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Photo courtesy of Natalie Sexton

Tips From a VP for Navigating Economic Uncertainty

​3 min read
Business

As the Vice President at Natalie's Juice, it's been a challenging process navigating these times of uncertainty, but I've learned a lot and wanted to share these tips for others.

We value our promise to the community to produce clean label juices and to only use the highest standards of sourcing ingredients

Tip #1: Be Transparent

Company transparency internally and externally is key. It is important to give our team a voice and integrate their opinions into our decision making process. We strive to provide our team with key training and resources to grow their opportunities at Natalie's Juice. Team building and training keeps our staff motivated especially when faced with unforeseen challenges in production or day-to-day operations. Equally important is transparency among our loyal customers and fans. In fact, it is the heart of our overall mission. We value our promise to the community to produce clean label juices and to only use the highest standards of sourcing ingredients. At Natalie's, we hand select fruits and vegetables and squeeze the juices in small batches to assure freshness. Each juice is gourmet and pasteurized at the minimum temperature, for the minimum amount of time to retain quality and nutrition. Additionally, we take pride in the fact that the full line of our juices contains no preservatives, concentrates, flavor packs, GMOs, or artificial ingredients.

Tip #2: Stay Nimble

The beverage industry is rapidly evolving and we constantly remind ourselves to stay nimble. In a competitive beverage environment, our goal is to react quickly to market changes and find new opportunities to innovate. For our customers this means responding quickly and providing exceptional customer service despite the circumstances. Our ability to flex different resources allows us to put customers first, regardless of the cost, as their passion for our juice keeps us incentivized to grow. Additionally, we value our relationships with our suppliers, retailers and most importantly our growers. We want to keep our commitments strong and uphold our agreements. We speak with them regularly on how to aid them through this challenging time as we've naturally seen retail shifts and citrus demand rise. At Natalie's, our diversity in the types of distribution partners allows brands like ours to keep shelves stocked and serve our customers quickly. Our strategic ability to pivot allows our brand to continue promotions at retail outlets and satisfy the consumer demand for nourishing products.

Tip #3: Retain Vision and Creativity

When my mom set out to start this business, she had vision. While she had the world's best fruit at her fingertips, the sole initial intention was to provide her family with a fresh source of juice. Thirty years later, Marygrace's vision has turned a local business into a national recognized premium juice brand that has seen on average 20% growth each year over the past five years. My goal is to continue to drive the business forward with the same vision and intention that is rooted in quality, customer service, innovation and family. That is why I aim to provide the best product as I remember the simple days when I was just a child being pulled through the orange grove. Simplicity is still rooted in our mission today.

In a competitive beverage environment, our goal is to react quickly to market changes and find new opportunities to innovate.

As I've grown alongside the business, I've had the opportunity to shift some of our sales and marketing tactics to satisfy new customer needs and trends. For example: a year ago we launched a cold-pressed juice line as I was witnessing a rising demand in functional beverages with ingredients that benefited the consumer's busy lifestyle and provided added value to improve the mind, body. and soul. It was then, our holistic line was born with flavors like "Resilient" and "Relax" that are packed with nutritionally sound adaptogens, superfoods, and herbs. However, isolation has shifted consumer behavior and we've seen a natural consumer shift back to the basics — or, in our case, citrus. As consumers look for clean forms of nourishment, our core products like orange and grapefruit juice experienced a huge increase in demand. We then had to creatively adapt our marketing tactics to suit the product that started it all.

Tip # 4: Manage Finances Thoughtfully

At Natalie's, we've been fortunate to have seen on average 18% growth year over year since 2017 and our market share is gradually increasing. But we recognize the importance of growing methodically and keeping financial control as the company expands. Consumer demand for fresh, functional juices exploded in recent years so we dramatically expanded our production and warehouse facilities in 2018 to keep up. This decision also enabled us to launch new products like our next generation of cold-pressed, holistic juice. We believe in growing Natalie's organically, so we avoid working with investors and taking on any debt that is not manageable. Finally, it always pays to be resourceful. You can be very smart when you take a moment to consider what's easily accessible to you that can be used to achieve a certain goal. When my mom first started the company, she borrowed a butcher's refrigerated truck to deliver the first pallet herself.

Tip #5: Uphold Expectations

Our strategic ability to pivot allows our brand to continue promotions at retail outlets and satisfy the consumer demand for nourishing products.

When you're operating in a crowded category, you have to consistently offer your customers the quality and flavor profile they have come to expect. We select the finest fruits and vegetables available and they're squeezed fresh every week to ensure product integrity. Within the business, we also expect internal team members to excel at producing only the best products - each orange is checked before it's squeezed. And that unwavering and uncompromising commitment to excellence extends into all facets of our business from sales, to production, to accounting, etc. As a business leader, defining expectations can drive a business forward strategically and can help differentiate you from your competition. Natalie's has been built on a high expectation to deliver only the top product for our consumers and this is directly reflected in each component of our business operations.

3 min read
Lifestyle

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get the advice you need!

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.

-Sadsies

Dear Sadsies,

I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.



I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!



- The Armchair Psychologist

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