Angela Ichwan worked in product development for Heinz and then Kellogg before she and her husband, Hermanto Hidajat, started Arico Natural Foods Co. in 2004.
The motivation? Their niece, Ella, and her bland gluten-free, dairy-free diet. " I felt there was so much more I could do in terms of texture, taste and nutrition," Ichwan says. Her answer, " Arico," with Latin roots meaning delicious, makes cookie pouches, snack bars and cassava chips (derived from the potato-like root plant).
From its Beaverton, Ore., offices, Arico is also changing the world in other ways. The company buys carbon offsets that make it carbon-neutral; for every store that carries the company's cassava chips—about 200 to date—Arico plants a tree in an orangutan habitat on the island of Sumatra, and the company donates 5 percent of net profits to support women's rights under international humanitarian law.
What are the biggest challenges facing the naturals industry? To ensure the soul of the naturals industry can remain intact despite going mainstream.
What would you like to see change in the naturals industry in the next five years? That the government would support more of the education piece in terms of (increasing) awareness of what organic is and that sustainable farming can help in terms of the quality of the product
What was your inspiration when you were getting started? The entrepreneurial spirit my husband and I share is really the trigger. If we die tomorrow, we want to have a legacy that we did something that makes the world a little better than before.
What's the one natural product you can't live without? Right now, because we have a baby, household cleaning products … and baby products.
What's next for you? Take a vacation if I can.
What keeps you going on a tough day? Making the dream come true. If you take action to follow your heart and your dreams, I believe the universe will conspire with you to make your dream come true.
If Ben & Jerry's named a flavor after you, what would it be? Java Joy or Bundle of Ohm.
As a little kid, you wanted to grow up to be … ? A doctor, like my dad.
If you had one piece of advice for natural products retailers, what would it be? Take the lead in educating consumers to make the right choices for themselves and continue to provide better alternatives in the stores
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 8 /p. 24