Alyson, can you tell us a little about your background and how you became interested in the natural products industry? I got into the Natural Products industry completely unintentionally! When I moved to Colorado, I needed a job and just happened to stumble into one working for a Denver-based cage-free organic egg producer. Before then, I'd thought that "the natural thing" was just for crunchy granola hippies!
At that job, I was really thrown into the deep end and had to quickly get up to speed on what natural consumers were shopping for, and why. I learned how unnatural most conventional grocery items really are, and how little the big food companies really care about the end-user. (I also learned a LOT of terrible egg puns, and my family still won't let me live those down.)
My next job in the Natural Products industry was at a leading natural skincare brand (who coincidentally is one of our neighbors here in Louisville, Colorado). It was there I learned that what we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in our bodies.
Prior to joining the WishGarden family, I worked for a brokerage firm in Denver that specializes in facilitating relationships between natural manufacturers and natural retailers (such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Vitamin Cottage). I was able to interact with a wide range of natural brands and individuals and I really gained a lot of respect for the passion and hard work they put into making their products not only appealing and efficacious, but also the way they adhered to high standards of quality and sustainability.
You're the Sales Operations Analyst at WishGarden Herbs. What are your duties? I like to say that I'm the grease that keeps the Sales wheels moving! I help with all aspects and activities of the Sales Department. Among many other tasks, I assist our VP of Sales and our Sales Controller with day-to-day administrative tasks, producing reports, and keeping us on track with deadlines and projects. I also interact with and support our field team and our retailers, and I work on creating materials that help our reps sell WishGarden formulas into stores. My strong suit is analyzing existing processes and seeing how we can tighten things up to become more organized, efficient and effective.
What does your typical day look like at WishGarden? I don't think WishGarden has "typical" days! As a family-owned-and-operated business, we are lean and mean, so we all jump in wherever needed. I spend most of my day behind a couple of computer monitors running reports, compiling promotional and new item contracts, and creating PowerPoint presentations. I also get out from behind those monitors and regularly interact with other departments like Customer Service, Education, Marketing, Production, and Fulfillment. Our office is open-plan and we tend to work collaboratively on many aspects of the business. And, even though we're all hard at work, we talk and joke and entertain each other, have regular pot-luck meals and generally share in each other's joys and sorrows.
We are witnessing a real growth in the natural products sector. What do you attribute that to? I think our society is starting to see that conventionally produced items are missing the full benefit of whole, natural, organic, hand-made or home-grown food and other products. Collectively, I believe we are feeling the lack of connection to the source. In seeking out more natural products to nourish our bodies and minds, we turn to companies and brands whose stories give us that connection.
You have extensive experience in the industry. What advice would you give to people who want to work in the natural products industry? Being honest and ethical is important in all areas of business (and life in general), but authenticity and integrity is especially critical in the Natural Products industry.
Natural Product consumers want to know who we are as a company along with what we value. They also need to trust that we are living up to the claims we make about our products. This population is too knowledgeable to be satisfied with mere claims of being "natural" or "pure." They expect the products they consume to be good for their bodies but also kind to our planet.
Do you have a favorite formula? My most-used WishGarden formula is Kick-Ass Allergy. I have severe spring allergies, and this formula knocks 'em out! It's really been a lifesaver on those mornings when I just can't stop sneezing.