On this episode, we have Emily Griffith who is the Founder & CEO @ Lil Bucks
Lil Bucks is supporting regenerative agriculture with its various organic and regenerative organic sprouted buckwheat products.
In this episode, we learn about Emily’s international inspiration to bring a thriving buckwheat market to the US and Emily takes us behind the scenes on her 5-year journey of growing the business through a pandemic, trade wars, regular wars, and massive global supply chain headwinds.
🦘 The international inspiration for Lil Bucks
😎 Nutritional and agronomic benefits of buckwheat
😂 Calling farmers at home to buy buckwheat
🤯 Countless reasons to build a domestic market for buckwheat
🏄 Being inspired by “Let My People Go Surfing”
💥 Creating a product line that works for the mass market
😍 Committing to regenerative, US-grown buckwheat
🚜 Working with A-Frame Farm & Mad Ag
🏅 The value of Regenerative Organic Certified®
💰 Unique financing needs when contracting regen supply
ReGen Brands Recap #27 - Building America's Buckwheat Brand - (RECAP LINK)
Disclaimer: This transcript was generated with AI and is not 100% accurate.
Kyle Krull - 0:00:16
Welcome to The ReGen Brands Podcast. This is a place for consumers, operators, and investors to learn about the consumer brands supporting regenerative agriculture and how they're changing the world. This is your host Kyle, joined by my Co host, AC. Who is going to take us into the episode.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:00:33
On this episode we have Emily Griffith who is the founder and CEO at Lil Bucks. Lil Bucks is supporting regenerative agriculture with its various organic and regenerative organic sprouted buckwheat products. In this episode we learn about Emily's international inspiration to bring a thriving buckwheat market to the US, and Emily takes us behind the scenes on her five year journey growing the business through a pandemic. Trade wars, regular wars, and massive global supply chain headwinds. With that said, this might be the most fun episode to date. And at the end of the recording my face literally hurt from laughing and smiling so much. Emily is truly a joy to be around and she brought some buck wild energy to the podcast let's go. What's up everybody? Welcome back to another episode of The ReGen Brands Podcast. Super fired up to today to have our friend Emily from Lil Bucks.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:00:58
So welcome Emily.
Emily Griffith - 0:01:29
Thanks for having me. I'm excited.
Kyle Krull - 0:01:32
I am also super excited. We briefly met at Expo W didn't get a ton of time to converse there, but I'm really looking forward to learning more about the little buck story. Sorry, I said. Little bucks. It's Lil bucks Lil.
Emily Griffith - 0:01:44
Like Lil Wayne.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:01:46
Right. Like put some respect on her name.
Kyle Krull - 0:01:48
Yeah, but I call, I called myself out. We're started with integrity here. So for those who are unfamiliar with the brand, give us the lay of the land. You know what, what are your, what's your product assortment look like? What flavors do you make? Where can people find you today?
Emily Griffith - 0:02:03
Lil Bucks so we're America's buckwheat brand, so we make crunchy super snacks called cluster bucks. Super food granola clusters and then super seed toppings called Little Buck sprouted buckwheat crunch and those add crunch to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, salads, etcetera. And then the last little magic thing we make out of buckwheat right now is our everything buck seasoning, which is like our take on everything bagel seasoning but with the Super food benefits and crunch from the buckwheat, so. We're going buck wild here. Yeah, yeah. There's a lot of. There's a lot of tons to be had. We haven't. We're just getting started.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:02:44
I could not support more being buck wild. I feel like that might be the best adjective to describe just my general ethos.
Emily Griffith - 0:02:50
It's literally like our in like now when we've been at trade shows, the people, it's like the best hook like people be like over having conversations and you're just like you better to go buck wild and people like what then like I don't know. Buck Wild is like the brand is really bright and kind of like. Girly they're like, what is going on here?
Anthony Corsaro - 0:03:10
Yeah, your, your, your vibe at trade shows is is definitely unmatched. We have some footage of that from Expo S we're still trying to figure out what exactly we're doing with that, but that will be released to the people at at some point.
Emily Griffith - 0:03:22
Like not sure what we're going to do with this, but.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:03:26
We we got one, we got one finished piece of media that's very dope that I think is going to come out very soon and then you know we just have a ton of content that we got to figure out what's the best use use for it so. Little digression there, but Emily's a fellow Indiana University graduate. So go Hoosiers but and take us back to where this all started. I think it started with some some really cool international travels of yours, but what was the inspiration behind Lil Bucks?
Emily Griffith - 0:03:51
Yeah, so I mean, I've always had a I feel like a love affair with Australia, actually, dating back to when I was at Indiana, I had a scholarship to go study abroad anywhere in the world for a semester. And so I was like, what are the most expensive places to go? Because I would be maxing this up, yeah.
Kyle Krull - 0:04:11
Gotta Max it our life.
Emily Griffith - 0:04:13
Entrepreneur and I'm like, OK, Copenhagen Cold or Sydney, Australia surfing warm vibes. Yes. So you know, was already just like super in love with the Aussie lifestyle and like health and Wellness and all that. But Fast forward. Probably like 3 1/2 years after graduation. I'd been working in Chicago. Actually, ironically for Hormel Foods, it was my biggest client, so I was basically like writing tweets for spam canned meat. So that's how the.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:04:51
Episome of regenerative food systems.
Emily Griffith - 0:04:53
I know and it don't come to a circle, but I would have to go to like.
Kyle Krull - 0:04:58
Emily Griffith - 0:04:58
Southern Minnesota what?
Kyle Krull - 0:05:00
Was the best tweet you wrote for spam. I need to know this.
Emily Griffith - 0:05:03
Oh gosh, I feel like, I don't know all the the tweet that sticks out to me in my tweeting career. It was actually for four loco and I was like, I was like, I wish you could be an octopus so you could drink. 84 locals at once. And then it got in trouble because it was like insinuating that you'd drink 84 locals. That was that's illegal. So that one kind of Trump. But like, I spent most of my time on spam, I think. Yeah.
Kyle Krull - 0:05:32
OK. Well, I ironically I don't know if you know one of the founders of four local is also now in the natural food industry with Koya. So this is this is a path that we're all on you know?
Emily Griffith - 0:05:41
I know. It's like, I feel like we like come broken and dejected from our whatever beard. Yeah, food and alcohol experiences and we need to make this better, but anyways that was a major digestion but so going don't spam, I need something new. I take a job at agency in Sydney and Australia and I of course ironically land on like basically the Tyson Chicken of Australia. So just big meat keeps being my like thing I guess. And then while I was there I had a life changing as able. Where the cafe that I got the SASSA evil from offered sprouted buckwheat seeds instead of your traditional granola on top of the bowl. And so they're like, do you want the granola or do you want the buckwheat? And I'm like usually granola is pretty crap and like full of sugar. And I don't know, it doesn't really add much for me. So I was like sure, I don't really know what these seeds are, but I'll take those and immediately just became, you know.
Emily Griffith - 0:06:16
Obsession. Like the crunch of the seeds on this like cold smoothie ball. I just love the texture. It holds up really well in the bowl and then I just felt really amazing after eating it. So like really energized, really satisfied for hours after. And turns out Buck, we I literally went back to the cafe and we're like what are we need to know more about these seeds.
Kyle Krull - 0:07:09
Like what is it? Was it in Bondi? Like we paint the picture?
Emily Griffith - 0:07:13
It's yes, it was in Banda. Well, actually Bronte. It's actually now in Banda because I was just back there a few months ago, but it's called bare naked bulls. Love that. There we go, the OG ones in Manly, and they still do it like the same bowl, the same bowl in there. I got it a few months ago.
Kyle Krull - 0:07:32
Emily Griffith - 0:07:33
Yeah, for real. I know I went back and there was a bunch of Brazilians working there when I went and they were just kind of like what? This is cool. OK, y'all give me the idea for my company. But anyways, yeah, so I just started. So it turned out buckwheat, like why I was felt so good after eating it is because it's super high in plant based protein prebiotic fiber and it's gluten and grain free. So technically Buckwheat is a fruit seed. That's the fun fact. Technically not a grain. And so I just started. I noticed at the grocery store, I'm like, why I need this for everything now. Yeah, like topping, smoothies, oatmeal. I put it on top my overnight oats yogurt. I make energy balls with it. Put on salads. Like I thought maybe being from the Midwest. Like we just missed out on the superfood. And like, surely it's a massive thing in like, California.
Emily Griffith - 0:08:03
So I started noticing it was like, since I was so obsessed with it, and I was buying these one pound bags of sprouted buckwheat from the grocery store. And then started noticing like buckwheat was used as a hero ingredient and a lot of breakfast and snacking products and even like in chocolate bars, it was used as a crunch. And obviously cafes and restaurants like the uses were smoothies, avocado toast, etcetera, all the best things in life. And so, like, yeah, it was just kind of crazy when it came time to move back to America, actually moved back for love. And now we're married. So I made that in that one. Yeah, good thing. And I'm like, OK, well, I'm gonna like, leave wonderful Sydney in Australia and come back to Chicago for you. Like, I'm gonna need to at least like.
Kyle Krull - 0:09:23
Emily Griffith - 0:09:23
Some buckwheat, yeah, I.
Kyle Krull - 0:09:24
Mean have some, buckwheat? Yeah, there's a deal breaker.
Emily Griffith - 0:09:27
It's a deal breaker, really. I was like, I filled wither away and to this day I was probably wither away somewhere from buckwheat. But yeah, I was just a shock when I was coming back. No. I started really innocent, like absolutely no idea that I was doing like all of my like work experience with tweeting for like, meat companies and for loco and then graphic design freelance and so. But just like this innocent, like Oh no brand in the US is focused on this amazing super food ingredient that aligns with all these trends and that it actually tastes good. It's not like weird. It has all these versatile. Applications. And then, like, the thing that was just brought all together was that it's amazing for soil health and it grows really well in many parts of the US and I'm like, why aren't we, like, capitalizing on this? This is crazy. So I just kind of was like, oh, I gotta start this buckwheat thing. Like even while I was still in Australia was like rambling on to people about buckwheat. And people were like, I don't know what they're feeding her in Australia. And the answer is buckwheat, but.
Emily Griffith - 0:10:08
Yeah, it just kind of started from this idea and then when I was in Chicago figuring out, trying to start it, of course, like I'm like, well, obviously I need buckwheat, so how do you find that? And I just, like, went on these weird, found this weird like HTML website from the 90s that's like a directory of.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:11:01
What year was this? What year was this?
Emily Griffith - 0:11:04
This was 2017, 2018, so I launched in 2018, almost five years ago.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:11:09
OK. Congratulations. Congrats.
Emily Griffith - 0:11:10
Huge, thank you. Yeah, it's definitely come a long way. I mean the first couple years were very much farmers markets making it in, shared kitchens figuring it out, but nevertheless, five years coming up and yeah, so moved back to the US in 2017 and that's when I was kind of like trying to figure out how I launched this buckwheat company and. Found some organic farmers, started calling them, turned down, calling their homes because farmers like live on the farm. I just had no idea. Like, I kind of like suburban Chicago and then like northern Indiana, which obviously there are farms around. But like I have no farming farmers in my network until now. And when I called him like, hey, can I buy buckwheat from you? They're like, OK, we'll help this girl.
Emily Griffith - 0:11:32
And just like spent, some of them spent like an hour on the phone with me, each just talking about how things kind of work in the US agriculture system and how they'd love to grow buckwheat. But there's just not really a big market for it. And a lot of the buckwheat consumed in the US is from China, which is true. And some of them have grown it even at a loss just to improve their soil health. So it was just like completely insane, like the more like obvious flags of why little buck should exist, right? We're like, OK. So I was just like, OK, cool, I'll like, I'll make a market for you. How hard will that be? And off to the races basically launched in farmers markets and scaled up from there.
Kyle Krull - 0:12:43
You mentioned soil health twice now. I'm curious, like your perspective in 2017 coming back to the US like what was your awareness of the regenerative movement and the importance of soil health at that time? Or was it really those farmer conversations that sort of spurred that interest in soil health?
Emily Griffith - 0:12:59
So you know what's actually, I don't know if irony, ironic is the right word, but maybe foreshadowing, but even what kind of initially even put? Sustainable agriculture on my radar. I don't even think the word regenerative was used when I came across it, but I was super lost in my like spam for logo tweeting days. Like, I feel I'm so hungry and want to like do something and like work for a company that's bettering. You know, either aligned with my lifestyle being like health and Wellness or like outdoor adventure sports and or like bettering the earth. I was like applying to anything.
Emily Griffith - 0:13:12
Like NGO's in the sustainability world. Like just so hungry to provide more to the world than my tweets and the first business book I ever read was let my people go surfing. Of course, by von Trinard, which?
Anthony Corsaro - 0:13:58
That's the least shocking thing I've heard ever, yeah.
Emily Griffith - 0:14:02
Like what? You can't, you can't reel me in with just like business. It needs to be about like surfing at least I need a hook. But yeah, I mean that was just super eye opening of like gosh, I mean at the time I just became obsessed with the line to work at Patagonia and Fast forward, I don't think that was obviously the fit. The fit was for me to start my own thing that aligns with the values and uses certification that Patagonia actually helped come out come up with. But in that book, von Trinard.
Emily Griffith - 0:14:03
Talks about like one of the best, our best chances at fighting climate change is going to be with agriculture. So that's like the first time that even was on my radar. And then going to Australia, just kind of like having a very light understanding of it. And then actually in the let my people go surfing book, Von mentions buckwheat in particular as being great for carbon sequestration. I know I need to like frame this like little paragraph.
Emily Griffith - 0:14:32
Um, someone like emailed it to me a couple years in and I was like it actually because I remember reading it, but it actually, says buckwheat.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:15:05
The universe was laying laying hints for you everywhere.
Emily Griffith - 0:15:08
Girl crazy. So yeah, it was. That was like a very light understanding and then doing more research on OK, this is really good for soil health. Why is it good for soil health? And then these conversations with the farmers and they. Want to grow it, but there's just not a market for it. And it's like, that just seems so silly when we're like forcing all of these crops that are like, not good for the earth into the universe and like they're not as good for people. I don't know, the whole thing seems silly. So what can we do to change it?
Kyle Krull - 0:15:43
Yeah. Well, I mean, let's talk about why buckwheat's so good. And I've recently connected with a couple other founders for startup Cpg's who are trying to address the same issue you are, that buckwheat is an incredible crop, both for human and plantary health. And you are probably way more buckwheat expert than I am. But based on the limited understanding I have, buckwheat doesn't grow well while being sprayed, right, like with fertilizers and pesticides and things like that. It performs worse than if it were just there. Is that correct?
Emily Griffith - 0:16:12
Yeah, just like a beautiful. It's perfect for an organic farm, honestly. Like it grows really well in cold climates for sometimes poor soil and it acts as a fertilizer on its own. So it's almost kind of ironic that it doesn't really respond to, you know, fertilizer or like kind of conventional farming practices as well. So buckwheat also is a really fast crop. So it's a a great cover crop option. It flowers in 77 to 90 days and it flowers, it's these beautiful flowers. Some people, once again, it's not a wee. Whoever came up with the word buckwheat comes from, I think it's like a Russia, a Russian word. Don't quote me on that.
Emily Griffith - 0:16:42
Even though it's literally being reported on this podcast. But that means like like obviously we yeah is in that. And then Bach means like looks like weed. So it's like in their translation it's kind of like seems like weed but it's not. But then when it translates English and buckwheat and everyone's like we.
Kyle Krull - 0:17:30
Anthony Corsaro - 0:17:33
My favorite thing about it is that it's a cover crop that is commercializable, right. So we can create a commercial market and it's edible, right, whereas like most cover crops you you can't do that. So it's just we're just paying to to get the soil benefit whereas the farmer can plant this, get the soil benefit and then actually hopefully sell it into an end market. Hence why we need brands everyone to to create market demand for these things. And Emily has a has a killer sustainability page on the website. We'll link it in the show notes, check it out. There's all kinds of fun buckwheat stats and stories and cool stuff on there. But I think that's super important and probably the most important piece of like we have to make this more commercial, right? And so it's just it's nails that bullseye.
Emily Griffith - 0:18:15
Yeah, and yeah. Oh my gosh, my sustainability page on the website is kind of an insane manifesto, but. Literally, Shopify had to, we had to like have a developer like custom go in because it was like too many sections like that Shopify doesn't even have available. But I have a lot to say about buckwheat. But yeah, no, it's just so incredible. And like all these uses right now we're so when we mill the buckwheat, just over half of the general like milling run comes out as the seed which we're using. For that crunch that we that we love and but then there's also the the like kind of side yield of that is the buckwheat flour which actually has more is more commonly consumed in the US right now. So we're we're playing around with some buckwheat flour creations and then also have been talking to some other brands about.
Emily Griffith - 0:18:54
You know collaborating or having them buy the buckwheat flower off of us. So it's this full circle like and then even like buckwheat pillows are super popular which is made from the whole like the outside shell of the buckwheat which I feel like you kind of messed up because I don't have one which.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:19:35
When you say buckwheat flower, are you saying that the point actually flowers and we're talking about like a flower? Are you saying buckwheat flower that's been like grinded and created that get like used for baking?
Emily Griffith - 0:19:45
Grinded and created. So when the buckwheat mill, because the buckwheat seeds are harvested, they have these little black shells on them and then they have to go through. When they go through milling, it's almost like shaking the shell off. And so we get the end seed, which is like this cute little heart-shaped seed. But then in that process just naturally some of the seeds will break and so you end up with a lot of seeds, but you end up with a lot of the broken seeds, which is the flour and then that's just further milled down into. You know certain specks of flour, like baking.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:20:19
Let's go. Yeah, to the moon. Let's go.
Emily Griffith - 0:20:23
I know. And then you can use the shells as like this thing for buckwheat pillows. That's like a massive thing. Like if you look at buckwheat pillows, like I've had to compete with buckwheat pillows for SEL for years.
Kyle Krull - 0:20:37
Who knew? So as you put in this picture of the journey of buckwheat, I'm, I'm very much like. To to make it make sense in my brand, I'm thinking about sunflowers. And so like the center of the sunflower or the seeds that come out and that's what you're milling and the outside hole is what's using for the pre use for the pillows and the kernel inside is the actual buckwhee seed and is that like an accurate representation of what's happening here?
Emily Griffith - 0:20:59
Yeah, and I would actually not be. We're actually playing around with using some regenerative sunflower on a in a skew. So I wouldn't feel to comfortably answer that question until now, but. I was like, oh, OK, I know everything about buckwee. Now I need to learn about something else.
Kyle Krull - 0:21:17
Well, there's two other things I want to talk about with your journey. Number one, you sort of left us off in in the entrepreneurial side of low bucks at the farmers market. So let's talk about how that transition took place. And I also want to dive into the importance of sprouted versus non sprouted. So tell us why that's important to you and why it's important for low bucks?
Emily Griffith - 0:21:36
Oh yeah, that, I guess that is a big, big thing with buckwheat, so and kind of why probably. Buckwheat hasn't had his it's huge moment yet. It's happening, right? It's coming, it's right now it's here. But Buckwheat has to be cooked or sprouted in order for us to absorb the nutrients. So buckwheat, the most common ways it's consumed in the US people from Russian and Ukrainian descent, like literally this is a national dish for them, is called kasha, which is cooked buckwheat seeds, which almost makes like a porridge.
Emily Griffith - 0:21:44
And it's used as like a sweet or savory side dish. It's literally like at every meal when I was at farmers markets in Chicago, which actually has a massive like, you know, like Eastern European, yeah, you know, like presents every time without feel like at least one person like who's like Ukrainian, usually Ukrainian running up like, Oh my gosh, I grew up on buckwheat.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:22:32
Sounds like grits, like it kind of sounds like grits, like if people make it sweet or savory.
Emily Griffith - 0:22:36
Yeah, exactly so. That's like a big way it's consumed. And if you go to, like any Russian, you know, like grocery store, you would see like raw buckwheat seeds available to purchase, but it's being cooked. And then obviously with flour that, you know, is being cooked, soba noodles are actually Japanese, I think of the number 3 consumers of buckwheat in the world. They love buckwheat, but soba noodles are made from buckwheat. So a lot of pasta and bread, of course, but then.
Emily Griffith - 0:22:40
We have these seeds which are super crunchy and delicious eat in their raw form, but humans won't absorb the nutrients unless it's sprouted or cooked. So you have to sprout the seeds. They sprout really quickly in 7 to 8 hours. You'll see tails like if you put raw buckwheat in your kitchen and soak and then just let it sit for like 7-8 hours you.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:23:29
Just have to soak it in water. That's it.
Emily Griffith - 0:23:32
Yeah, it's pretty wild. And then we dehydrate, so then. It's back to like a certain amount of moisture level. So it's not reabsorbing moisture and then that gives it shelf stability and then also this really great crunch that we're using as a base for like everything and then you have all these amazing new uses that the Aussies we're doing and we're missing out on.
Kyle Krull - 0:23:53
And is is this all like vertically integrated? Do you have your own manufacturing processing facility? Have you found great partners to help you like work through these processes? What does that look like?
Emily Griffith - 0:24:01
Yeah. So actually all partners right now. So that's been really cool. And the more we've gone on this journey, the more we've like honed in on the Midwest. Obviously it started in the Midwest. I was originally making it out of shared kitchens in Chicago. And the first thing I was like, I need to find a partner for this is the sprouting. Because I'm sprouting like germinating live seeds in a shared commercial kitchen next to people like making barbecue. And you know, you're just kind of like, I don't think this is.
Emily Griffith - 0:24:07
Viable for a long time. Like it was in a crucial kitchen. I was licensed. But you know yeah. And also just like the the manual like Oh my gosh these buckets of like wet seeds. It was such a workout anyways so I found I actually it was one of those fortuitous things. I feel like there's been a lot of things like challenge you've had like we've.
Emily Griffith - 0:24:34
Grown up in a pandemic and like global ridiculous supply chain, like economic collapse and like Trump being president. So like we've had our share of challenges and like maybe poor timing here and there. But there's a few moments that have had really amazing timing or fortuitous people that I met that kind of made me believe, wow, this is so, so meant to be. And one of them was. Meeting our sprouting partner at a trade show I literally was at, Expo S had snuck in to the shell off air.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:25:34
New Hope team listening. You didn't hear that?
Emily Griffith - 0:25:37
No, yeah, that's definitely me. I've paid back my dues by buying, but. Yet I had like, you know, doing the backpack sampling thing and I literally just walked by a booth and saw like sprouting on their like backdrop and I was like sprouting like I sprout buckwheat. They're like, so do we. And I was like, oh, wow. And they just like these like hippies that like started sprouting back in the day and now they're like a massive international sprouting supplier. So wow. Wow. We, yeah, we actually started sprouting with them and then now we've like found more partners as well and.
Emily Griffith - 0:25:44
Just trying to get everything closer and closer to so most are sourcing. Obviously buckwheat's our number one ingredient, main ingredient and we've moved down our ingredient supply chain list. We're trying to obviously we have this regenerative mission with buckwheat for like why wouldn't we have that then with anything else we're sourcing. So yeah, that's been really cool. It's just learning obviously we're here to bring buckwheat to the people and.
Emily Griffith - 0:26:14
Create opportunities for farmers to grow this awesome cover crop. But like yeah, with that we can support like regenerative like Maple syrup, coconut going down the line, cacao.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:26:54
Take Emily, take us through the arc and maybe they're maybe they're congruent, maybe they're not right. But the the arc of commercialization of hey, we're just selling maybe raw buckweed or sprout a buck buckweed at the farmers market and now you have like this full product line with some innovation like how did that happen and then. You've always been sourcing buckwheat, but like when did the focus happen on regen and why? And like, where does that sit today?
Emily Griffith - 0:27:16
Right. So let's see. I'll start with, I guess, actually right before the pandemic. So cluster bucks is our lead product line right now, especially in retail where we're seeing the most growth. It would be about 75% of the business this year. And you know that's in things from like the Nat, the classic natural food stores like Whole Foods, Midwest Air 1, Bristol Farms, et cetera and then some conventional like HEB and couple divisions of Kroger and Albertsons. So figuring out a product line that works well for the mass market was really important. And but in the early days like what I was telling was Lil Bucks sprouted Buckwheat Crunch, it was really just like. This crunchy seeds that were an ode to my first experience trying buckwheat in Australia. So we have that, an original cacao and cinnamon. And I would sell it at markets where I'd be there to be like, oh, add this on top of your yogurt instead of sugary granola. And I'm there to tell people, like show them this new seed. So we had this really strong customer base in Chicago and when the pandemic hit that, our D2C blew up, which was great.
Emily Griffith - 0:28:05
But of course this is one of those like quote UN quote, bad timing things. But I think it worked out the way it was supposed to for sure. But we were supposed to launch little bucks in the Whole Foods Midwest March 2020.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:28:51
Emily Griffith - 0:28:51
Our big launch like I raised.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:28:53
Friends and family money.
Emily Griffith - 0:28:54
Two months prior, like the first time I raised any money, and this was where I was like, OK, like big leagues, I trained up. 20 brand ambassadors, because the Midwest is such a vast region and like the only strategy was like, we are going to sample the crap out of this because once people know out what it is, there's no competition. And like it becomes this like pantry staple for people. So it's like we just got to sample it and then once they're hooked, it's done. Obviously that strategy did not come to fruition because there was a pandemic. We also didn't even like hit the shelf until.
Emily Griffith - 0:29:00
August, it was just a total disaster because, yeah, we weren't prioritized. Like, people wanted Mac and cheese, not like some weird random buckwheat. And then they like one. We finally were getting in. They put us in like lentils or like weird places of the store.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:29:43
So yeah, that's not a high velocity area either. It's like you have to do the demos to then drive repurchase too on top of trial because it's a pantry staple that they might, it might take them months to go through the back, right?
Emily Griffith - 0:29:55
Right. And like Whole Foods was completely overwhelmed as well. Like everything that we do to execute in retail right now like was basically like totally blown out like. You go on promotions, you try to do like some heavy sales at the start to game trial there. Like Whole Foods was like no promos for like 18 months unless you're like probably have a little more power than I did as a small brand. So that was tough, but it was that was kind of a big learning of like, well this sucks, but you want this to be in every pantry in America and like. The scalability factor of like having to sample this to gain any trial is a big that's pretty big marketing investment to do nationwide. So what can we like how can we create buckwheat in a format that is more familiar to consumers. So that's where the cluster bucks granola cluster concept came in something that is snackable on the go like now even have single serves that are going into airports and.
Emily Griffith - 0:30:30
Like offices on the go, so there's just like a wide application for cluster box. And then how I went from what was the second part of that question again, I was like.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:31:10
Just the the commercialization journey and then the regen journey.
Emily Griffith - 0:31:14
Yeah. So always from the start, like when I was making in shared kitchens, I was actually buying the buckwheat, I was emptying. Because after talking to my farmer friends and me like, so I can't just like buy it from you like how does this work? And they're like not how it works. I started, I was emptying out the bulk bins at Whole Foods of like their raw buckwheat growths, which I liked because they were USA grown and a lot of buckwheat like if you look online, a lot of buckwheat consumed in the US comes from China. Russia is the number one producer, buckwheat, then China, then the Ukraine and then the US, which obviously Fast forward to doing American sourcing from the start served just really well once the Russia Ukraine war hit, but.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:32:08
You've had a you've had a hell of a five year window to launch a product really is top three geography supply chain.
Emily Griffith - 0:32:15
I know, I know.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:32:17
Trade wars, actual wars. Just a couple things.
Emily Griffith - 0:32:21
Honestly, I did it. Not like there's so much I didn't know. Obviously starting this and that's I guess one of those things that maybe it's a sign from the universe that we're doing this the right way. But I was just sourcing from the US because of our mission to create this opportunity for American, North American farmers. We're we're not against Canada but to grow this cover crop. And so I was just sourcing it from the US because that's what I wanted to do was a little more expensive, but got aligned with our mission and then. Yeah. So I was buying for Whole Foods or finally like can you stop emptying our bulk bins, you can just buy it from us directly for like place your wholesale orders and we'll like pick it up like customer service.
Kyle Krull - 0:33:03
Emily Griffith - 0:33:04
Yeah, so they're like, please stop doing that and then.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:33:08
I'm just like picturing you like on a step ladder in like center aisle and like two Whole Foods workers like end of aisle just like looks like side eye and you like what is wrong with this chick?
Emily Griffith - 0:33:17
I know there's a lot of moments. In this history of like, what is the strategy nerve, this person really likes buckwheat and I do. And gosh, when we started scaling up to go to Oh yeah, so then we found our sprouting partner, I was like, this is massive because that was the biggest hurdle of producing in the shared kitchen in Chicago. So actually the sprouting partner, they usually only sprout. I think that maybe they just vibed with me and like this mission and kind of reminded them of how they started. Like they were just like these hippies sprouting seeds and then it turned into this massive business. So I drove up. They're actually in Ontario, Canada, so I drove across the border. That was an adventure in and of itself.
Emily Griffith - 0:33:47
Yeah, there's always stories but they ended up Co packing the little box line entirely which isn't something they normally do, but they like, we're like let's try mixing. So we we brought in the Maple syrup and the the spices that we use and they end up mixing and creating the product there. And through this partner they have the buying power sensor like already massive seed and grain sprouters. They, they're already contracting like, you know, with mills and farms around the world for whatever they need. So I was like, hey, I kind of want to continue to use US buckwheat. Is that possible? And they're like yes. And I was like I found this mill, they're like, oh, we've sourced from this mill before and it's the mill we're using now still. And so I was able to through them just request US buckwheat, which was more expensive, but again.
Emily Griffith - 0:34:41
Aligned at the mission. So we were always able to do that. And then in 2021 was when I met Luke Peterson from A-frame Farms, who's like an absolute Regent legend. I don't even know how we like originally got connected, but I feel like we are like the most kindred spirits just born in like little bit different worlds like. Him into a farming community and me into like suburban Chicago and having no idea anything about farm. I'm tweeting for four Loko like different worlds. Like he's tweeting the art that I'm tweeting. And so it was just one conversation. He's literally on as our farm, an advisor for the business now is like the voice of the farmer as we grow and making sure we're like always doing right by the farmers. But we had one conversation.
Emily Griffith - 0:35:36
We're both obsessed with Buck. We he's like, would he has this crazy like 9 to 12 year crop rotations going on this farm in Minnesota. It's insanely impressive.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:36:18
Their operation is very legit. We'll link, we'll link some things in the show notes. They're super cool operators.
Emily Griffith - 0:36:22
Yeah, yeah. Amazing and just lovely people. And it was in Minnesota near this mill that I'd already been working with. So we had one chat and I don't even know. I mean we had we agreed an e-mail at least, I don't even know if we had a contract the first year. We're like let's just grow some buckwheat and see what else it's like. And so we just like agreed and did about £50,000 the first year, which turned out great like it was great for, it was even a Minnesota drought that year. We got an awesome yield. So it was just kind of like full steam ahead, let's double down like.
Emily Griffith - 0:36:34
And then that's when the next year we were contracting mad agriculture came into the picture and they're great. So they were helping, they're originally helping. I didn't know who they were at first, but they were supporting Luke in some of the business side of running a regenerative farm and helping him like with the contracting and everything. So that's how we met was they're like, hey, we're doing the contract for Luke. You two are insane. Like, yeah, so yeah, that was. So we did about £110,000 last year, yeah, and then tried to double again. So now we're maxing out as much buckwheat as Luke can grow, we're maxing out. And so now we're already starting to look at.
Emily Griffith - 0:37:31
Other farms hopefully maybe get some small stuff this year because then what we've contracted with them, a mill is doing custom regenerative organic certified buckwheat runs. So about 60% of the buckwheat we're using this year across all lines is regenerative organic certified. And we just got our little bucks line Roc, which is sweet and yeah, potentially proposed. National launch of an Roc SKU for cluster bucks, so we'll know about that in like a couple weeks, but.
Kyle Krull - 0:38:34
A specific retailer.
Emily Griffith - 0:38:36
Yes, there. It's like an entire food. That's your hand I.
Kyle Krull - 0:38:45
See what you're doing here? An entire.
Emily Griffith - 0:38:47
Kyle Krull - 0:38:50
Or or a food found like buried underground in a something.
Emily Griffith - 0:38:55
Kyle Krull - 0:38:56
Yeah, right. OK.
Emily Griffith - 0:38:58
Like, shy of all types of food, you know, we're getting really right.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:39:06
I feel like I feel like a lot of our audience probably knows what who madag is, but I just want to give them a quick shout out and a quick rundown on what they do. Started out as a regenerative agriculture nonprofit, really advising farms and kind of getting under the hood and helping farmers stay organic and do regenerative organic transitions or transition to organic slash regenerative organic. Now what they've basically spit out is new entities called mad markets and Mad Capital, Mad Capital being a financing mechanism to actually help the farmers with all of that stuff and capitalization of those journeys. And then mad markets, which is the team that Emily I think we're closest with, which is. They help connect raw regenerative organic goods with brands and buyers like Emily so that we can create this market demand that Spurs more consistent, profitable, stable markets for the farmers to stay in these crops or transition to these crops, which we need so many more awesome ecosystems like madag. So shout out to Phil and his whole crew over there for what they've built because it's amazing and I just, I just wanted to touch on that for a second.
Emily Griffith - 0:40:05
Hell yeah, and actually. We're doing a pilot program with Madag. So it was kind of beautiful because it started from this market needed and kind of like we're working with them with Luke. And I talked to Alex and I was like, wait a minute. Like, you know, we're just getting started, but we're planning to grow quickly. And it is already like, wow, overwhelming, especially now that the industry is finally, you know, valuing regenerative, which is great, but we're going to need help like building out supply chains and like you can help farmers introduce this crop.
Emily Griffith - 0:40:08
And all that like I found Luke on my own, but you know having them as a resource as we grow is going to be huge. And then the kind of trying to do we're now doing this pilot program with them. So mad agriculture's working with us for buckwheat and then purely Elizabeth for oats and we're measuring. So on each of these farms for each of our crops, we're measuring the soil health and nutrition of. You know the buckwheat being where the buckwheat's being grown in the soil at A-frame, what the impact is. And then also on top of that, I think we might be able, I know they're doing this for oats for sure. We weren't sure if we were able to be able to do it for buckwheat, but I think we figured out is also measuring the nutrition of regeneratively farmed buckwheat versus conventionally farmed buckwheat. And obviously like with that comes all these like amazing like little sound bites that of course we can use in consumer and.
Emily Griffith - 0:41:07
Fire marketing investor stuff. But like even we'll have a white paper at the end of the day. Like here is a measurable impact of buckwheat and its role in a regenerative food system. And like, I don't know, take it to the government. Like let's do it, you know. So that's pretty pretty an honor to be a part of like coming from just like this place of you're like reading about sustainable agriculture and buckwheat ironically and let my people go surfing.
Emily Griffith - 0:41:36
And then just kind of like doing this because it's the right thing to do and not fully understanding everything that is going on behind the scenes, but just like, well, we're going to figure it out because that just seems like the right way to do things. And then now it's like, oh, man, it's happening. And this is really cool. Like, farmers are coming to us really interested in being able to grow it. So I'm excited to create more opportunities. It's really cool, yeah.
Kyle Krull - 0:42:38
Yeah, I think that research piece is super important and we talk about this a lot. And as I was looking at your sustainability page, I was positively struck by the sort of order of operations or the order of the value propositions that you have listed on your website. And we've talked about it on a few other episodes. But people are self interested and as great as we generative agriculture is like people may not be as spurred to buy something just because it's good for the planet. But if they can understand how it's good for them also and good for the planet, I think that's the the perfect 1-2 punch to really get conversion and action there. And Anthony is still up on #3 sign, so.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:43:16
And I think it's three prong, right. So we need the data and the studies on the farm, we need the data and the studies on the processing and then we need the nutrient density studies on the finished product. And if we have all that data that we can just say comprehensively this is better across the entire supply chain like we'll have, we'll have. Really strong communication for all the different leverage points to influence all the different people that you just said, which I think would be money.
Emily Griffith - 0:43:39
Kyle Krull - 0:43:40
Yeah. Well, what's so cool is this research is happening across different sectors right now. Like, I just had a conversation earlier this week with Stefan Van Vliet, who's doing all sorts of stuff with me in particular, and how grass fed cattles different from grain fed cattle, which is also different from multispecies grass fed cattle. So that biodiverse diet actually has a a quantifiable impact. On the nutrition of the meat being consumed and he's taking it to the human level and how it impacts the human health aspect. So it's crazy this stuff that's happening right now and it's great to hear that it's happening in buckwheat also, which who knew? Oh.
Emily Griffith - 0:44:13
Yeah. Yeah, it's and it's really interesting like it's on the consumer side. That's actually something I'm thinking a lot about because we're announcing the regenerative organic certification to. I mean, like, it's not like a secret, but like we haven't done our official announcement yet for low bucks and like why this is important. And I think, you know, like who Ron, LinkedIn and like in the industry, that'll be great. But like how do we communicate this and make sure people understand why it's important and one of the reasons like we pursued certification and not just, you know, doing the good work. I don't know remember Anthony at the rfsi how heated the like certification?
Anthony Corsaro - 0:44:59
Emily Griffith - 0:45:00
That was like, I was like, this is a day in itself, like the conversations that could be had. So I think there's a lot of value and a lot of different certifications. So I'm not trying to go down that rabbit hole, but just the value of getting certified in general. Like I'm really. Don't want regenerative to become as it gains traction and understanding for consumers like organic did that it's not losing its value because of greenwashing and random companies that are actually doing worse for the planet and sourcing crap ingredients from overseas and conventionally farmed and then they're like but we regenerate. It's like no, so actually certifying and then I think. The ROA does a really good job of like the consumer facing side of it, the marketing like it's a nice easy to understand label itself and how they have their three prong like quick way they convey the values of like what they're measuring with the certification. But I think that'll be that's a big one. I think the business world is starting to.
Emily Griffith - 0:45:46
Really understand why regenerative is important. Like even going back to like the Russia Ukraine war, like a massive company tried to buy A-frame spec wheat that we had contracted with them and that might have been the e-mail contract. Don't really remember, you need to look back at this. But it doesn't matter now because we got the buckering. It's all good. But Luke literally was like plug off, like little bucks wanted to buy this before there was a big war and you couldn't get your stuff from Russian Ukraine. So like good luck, find it somewhere else. And so I just like good business to be, I mean the, the supply, the costs, not only the environmental costs, but like the costs of shipping.
Emily Griffith - 0:46:32
You know, having all of our milling and production now is mostly in Minnesota, Wisconsin. It's just good business. So that's exciting. But I think the next challenge is how we communicate this to the consumer because you know what, buckwheat, it's so good for you. And in the early days, I'd be like, Oh my gosh, try little bucks, it's like.
Emily Griffith - 0:46:58
Gluten free, grain free, high protein, high fiber soup, fruits, sometimes wearing antioxidants and quinoa and people are like so this must be horrible. Like this must be gross and.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:47:38
Emily Griffith - 0:47:39
Yeah, I'm all, I'm like, I'm just like, so excited to share everything. All the attributes is like, good for the planet. And then people like, how do I what is this? Does it taste good? How do I eat it? So are you with consumers, I learned we have to be like, this is delicious, this is how you eat it. It's good for you and it's good for the planet. So it's almost like the follow up is going to be a lot of like even in our marketing funnels. It's like the end part like post purchase is like making them feel good about it. And then I think the storytelling from the farmers, so like the work that Matt AG is doing connecting brands to the farms is massive because they're not just like doing like some brokering deal and walking away. They're doing a lot of storytelling and arming the brands with you know.
Emily Griffith - 0:47:56
Photography, storytelling, to actually bring these farmers stories to life. And that's what back when I was working at Hormel Foods, we were begging. I was on the corporate responsibility team and we were begging them to share more about like the actual producers because that's what people want to feel, a connection to their food.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:48:42
Yeah, I forgot about to include that piece. I'm really happy you brought that up because I think. The storytelling, the media nailing the messaging is going to be so key for the movement overall and the brands themselves. I mean we've talked about this on a lot episodes right now. I think it's, it's a foregone conclusion. We know the typical CPG value, you know leading value props, that's what you got to lead with from a product standpoint. And then you have to backdoor that with the regen education because at point of purchase people don't want to be educated, they just want to buy something that's tasty and that they think is priced appropriately or has the appropriate value, right.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:48:47
But we have to attach all these awesome attributes on the front end to the region AG on the back end. And you know I think the certification thing it's, it's still such a Wild West and we support all the efforts out there. And I think you know Heather Terry said it really well when she kind of just said transparency and greenwashing. And I think what I would add to that in agreeance of that in agreement of that is yes and we are bad as a collective about talking about regenerative and nuance and what I mean by that is. There are regenerative practices and there might be growing, growing farms where they just use one practice, and that's great and we should celebrate that. But we should acknowledge it as they just use one regenerative practice. They might not have a fully regenerative system. Then there are fully regenerative systems of different levels and different variations and that's a different thing. And.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:49:46
We have to get better with our vernacular about articulating that and articulating it in a concise way that consumers can actually understand, because I do think that nuance is good. So we can get people on the on the continuum at different entry points, but we also need to acknowledge there's different levels of efficacy, integrity, etc.
Emily Griffith - 0:50:25
Right, yeah. And it's also like I think everyone regenerative is going to mean something different to like the coconut farmer in Sri Lanka. Verse like the buckwheat farmer in Minnesota. So like having these general concepts that we all agree on and like different levels of regenerative, but like that's going to look different because that's how earth is like, it is diverse. That's what we're all going for so.
Kyle Krull - 0:50:53
Yeah, it's just a challenge because the the shoppers are conditioned because of the way they interact with food today to look from binary, certified or not certified, whatever. So this this nuance to discuss and and anything you know, I couldn't agree more with everything you just said. Yeah, but it's so hard to utilize the mechanisms that are already existing within retail with the signage and the way that consumers are conditioned to try to like breakthrough that binary system to develop that nuance. And that's something I really think that we as an industry and as a regenerative movement need to try to help the retailers answer that question because otherwise we're stuck in the same. You know, system that we have been this whole time where it was like maybe we generally becomes the next organic, maybe it doesn't, I don't know. We have to see where where it lands.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:51:42
I know somebody who's working on some things that help solve that problem. Do you know that guy?
Kyle Krull - 0:51:45
Yeah, we'll see. We'll see what happens here in the next, you know, 3-6 months.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:51:51
Yeah, good points. Good points all around. Emily, I want to give you a chance to talk about your fundraising journey. Female founder, pandemic global supply chain disruption, first time founder. I mean, I'm an investor, so you know, full discretion for everyone listening and I'm a proud investor. But what, what does that journey been like? Would have been some challenges, would have been some successes and where do you kind of just see the landscape right now?
Emily Griffith - 0:52:18
Yeah, I mean, obviously, like given everything you listed, those are all challenging, even on their own. Each of those things to fundraise. It is kind of funny. Maybe funny is the wrong word, but how like everyone's really doom and gloom about fundraising right now and obviously it's a really challenging environment and you know, it's something that like of course I stress out over, but like. Like it's always been pretty hard. It's actually probably easier than it's ever been for me because our business is doing well, um and so.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:52:53
It's amazing, yeah.
Emily Griffith - 0:52:54
Yeah, like, yeah, this sucks. But like, it's always sucks. Like, I think some people maybe are shocked, like, you know, maybe like the white boys out there, like, wait, fundraising is hard now. I'm like, yes, it's always been this way, boys.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:53:07
Welcome to the party, fellas.
Emily Griffith - 0:53:09
Yeah. Like, yeah, nothing's changed. Um, but yeah, it is. It's been, you know, I think there's like the other some valid reasons that it was hard like first time founder, all these things like this kind of crazy unproven buckwheat concept that, you know, took some time for me to figure out the right product market fit, which came from like I think experience in the industry and understanding like you're not gonna go. Global out the gate I see little bucks being in every pantry, that product line. But it's just like a slower roll because it's going to take a longer time for consumer adoption of like a new supersede or something that's like something people understand. So I get that. And then, you know, being a woman's always sucked and like still sucks there hasn't. I mean, this doesn't sound very positive, but like I don't know if there's been that much improvement in that and that's just kind of something I'm used to at this point and finding the right investors that see past that. I've definitely always had more success with Angel investors because at the end of the day, even when people believe in like investing in women and minorities.
Emily Griffith - 0:53:57
Different ideas, like it's just going to take a really long time for that concept to permeate in institutions and firms. So, you know, we kind of wait around for that. The business is still growing. And now I think that we're at a really interesting point. Like we're definitely still fundraising and probably still going the Angel route given what's going on with the environment.
Emily Griffith - 0:54:23
Because we're at a point where like back in the day when people like will, we want to see you hit a million in sales, that's what all the firms say. Now we're like, OK, like we're here, we did it and they're like about 2.5 million permit. So you know, everyone's being very, you know, cautious and also some are supporting their current brands and what they might need. So I get that. And then on the regenerative side, like this is something.
Emily Griffith - 0:54:47
Fancy, we've obviously talked about and like it's just becoming very real, like the need for investment in the regenerative brands because obviously the farmers need financing mechanisms to grow this and like there's specific solutions for them. And then in CPG traditionally they're like, you know, there's inventory financing and, you know, VC financing. Investor financing, but we're, we're kind of at an interesting point because we're earlier on as a business and we're taking a really big, we're putting out a lot of capital upfront to buy regenerative ingredients. And we wouldn't be, we wouldn't be in this cash position if we just sourced regular buckwheat then we could just buy it from commodity markets and like buy what we need at a time. But because we want to support regenerative and have this mission and create opportunities for farmers, we have to contract like $150,000 plus of ingredients that we're going to buy like come the end of the harvest at once. And it's like what are the financing options for that, like there are some. So obviously I'm like working on the traditional things, they just are a little harder to get and then.
Emily Griffith - 0:56:13
Yeah, it's just like doesn't really seem like there's many options for I mean I'm looking at some grants but most of them again are for the actual growers and it's like well we wouldn't be have this cash sitting if we weren't having the mission. Everyone wants the mission but like there is this funding part. So that's going to be I I'm really interested to see like I I'm confident like there's a lot of ways we can figure it out and it's not going to be easy but I'm hope hoping that more. Options come out for brands because quite a pickle.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:57:13
Well, you know, I could talk about this for hours and 1 just appreciate you sharing all that. I think, you know, receiving everything that you just said, it's like part of the problem is we have upstream disease as a movement and we don't, we talk about holistic systems and stuff all the time, but then we fail to solve for like food system solutions, which really is frustrating. And part of the problem is we haven't coalesced. As a stakeholder group in in brands and CPG to better articulate a vision and a value proposition and an impact proposition and a return proposition to all the different sources of capital in the ecosystem. And we have to coordinate equity, debt and philanthropic capital to come downstream to the brands in a way that we can very clearly articulate how it affects upstream. We know that the three people on this call know that, but we have to just do so much more work to help do that and. I'm trying to you know be a part of that. So anyone that wants to work on that my, my DMS and and e-mail is is wide open and we're going to get the job done. I just think that's you know, that's really the task at hand. It's like can we do that fast enough with the urgency needed to help people like yourself. They're at the cutting edge right now that need the capital right now for the reasons that you just said and we've kind of.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:58:03
We've kind of had this love affair with farmers and rightfully so that hey if you're going to be regen has to be different and the financing looks different and the and the farms look different and then we just kind of say but the brands you guys can do the same thing and like we're just going to treat you the same way. It's like well no that doesn't that doesn't even make sense if you just think about it really simply logically like that. So I'm going to stop because I could go on forever, but appreciate you sharing that and and we're going to solve the problem, but it's a problem at the moment.
Emily Griffith - 0:58:51
Kyle Krull - 0:58:54
Back to Fort Laco, yeah, I think you did a really good job of laying out the, the differences between a regenerative business model and a regeneratively sourced supply chain versus a commodity. You know, where things are a lot simpler. You can buy, I want to say exactly what you need, but you have like a a tap you can turn on and turn off and it's a lot riskier and requires a lot more upfront investment to build a brand. And and you're not only building a regenerative brand, you're also developing a new category. So it's like a second uphill battle that you have to fight, right?
Emily Griffith - 0:59:26
I mean in addition to everything else.
Kyle Krull - 0:59:27
Mentioned, yeah, right. Like your first time founder, female founder, like all those other challenges. So I think you've done a really good job kind of articulating those challenges and the fact that you're still wearing a smile on your face and what bucks is doing as well as they're doing, it's just like it's a great story and we we really appreciate having you want to share.
Emily Griffith - 0:59:43
Thank you. Yeah, yeah. There's definitely been some moments of like staring at the wall or the ceiling and you're like, how do we possibly. Get through this and I feel like there's been so many things we've busted walls we've busted through that like and challenges that we've overcome and to see the products thriving in the marketplace like there's still a lot of challenges to come, no doubt like we're just getting started like just hit the million in sales like you know starting to get you know just passing 1000 doors etcetera. So we're just getting started, the challenges will continue to come but I think. It's really exciting to see, you know, how well the products doing and the impact we're having. So it's very motivating to keep crashing through.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:00:32
Yeah. And the vision that I had when I saw the pitch deck for the first time was like, not all the things that we need to incorporate in a regenerative system can be scaled to a large commercial market. But what I saw in little books was the chance to create the buckwheat version of Manitoba Harvest. Like, yes, there was a time where nobody knew what hem parts were. And now they have, they sell the shit out of the the raw or the bulk and parts and they have all these value added products that are formulated with that is like the hero ingredient and that is a very nice sizable business that basically was a category creator. And so I also think we need to fund brands that have that kind of potential in this space because that's how we get the upstream effect of the farmer adoption that actually sustains itself.
Emily Griffith - 1:01:16
Yes, yeah, we've looked at. That path a lot. And what I can create with buckwheat, the Quaker outs of buckwheat.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:01:25
There you go.
Emily Griffith - 1:01:26
But yeah, more fun vibes, not as quickery.
Kyle Krull - 1:01:34
Biker is not known for their parties.
Emily Griffith - 1:01:36
Yeah. No, we're buck wild. Yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:01:39
We're buck wild with with bright pink bucket hats.
Emily Griffith - 1:01:42
Kyle Krull - 1:01:44
So this, this segues nicely into like the future, right? So we mentioned that there's a possible national rollout at a particular retailer that has to do with entire foods. But what else is on the future or in the future for low bucks? Is it more product innovation, is it more category penetration? What what do you see happening in the next, you know, call it 1-3, maybe five years?
Emily Griffith - 1:02:08
Yeah, I'm really excited. We're starting to see like this vision I've had with bulk wheat being everywhere and like the experience I had in Australia was like having it in a restaurant cafe, like as a food service ingredient and then seeing it used as like an ingredient in specialty products like chocolate bars and then seeing it as a few ingredient granola. So you're seeing. All these uses and different channels of the food system and I've always wanted that for buckwheat, but obviously it took a road to get here and to also just create a consumer demand and interest in the seed. But it's exciting to see. So we have the little bucks and cluster bucks and for the next two years for sure, we're just really like gonna go deep on these product lines. We have a couple new flavors of cluster bucks coming out soon, so. Really excited. They're very like yeah yeah we can the ones birthday cake because OK like it's our 5th birthday and it's so good like in and flavors. Nostalgic flavors like that do especially well when like in times of world like strife and.
Emily Griffith - 1:03:00
Economic collapse. So I'm like perfect for a big timing.
Kyle Krull - 1:03:25
Um, where did you get that data set? That golden cake and indulgent flavors do well during economic, you know, crises and like.
Emily Griffith - 1:03:32
That's the exact phrase, but like I'll let you know.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:03:36
That was also just for incredible, like Badass CEO Insight that only Emily could deliver like that and it was just phenomenal.
Emily Griffith - 1:03:44
I know like the quotes that could be derived from the weird stuff I say like. So that's my understanding. And then the next one's bucks and honey. So there's a really cool story with buckwheat. I don't even think I talked about this, but they're a great pollinator and that's one of the great roles buckwheat plays in this regenerative system. So and honey is also just one of the top selling types of flavors and like the breakfast snacking world. So we're excited. But so obviously we have our like traditional retail which we've done a lot of work in the past like 18 months.
Emily Griffith - 1:03:51
And we'll continue like there's a lot of opportunity there from like, you know, entire foods to like, you know, Sprouts, you know, Kroger, Albertsons, blah, blah, blah. But then also our single serves are picking up steam a lot faster than I originally planned on, which is great. But yeah, like just a great onthego snacking opportunities there in the food service and quick, quick food service channels and then. Ingredient, we actually have some pretty big chains R&D with the just sprouted regenerative buckwheat as an ingredient.
Kyle Krull - 1:05:00
I mean, you say change. You're talking like food service chains.
Emily Griffith - 1:05:02
Yeah, yeah. Like restaurant chains.
Kyle Krull - 1:05:05
Can you come up with like a really clever way to not say the name of any of these?
Emily Griffith - 1:05:08
Anthony Corsaro - 1:05:09
Great Emily in trouble from this episode.
Emily Griffith - 1:05:11
I know this is I'll be like, this is. I don't have a corporate attorney yet, so I gotta have fun while I can. But gosh, how about, like, indulgent? I don't know.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:05:30
I know this one already. We first were.
Emily Griffith - 1:05:35
Kyle Krull - 1:05:36
This one will let people.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:05:38
Emily Griffith - 1:05:39
Indulgent leaves, but those obviously take those like going through menu R&D. The rollout for that are like year plus sales cycles. So we've been in some of those for a while, but it's cool to see. That Channel gaining traction, but I think we'll see more of that and that obviously creates big opportunities. The ability for us to contract knowing this is going to be on XYZ menu for eight months. So we're going to plan to have and they know how much they're using and they have projections on how much they're selling. So I think that'll be a really great way to like double, triple down on the amount of regen buckwheat we can contract so.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:06:27
And I and I think I think that conversation started by an introduction from a fellow value added investor with the same last name as mine maybe.
Emily Griffith - 1:06:35
Yeah, weird. How good is?
Kyle Krull - 1:06:39
That like Tony sorrow.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:06:41
Something like that is that that was actually my brother is actually my.
Kyle Krull - 1:06:43
Brother OK Emily, my face.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:06:47
Yeah, my face hurts from smiling and laughing so much. This has been so much fun. Take us. I'm gonna take us home with the last question, which is what we kind of wrap every episode with, which is. What do we need to do to have regen brands have 50% market share by 2050?
Emily Griffith - 1:07:04
I think we need to as probably people listening on this call. I mean obviously it's like everyone, no matter like what your role is in society should be, we want them to participate in the regenerative movement. So obviously investors invest, buyers buy and we're starting to see. That on the buying side, which is awesome. So like they're giving shelf placement opportunities for regen, but then as the brands, what we need to see it'll like become 50% of the market share is getting consumers to value buying regenerative. And like maybe the price point is sometimes, sometimes like there's actually a pretty efficient supply chain we can create with regenerative in the US pricing wise, but the price will oftentimes be. A little bigger. So like how are we commanding that price by consumers through our brands, our tastes, our values. So I think a big one's going to be like convincing consumers to now take part in the regenerative movement. Like we've done all this work to get it there and get the product to them and now getting them to support it and keep coming back is going to create more opportunities for.
Emily Griffith - 1:07:56
Our own businesses, then all these other regen brands to come like this is only the beginning.
Kyle Krull - 1:08:28
Anthony Corsaro - 1:08:30
Oh my God, this is so fun. I love you. Thank you. This is great.
Emily Griffith - 1:08:34
Yeah, this was so fun. I know. Like, hopefully you know no one. I don't get in trouble for anything. I don't think I will.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:08:42
Emily Griffith - 1:08:43
I didn't say anything.
Kyle Krull - 1:08:45
One of the things we need to close with, I don't think the listeners know we might have talked about this before we hit record, is that Emily's currently sitting on a meditation pillow, and to me it really feels like what you need in your life is a buckwheat meditation pillow. That that needs to happen sometime this year. I'm just gonna put that challenge on you because I think it'll be a game changer.
Emily Griffith - 1:09:03
You're right, it is definitely on my list. It is like on written down next to me is. Outreach to yoga pillow companies because I'm like, we're gonna have all of these. I want to see like a full utilization of the regen buckwheat. Like take ours, take our holes. Um. So it's I'm like and yeah this meditation pillow is, you know it's been through a pandemic and like supply chain PS like we need a new one so.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:09:32
Little bucks is a lifestyle brand, not just a food brand I love.
Emily Griffith - 1:09:36
It yeah. I love it.
Kyle Krull - 1:09:39
Well, thanks for sharing your story. It's been, it's been awesome and yeah, yeah, just appreciate all the great work you're doing growing the buckwheat market.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:09:47
Thank you for joining us on the line.
Emily Griffith - 1:09:49
Thank you for going Buck Wild with me.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:09:56
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