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Q&A: Foodstirs founders clean up the baking category

The new baking mix company helmed by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Galit Laibow and Greg Fleishman is bringing traceability and creativity into the pantry. Here's how.

What do you get when you combine a natural products industry veteran, a PR mastermind and an entrepreneurial actress? You get Foodstirs, a growing brand that’s cleaning up the pantry and baking categories with consciously sourced ingredients such as heirloom identity-preserved wheat, fair trade cocoa and even biodynamic cane sugar. 

Founded on the principle that baking should fun, clean and creative, Foodstirs taps into natural and DIY consumers alike to create Pinterest-perfect treats. Here, cofounders Galit Laibow, Greg Fleishman and Sarah Michelle Gellar (yes, that Sarah Michelle Gellar) dish about their spark of inspiration to launch Foodstirs, the importance of ingredient transparency and advice for other natural entrepreneurs just starting out.

What inspired you to transition into the healthy, clean-ingredient food space?

Sarah Michelle Gellar: I wouldn’t say it was so much a transition as an evolution. As the culture of entertainment has changed—and how we consume content ever-changing—there are so many new ways to be creative. After I had my kids, I realized that I could channel my creative side into the kitchen and share that experience. I have always believed that everyone deserves access to the best tasting products with the best ingredients. We realized that was not the case in the baking category, and thus my partners and I were inspired to create Foodstirs.

Galit Laibow: As a busy working mom, I loved how baking helped me shut off the technology and truly connect with my kids and create memories with them in the kitchen. Baking from scratch is great, but I think most parents would agree with me that it’s not always realistic! I started to look for clean baking mixes and kits but couldn’t find anything that had the high-quality ingredients and taste I felt was important. I knew there was an opportunity to upgrade the baking aisle and create a new class of baking products that are simple, clean, incredibly delicious and accessible. 

Greg Fleishman: Most of my career has been spent building a wide range of natural products brands. It’s always been a passion, maybe an obsession, of mine to help clean up our food system and eliminate chemicals from all categories. I knew from living and breathing this industry for so many years that it was time to upgrade the pantry. There’s been much innovation and "purifying" of products in the perimeter of the store, and many consumers have already upgraded the contents of their refrigerators. But their pantries have yet to overhaul. Baking is one of those categories it’s easy to get excited about—who doesn’t love a delicious warm chocolate chip cookie or a brownie? Having kids also made me look at this aisle very differently. We should be able to bake something from a box together that isn’t loaded with chemicals.

Could you talk a bit about Foodstirs' ingredient transparency, authenticity and creating memorable experiences?

GL: We use only the highest-quality ingredients for seriously delicious baked goods that never sacrifice ingredient integrity for taste. We were very intentional about our ingredient sourcing and vetted hundreds of options to identify the absolute best quality for each individual ingredient in terms of not only transparency, but also taste.

It was critical to me from the beginning that we could stand behind our ingredients. We created this company because of our desire to spend more quality time with our kids and the sweet experiences that are created when you make something together in the kitchen. We want all families to experience that love and joy and feel good about it in the process.

GF: Identifying suppliers for our ingredients was no easy feat, because we needed to ensure not only quality, transparency and taste, but scalability as well. All our ingredients are of course USDA Organic and GMO-free, but also we use some very special, radically clean ingredients like identity-preserved heirloom flour, Equal Exchange Fair Trade cocoa and chocolate, and Wholesome! Biodynamic cane sugar that’s directly sourced from single-origin plantations in Paraguay. It’s been an incredible experience to work hand-in-hand with some of the farmers and amazing brands to create our mixes and kits.

Sarah Michelle, how have you used your influence to support your entrepreneurial endeavors and the natural products industry?

SMG: We feel fortunate to be able to utilize my reach to spread our message. I have spent my life creating my own authentic brand, and now Foodstirs is a natural (all pun intended) extension of that brand. Today’s consumer wants transparency and the ability to trust what they are being told, and I hope to provide that.

What advice do you have for someone starting a natural food business of their own?

SMG: I have always believed that the most important piece of advice I can ever give, truly in any situation, is to believe in yourself.  You cannot expect others to take a leap on you and your ideas if you don’t have the faith in yourself.

GL: Do your research, surround yourself with experts and never take "no" for an answer. There's always a way—never just take someone’s word for it. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

GF: Become a rejection junky and learn from each and every instance. Galit, Sarah Michelle and I are all masters at being resourceful and always find a way to make the impossible happen. I think it’s a mindset that entrepreneurs have to have in order to truly succeed and to see their vision come to fruition. There’s always another way, so never feel like you have to compromise your founding mission or values—in our case, that’s ingredient transparency, authenticity and creating an unforgettable experience with loved ones. It’s all about flexibility and the art of persuasion.

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