuade consumers to purchase your products
  • Stefanie’s process for choosing retailers
  • The future of Tuyyo

In this episode…

With various brands and product options available at grocery stores, it’s hard to know which food items contain natural ingredients. Products may advertise using real ingredients in their recipes, but how can we be confident in our choices?

Business leader Stefanie Garcia Turner noticed food products being offered in grocery stores had not evolved since she was a child. Wanting better food options, Stefanie realized there was room for healthier options in the Latin food market. Rather than wait for someone else to make the changes she wanted, she found a solution.

In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, host Steve Gaither chats with the Founder and CEO of Tuyyo, Stefanie Garcia Turner, to discuss what inspired her to launch her brand. Stefanie shares her journey with Whole Foods, the mistakes brand founders make, and how to market your product.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

This episode is brought to you by 1o8 Agency. At 1o8 Agency, we are a holistic digital marketing agency that cultivates brand growth through creativity and innovation. We jump right in to create solutions with measurable marketing intelligence. 

The result? Our clients see increased engagement and increased e-commerce traffic, which equals more sales and profitability for our clients.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01  

Welcome to the CPG Troublemakers. The place where brands and makers, food and beverage nerds, and investors all gather to cause a little bit of mischief. We welcome industry leaders, whitespace thinkers and channel partners to come together to turn problems into opportunities. Or, at the very least, have a little fun along the way.

Steve Gaither  0:26  

Hello, I’m Steve Gaither and welcome to the CPG Troublemakers where food and bev brands, investors, and service providers get together and cause well a little bit of trouble. Here is my shameless plug. I am the VP of Growth and Strategy for 1o8. We are creative meats commerce agency that focuses on brand Strategy, packaged design, as well as direct to consumer and Amazon Marketing for the CPG industry. And we can be found on the interwebs at I have the pleasure of hanging out with Stefanie Garcia Turner, as a former forager at Whole Foods, she had her finger on the pulse by working with hundreds of emerging brands, and how they entered retail learning both the good and the bad, right. Fast forward to today, she has launched her own brand, combining the inspiration of the food she grew up with, with her passion of natural foods enter Tuyyo, a modern line of Hispanic foods and beverages made with real ingredients. Stefanie, hello.

Stefanie Garcia Turner  1:24  

Hello. Hi, Steven. Great to be here.

Steve Gaither  1:28  

Well, you and I have known each other for quite some time. And I knew you and your past past past. From the Whole Foods side of the house. Can you give me a little bit of that’s a unique differentiator, not many brands have really been on the other side of the table? Can you tell me how sort of you fell into Whole Foods and on the retailer side of the business? In your experience that?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  1:51  

Yeah, for sure. Um, you know, I knew I always wanted a career in food. But after going to culinary school and getting my degree in restaurant and food service management, I decided 70 hours a week in a restaurant wasn’t quite my, you know, wasn’t quite my jam, but still want to do something. So I was obsessed with whole foods at that time. This was in like the mid 2000s And some things so I won’t give away how old I am. But you know, I remember like calling my mom and being like a, you know, I think I want to get a job at this grocery store. And she said you just finished four years of college to go and work at a grocery store. That’s, that’s interesting. So that was that was the foray, and I got into a manager and training program with Whole Foods Market down in the Florida region, and then moved on up to Chicago where you and I had met and became the local forger. They’re based out of the Chicago office covering eight states of the Midwest and Ontario, Canada and working with new brands and bringing them into the into the company.

Steve Gaither  3:01  

Now a forger is almost what it sounds like. Right? It was your job to go was it Chicago specific and find those cool brands? Or give me the the JD that you’re given?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  3:14  

Yeah, well back in that, in that time, it was a bit different than what it is and how it’s structured now. But back then we would have like a representative or somebody who was like the local point for each store, or sometimes like a metro region, if there was maybe one or two or three stores in that kind of little area. And I would work with those folks. So they really had the pulse on what was happening in their immediate surroundings, say they were in Minnesota, you know, me being in Chicago, I wouldn’t quite know what exactly was going on there. So I would work with them, they would bring and pitch companies to me. And you know, I would talk with the product teams and we kind of go into, you know, what’s the product? Is this a trendy item? What’s the price point? You know, do we think it can be successful at Whole Foods and what we were looking for, and what our customers were looking for, right? And then based on that we kind of dive in deeper and see make sure that they had all of their ducks in a row. You know, I mean, there was a lot of brands that they were just so new. They didn’t know they had to get UPC codes, you know, they thought things would just get stickered, you know, the price tags would just get stickered on to them. It kind of ran the gamut and then you know, there’s brands that were definitely established and did really really well in the local markets and just weren’t in Whole Foods and you know, maybe that we did start in the local program and then we kind of graduated to a regional placement opportunity. And and that was kind of the goal right is to like really support these brands and make them successful within the company. Now

Steve Gaither  4:51  

of the brands you forge. What are the what are the brands that have some people might recognize that you can say this is a Stefanie brand that she

Stefanie Garcia Turner  4:59  

is Oh man, I definitely can’t take any of the of the, like notoriety or anything for picking a brand, like everybody had their, you know, finger in it somewhere some, you know, along the way, especially if it was a really cool brand new people were everybody wanted a piece of it, you know, we’ll see one of the best experiences I had at that role and with that company was when we opened the Detroit store. And that was just phenomenal. And I was tasked with finding 50 new, you know, local suppliers within that Detroit, you know, City area. And we did it, and we went out there and we looked for products, and we looked for people and companies and we helped folks along the way, like everything from getting them some good packaging that could stand up on shelf, to getting those UPC codes to getting nutritional facts, you know, for their products lined up. So that was really great. You know, I think of all of the memories I have for my time, that was probably one of the

Steve Gaither  6:04  

biggest ones. Any fun ones to come on to Detroit.

Stefanie Garcia Turner  6:08  

Oh, let’s see, uh, you know, a really great one that and she’s still doing amazing, amazing job right now is Ellis Island tea. Yeah, it was a Jamaican recipe that, that the founder had it from her grandfather, I believe it was. And so she made this tea, and it’s phenomenal. And I they may have rebranded recently, to something a little different in the name, but she’s still moving along. And gosh, what a like supporter of her community and just getting just giving back and just really helping that, that, you know, entrepreneurial scene there in Detroit.

Steve Gaither  6:47  

Now, working with these emerging brands, at all different levels, as sometimes, like you mentioned, they didn’t even know about UPC is etc. What are the common mistakes or, or expectations that you’ve seen sort of founders continuously make along the way, especially ones that you didn’t want to repeat fast forwarding to today,

Stefanie Garcia Turner  7:09  

you know, the biggest one was really pricing, because a lot of these companies do start off really small and selling, you know, at farmer’s markets or selling at a local mom and pop stores where, you know, people will support them, maybe that kind of bandwidth is there to pay a little extra, but when you start to go into, you know, bigger chains and accounts and start to cater your product to more of a mass market appeal, that price point really is is super important to nail, you know, you really can’t start low and go up customers don’t like that it’s very unforgiving. The start high and are able to cut your costs and be able to bring it lower, or put that cost savings into, you know, really deep promotional support. Like that’s, that’s more doable. But you know, I find a company and maybe they’re selling, we’ll just say chips, you know, at a farmers market. And they can get $10 for a bag that’s, you know, two ounces or something. But at a grocery store, like the highest cost ship on that aisle is going to be like 499 for four ounces. Right? So there’s this huge discrepancy on on price point and volume and what you can get. So just educating on that it wasn’t insurmountable, but it was definitely kind of a little bit of a shock that takes some entrepreneurs by surprise. Because, you know, their whole business model is built on that, right? Like it’s built on, on that cash, immediate kind of cash flow you get from these farmers markets. And that that huge up up charge for the experience and the wonderful appeal of being able to meet the maker. And so you kind of like it’s a little bit of a reality check when you when you talk to them about like, Okay, well, but now we have to make this consistent in every single store and it has to meet a certain price point.

Steve Gaither  9:00  

Now does that break down to a margin calculator and having that broken down by your retailer margins, your distributor spend and trade spend? Or I guess the bigger question is how many brands actually understood the idea of a margin calculator prior to meeting you?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  9:19  

You know, I mean, a good number, like they knew their own business, which was great. Um, getting into more of the specifics on you know, those up charges, if they go through distributor to get it to, you know, the retailer, then what is that now looking like? So then there was a lot of like backwards numbers that you kind of had to work through. So what do you want it at the shelf that subtract the market from the retailer, subtract the market from the distributor, subtract your costs, you know, and then what are you left with? And that that was definitely a learning opportunity for for quite a number of entrepreneurs. But the ones that really Yeah, like, knew their business, like they could figure it out, they can nail it. Um, you know, especially if they were in a really unique space. And, you know, at this time, you know, I was a forger from like, 2010 ish to 2015. And, you know, in that time, I would say like, there weren’t as many like trendy crazy things happening as there are now like, now it’s just, it’s, it’s wild, right? It’s just super, super wild to see how many brands are popping up and how many trends there are, and just all of these, like, super dynamics of like categories and facets of, of food and beverage. But back then, I mean, you could be like, I don’t think mushroom was anywhere in the scene at all, like, gluten free was really the thing. And then like paleo started to come about, and that was, you know, that was kind of kind of the thing. But nowadays, it’s, it’s a different story.

Steve Gaither  10:59  

So after, after Whole Foods, you did a couple of stints sort of on the brand side, what was that like being sort of on the retailer side? And then flipping the coin and being on the other side a little bit? How did that change your perspective?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  11:12  

Yeah, that changed a lot that got me out of the Whole Foods bubble, you know, and I think at any company you work at, you work within the boundaries of that company, and their culture and expectations. So in getting out of that, and working in sales for, you know, a couple of other companies, I worked with other types of retailers, I worked with other distributors. And it it really, like, you know, what works in one retailer does not work at another and that that customer is different. And so that was really great experience for me to see, you know, who are those customers? Like, why do they appreciate shopping at that store, and this could be like, you know, I don’t know, like a high V, this could be like natural independence, this could be a Meijer, like, just kind of runs the gamut. And, and those customer profiles are different. So then it really comes down to as a brand, where do you want your product placed in order to meet the customer that you’re trying to target? Where they shop? And, you know, for me, like, right now, that may not be natural food, you know, with my brand that I launched, because it’s not quite the customer I’m targeting. But, you know, we can kind of probably go into that a little bit more. But I think like, that was the biggest kind of aha takeaway for me being on that other side. And really figuring out that strategy portion of it. Well,

Steve Gaither  12:41  

speaking of I mean, you went from retailer side now to brand side, and then you got this crazy idea to start your own brand. What was that moment of inspiration slash insanity?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  12:57  

Yeah, and it’s all of that. And, you know, for me, so my family’s Hispanic, I grew up very much tied to being American, but having these great cultural roots, and another culture and it was, it was definitely dynamic, it was, it was a really great time to grow up and have, you know, with multilingual household, and, you know, just just live in that style, kind of fast forward, you know, through all of my professional experience, and everything that I’ve seen and done, it was really apparent that that category of food InBev, that is really like the Latin influenced, side of it all, hasn’t seen a lot of innovation, we’ve seen a lot of cool products that come out, but there tend to be in very, like common categories, you know, chips, salsa, things like that, which is great, I think there’s still room for, you know, more businesses to come into that space and really add their own, you know, flair to it. But, you know, in terms of just kind of overall that it really hasn’t been touched. The example I always use is, you know, if you go into a Hispanic market, and you look at the set, and you kind of think back to the first time you probably ever went into one it was years ago, probably hasn’t changed, you know, like at all like nothing has really changed in it. All of the brands are like the same. Maybe they changed the font on some packaging, but that’s about it. Most of the ingredients are still the same and probably not the greatest. And there’s different reasons, you know, behind all of that, but you know, at the end of the day, it’s like the there’s so much room to bring new modern fresh, better for you products to the Latino consumer. And those that are like myself, you know, first second third generation that have these, you know, kind of multi or BI I cultural ties, that speaks to what I like the flavors I like the the cultural appeal, like products have and bring, but are still, like better for you better ingredients not as saturated with all of these, you know, preservatives or anything like that. And just not like stale does not kind of, you know, hasn’t been changed for a while. So that was really the inspiration. I just kind of thought, you know, if if anyone’s gonna do it, like, I’m gonna try, I’m gonna give it a go, ya know, like, might as well. I’m definitely not shy of challenges, as you know, Steve. So yeah, I figured let’s let’s go for it roll the dice.

Steve Gaither  15:44  

Oh, there’s there’s been sort of a shift. I mean, speaking of, of Whole Foods, and the natural channel and conventional channels, to some extent, there’s been a smashing, right natural channels lowered price point, increasing SKU count, your regional grocery stores no longer have to aisles and natural now you’re seeing simple mills in line with club and reds. And to some extent, you’re seeing the quote unquote, ethnic aisles sort of going in line as well, right, where they’re disappearing, the specialty aisles are disappearing, and it’s all becoming bigger sets. How has that timing coincided with Tuyyo? And what categories you’re looking to play in?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  16:23  

Yeah, you’re right. It’s really fascinating, and especially the categories I’m in it, it’s an opportunity, I like to say to figure out what’s going to work best. So just for your listeners know, I do powdered our fresca drink mixes that’s made with the actual fruit powder and sweetened with organic agave. And so think like, you know, country time lemonade, Kool Aid, that kind of stuff. But then with made with actual, you know, food, versus the chemical items that kind of go into those products, and then instant coffee made with an organic Colombian coffee. And so both of these products are very nostalgic. Like, they’re like, everybody remembers, or has a story about when they were a kid. And you know, Mom made the picture of, you know, the bright red thing that went and put went into your fridge and you just like poured yourself a cup of or, you know, Grandpa having his instant coffee, because he never wanted to wait for the bird stuff. And he just is like, this is just as good. And, you know, typically, it wasn’t great at all that coffee. But, you know, these are things that we’ve kind of like accepted the first iteration of it that I like to think. And nobody’s really kind of come back and said, like, well, can we make it a little different? Can we put some different flavor profiles into it, can we just make it a little bit cleaner. And so that’s, that’s where I’m focused. So those are the two items that I have come up with. And, you know, in simple, simple terms, just powder beverages, right? In terms of the category, like you’re seeing, like, they’re, everything’s kind of getting smushed around and pushed around. And it really does depend on the retailer, I’ve seen some retailers where their powder drink sets are with the juice, you know, in in the juice aisle, I’ve seen some retailers that don’t have them at all. And those kind of odds and ends get put somewhere within that store. And we kind of have to figure out where it’s going to go. Some retailers are massive and have powdered drinks in several locations. Because they have the footprint, and they can do that. So it just kind of really depends. In terms of like the the ethnic aisles kind of disappearing and things kind of being, you know, put together and put in other places. I do see that a lot in condiments. So I see, you know, like sauces and hot sauces with soy sauce and barbecue sauce and that kind of stuff all kind of being put together, which I think is pretty nice, personally as a shopper, because I’m looking for sauces, like I like to have all my options in one place. But if you’re, I don’t know, a tortilla, like maybe you’re in the bread aisle, maybe you’re not maybe you’re in a separate spot. You know, that’s just what it is like, it’s, it just depends. So I don’t personally have like a feeling one way or the other. I think it kind of comes back to that retailer and how that customer has been trained to shop. And what are some opportunities to get them to like notice something because that’s the challenge, right is getting somebody to actually see something on a shelf. That’s not what they usually buy. So where else could I be that would like shock that consumer and be like, Oh, I haven’t seen this year in the last you know, five years that I’ve been shopping at my local market.

Steve Gaither  19:57  

Now you’re you’re into sort of different satis right now the lack of better term, I’ll call it the bulk beverage mixes. And instant coffee for the most part is over in the coffee set, probably right? Slower velocity aisles, in some cases ripe for disruption. What led your Strategy of going to Senator a store? First? Was it comment inspired or category inspired?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  20:23  

It was category inspired. So it’s really looking at these categories. I did some, you know, data diving through Nielsen data before I kind of set my mind on going through with this, you know, with these products to start, and the data is great, like, it doesn’t show a huge amount of growth, but it shows growth, and it shows that there’s really hasn’t any, like, nothing has really happened, right within that set. So it’s growing steadily with what is in there. But what if something new pops up, right, and new items typically add to, to growth, just because it’s something that’s new, and it’s something that you know, with the lack of new entrants, like competitively it I’m really battling against, you know, the big conglomerates, which is a downfall because they have tons of money and resources, but it’s a good thing, because I’m not in say, like, ready to drink, where it’s just, I can’t even imagine if I had ran in that space. And like, you know, kudos to everyone out there who does like I can feel for that. So it’s like, you know, low low entrance like big conglomerates kind of sleepy, you know, let’s see if we can add some pizzazz. And then also really focusing again on like the Latin flavors, which that’s really big, just global flavors, in general, really becoming popular and people wanting to try different things. So it’s not like I’m going to take on, you know, one of these guys like straight on, I want to do something that’s me, that’s a little different. That means something to my culture, my background. But that’s going to just excite something that hasn’t seen excitement in decades.

Steve Gaither  22:12  

But you said something interesting there, too. It seems like Hispanic and Latin flavors are not just moving for first, second, and third generation, they’re also moving for the adventure seeker like frescoes, even in the ready to drink space are with Samsung, etc, becoming a thing, etc. So you have a chance, obviously, focusing on those first and second generation, but this has wide audience appeal. And instant coffee, I would argue is one of those things that sort of like the metric system, just Americans in general never quite got our QR codes. Right. But if you go internationally, anywhere, instant coffee is such a massive thing that I don’t know if I’m just internally rooting for instant coffee to be bigger, but I feel like those things are trending in that direction for instant coffee. Have you found the same? Yeah, I

Stefanie Garcia Turner  23:04  

And that’s so funny, you say that. It’s like the metric system is hilarious. So it’s true. I mean, like the single serve instant coffee packets, you know, a giant big name company are like, it’s like the number one in the world. I mean, that it’s crazy in any country, Asia, to Europe, you know, to Africa, like, it’s wild, how, you know, it’s really permeated their everyday lives. So, and yeah, it hasn’t really caught on or been like a big thing in the in the US. Again, you know, the big conglomerates have really owned that space, and in the diehards are just tied to those products. But I do think that with the pandemic, there was a big shift. Obviously, people were like, going outdoors and you know, getting like Airbnbs in the woods and do all this stuff. Coffee shops weren’t open. So what were they going to do if they didn’t have a coffee maker, or they couldn’t get beans or something. So instant coffee kind of became a go to and you can see in some of the data, there’s a huge spike in 2021 and 2020 20 and 2021 of instant coffee purchases. And then like those like third wave, super cool, you know, coffee shops have really started to catch on and do their own instant coffees. And they’re delicious, like a lot of them are single origin and you know, they’re they’re really fantastic versions. And I feel, you know, like I for me, like I tried to choose a really kind of medium, you know, bodied kind of middle of the road. Anybody can really enjoy it, based coffee profile that has, you know, a great traceability program behind it. And, you know, and it’s going really good, like people are getting used to it, it is still growing. It’s still in its kind of infancy. Um, But I think like the possibilities of it are just, there’s so many and also with coffee like you can bake with it, you know, you can make cocktails with it, like it’s, it’s so versatile. And even with the our fresca mixes as well as same thing, like you can use these for so many different applications. So not just don’t just think of it as like a sit down and drink a cup of something. So that was another really great, you know, inviting kind of point of me going into these categories, it’s the multi use and also multi channel option and opportunity with the products.

Steve Gaither  25:38  

Yeah, I was just kind of amazed to on the on the fresca, the fact that while stick packs sort of became a thing for a little bit of still are, I mean, a liquid IV etc, usually is tied to hydration either sometimes moving in the beverage enhancement space, but a lot of times over in sports, nutrition, the fact that no one has really attacked the country times the Kool Aid of the world, and really from a ball play, which you’re turning it into a family experience as well, right, something shareable with a whole family. And I think that’s intriguing that you’re attacking that set, right? It’s slower velocity I’ll big for big food companies sort of in the middle of it with not so good ingredients. And so what is your go to market Strategy? I mean, you have this experience of of a being on the retailer side, also working with hundreds of emerging brands that some have exceeded succeeded, and some have failed, being obviously on the brand side. So what is the go to market strategy for Tuyyo? And how does that differ from the brands you might have worked with in the past?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  26:48  

Yeah, so for Daniel, it’s Wednesday, by the way, just to clarify the meaning of it. In case anybody’s wondering why I picked this brand name, so threose, do e EO in Spanish, which means you and me, so just really speaking to what you just talked about Steve of people coming together a bit being like a group or like a family or friends, you know, moment that you can have with with others. So that was the inspiration behind the brand. As far as the Strategy, the the kind of first step is, let’s see, of the people who recognize and know, you know, powder, drink mixes, which is probably like 90% of people out there. The 10% being like the very, very, very young, you know, generation of folks who might not know about it, or grew up with it, but most people do have some association with it. You know, how many of those people can I get to, like, try this out, you know, to kind of just do like a little trial switchover type deal. But beyond that, it’s really about looking at the occasions that people use the products, and a lot of it’s going to be family oriented, it’s going to be making it with your kids or for your kids, it’s going to be having it just as a single person, you know, living in their house, just want to make like a cup of something, don’t want to make a whole pot of coffee, just want to have you know, one little cup of coffee at a time. So it’s looking at those usage occasions, and then how can I meet what they’re looking for a great, a great like pairing with Allah, fresca is spicy food, it’s very refreshing, it really goes super well with spicy food, because it helps cut through that, that space. So this is like a good kind of culinary item as well to like, be that thing that’s non alcoholic, that can be paired up with the meal. And so that’s kind of the first like, category or Saturday, you know, stretch Strategy, if you will, that I’m really looking at. But beyond that, I’m looking at different formats. So single serve, you know, like you mentioned really big, I’m definitely looking at single service for both of those lines of products, looking at bulk and food service servings as well. So I actually have like a coffee shop, a hotel account, you know, and another like restaurant that brings in my product in the in the mix it by the pitcher, and they sell it by the glass or just give it to their, you know, guests at their breakfast buffet. And that’s been going great. And that was kind of happenstance, like it happened. Just you know, it just kind of did like people just bought it and tried it out. And I like figured out who were who they were, who they were and where they were buying from and I was like, Oh, this is this is really cool. So kind of testing out that that channel as well. So just looking at it being you know, the the retailer, like In retail in that traditional set, but then doing those stick packs for single use grab and go, maybe convenience. And then looking at the foodservice angle of it bulk, you know, make it for your guests get great margin if you’re a foodservice operator with them. And then, you know, just kind of see what else comes along. But with those kind of three applications in general, I mean, that’s, that’s going to be the bulk of the business.

Steve Gaither  30:28  

Now, if you from a retail perspective, if you attacked it from a retailer prioritization standpoint, or from a region by region approach,

Stefanie Garcia Turner  30:36  

I’m looking at it retailer by retailer, so you know, who are those stronger, like more regional operators as chains that we know and love, that do a great job that like to take chances on new on new products and new, you know, companies, and, and then hopefully just making it successful, and then targeting it in and concentrating marketing efforts to pushing people to go and shop at those locations, whether that’s through, you know, social media campaigns, campaigns, in partnership with the retailer, like ad spend, or, you know, demos support, so kind of a mix of all of that to make it successful. Geography wise, you know, it’s really been fascinating. So I have the products on Amazon. And I’m a very novice. So you know, if there’s anyone out there listening, you know, Amazon really well, hit me up. But you know, from what I’ve seen, gathered with the data, like I track who everybody is, are really where they’re buying from, because you can only get so much information about a consumer from Amazon, but it will show you know, where it’s being shipped. And so I’ve tracked all of that, and by far, my top markets are California, Texas, and Florida, like, by far. So that’s been a really cool, you know, not free, but kind of free piece of data point of who’s just buying it randomly, you know, is kind of my guess, like, maybe they’ll see my Instagram posts, or maybe they’ll see something on LinkedIn. But for the most part, I’m pretty sure a lot of these consumers are just on Amazon looking for stuff. Yeah, I’ve been away like coffee and the pops up. And so and so that that’s been really neat. So I’m using that data to really focus in you know, on those retail accounts, and to help make that story to a potential new retailer of like, Hey, I think this could be really successful in you know, Florida or southeast market, because these are the numbers I’m seeing.

Steve Gaither  32:47  

So you are doing a retailer by retailer, brick and mortar approach, you are playing with Amazon, but right sizing it right now, and the fact that you’re using it for data and insights, and food service, which probably is not a hockey stick, but a nice up into the right growth with reasonable margins that you can predict without tradesman, or limited trade spend along the way. What surprised you so far on the journey,

Stefanie Garcia Turner  33:15  

but it has surprised me, um, you know, just, well, I, I talk about this at some points in time, like I might sometimes do on LinkedIn posts about it, but like, the marketing side is really tough. You know, if you if you don’t have like a marketing firm that you can really, like, get to manage it, and all of that, um, but as a new brand, like you don’t have any brand awareness. Right. So marketing is just so so important. But getting the right mix of it, especially early on is that’s been really tough, because like, I tried a little bit of influencer stuff. It’s great. It is impressions, you know, that’s kind of cool. It doesn’t necessarily translate to sales. You know, I think the what really has worked for me is just been in person events in markets and just getting out there and like selling it direct to consumers in that capacity. So think like, you know, the Black Friday weekend, right? Like I did a huge market then and it was fantastic. And people love their products. So like you try it, you love it, you know, I was just at Expo West and did a debut with the brand there and you know, I got like the smallest cheapest booth I could and it was totally fine. And I met the people I needed and me and people got to try the product. And I would like to say like the reception, I would say 95% of the people like loved it. And it was very, like eye opening, loving it to like they didn’t expect to like it at all. I don’t I don’t know. But like they did double takes and just really stayed and ask the questions. And so that is super positive and really It motivated me to know like, Okay, I have something going, I just need people to like, give it a try. And so that’s, you know, that’s where I’m really focusing my efforts, like, what can I do for demos? How can I get, you know, coupons? Or how can I somehow get people to like, send out promo codes so they can try the products? You know, you’ve been through my website or something like that. So. So that’s been my focus. And that that’s been the hard, surprising thing of just how hard it is.

Steve Gaither  35:29  

Yeah, I think I mentioned it to a lot of people, when it comes to retail, retail and trade spend, Mark, for retail marketing and trade span are almost synonymous, right. And it’s an imagined Premier and focusing on that trade span that actually drives velocity. And a lot of the retailers you mentioned, tend to be more tradesman friendly, or trade spend that’s more tied to demo, or promo versus slotting and free refills. Is that part of your selection process with picking those retailers to where you can actually any spend you do while actually account to moving product?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  36:05  

Absolutely, yeah. And, you know, I’m in talks with a couple of retailers right now that that’s exactly what they would want. They don’t want slotting, they would want me to be like, we need you to do three, you know, coupon deals, you know, for the year or something like that, to really help drive that trial. And I love it, and I’m totally on board with it. I think it’s great. You know, I’m trying to avoid the the retailers that would want the slotting is something you know, it’s just, it’s, it just depends. Like, if, if it was a really great retailer, that really made sense, maybe, but at this point being so small, I mean, I just honestly couldn’t afford a lot of it. So you know, I do have to be really smart about that as well. And it might mean saying no to an opportunity or two. And that that’s just what I’ll have to do and just kind of try and make it work in other ways. But I do really, I’m a fan of the omni channel approach, you know, I think you have to, especially like why not, right, it’s easy to put up a website, it’s somewhat easy to get Amazon going, just kind of give it a go I any brand that’s not trying these different avenues. Like I would just recommend go for it. Just give it a go. Like, you know, always, I mean, Amazon’s tough if you do start and you want to stop like and then start again, that is a very tough thing. But you know, you could try it, you could try fair, you know, there’s other sites and stuff that you can try as well. Um, but yeah, that’s it. I’m a huge fan of it.

Steve Gaither  37:40  

Well, it’s interesting that you mentioned that too. I mean, just like with your marketing, at retail, tied to trade, spend more towards stuff that actually moves product, I think you’re finding the same thing on digital spend as well, the days of influencer and reach and fan base, it really comes down to those are nice. But what’s really important is if I spend $1, do I actually sell more than that dollars with a product? Right? So thinking of marketing, not as just impressions and treating it like you’re doing your tradesman. Now make it work for you. The best you can drink mixes instant coffee, your girl your path is for growth, is it a TDP? And those two sets or is in the moving into other categories and other products are a little bit about?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  38:28  

You know, I haven’t think about that a lot lately. I’ve, you know, gotten some advice from different folks, you know, I am talking to some investors looking to possibly start an angel round at some point, maybe later in this year to help fund you know, some of that, well, some new SKU options in terms of flavors, but also the format. So single stick packs, right. With those conversations, you know, it it’s interesting how everyone has an idea and a thought and advice and it’s based off of maybe companies that they’ve invested in and what they think is working or not working right. It’s all Yeah, it’s a lot and I’m sure everybody gets it and you just have to kind of filter out you know, what’s really the best thing for you to get out of that conversation. Um, that all being said,

Steve Gaither  39:25  

I do is very politically well done, too.

Stefanie Garcia Turner  39:30  

Yeah, you know, I try maybe off off the record, we can talk later. But, you know, for me, I do think TDP is going to be my focus. I would I would love love love to go into some other categories, but you know, it’s it’s kind of like business 101 like until you make one thing successful and really like, find that formula that works. Like it’s hard to be successful in anything else. So I think the opportunity are right Is is this really, you know, my powder drink mix has really started to hit and kick off and do well and get some velocities and get retailer placement. And maybe like in a year or two, I can look into moving into another category. But with the with that approach of looking at you know foodservice retail direct to consumer who knows what else might pop up along the way? I do think that’ll probably keep me pretty busy. So, you know, honestly, like I have been thinking about it and kind of adjusting some of my what, what I thought I would do in the beginning is kind of changing along the way. Yeah, so there’s my answer.

Steve Gaither  40:45  

Well, it’s interesting, too. I mean, the economic environment is sort of changed things, right. The working capital for companies is is tight right now. I mean, interest rates are really high for debt. A lot of investors have been sitting on their wallets even more so after Silicon Valley Bank, which those days have the Forex multiples for Angel and series A are sort of passed and is a little bit less of that growth by revenue. Margins be damned sort of approach. You said a couple of things that lean into that Strategy, right? One, working capital wise, saying notice some retailers along the way, picking the ones to where the trade spin is the right set, it’s the right retailer, with the right trade spend attached to it, that can actually move velocity. And saying no to those maybe not saying no forever, but at least know for right now to those retailers, is putting you in control of margins and working capital. And on the other end of it, while you have this ability to go disrupt 20 Different sets out there, you’re saying, Okay, let’s stick with two sets, right, let’s stick with drink mixes, and let’s stick with the instant coffee. And let’s see how we can expand TDP out there, which is once again, might not have been what you did three or four years ago, but is very sound smart decisions to make, especially in this economic environment. Right now. Um, was dealing with these issues from the entrepreneur side of working capital and and dealing with investors is everything was cracked up to be or any surprises along the way on that side? Yeah,

Stefanie Garcia Turner  42:28  

no surprises. Came in eyes wide open. I’ve been in the industry long enough. I’ve heard enough horror stories and heard enough winning, you know, amazing stories as well. To kind of set the expectations right. It’s different with it being me, right? It’s not just like, Oh, I’m talking to you and hearing your story. And then now I’m telling you advice, like, here’s my two cents where it’s sad to everyone else’s two cents. No, it’s now it’s me. And, you know, people kind of offering I like to call it just unsolicited advice. Like everybody just kind of likes to offer it. And most of the time, it comes from a really good place. Sometimes it does, you know, it’s like, I’m already dealing with this big issue. And now you’re telling me like you think I might actually, you know, I should probably think about changing this thing. It’s like that’s not going to happen. But you know, it’s like when it’s when it’s someone else’s money it’s easy to make the decision right?

Steve Gaither  43:29  

Well, I mean, from from a founder I always talked about a solid founder a runs through brick walls, be as coachable, be coachable doesn’t mean saying yes to everybody’s advice. Otherwise, you’d be left right, left, right, left right. coachable to me tends to mean, run all that crap through the filter. And at the end of it, being able to make a thoughtful decision not based on stubbornness or ego. I definitely feel third party looking in, you’ve got that filter, right to take all that schmutz read it through the Stefanie filter, and come up with a thoughtful decision that, to me is can be hard to find out there with a founder. So final question. Um, you’re you been around hundreds of brands, the retailer side, you’ve worked on the brand side, you’ve launched your own brand, what brand do you sort of emulate out there over time that has done it right, that you can use it could be out a category or whatever? What brand do you feel has done it right? That you can take some key learnings from?

Stefanie Garcia Turner  44:39  

That is a great question. Mmm hmm. You know, when the brand that really pops to mind, because it’s like totally my style and I love it. And just like they use humor and kind of tongue in cheek and just I don’t know, I think it’s just so brilliant. What they do is Oatley. I think Oatley just really nails it and, you know, it’s just so consistent, like what they do and how their branding is and, and everything has just been so consistent from day one. And, you know, that’s, that’s tough to find, like, it’s really, really hard to find a company that keeps the same tone, you know, and everything and their passion behind why they started, you know, from from the early days, you know, there could be like pivots here and there, but at the same time, it’s it’s still it’s very consistent. You know, and I think it’s pretty obvious and kind of how they their trajectory, even though they come into some rough patches here and there, but that it’s a really fascinating brands. And there’s other ones you know, that that are out of food and beverage you they think you’ve done some really interesting stuff. But that’s, that’s when that comes to mind. Cool.

Steve Gaither  46:00  

Well, thank you so much for your time, you can go to Tuyyo Foods. Buy a hell of a lot of product. It’s the best and is for one of the best people I know Stefanie, Stefanie, thank you so much for your time.

Stefanie Garcia Turner  46:16  

Thank you so much, Steve had a great time.

Outro  46:20  

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