Meet the Founders

Every item on our shelves has a story to tell. Join us as we connect with the extraordinary entrepreneurs behind your favorite products, find out what motivates them, and learn more about their journey.

GT Dave of GT’s Living Foods

When he was just fifteen, GT Dave was gifted a Himalayan Mothy Scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) that marked the beginning of his kombucha journey. Tart, naturally carbonated, and filled to the brim with probiotics, GT set out on a mission to bring kombucha’s fizzy, delicious flavors to the rest of the world.

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KPOP Foods
Rori Trovato

Rori Trovato of Rori’s Artisanal Creamery

As a former food stylist, chef, and author, Rori Trovato has done it all. Now in charge of her own dessert empire, she still does it all — from scratch — right here in Carpinteria. Rori makes the ice cream, bakes the cookies, rolls the cones, and crafts the candy. Yes, even the confections blended into the desserts are made in-house for a wholly unique experience.

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bernard & sophie benita of le cafe de la plage malibu

Bernard and Sophie Benita moved from the South of France to Southern California to pursue their dream of crafting small-batch ice cream. They chose Malibu — “For the vibes,” Bernard says — and they brought their French flair along with them.

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KPOP Foods
Robin Goldstein

Julie Labin of Zuma Valley

The Coconut tree is known as the “Tree of Life” because of its endless versatility. When Julie Labin discovered the magic of young coconuts, she was inspired to share their natural healing power with as many people as possible.

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Cindy Kasindorf of Remedy Organics

You can’t always judge a book by its cover, but these plant-based drinks are an exception. Remedy Organics believes in total transparency, which is why every bottle lists the ingredients front and center.

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KPOP Foods
Robin Goldstein

Matt Billings of Ayo Almond Yogurt

These uniquely delicious vegan yogurts might be the perfect afternoon treat. Led by fourth-generation farmer Matt Billings, AYO grows and churns their own organic almonds to create pure, creamy goodness. Each cup features 20 sustainably-harvested almonds with a touch of all-natural vanilla, strawberry, blueberry, or peach flavor. Free of unwanted additives, AYO isn’t just farm-to-table — it’s farm-to-spoon.

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Beth porter of Sweet Nothings

When Beth Porter’s seven-year-old decided to become a vegetarian, she had Mom’s full support. But, at the time, Beth couldn’t find snacks that were naturally delicious and convenient. Needing ready-to-eat nutrition with ingredients that her daughter could pronounce, she took matters into her own blender.

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KPOP Foods
Robin Goldstein

Brad Armistead and Andrew Chi of Salivation Snackfoods

College pals Andrew Chi and Brad Armistead both wound up working in the corporate food world. Andrew dealt with candy bars; Brad focused on fizzy fruit drinks. They loved the concept of “fun food,” but they weren’t wild about the amount of sugar in their products. Once they discovered the magic of the keto diet, their next business venture was born.

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Kristi Knowles of Mother Raw

When it comes to plants, there’s no such thing as an unhealthy obsession. That’s why all of Mother Raw’s dressings and dips are crafted to be naturally nutritious without being heated, depleted, or mistreated. No matter the flavor, the end result is always amazingly delicious, incredibly versatile, and wonderfully kind to nature.

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KPOP Foods
Robin Goldstein

Bill Moses of Flying Embers

In 2017, a massive wildfire threatened to wipe out thousands of homes and businesses in the Ojai Valley. A single ember could have ended Bill Moses’ groundbreaking botanical brewery. Instead, this challenging period sparked the beginning of Flying Embers. After three long days of fighting the inferno with friends and neighbors, Bill was left with a profound sense of gratitude for his community.

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Emma and Jeff Zimmerman of Hayden Flour Mills

Jeff Zimmerman was delighted to see booming demand for organic produce and cage-free eggs. He also realized that something was missing. Growing up, farmers like his father milled heritage grains into perfectly pure flour. Years later, people lost touch with their daily bread and those varieties were nowhere to be found.

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KPOP Foods
Robin Goldstein

Laurie and Jonathan Porter of Smog City Brewing Co.

With a blend of art, science, engineering, and a passion for all things beer, the Porters built something special from the ground up. Yes, that’s their real name, and they’re really that serious about the craft at Smog City Brewing.

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Tami and John Robitaille of Robitaille’s Fine Candies

The story of Robitaille’s Fine Candies proves that a little gesture can go a long way. In the 1980s, Guy Robitaille sent boxes of his hand-crafted chocolate mints to President Ronald Reagan and Queen Elizabeth II. He knew that mints were the queen’s favorite candy, but he couldn’t have predicted what happened next.

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KPOP Foods
Robin Goldstein

Susan Sheffler Anderson of M. Greengrass

Susan Sheffler Anderson wants to take you on a sensory journey. Unwind as you inhale the crisp ocean air off of Manhattan Beach. Savor a fresh cone of vanilla ice cream on a sunny day in the French Riviera. Take in the invigorating citrus aromas that fill Barcelona’s cobblestone streets. No passport required. These experiences are yours — anywhere, anytime — with m. greengrass.

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Mike Kim, Theo Lee and Chef Chris Oh of KPOP Foods

The magic of Korean cuisine goes far beyond its memorable flavors. Culturally it’s about more than just a meal — the food plays a fundamental role in families, friendships, and all-around good times. If you’ve ever enjoyed Korean BBQ, you’ve felt this firsthand. Now, thanks to KPOP Foods, you can enjoy the same experience at home.

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KPOP Foods
Robin Goldstein

Angie Hester Cook of Hester & Cook

Hester & Cook’s climb to the top of the home decor world started at the basement level. Literally. The husband and wife team of Robbie and Angie Hester Cook began by crafting a vintage door knob into a bottle stopper. Soon, they were making everything from chandeliers to No. 2 pencils.

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Tenny Avanesian of Lemonette

As a newlywed couple, Tenny and her husband put their wedding registry to good use. Together, they spent as much time as possible in the kitchen whipping up everything from seafood, salads, pastas, and poultry dishes. No matter the cuisine, every creation was infused with the flavor of the almighty lemon.

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Lemonette
Robin Goldstein

Robin Goldstein of A Taste of California

Robin Goldstein has truly done it all. She’s traveled the globe, served as Seal’s private chef, and even cooked for a former President for two weeks in Hawaii. No matter the location, Robin has always brought A Taste of California – with a mediterranean twist – to the table.

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Kate Elise Seiberlich of Uphoric Urth

In her mid-20s, Kate Elise Seiberlich was perpetually exhausted, constantly sick, and frustrated. Western medicine offered little in the way of real solutions. Instead of taking harmful steroids or potentially having her spleen removed, Kate embarked on a personal wellness journey to find relief.

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Uphoric Urth
Pound Ice

Eric Alperin & Gordon Bellaver of Penny Pound Ice

If you’re a cocktail enthusiast, you probably have most of the essentials for your home bar. Shaker? Check. Strainer? Check. Old Fashioned, Martini, and Champagne Coupe glassware? Odds are, you have those on hand, too.

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Terry Daly of avocadomilk

It all started when chef Sachie Nomura was experimenting in her kitchen, attempting to make mayonnaise out of an avocado. The end result was too watery for tuna salad, but, somehow, it was really tasty. When husband Nick Siu and business partner Terry Daly tried the concoction, they agreed — it certainly wasn’t mayo, but it was definitely delicious. As Bob Ross would say, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

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avocadomilk
Weelicious

Catherine Mccord of Weelicious

Catherine McCord’s resume is truly a jaw-dropper. She posed for the cover of Elle, walked the runway for Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, co-hosted Loveline, and appeared in movies with the likes of Matt Damon and The Rock.

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Joe Ilvento of Ilvento’s Proprio Italiano

It’s no wonder why Ilvento’s sauces are one of Oprah’s Favorite Things. It all started in 1933, when the Italian-born Ilventos opened their first restaurant in the United States. Their signature sauce, made by Pete Ilvento in the tradizione di famiglia with peak tomatoes and garden-fresh herbs, quickly transformed them into a dining destination.

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Ilvento
Wylde Works

Dylan Wylde of Wylde Works

Wylde Works captures the raw essence of honey and Santa Barbara’s chaparral wildlands all at once. After ten years of crafting raw honey in California’s coastal mountains, Dylan and Sydney Wylde retraced the métier back to its roots. Their path led them to the South of France, where they unearthed the secrets to fine honey wine, effervescent kombucha, and other lost treasures.

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Kendrick Jackson of Krafted Spirits

As one of Los Angeles’ rare rum producers, Krafted Spirits reflects the eclectic essence and diversity of the city. Founder Kendrick Jackson considers his company part of the community, which is why he sponsors impactful nonprofits, including AbilityFirst and the El Nido Family Centers for child abuse treatment.

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Kendrick Jackson
Gaffer & Child

Grigore Madikians of Gaffer & Child

In TV and film, the gaffer is responsible for the execution and design of the lighting plan. In that spirit, Gaffer & Child combined modern alchemy and ancient plant wisdom to provide everyday people with positively radiant skin. Founder Grigore Madikians and partner Vivian Zaret approached skincare from a different angle, because they studied the industry from the other side of the counter.

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Bob Steinacher of Maywood Farms

Some children shock their parents by announcing their dream of becoming a rock star. Silicon Valley native Bob Steinacher floored his parents by telling them he would pursue his passion for farming. The profession didn’t run in his blood, but he loved his family’s garden and he wanted a supersized version to call his own.

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Farmer Bob
Nosotros Tequila

Michael Arbanas and Carlos Soto of Nosotros Tequila

Nosotros Tequila went from a business school project at Loyola Marymount in 2015 to an industry-leading brand in 2020. It wasn’t easy, but founders Carlos Soto (the passionate entrepreneur) and Michael Arbanas (the Type A financial guy) managed to forge their own path.

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Patricia Tsai of Chocovivo

We eat whole fruits and vegetables, so why don’t we eat whole bean chocolate? That’s the question that inspired Patricia Tsai to launch her own line of carefully crafted bean-to-bar chocolate. Made with stone-ground cacao nibs and whole spices, ChocoVivo proves Patricia’s mantra: Simple is better.

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Patricia Tsai
Craig’s Vegan

Craig Susser of Craig’s Vegan

It’s not just “vegan ice cream.” As founder Craig Susser explains, Craig’s Vegan is “an ice cream that is rich and delicious…and just happens to be vegan.” Restaurants and customer service run deep in Craig’s blood. He worked at L.A.’s legendary Dan Tana’s for decades — moving up from waiter to bartender to maître d’ and general manager before opening Craig’s in West Hollywood in 2011.

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Al Courchesne of Frog Hollow Farm

Frog Hollow Farm is home to some of the Bay Area’s most legendary fruit. It all began in 1976 with a small lot of fertile land in Brentwood, Northern California. Today, Frog Hollow is ten times the size, but founder Al Courchesne is still plowing ahead with the same level of love, care, and dedication.

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Frog Hollow Farm
Josh Zad

Josh Zad of Alfred

For Alfred founder Josh Zad, that’s not just a tagline – it’s the mantra that drives everything he does. The Los Angeles native launched Alfred in 2013 on quiet, tree-lined Melrose Place in WeHo. Today, they’re the most Instagram-able cafe in the world with outposts ranging from L.A. to Tokyo.

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Daniel Farag and Omar Alfi of Pacifico Aquaculture

Pacifico Aquaculture’s striped bass is remarkable, in every sense of the word. Distinctly sweet and backed by a delicate second wave of umami, it’s become a mainstay on five-star restaurant menus around the globe.

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Daniel Farag and Omar Alfi of Pacifico Aquaculture
Nancy Silverton of Nancy’s Fancy Gelato

Nancy Silverton of Nancy’s Fancy Gelato

For more than a quarter century, Nancy Silverton has rightfully been regarded as culinary royalty. After studying at Le Cordon Bleu in London and serving as the head pastry chef at Spago, Nancy opened LA’s iconic La Brea Bakery. Today, her signature creations are beloved in 17 different countries around the globe.

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Rebecca Finell of Zip Top

Rebecca Finell launched her first business venture just one week after her college graduation. With a degree in industrial design and an unbelievable work ethic, she invented a host of products to solve everyday problems with style. The only thing Rebecca doesn’t know how to do is take a vacation day.

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Rebecca Finell in her kitchen
Jenny Eu of Three Trees
Jenny Eu of Three Trees

Jenny Eu of Three Trees

It all came naturally to founder Jenny Eu, who was inspired to make a difference at an early age. Guided by the life lessons and values of her grandmother, Jenny has blazed a trail in the industry. And, even as her East Bay-based company grows larger by the day, she’s sticking to her principles.

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Ryan Kell of Sea & Summit

Ryan Kell describes himself as a “mellow dude” who loves surfing, volleyball, hiking, camping, and all things outdoors. While he’s pretty easygoing, he’s also a hard-working small business owner who is passionate about protecting people and the environment.

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Ryan Kell of Sea & Summit
Ryan Kell of Sea & Summit
p.o.p. candy co.
p.o.p. candy co.

Rachel Flores of p.o.p. candy co.

Over the years, p.o.p candy co. founder Rachel Flores has learned a thing or two about adaptation. When her baking hobby blossomed into a full-fledged business, she had to learn everything on the fly.

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Jeffrey Postlethwaite of CA Gummy Bears

Jeffrey Postlethwaite put years of research and hard work into launching California Gummy Bears, and it shows. Made with real Golden State-grown fruit and colored with all-natural ingredients, they’re even better than the bears you grew up with.

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Jeffrey Postlethwaite of CA Gummy Bears
Jeffrey Postlethwaite of CA Gummy Bears
Tiago Carneiro of Nova Kombucha and Novo Brewery
Tiago Carneiro of Nova Kombucha and Novo Brewery

Tiago Carneiro of Nova Kombucha and Novo Brewery

After launching Novo Brewery in 2014, it didn’t take long for Tiago Carneiro to start racking up awards. His unique beers, brilliantly balanced with tropical flavors, were a smash hit in San Diego County and internationally acclaimed.

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Jason Martin of Republic of Pink

California has always been known for some of the world’s best wines, but not necessarily known for its rosé. Jason Martin changed the landscape when he went from connoisseur to entrepreneur with Republic of Pink.

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Republic of Pink founder, Jason Martin
Republic of Pink founder, Jason Martin
Kristy Mangea of Giddy Up Nuts
Kristy Mangea of Giddy Up Nuts

Kristy Mangia of Giddy Up Nuts

With a focus on all-natural and local ingredients, Kristy Mangia’s Giddy Up Nuts is changing the way people snack. Who needs run of the mill flavors when you can have Coffee Chocolate or Brazen Buffalo Wing almonds at the ready?

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Michelle Zimora of Z Wraps

For as long as she can remember, Michelle Zimora has been passionate about infusing everyday life with timeless beauty and style. She’s also been on a mission to help protect the environment and people in need.

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Z Wraps founder Michelle Zimora
Z Wraps founder Michelle Zimora
Catherine Von Ruden of eos Chocolates
Catherine Von Ruden of eos Chocolates

Catherine Von Ruden of eos Chocolates

With a mindful approach to artisanal chocolate and constant creativity, Catherine has completely changed the game. Recently, we caught up with Catherine to learn more about her Chocolate Man and her unstoppable woman-owned enterprise.

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Allison Sullivan of Sullivan Farms

Find your passion, that’s what they say. For most of us, that passion might not be mustard, but that’s exactly where founder Alyson Sullivan found her jam. With its incredible flavor, Alyson takes this beloved condiment to the next level.

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Allison Sullivan of Sullivan Farms
Allison Sullivan of Sullivan Farms
Three Weavers founders, Lynne and Alex
Three Weavers founders, Lynne and Alex

Lynne Weaver of Three Weavers Brewing Company

Lynne Weaver started out as a real estate tax expert who created delicious craft beers in her spare time at home. Then in 2014, she combined her financial, brewing, and entrepreneurial expertise to launch Three Weavers in Inglewood with brewmaster Alexandra Nowell.

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Jane Casey + Charlene Yeager
of Fancy Panz

Fancy Panz is like the little black dress for those less-than-lovely aluminum serving pans. Founder sisters Jane Casey and Charlene Yeager saw a need in their lives, which lead to a must- have for anyone who has walked into a potluck or party, wishing their dish looked as good as they did!

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Valerie & Adam Cuculich of Uncle Frank’s Salsa
Valerie & Adam Cuculich of Uncle Frank’s Salsa
Just Jan's Jam Trio
Just Jan's Jam Trio

Heida Thurlow of Chantal

In 1970, Heida Thurlow moved from Germany to the United States. In 1971, she launched her very own cookware line. Heida continues to serve as the CEO of Chantal where she’s constantly innovating while staying true to the brand’s reputation for timeless elegance.

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Valerie + Adam Cuculich
of Uncle Frank’s Salsa

When you meet Valerie, her energy is infectious. She and her husband Adam are equally passionate about the salsas they make. Fresh and addictive, they put a spin on their family tradition with elevated flavors and ingredients.

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Valerie & Adam Cuculich of Uncle Frank’s Salsa
Valerie & Adam Cuculich of Uncle Frank’s Salsa
Just Jan's Jam Trio
Just Jan's Jam Trio

Jan Hogrewe of Just Jan’s

Sometimes a product can take you back in time, or to a warm feeling from the past. Just Jan’s is one of those. These are simple jams that remind you of home, yet they’re next level thanks to quality ingredients and care that you can taste in every jar.

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Bridgette Thornton
of Paint&Petals

For Bridgette Thornton, painting is not only a passion, it gives her a sense of empowerment. We love how her determination to follow this passion enabled her to leave the corporate world and launch her company, Paint&Petals.

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Paint & Petals gift collection
Paint & Petals gift collection
Coolhaus founders, Natasha Case & Freya Estreller
Coolhaus founders, Natasha Case & Freya Estreller

Natasha Case + Freya Estreller
of Coolhaus

Passion and persistence fuel Natasha & Freya, the founders of L.A. based Coolhaus. What started as a side hustle selling their ice cream sandwiches out of an old postal truck, has turned into an iconic and beloved brand of both dairy and dairy-free delectables known nationwide.

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Jeni Britton Bauer
of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

When a name says it all…Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams truly are in a word, splendid. Creamy beyond belief, Jeni Britton Bauer’s creations have delighted countless customers for years…

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Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams founder, Jeni Britton Bauer
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams founder, Jeni Britton Bauer
Sugar Momma Wines
Sugar Momma Wines

Lauren + Rachel Simmons
of Sugar Momma Wines

Sugar Momma is a family affair dedicated to creating exceptional wines and supporting the female entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Recently, we chatted with sisters Lauren and Rachel Simmons to learn more about their passion, their mission, and what motivates them to continue on their unique quest.

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Katie Gurvin + Scott Hebel
of Hebel & Co.

Who would have thought the path to creating the perfect halva could be so entertaining? Katie Gurvin and Scott Hebel’s passion is evident in this interview and their handmade halva is a huge hit in our stores. If you’ve never tried halva, you’re in for a treat! Made with the finest organic ingredients, it’s nutty, versatile, creamy, melt-on-your-tongue delicious, made right here in LA…

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Hebel & Co Strawberry Almond Poppy Halva
Hebel & Co Strawberry Almond Poppy Halva
Colorful GIR straws and hot chocolate on a countertop
Mint green GIR spatulas with mint chip ice cream.

Samantha Rose of GIR

GIR stands for Get It Right. That’s the ethos that guided founder Samantha Rose as she reimagined everyday kitchen tools. It all started with a vision for a better spatula and crowdfunding from thousands of home chefs. Today, GIR offers a line of 50+ products that have changed the cooking world…

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Aishwarya Iyer of
Brightland Olive Oil

With just one look, you can tell that Brightland Olive Oil is something special. And, after hearing Aishwarya Iyer’s story, you’ll know why the company’s co-founder is equally exceptional. With a background in tech and venture capital, Aishwarya didn’t set out to reinvent the olive oil industry…

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Brightland Olive Oil
Brightland Olive Oil
Plate of beef sliders.
Plate of beef sliders.

Leah Ferrazani of
Semolina Artisanal Pasta

Who would have thought wanting a better durum wheat would lead her on a journey taking her from Italy to building the perfect pasta dryer in Pasadena? Winner of 2020 Good Food Awards and recently featured in Food & Wine magazine…

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