Organic Living Superfoods was part of the Massachusetts Pavilion at the Summer Fancy Food Show in June. This Examiner had first stumbled across the brand at a forgettable café in Brookline, MA. A bright green sleeve of dried papaya hit the spot. Co-founders Bruce Namenson and Craig Singer took the time to chat with this Examiner at the Show. They were unforgettable and quite honestly not the pair one might readily associate with the brand they tout so passionately.
Bruce and Craig came to Babson Food Day last month and had the chance to feed and win over Entrepreneurs in Residence Andrew Zimmern, Gail Simmons, and over one thousand Babson students, faculty and staff. This interview is part of the questions for a food entrepreneur series for Examiner.
Rachel Greenberger: What was the seed for your business?
Bruce Namenson: A friend of mine wanted me to get involved in a vegan raw restaurant in Newton (Prana Café). At the time, I felt ready for a career change so I said “Yeah.” He was the money guy and I was the sweat equity guy. I had no restaurant experience, or food experience, for that matter but I was into healthy eating and watched and learned from my chef who had been a raw vegan chef for 15 years. Since I was the one sourcing ingredients for the restaurant, I started to build up a retail section, which became a major part of the business and ultimately led to launching Organic Living Superfoods in 2012.
RG: What’s the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
BN: I think education. People are becoming more educated about how food can be a natural drug—and starting to understand why we sprout the nuts—but it’s been a huge hurdle. The more we spread out and head toward the East Coast, I think people will adopt. But the West Coast understood us first. We started in yoga studios, with the people we knew would get it, and then worked our way out from there.
RG: How do you define success?
BN: Making a great product and not sacrificing quality for quantity. If you can carry that through and maintain it (though venture capital and buy outs) that’s a successful company. Success is not selling out.
RG: How do you manage failure?
BN: You know what, we really haven’t had it with this company. But then I think it’s important to look at failure as a minor bump in the road, and have that attitude no matter what you do. We’ve had accounts tell us “It’s not right for us.” Is that failure or rejection? Plus, it comes full circle. Some of those same accounts are now asking for us. No matter what, you can’t take it to heart.
RG: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in the past year?
BN: Hmmm… The best advice was from someone who’s been in this business and told me that you have to try to diversify your business. So we do retail and bulk sales to restaurants like Life Alive and then also deal with distributors. If you have 5 or 6 different outlets for your product and then one of them fails, it’s not the end of you.
RG: Any advice for aspiring food entrepreneurs?
BN: Yeah. If you make a good product, people will come. I think it’s as simple as that. Everything that comes out of the dehydrator, we taste it. We make sure. In the beginning I was just winging it, and the consistency wasn’t there. Now we have recipes and follow it to a tee. It’s a big factor.
RG: What about your company most feeds your soul?
BN: People are in business to make money but doing something that is good for people and healthy and makes them feel good is what feeds me. A lot of our seasonings are medicinal from cultures for centuries all over the world. So rather than taking a drug, they can eat their medicine and have no toxic effect on their bodies. Of course the FDA won’t let you get away with saying that, but it’s true…
You can find Organic Living Superfoods in stores around the region.