Do you think a snack can change the world?
It’s crazy to think that such a small thing can have such a big impact. That a decision today can help other people’s tomorrows. Or that something you can hold, can hold the future of the planet. But that’s exactly what Claudia Goldfarb, the Founder and CEO of Sow Good Incorporated believes.
Through their freeze dried snacks and smoothies, Sow Good is on a mission to revolutionize food. To fight waste, malnutrition, and food insecurity with a snack that stays good, tastes good, and does good. By marrying ethical sourcing with the magic of freeze drying, they are able to support the health and wellness of communities, people, and the planet.
Listen to today’s episode of The Nothing But Good Podcast to hear:
- [1:30] how the COVID pandemic encouraged Claudia and her husband to start Sow Good
- [2:15] The Goldfarb’s history with manufacturing and why they see it as a great opportunity
- [3:15] what the Goldfarbs were doing before Sow Good
- [6:15] why Claudia says her and her husband are the American success story, the immigrant success story
- [7:00] what it was like to start a business in the pandemic
- [10:00] the full product line of Sow Good
- [12;15] what the cultural document at Sow Good is and why it’s helping them sow excellence
- [13:15] what is upcycling and how does Sow Good use it in their business
- [14:30] how the Sow Good shelf stable smoothie works
- [15:50] the nutritional value in freeze dried fruit
- [18:30] what it looks like to build a business with your spouse
Transcription of Episode 9:
You're listening to The Nothing But Good Podcast a show that believes you should know where your food comes from, or more specifically, who it comes from. Each week, we bring you new interviews with the makers and founders of the brands you love so you can see how they came to be and what makes them different. We focus on telling the stories of emerging brands and brands who are committed to using better for you ingredients in the snacks they create. Every episode of The Nothing But Good Podcast is brought to you by Oh Goodie Box, a snack box subscription service that sends healthier snacks directly to your home or office. So that you have the fuel you need to make your greatest impact each day. Order your first box at ohgoodiebox.com and use code PODCAST for 15% off your first order. That's ohgoodiebox.com and code PODCAST for 15% off your first order. Now grab a snack and let's get to today's show. All right, Claudia, thank you so much for being on the show. For everyone watching and listening, would you mind introducing yourself and telling them a little bit about so good foods?
Absolutely, and by the way, thank you for having us. So my name is Claudia Goldfarb and I'm the founder and CEO of Sow Good Incorporated, we're a freeze dried food company. And we started our company, right as the pandemic was hitting. And primarily because we saw a few needs out there, we were experts in the freeze dried technology space on the pet side, when the pandemic happened, you know, like everybody else, there were empty shelves in grocery stores that I could remember ever experiencing here in the US. And so we looked at kind of, you know, the landscape and said, We need to get involved. We want to manufacture healthy snacks, and foods that are shelf stable, that will be available, you know, throughout the pandemic, or should anything like this ever happen again. And in addition to that, we really wanted to create jobs, you know, watching so many businesses shutter was just heartbreaking. And for us, manufacturing has always been such a great opportunity for people that, you know, maybe don't have an educational background or you know, different sort of skills. So that's how Sow Good started, which was really just to create healthy, affordable snacks that were shelf stable and help create jobs.
I love that so much. I think you're the first person I've met, who started a business as a direct need from the pandemic. I've heard of people, you know, starting a business right before the pandemic hit. And then like all of the things that happened because of that, but you are the first person I’m speaking to who saw a direct need caused by the pandemic and like, let's fix it. I love that. You were saying you've seen the benefits of manufacturing in the past. You're a freeze dried expert. So what were you doing before Sow Good?
Good question. So we were in the pet space, we were manufacturing dog food and treats. We started with antlers for dogs and then did jerky for dogs. And then finally went into freeze dried technology, freeze dried food for dogs. And the reason we became experts or how we became experts. I think like most entrepreneurs out there, it's through necessity, it's trial by fire. Freestyle, dried expertise really lives in Germany. Germany really just owns the freeze dried technology space and for second and third, you have India and China. And then you know, nowhere even on the list is the US. We had a need for immediate freeze dryers in our facility and the only place we could get them more in the US. So we ordered for freeze dryers and just to give you some scope, they're about a million to a million and a half dollars a freeze dryer. So it's a big investment. Yeah. And you know, so here we are, you know, we're going to go hot and heavy and freeze dried dog food because we just knew that was the next big thing. We spent all of this money on these freeze dryers and, you know, seven out of 10 times most of them were not working and it was just oh my gosh, what are we going to do? So we hired some mechanical engineers. We hired refrigeration experts, we took these machines apart and rebuilt them so that they would work. And that's really how we became experts in freeze dried technology. And so, you know, it really was trial by fire. And I feel like that's such a common thread that I hear for most entrepreneurs, or most, you know, business people, they're faced with a problem, you know, in their manufacturing space, or their sales space that they don't know how to fix or tackle. And that's when innovation happens and I think it's so exciting.
I do, too. I love that. I am just glad that you kept going. I felt like my heart dropped when you said it was like $4 million for this investment and they're not working. And I'm like, well, what are you doing? Like you fix it, that's what you do! Yeah, so absolutely. Love it. Are you guys still in the pet food space? Or did you leave it completely?
Yeah, so we sold the company, probably about a year before the pandemic happened. And, you know, Ira and I, my husband and co-founder, were just looking around, and we were maybe going to take some time off, we weren't really sure what we were going to do next. And then the pandemic happened. And, you know, that really was just a motivation and an inspiration for us. Both of our sets of parents, you know, I was born in Mexico City, Ira’s parents survived the Holocaust, and, you know, moved from Poland, to Israel, and then to the US. And so, we’re the American success story and the immigrant success story. And so, you know, job creation, manufacturing, they're not buzzwords for us. They're really what shaped our lives, made our lives and it's what we want to pay forward.
Gosh, I love that so much. So what has it been like starting a business, in the pandemic, a food business pandemic, where you can't really give out samples at a grocery store? Or have meetings face to face or like in person with people? So what are some of the struggles you've had to overcome to get where you're at today?
So it's been a challenge? Definitely not one that we anticipated to last as long as it did. You know, I think so many of us in the beginning thought okay, how long could this possibly last right? I don't think anyone thought two years later, we would still be there. And so, you know, it really was a struggle, because trade shows, which is kind of how we built our previous company didn't exist anymore, events were canceled in person, demoing was canceled, all the buyers went home and worked from home. So it was definitely a struggle. I think that for us, we were incredibly fortunate that we have a really strong board of directors that's very well versed, super savvy and very involved. And so for us, it was really about just putting everybody's heads together and saying, Okay, what do we do? You know, how do we solve this problem and I think that that's probably a common theme in everything that Ira and I have ever done, no matter what, pandemic freeze dryers, you're going to have problems and issues and it's just a matter of, you know, buckling down and working your way through it. And so we got creative you know, we just started stalking people on LinkedIn or you know, looking at anywhere you could find a buyers list and sending out samples. You know, on the sample side, we're definitely over budget on what we've sent out. Because you know, you didn't have those live events or those demoing events. And for us, the quality of our product is so amazing, and you know, everyone thinks their products amazing. I eat our products every day. I mean it is my daily staple for breakfast and lunch and so you know our philosophy was if they taste it we will win and so we really went hot and heavy on sending samples out.
I can see why you'd be over budget, as a snack box company, shipping is crazy. Absolutely insane. So I could see why in a situation where you had to ship everything out instead of just being at one centralized location. It would be very easy to go over budget on that but I think you're right if you taste it you love it. It sells itself, it's so good, it's Sow Good. Okay, well where you guys at now? What's your full product line look like? I know you have Freeze dried fruit, there's granola, am I missing anything, I just want to make sure we have the full spectrum of what you guys do.
So we started with freeze dried fruits and smoothies. You know, and smoothies were really a result of, you know, we had all of these great freeze dried fruit products. And Lexie, my daughter lived in New York. And so every day, I'd get the little ping on my credit card, you know, $11 for a smoothie. And I was like, Okay, you're a little expensive, my child, but you're being healthy. So then she's like, Mommy, instead of having a protein bar every morning, that's full of preservatives and all these other things, you really need to start having, you know, fresh smoothies, fresh fruit, you know, things like that. And so, I tried making smoothies on my own at home. And what would drive me crazy is, I'd get the bag of spinach, and I'd get the blueberries and the strawberries and all these things. By the second third day, I'd already have waste and spoilage and products going bad. And so I'd end up throwing out so much fresh fruit and produce. And that's such a huge issue here in the US, we throw away so much product. And so you know, as we're looking at these freeze dried products, I'm like, wait, this has a shelf life of three years, why don't I make smoothies out of this. And so you know, the lights turn on, and I'm like, we're going to do smoothies. And so, you know, that's really how the smoothies came to be. And what I love about the smoothies, especially, you know, Lexie, when she was in New York, New York, apartments are small. Yeah, your refrigerators not big, your freezers not big, you don't have a lot of space for frozen product or fresh product, our smoothies can live in a shelf, can live in your box. And when we're shipping it to customers, unlike a lot of other food companies, we don't have to ship frozen, we don't have to ship overnight because it's shelf stable. So our environmental impact on the mission side is lower. And so that was the smoothies. And then, you know, part of the pillar of Sow Good is we have a cultural doc called sowing excellence. And it's really how we try to live within our four walls every day. And so in excellence is about exactly that. Being excellent in everything we do every day for ourselves, for our teammates, for our company, for our customers, for our communities. And, you know, really evaluating what our environmental impact what our waste is, is really important to us, you know, one of our weeds that we try to get rid of within our four walls is waste. And so, you know, in the snacks and in the smoothies, we would need whole raspberries or you know, the full slice of strawberry. Well, like everything else, we'd have little out of spec strawberries, or little out of spec blueberries that we couldn't use in the snacks, or in the smoothies and that's how our granola was born. We decided to upcycle those products and use them in our granola products, which they have now become my favorite of all of our product lines. I have four little squares every morning. And our granola is snackable so that makes it even better. And so you know, that's our product lines.
I love that I'm so intrigued on the smoothie side of things. So for anyone who might be having questions like me out there, it comes in a free state it's in a bag or a bowl and then you do you put it in a blender do you add water like what happened? How do you get that smoothie texture?
Yeah, great question. So, I wish I had the sample in front of me, It comes in a smoothie cup. I do have a smoothie cup in front of me. And so inside this smoothie cup will be a bunch of freeze dried fruit and we use hemp hearts, chia seeds, you know, things like that. And it's all like whole raspberries so you'll actually see the fruit and the hemp hearts and the chia seeds. You stick it in a blender with water, ice and you blend it for you know 60 to 90 seconds and then you'll have a full smoothie. And I don't know if you can see but like here we have where the water line is where the Ice line is. So you know we made it super simple for you to be able to make your own smoothie.
Gosh I absolutely love that. I go in these phases, I'm not gonna say have a smoothie every day, but when I'm being good or trying to get on track or doing my liver cleanse or whatever it might be, I'll go to Costco and I'll buy, like you said, the bags of spinach, the blueberries, the all of the things. And it drives my husband crazy, because Costco might be a good deal, but it turns so quickly. And he's like, Jenny, you're wasting it. I'm like, I'm not trying to waste it. But I can only put so much into a smoothie in one given day. And it's just the two of us. And so I love this idea where you could have this shelf stable, smoothly, like packaged ready to go, all you have to do is add the ice and the water. And you can have variety to just by buy the different ones from you without having your entire fridge filled with all this produce, we might only get to a quarter of it or half of it. So absolutely genius. My mind is blown by this for freeze dried product. Is the nutritional value the same as if you were to eat the whole apple fresh or what changes or doesn't change in the process?
Yeah, so great question freeze dried keeps, you know, anywhere between 95 to 97% of the nutritional value of the original product. So it is super healthy and super great for you. And across all of our product lines, one of the things that we were committed to is no preservatives. So our products are preserved through the technology, not through any sort of additives or anything like that. And you know, when we started Sow Good, we didn't buy off the shelf freeze dryers, we built our own freeze dryer from scratch, specifically for fruits and veggies. So we freeze dry at a colder temperature and we pull more vacuum. So that gives us that crunchy texture that we're looking for in a snack.
I love that. One of the things that I loved when I saw Sow Good come across our desk was we get a lot of dried fruit from companies but the freeze dried was unique. But then also, you should be like you get an apple and it's like an apple ring or something yours are like it looks like Apple still, I'm just like, This is amazing. I'm like, it looks like someone just cut it up and throw them in, it's beautiful. So just It looks like a real apple.
And that's absolutely what it is, you know, we slice the apples, the way the process goes is you freeze it to negative 40 degrees. So instantaneously, you're stopping, you know any sort of like nutritional degradation in that product or any spoilage and then the freeze dryer, it takes the ice crystals in the product and turns them into a gas instantaneously. So that's why it keeps all of the original shape, color, size, nutritional value, the only thing that's missing is the water, which is what creates, you know, degradation and waste.
Gosh, I love that so much. Well, I think that's kind of the gist of the questions I had for you specifically about your product, I did have a little bit of a selfish question. In regards to building a company with your spouse. How has that been? How you guys been doing this for a while? So what have you learned for anyone out there, myself included, who's trying to do the same thing with their spouse and wondering what in God's name are they doing?
I will say that's probably the question I get the most, especially from our friends. Because, you know, we're with each other 24/7 I think that for us, we have very complementary skill sets that don't overlap. So we kind of have our own spheres of influence that work really well together without causing a lot of, you know, head butting. We're both perfectionist, we're both incredibly motivated, incredibly competitive. And neither of us cares when, I mean, when we have to have strong conversations. We're just going to go for it. Because yeah, I mean, you just have to, especially when it's something you're so passionate about. And so I think it's just really it's got to be the right fit. Ira and I work really well together and I always have I don't think that it works for every marriage out there. And the other thing is, you know, your work relationship and your marriage have to be separate. We make quality time twice a week for date night, and we don't talk shop, you know, those are the rules. You know, we just enjoy being a married couple and I think having that space is really important. And we also have our me time, you know, I love playing tennis, Ira loves playing poker. And so we make time for those things outside of work. And now it just gives us time to, to kind of decompress. And then when you know, we come back, it's golden.
I love that so much, there's so much and what you just said that I absolutely love. And I, what I heard you say is you guys have the same values, you have the same work ethic, you guys have this beautiful mission of reducing waste and putting healthy food on shelves. And so I can see how that would be very unifying, whereas your actual skill sets are different. So the base, the core is the same, you're united in your mission, and then you go to work in your own lanes for the common good. And that sounds amazing. And then also, I just love that you mentioned, having your own individual passions still. And also having date nights, we think in entrepreneurship worlds, a lot of times you meet people, and it's all about the business all the time. And it just becomes overwhelming, you lose yourself in the mission. And so I think it's such just wise advice for anyone listening to make time for both. So I love that so much. I appreciate what you shared. Starting a business with my husband, there's definitely been some big explosion moments and I'm just like, oh, gosh, I'm like, I don't know why we're doing this. But we believe in what we're doing. So like, just keep going. So I love what you shared there.
And I think, you know, you have to have clear boundaries. You know, Ira and I are very cognizant of not not stepping on each other's toes, but we're also a very collaborative environment. And we do that across the team. And so I think, you know, that also makes it easier for us, because it's not just he and I, we have a pretty large team that we're working with and it's really collaborative. And so I think that that makes it easier as well, because it's not just he and I making decisions and you know, just really listening to our team. And I think that that also helps.
I think so too. I did think of one more thing. I saw you guys on Instagram, you guys went to your first trade show, is that right?
So we went to, we were just at Fancy Food, Las Vegas. That's a big one. Yeah, it was amazing. It was just so lovely to see people again and talk to people. And probably one of my favorite parts of my job is introducing people to Sow Good. Especially, you know, people walk by and they have no idea what freeze dried is or they’ve never had a smoothie or you know, I don't eat granola that's too healthy for me. And like, just come on over, you know, give it a try. And I wish we had recordings of they'll take a bite or they'll take a sip and they'll be like, Oh my gosh, that's so good and what it is?
Oh, I love it so much. I was I was very excited to see that I was like, Oh, we get to go, like trade shows are opening back up, which is a big deal in our industry.
It's huge. And we're going to be at Expo West, which will be the first time we've ever been there. And I heard that's massive.
That is massive. I've gone one year and that was I grew up going to trade shows in the industry. And I thought like the ones in Vegas were big. And then we went to the Expo West? Yeah, Expo West and I was just like, what is happening? This is insane but in such a good way and so many amazing brands there like yourself who are trying to do something better with prepackaged food and the way that it's grown and sustainable and all the things so, gosh, Claudia, I've loved this conversation so much. I want to be respectful of your time. So for anybody who's just like I've got to get my hands on a smoothie or want to try this granola. The freeze dried fruit. Obviously they can get it from us at Oh Goody. But if they wanted to order directly from you guys, where should they follow you? Where can they go make a purchase all of the things?
Yeah, so the best place right now is our website. And that's thisissowgood.com and sow is S-O-W because we're sowing goodness in our planet and our communities in our company and so that's the best place for them to go to now.
I love it. And am I correct that you guys also have a Podcast.
We do. It's called Good Stories. And one of the things that we want to focus on is, you know, really shining the light on all the beautiful entrepreneurial stories out there. I mean, this country is just founded on these entrepreneurs that go all in because of a passion or belief and so that's what we're focusing on in our podcast.
I love it. Well, if this conversation with you is any inclination of what that's like, I'm sure there'll be a lot of new subscribers. So thank you so much for your time.
Thank you. Yeah, that was great.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Nothing But Good Podcast. We hope you enjoyed today's show. And if you did, we'd be so grateful if you could leave a review and share this episode with your friends. Before you go make sure you're subscribed so that you are always the first to know when a new episode is released. And don't forget to follow @ohgoodiebox on Instagram, so you can get an even deeper look into how we decide which products get placed in our snack boxes. Last but not least, visit ohgoodiebox.com and make sure you use promo code PODCAST for 15% off your first box. Links to everything are in today's show notes. Until next time, happy snacking.