As part of our ongoing Female Forces series to celebrate women leaders in the consumer brand universe, we’re highlighting Jenny Cawthon, the Founder of Greenjoy. Inspired by her mother’s passion for health and her legendary salad dressing recipes, Greenjoy is on a mission to bring people together with nourishing food.
We caught up with Cawthon to learn more about Greenjoy’s story, how she’s leading during a global health crisis, what she thinks about being a female leader in the space, and more.
ForceBrands: Who most inspired your entrepreneurial spirit?
Jenny Cawthon: My mom, collectively referred to as Aunt Dottie by the community, is an inspiration to all. She lives life passionately, vibrantly, and with vegetables in hand. My mom was organic and green before organic and green were even cool. She taught us about the relationship between good, wholesome food and our bodies, and how food directly affects our health. Today, I feed my kids the same way my mom fed us: intuitively and with nourishing ingredients. This food philosophy is the foundation of Greenjoy, and why I started this company. Through our innovative products, foodie flavors, and pure ingredients, we’re helping more people to love, eat, and crave vegetables every day.
FB: Why did you decide to launch Greenjoy? What sets it apart?
JC: In its purity, food is about community. People coming together to nourish their bodies and their souls. At Greenjoy, we believe that cooking is the best way to connect and tap into these fundamental beliefs. Cooking with my mom is what inspired me to start this company and cooking with my kids is what inspires them to choose nourishing food. Greenjoy makes products that taste like something you made in your own kitchen, or like something that your mom used to make for you: full of flavor, intentionally made, and packed with love. That’s what we offer at Greenjoy. The freshest dressing in the bottle and when you cook with us, it’s like cooking with family.
FB: Did you have any reservations about going into business as a female founder in a heavily male dominated industry? Did you consider having a co-founder?
JC: From a young age, my mom always instilled the belief that with hard work, a clear vision, and resiliency that anything is possible. I had a big dream to bring my mom’s legendary salad dressings to the world and didn’t get distracted by industry dynamics. It didn’t even occur to me that I would face challenges as a woman. I always have taken challenges head on and this was no different. It’s certainly a difficult road, but I believe that delicious products always find their way to the right people. I’ve found the women-owned and female founder communities to be incredibly supportive and it’s only getting stronger and gaining more support from retailers, investors, and consumers alike.
FB: Who are some ‘female forces’ in the industry who have been mentors to you?
JC: Wow. There are so many. This industry, especially in the most recent months, is so supportive. And while there are so many emerging brands at different stages, everyone is willing to lend an ear or a few moments of their time. Through my network of women, I have been introduced to kick-ass women who have been incredibly influential like Sheryl O’Laughlin, Kara Roell, Allison Hagey, and Janica Lane. I am surrounded by women who raise the bar and harbor such experience and wisdom. I am forever grateful for their time and help.
FB: What are some initiatives or ways you’ve helped support other female leaders in the space?
JC: Earlier this year, I founded a tight-knit network called Founders Unite. It is a collective of female founders charged with cultivating a community of support within the consumer packaged goods space. Mental health among founders in our industry is something that needs to be talked about. We live and breathe an existence that can be all-consuming. To have access to a group of fellow female founders to share with and learn from can be a game-changer. When I started this network, I envisioned a tribe that can serve as a sounding board — a support group and a way for us all to lift each other up.
FB: How are you leading your team during COVID-19?
JC: We are a small team but work really well together. It is definitely challenging managing work-life, kids being at home, and making sure that everyone is emotionally sound. We have a weekly video call with the whole team and have multiple phone check-ins during the week. We also share group meditations and make space for family needs.
FB: What are some ways you’ve positively pivoted the business during these unprecedented times?
JC: With the onset of COVID-19, Greenjoy launched a philanthropic initiative committed to donating nearly $300,000 worth of healthy food products through non-profits serving those directly affected by the virus. I started this initiative as a response to the urgent need among those in the school system and on the frontlines. I saw an immediate need to send healthy, sustaining food to children that were no longer getting free/reduced school lunches. For many of them, school meals are the only food they get. With schools closed, they are at risk of going all day without a meal. We had to take action.
In addition to launching this significant philanthropic campaign, our team has really shifted focus to double down on digital efforts. We’re strengthening our e-commerce infrastructure and allocating proper resources accordingly. Through this process, we’ve really been able to connect directly to our customers and solidify a lifelong relationship by providing value in a truly authentic way.
FB: What’s the best advice you could give to other women looking to launch food businesses of their own?
JC: I would say perfect the “pitch,” and fully understand why your product stands out. Then network to find industry vets who are willing to serve as advisors. And don’t get discouraged by hearing “No!” Our industry moves at such a fast pace these days. The biggest key is to be armed with the advisors for the next step in advance of needing it.
Interested in building your career in the fast-paced food industry? Explore our FoodForce division.