Emerging brands have to support each other. 

This is the way we climb mountains. None of us can do it on our own. It takes a Collective interest. How can we together move the needle? The key word here is “together.” 

Our Founders take on big CPG bringing even bigger ideas but with much smaller bank accounts (we’re often just hoping to make payroll and pay the bills, right?). We are fighting for a seat at the table. This. This is the magic of the emerging brand. Our Founders earn a seat at the table by being a change agent. By being an innovator, striving to create impact for people & planet. Founders become players.

Founders in Natural Products are in a position to set the stage for what consumers can and should expect from products. Consider the ripple effect of impact and innovation generated by emerging brands:

  1. Brands launch innovative products. 
  2. Consumers discover innovation in ingredient, form factor, etc. 
  3. Consumers become educated about the benefits of said innovation and show up at the register.
  4. Big CPG sees validation of concept and begins R&D/formulation, heading toward launch.

Don’t think for one minute that younger brands are only learning from more experienced, larger brands. Small, emerging brands are the ones that drive innovation. Big CPG takes cues from us. And yet, over 80% of emerging CPG brands fail. 

Looking for someone on a mission? Talk to a Natural Foods Founder. The motivation to launch an innovative product is only the beginning. The initial drive sprouts legs and becomes so much more. Founders realize very early on the impact their business can and should have on the world and then rise to the challenge. Time and time again. From supply chain and ingredients to team and charitable contributions, the impact of emerging brands spans far and wide. This is the magic of CPG. Our Founders are changing the way that consumer purchases can impact the world.

How can we support each other?

So how do we support each other and elevate the landscape for Emerging Brands? How can we share our learnings and lessons? Do all Founders really need to be recreating the wheel simultaneously? That’s a hard no. And we shouldn’t be. But we are. How do we find the resources and people that can both understand and support? For most founders, family and friends don’t understand, spouses don’t understand. Who do we have to commiserate with, to ideate, brainstorm new ideas with? I used to say that I had scars from my Founder’s days. I now say that I still have open wounds.

I remember years ago as a Founder saying “this is just too much for one person.” It is just so hard. And this conversation needs to be happening in every room. Emerging Brand Founders shoulder the weight of the industry and do so without the resources required to actually pull it off. Maybe we should start calling emerging brand founders magicians instead. It might be a bit more accurate. 

So how do we make the impossible tenable? Survivable? How can we alleviate some of the burdens on Emerging Brand Founders? The most readily available answer is Community. This is our most powerful tool and it is paramount for success. 

Collaboration > Competition

I was talking recently with my good friend, Kyle Kohler. Kyle is the (incredible) Founder of Wildway (if you don’t know him, you should). He put together an impactful way to share his mantra. I now have a shirt with this printed on the front: Collaboration > Competition. Read that again. 

Statistics show that human connection is required for survival. The benefits on psychological and physical health of having support and connection are undeniable. We must have community. Why do we ever try without it? Find your people. Find your tribe. If that doesn’t come easy for you, reach out and I will help. Encourage your fellow founders to do the same. It might just be the push they need.

Emerging Brand Founders are some of the bravest people I know. They take it on the chin every day and somehow walk away with a face full of smile and a heart full of hope. Too often they do it alone. This industry is small and we all need to show up to support Emerging Brands. Both ours and others. We have to. That is how we all succeed. It’s the right thing to do and it is good business. Build allies. Build a network. It serves your business and the greater good.

Those that know me know that I talk about this concept a lot: changing the landscape. We have to consider the greater good with every step forward that we take. How can we do that by coming together? Sharing resources, experience and insights. In most cases, another brand’s success does not mean lack of for your brand. Together with a competitive brand you may be able to create more awareness in a new category, or pull more consumers into emerging brands from big CPG. Together we have a louder voice. Let’s use it. Let’s build a space where emerging brands feel supported. Let’s build an industry that focuses on Collaboration over Competition.

Let’s win together.

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