With a new online shop and distribution starting up in grocery stores around the country, Foraged and Found is busier than ever.
Ketchikan's Jenn Brown first began Foraged and Found in 2017, with a mission statement of using natural and sustainable ingredients sourced in Southeast Alaska – like sea asparagus and kelp — to make a variety of products.
Soon after Brown started the business, Chelsea Goucher (marketing and sales director) and Ciarra Perro (production manager) joined as partners.
Goucher recently spoke with the Daily News and explained that the national expansion — which includes online ordering for anywhere in the U.S. — has been in the works for a while, with the online storefront in development since last year.
"We have our website all up and going, and set up with a Shopify storefront, so we're able to sell our Foraged and Found products to anyone in the country," Goucher said.
Products listed on the website include a variety of salsas, pickles, sauces and pestos.
Foraged and Found also has been working with a grocery broker based in St. Louis, Missouri since July.
Foraged and Found will continue to distribute products to Alaska-based customers from Ketchikan, but the broker is handling the storage and distribution of products being sent through the Lower 48, according to Goucher.
Goucher said this is because "it makes more sense to distribute to the Lower 48 in the Lower 48," which is something that the broker is helping to accomplish.
Foraged and Found is still "in the baby phases" of getting products to appear on shelves around the country, but progress is being made.
"It's really exciting to know that we're in stores in Georgia and Minnesota and California, and we're just kind of hoping to kind of grow that, and expand it," Goucher said.
But the work of the national launch isn't over for the Foraged and Found team.
"So right now, we're just cold-calling a bunch of different people and working with our broker to get samples out there, and just see what different stores require," Goucher explained. "It's a really interesting industry to get into because so many different stores have different standards, just on the whole spectrum of things."
Goucher said that she and Brown attended the Winter Fancy Food Show in January 2020 in California, where they "really learned a lot kind of about the sale landscape of the grocery industry, and how complicated it really is."
As an example, Goucher mentioned that some stores won't shelve products that have certain ingredients, while other outlets don't want to have to pay for the first shipment of a new product.
It takes time to learn what each store needs, Goucher said.
"Every store is kind of different," she said. "It's definitely not a one-size-fits all approach to sales."
Goucher said that it's been a busy time, but the trio at Foraged and Found have learned a lot about advancing their business.
"It's a heavy lift to be a full-time entrepreneur (and) business owner, but it's 100% worth it," she said.
Foraged and Found's initial goal was to have the national launch completed in time for this past Christmas, but COVID-19 pushed that deadline back.
"It took a little getting there, but we finally did our national launch," Goucher said.