Today on Real-World Branding we have Amy and Shelby Zitelman, Co-Founders of Soom Foods, the trusted tahini brand among James Beard award-winning chefs and home cooks alike. We cover the academic interests and early career experiences that led them to found Soom, the brand story, category dynamics, their day-to-day experiences as a family business, and the impact of COVID-19. If you like our podcast, please subscribe!

 

 
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Bill Gullan:

Greetings one and all this is Real-World Branding, I'm Bill Gullan, president of Finch Brands, a premier boutique brand consultancy. Thank you for joining us and apologies for my voice. I have the autumn cold, I do not have the coronavirus, but I do have the autumn cold and it has a habit of lingering. So forgive me both for this introduction, as well as for the quality or lack of my voice in the interview that we conducted. But the interview is great because our two guests are Amy and Shelby Zitelman who are respectively, the CEO and COO of Soom Foods. And they, along with their sister, Jackie, were the three co-founders of this incredible tahini brand that is taking food service and gourmet channels and Whole Foods in the Mid-Atlantic by storm.

Bill:

They'll talk about the road to inspiration, how their career journeys inspired them. And then all that's been happening at Soom, both from its founding to the present day, as well as some of the challenges and opportunities of the COVID period and how not only are they trying to steal and win market share, but also to be advocates for tahini in general. And I think you'll enjoy hearing from Amy and Shelby Zitelman from Soom Foods.

Bill:

We're honored and pleased to be joined today by Shelby and Amy Zitelman who are both co-founders at Soom Foods. Amy is the CEO, Shelby is the COO. And I think with their third sister, this is a family affair. Thanks to the both of you for coming.

Shelby Zitelman:

Thanks for having us. We're really excited to be here.

Amy Zitelman:

Thanks so much.

Bill:

It’s absolutely our pleasure. And why don't we start as we normally do with a little bit of a description of backgrounds and what has led to your founding and now operating this really, really cool business. And Shelby, we'll start with you. Where does it begin for you in terms of what your professional or even your academic interests were and what's led you to this point? And then Amy would love to hear from you on the same question.

Shelby:

Sure. Thanks Bill. It might be difficult to delineate between our voices because we sound so similar, but this is Shelby and my background. So academically I studied entrepreneurial management. It was a business undergraduate program, and I was inspired really by our parents who were both entrepreneurs, started their own businesses. And after college, I pursued this degree working with other startups in a whole variety of capacities, reviewing business plans, helping startups to create their own business plans. And long story short, my career took me to Israel and it was around that time that Jackie, our middle sister, who's not on the call right now, started dating her now husband, Omri, who has been in the tahini industry and sesame industry for 15 years.

Shelby:

And I got to meet Omri, got to taste the product that he was selling. And it just sparked this, I guess entrepreneurial bug inside of me. And it made me question whether or not this product could be the pursuit of our own business. So I'm really inspired by startups, I'm really inspired by that process of taking an idea and turning it into a set of actions and evaluating the feasibility through a business plan. And so I just feel very blessed that Soom Foods has given us that opportunity to pursue that.

Bill:

Very cool. Amy, what about you? Any twists and turns within your own path to becoming part of this that might shed a little bit of light on why you're doing this today?

Amy:

To be honest, no twists and turns here. Soom has pretty much been my only job since graduating from college. When Shelby spent that year in Israel, Jackie had been living in Israel since 2008, and I was a senior at University of Delaware studying interpersonal communication. So when Shelby called me to do some market research, my first question back was what is market research? Because I had zero experience in entrepreneurial development, but it also allowed me since I was the one without a job to be able to dedicate my time when I was ready to, to focusing on getting Soom off the ground. So Soom has been pretty much the only business I've been a part of since I graduated from UD.

Bill:

Excellent. And Shelby, you mentioned a little bit, and I'd love to hear, maybe we'll start with you Shelby and Amy, please add in. It sounds like the experience and the model of your parents being involved in entrepreneurial ventures and initiatives was something that turned you on to this. Were there certain lessons that were part of growing up as part of the family or observations that you all had from what your folks were doing?

Shelby:

It was really hard to separate the family from the business. It wasn't like we were at their place of operations every day sort of thing, but we were definitely exposed to it, brought into the office sometimes after school or especially on the weekends, during the holiday season our mother was in corporate gifts. And so every year during the holidays, my sisters and I were helping her pack out whatever gifts she was sending out on behalf of her clients. And so it just gave us that appreciation of the hands-on work. And for me personally, business has been a big part of my identity and my professional pursuits. And I think it is largely a testament to our parents being the sole representatives of their businesses that helped play that part and shift that aspect of who I am.

Bill:

Excellent.

Amy:

Yeah. I think a huge thing that's inspired me in my entrepreneurial journey is the fact that our mother was so successful in the mid 80s, her business was doing so well, that it allowed our father to leave his job, to start his own business. And so, whereas other women might not have had the comfort of having a role model like that, the idea that a woman couldn't be an entrepreneur or own her own business, or be her own boss, just never ever crossed my mind. So our mom has been a huge inspiration for me in this entrepreneurial journey.

Bill:

Very cool. And so into the journey itself that led to Soom, you mentioned your third sister, Jackie having a connection to Israel, to tahini, could you talk about the inspiration for the business, the path to grow it or to start it and then grow it, and then a little bit about where Soom is today? And why don't we start in the interest of equal time and not talking over each other, Amy don't you lead us off with that, talking about the journey from the germ of an idea into the Soom that we all can see in the world today.

Amy:

Yeah, absolutely. So after Shelby called me to do some market research, I decided to go to the grocery store. Shelby really guided me to go to the grocery store in her entrepreneurial management background to buy every tahini available on the shelves and talk to people, chefs and other consumers about their perception or uses of tahini. And what I found was that when I stepped into a grocery store, maybe ask the clerk where tahini was merchandised, they practically never knew what the product was or where it was available in the store. And when I did find it, I found that it was on the bottom shelf of the international aisle with dust on the lids.

Amy:

And the conversations that I was having with people is that if they were familiar with tahini, which most people weren't, they were only using it to make hummus, storing the tahini in the back of their fridge and likely throwing it away six months later. And here comes Shelby and Jackie experiencing high quality tahini in Israel, really understanding the versatility of the product and the appreciation that Israeli and Middle Eastern culture has for cooking with tahini and savory and sweet dishes that it really nudged us to think, how can we make tahini a more popular ingredient in the American market? And with presenting a high quality ingredient here, can we make it as well versed and well appreciated as it is in the Middle East?

Bill:

Right. Very cool. And then let's talk a little bit about tahini have you found it as you began to go deeper, that it was marginal in terms of U.S based grocery, but tahini or tahina, what's sort of the... A little bit of the backstory of the type of food, what it's been used for historically, what those roots are in Israel, in the Middle East, could you talk a little bit about the... First of all, what is it? And then what's the extended expanded role and opportunity for tahini in the U.S market?

Shelby:

This is Shelby, I'm chuckling a little bit because we have this internal conversation often, is it a sesame paste? Is it an ingredient? What's unbelievable to me, I describe it almost as a unicorn because it transcends so many different things and serve so many different purposes. Amy's the spokesperson so I can allow her to elaborate on that, but that has been a part of the excitement of the opportunity, but also the challenge with tahini is, what do you even name it? How do you position it? What do you call it so that the consumer can most easily identify with it? Because it is rather and still unknown, even though we've been at this for seven years and it is further along in the adoption curve.

Shelby:

There's still so much more room for education as it relates to the product and people still to this day, do know tahini as it's used in hummus. And what we've been really energized about is providing that lens into its versatility, how it can be used also for baked goods and also as a topping for Greek yogurt. And also as addition to soups to give a creamy consistency. But it's confusing when you give the customer so many options, they need to latch on to one thing so that they can really identify what this product is.

Bill:

Yeah. Not to give away some exciting things, but there're books as we know, that are getting pre-ordered right now, with Amy's name on the cover about a hundred ways to use tahini. Amy, could you talk a little bit about tahini and its versatility and why you all are so enthusiastic about it as a property around which to build a business?

Amy:

So one of the things that's inspired me from the beginning of our market research about tahini is how it's been used for thousands of years across several cultures for ritual and medicinal purposes. Sesame has been valued across Chinese culture, there're stories in a Syrian legend that the gods drink sesame wine when they created the world. Sesame has a rich history in terms of its respect as an ingredient. Beyond its versatility what we love is that tahini has many nutritional benefits. It's one of the best plant-based sources of protein, calcium and iron, it's rich in vitamins and minerals, phosphorus, B vitamins. The list truly does go on and what I like to, or hope that we are able to instill in others as they consume tahini more and more is that they can feel positive in incorporating it into their dishes because of those benefits.

Amy:

So you can add a little bit of tahini into your yogurt in the morning, two tablespoons on Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey or Ceylon or date syrup is one of my favorite ways to use tahini. You can use it in lunch as a spread instead of Mayo on sandwiches, or to make tuna fish or egg salad. And in dinners, it's a great marinate for chicken or your favorite proteins and all the way to dessert. So the possibilities and the uses of tahini are truly endless. And I don't think I would be able to, I think, Shelby can say the same to sell a product, live about a product, really have my life consumed about a product. If it didn't add such benefit to our lives, the nutritional benefits, the ease of putting a delicious meal on the table with busy lives. And so day in and day out inspired by those nutritional use benefits of tahini and the ways that people can use it in their own kitchen.

Bill:

Yeah, no, terrific. And so you run across this, you do some research, you find that it's been marginalized, you fall in love with it as a product. At what point was the decision made and how did you all come to the decision that we're going to build something for this, we're going to call it Soom seven years ago? And then take us up to the present day of some of the milestones in the journey of building this company. And just the nature-

Amy:

Shelby, I think you should speak to this because you guided us so immensely in the first years of Soom's growth.

 

Shelby:

I appreciate that. But Amy was the one who hustled day in and day out to actually make something happen. We joke that I'm the brains, Jackie is the heart and Amy is the voice. So that's how we complement one another. We were talking about it for maybe a year, and then what happened was we had a meeting with a pretty large private label manufacturer that uses tahini in one of their dressings. This is a part of our market research just to see what the opportunity was. And long story short, they buy a lot of tahini and when we crunched the numbers, we had this aha moment to the effect of, wow, we could actually make a business here.

Shelby:

We can make some money on this. And so I went home and I submitted our incorporating documents. It's like November 11th, 2011 or something like that. And then we took a little bit more time to do some more research before we were really ready to hit the ground running. We took actually a family vacation to... Or not vacation, but trip, research trip, part vacation to Ethiopia, to learn more about where the sesame was coming from and the economic impacts of sesame in Ethiopia, that's where our seeds are from, is the Northwestern region called Humera. And then continued these conversations with prospective customers and just understanding the position of tahini here. Amy even up until the point that we imported our first container, because our product is created and is made in Israel. So we're bringing it over from Israel to Philadelphia.

Shelby:

But even up until a couple of months before then she was talking with an import consultant, helping her to figure out how to do that because we'd never done it before. I guess my background only was able to get us so far because we had never had experience in this industry before, never worked in food and beverage, never worked in consumer packaged goods, never worked in import, all of those things the tangible aspects of then building the business was really where the hustle came in. And that's where Amy did an unbelievable job, just getting stuff done.

Amy:

A joke that we reiterated early on is that we were just young and dumb. I think if we knew what it truly took or what the implications of having business really were when we got started, that we might have never gotten started, but ignorance is bliss. I think, especially in entrepreneurship, just having that big vision and goal and not necessarily knowing all the challenges that lay ahead, that really, I think protected us as we got started because the opportunities were endless in getting started. There were no mistakes to be had because nothing existed yet. The beginning stage of any entrepreneurial journey now that I've experienced it in our seven years into it is my favorite stage because you really can't go wrong, right. With creating ideas and trying new things. And once you realize what's working and once things truly are working, that's where the challenges and the mistakes start happening that makes having a business harder than when it was just an idea.

Bill:

No, absolutely. And so where does the name come from and the inspiration for some of the early brand elements?

 

Shelby:

I don't remember the full... Oh, go ahead Amy.

Amy:

Go for it Shelby. I was going to cut to the chase because that's normally what I do, but Soom Soom means sesame in Hebrew, but it was a development between Shelby and Jackie. I remember a conversation how we got to the name.

Bill:

Very cool. Fascinating. And so here we are. This business is distributed in Whole Foods, many gourmet points of distribution, there is an e-commerce part of this too. Could you talk a little bit about the size and scope of the business today and what the major priorities? There's also a chocolate product, we've expanded in terms of distribution, as well as the product assortment. Give us the lay of the land for Soom in 2020.

Shelby:

This is Shelby. It has definitely been a journey to get here. When we started the business, we had this vision of becoming a consumer packaged goods brand. I think because that was our only understanding of what food really was. It sounds ignorant now, but we were saying, if we're going to be a food business, we have to be in all grocery stores. But what we learned in the market research that Amy was speaking to earlier was that there was a huge opportunity servicing restaurants and the food service industry as a whole. And so we got our start really servicing restaurants specifically, we've benefited from working with Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook and Zahav, they were one of our first customers back in 2014 or 2013, sorry, 2013. And that opportunity to work with such top notch, internationally recognized chefs allowed us to build the credibility for the quality of our product and for the brand that we were building that then helped us to reach consumers and show that this is a product that they should also consider stocking in their pantries.

Shelby:

So we have now an omni-channel business servicing restaurants and the food service industry, as you pointed out, retailers mostly at this point, natural foods, specialty foods, gourmet food outlets, and then our e-commerce business has been growing significantly specifically because of the pandemic. We've had a huge uptick in our direct to consumer sales, both through our website, soomfoods.com, as well as through Amazon.

Bill:

Now, the food service piece and having enthusiasts and early supporters like Cooking Solo is a... I would imagine a tremendous propulsion mechanism for what you all were trying to do. And when we look at life, the pandemic certainly, but just in general dynamics that are shaping this opportunity, you all spoke earlier about how Soom not only seeks to earn as much market share as possible, but to also advocate for the growth of tahini, and the awareness of tahini in our markets here in terms of what it can be and how tasty it is, how versatile it is, et cetera.

 

Bill:

Amy, what are some trends and dynamics that are shaping the opportunity as you all see it? Obviously there's a move toward veganism. There's plant-based proteins. There's a bunch of different nutritional trends and dynamics, we're obviously at Soom leading into the various ways to serve tahini. But could you talk about how, I guess consumer behavior enters into how you all see the opportunity and the moves that you take in growing Soom?

Amy:

Yeah. To echo Shelby's idea that Soom is a unicorn. It really is so exciting when it ticks all these boxes of consumer preference. The growing nut allergy was something that we were considering back in 2011, which is still prevalent today. Sesame is a great substitute for other nut butters. There is, like you mentioned the growing preference for more plant-based eating plant-based proteins, but ultimately I think what's most exciting is that tahini fits with other dietary preferences like paleo. I can try to name all of the trending diets, but when you look at them across the board, tahini goes, check, check, check, and fits in. But we're most excited about kind of as our own consumers is this, I think transition into people, being interested in cooking more and cooking more creatively and with more culturally diverse ingredients.

Amy:

And so it's making people, I guess, more aware of other types of cuisines, other types of ingredients that maybe they didn't have as much access to, especially with the growth of social media and food media in particular. And so tahini really does satisfy many different needs within consumer interests. That gives us a lot of opportunity and also makes it difficult to decide where we're going to put our attention, who we're going to market to and how we can capture that market share when you can market to everybody, it's hard to choose where to dedicate your time and resources.

Bill:

Yeah, no doubt. And Shelby, as you think about the growth of the company, it definitely sounds like you all have a commitment to advocate for the power and potential of tahini beyond just Soom as a leverage point for increased market share.

Shelby:

Yeah. I'm not good at phrases, but it's something like, all ships rise with the tide, all ships rise... I don't know, whatever that is. Yes. There's still so much education to happen in the marketplace to reach the consumer and showcase all of these amazing benefits of tahini. We see a tremendous amount of opportunity just for the growth of the category, as it relates to tahini and tahini based products. And to your earlier question, you had asked about our chocolate tahini. We do see a lot of potential as it relates to those types of exciting and innovative flavors and product extensions for which tahini is the base.

Bill:

Right. Absolutely. So into a little bit of your business life here, Amy, Shelby, Jackie three co-founders, sisters, Amy's CEO, Shelby’s COO, Jackie is the CPO Chief Product Officer. How do we divide labor? How did we arrive to this structure? Family businesses are full of joy, as well as a challenge at times. Could you talk a little bit about what it's like to work with one another, how you day in and day out and get all this done with your family really at the head of the masthead here?

Amy:

Yeah. Speaking to the joke of Shelby being the brains, Jackie the heart, me the voice. Luckily our different skills and interests really aligned ourselves in our unique roles within the organization. Up until a year and a half ago, actually Shelby was our CEO really leading that business development. And then we've been balancing the needs of the business with our own personal needs as a family. We respect our immediate family and now growing personal families. And so we've just always having entrepreneurial parents, I think were advised from a young age, that business should not usurp the family.

Amy:

And so we made it a very clear expectation from the beginning that when personal needs change, that the business would be able to change with each of us. So for instance, over the last seven years in total, we've had six kids between us, three of them coming from Shelby and her husband. And so we recognized that Shelby now needed more time to focus on her growing family. And so that is why we shift the responsibilities from CEO to COO. And that continues to evolve, I think as long as you have open and honest conversations and set very clear expectations that you're able to, whether those challenging growth stages, both personally and professionally, and that's something that we've been very aligned on since day one.

Bill:

Yeah, no, absolutely. And Shelby, how do you experience it? You say, families are growing, we're balancing things. How does it feel from your perspective having a shared passion and financial interests while also still being sisters and having this vibrant family life?

Shelby:

Amy and I, and Jackie, although she is in Israel. I believe that this has really brought us closer through starting the business together. Amy and I talk every day, multiple times a day, Jackie on WhatsApp at very odd hours of the night sometimes. So to me it's been an unbelievable way to grow our family ties while also growing the business. I think one of the difficult things is that when either a positive or God forbid a negative thing happens in the family, it can adversely affect the business. So we've been trying very intentionally to bring in an unbelievable staff around us to help grow that business so that it doesn't just rest on our shoulders, the example of one of those either happy or sad events to the family.

Shelby:

Also, I think the three of us are very honest and admitting where our shortcomings are and where we want the company to grow. And so we are very open to and excited by bringing in other people who have more knowledge of a particular area than we do coming into the business. Because as Amy mentioned, we were very young when we started the business. And while you learn an unbelievable amount of... You gain a lot of experience just by doing. There's also a lot of growth to be had when you bring in folks who have experienced it beforehand. So we like to surround ourselves with people who can do it better than we can.

 

 

 

Bill:

Right. And the Soom crew has grown and will grow with I'm sure business family members, though maybe not related in a family tree perspective. You mentioned COVID and the pandemic having some impact, obviously on people cooking at home and the e-commerce business exploding. How has Soom experienced this really distinctive period of time? What has been the impact on the business and on your goals and priorities moving forward? What's it felt like from the inside?

Shelby:

Amy, you want to take that one?

Amy:

Yeah. One of the things that really brought to light was our commitment to our values during such a challenging time. I think values are a nice thing to have, but a necessary thing to have during something tumultuous like COVID. And so reflecting on our values, we were really able to determine what was best for the company and especially best for our team members during such a challenging time. Those with kids at home or those that couldn't come into the office or whatever the circumstances might've been. So luckily for us, COVID had a positive impact on our business, especially in our goals of further developing our consumer brand and reaching more consumers with tahini, when COVID hit our Amazon sales, went through the roof because people were cooking more at home.

Amy:

And luckily tahini was I guess, on their ingredient lists to purchase. And so that was a huge benefit, but mostly I think it reiterated how important our team is, how much we care about our team and how without a healthy and stable and committed team, the business wouldn't be there. So we're just so appreciative to those team members that came in everyday with me through COVID, even during those times that most people were staying at home. And it just brought to light how lucky we are and how great that Soom crew is that we've developed. And also accelerated that opportunity for us to reach more people, to encourage more people to cook at home, and also to provide people with an ingredient that is beneficial to have. During a time like COVID, you want healthy food, but you also want comforting food, you want non-perishable food. And the fact that tahini, again, fit all of those consumer preferences, even during such a challenging and really scary time gave us a lot of confidence to continue to grow and strategize to keep moving forward.

Bill:

Yeah. And Shelby I would imagine there was some disruption to the food service business given restaurants closing and everything else. But at the same time, it sounds like the wholesale and private label side has more than made up for that.

Shelby:

Yeah. Our hearts still go out to our restaurant partners that suffered so tremendously through this pandemic, in April our food service sales basically dried up to zero.

Bill:

Right.

Shelby:

But because we had laid the foundation for this omni-channel sales strategy, we had the infrastructure in place to meet the consumer demand. We had heard of a lot of our peers in the food and beverage space trying to flip on overnight some sort of direct to consumer online sales infrastructure. And it takes a lot of time to do that. So, because we had already invested in that and we're planning to grow that anyways in 2020, we were able to meet that demand. So yes, thank goodness we've been able to make up for those lost food service sales because of the diversification of our strategy. Although, I should add that we're now thinking about the role of Amazon in all of this. We're so thankful for Amazon being able to get our product into the kitchens of folks across the country. But when you look at the breakdown of revenue coming from Amazon, it's an eye-opening moment.

Bill:

Yeah. But definitely pros and cons of a strong Amazon relationship and people. You definitely hear a lot of perspectives all around that.

Shelby:

Yes.

Bill:

So to the degree that you can share, and if not, please just don't obviously whatever's proprietary, but what's next? What are some big priority items that you all are working on for the... Obviously it's been a really unsettled, it continues to be unsettled and it will be for probably a while longer, but the next chapter of Soom any other things that you're able to share? Amy, we'll start with you.

Amy:

Yeah, sure. We did in the middle of COVID that get to release a limited edition dark chocolate sea salt flavor. And that was an opportunity to really get feedback from our consumers about the... I guess, expansion of a sweet tahini line. And it was met with a great appreciation and a lot of excitement from our consumers. So we are excited to continue to work on our R&D and develop some additional flavors to expand Soom's place in our current category, which is the nut butter category. And from there we hope to develop other tahini based products across categories in CPG to really bring tahini to its I think rightful place as a respected ingredient in products, similar to what I think almonds have accomplished or kale, we really believe that tahini has a much due place across CPG and food and beverage in general.

Bill:

Excellent. So there's definitely going to be product expansion. I would imagine given such a strong food service heritage and more recent and high growth move into omni-channel into the rest of the direct business, as well as the wholesale to consumer business. Distribution priorities, growing to the consumer, et cetera, Shelby, any thoughts on distribution and how that evolves?

Shelby:

Yeah. We've been approaching our retail distribution specifically very intentionally just because we know how... To be blunt, how expensive it is. Right. And it requires a lot of time and attention and money to convert a customer. So we do have a strong distribution presence throughout the Mid-Atlantic, into New York and a little bit South along the coast, now we're expanding into California. So we would like to go deep there, really figure out how to crack the code, to reaching the consumer in these markets, because we believe that then we'll be able to inform our strategy to then roll out into new geographic locations. One of the other things that we really have the benefit of going direct to consumer is we now have relationships with our customers and have been able to gather data about who our customers are, where they live, where they like to play and spend their time outside of the grocery store. So we do hope to be able to use that information to inform our future distribution expansion.

Bill:

Very cool. And as we wrap, I don't want to take more time than I promised that we would. So I'm so grateful for your participation and your candor and your insight. I think you may have mentioned this a little bit along the way, but any words of wisdom from this entrepreneurial path, things that you've learned that you maybe didn't know coming in that are important, learnings that you're going to carry with you in your professional life. Amy, we'll start with you. I think you spoke about that early stages being one that you remember certainly full of challenge, but most fondly within the seven year journey, any principles or words of wisdom that through this experience has become a central part of who you are as a business person? And then Shelby would love to hear from you as well.

Amy:

I might be stealing Shelby's, but our father has always taught us, coming from an entrepreneurial family that it always takes longer and costs more money, and that can't be more true. I'll never forget in our first projections that when we thought we'd reach a current distribution threshold, that we would be extremely profitable. But what I didn't realize is every time you grow, you need to invest more and more back into the business in order to continue to grow. So for me, it's that it always takes longer and costs more money, but those that are able to withstand that challenge, I think can really get far if you stay true to your original conviction.

Bill:

Right. Excellent. And what about you Shelby?

Shelby:

Oh my God. There's so many things that flood into my head. One, food and beverage is just a crazy industry. So like what Amy was saying before, I'm glad that we didn't know much about it before we started a business here. But one, if you do decide to sell products, understanding margins and cost of goods and what those numbers mean for your business, but also just on a more, I guess, emotional level or psychological level, this business and the entrepreneurial journey has been such a roller coaster. The highs are really high and the lows are really low. So what's been important for me and I think by extension, our team is to give space, to take a step back and reflect on what we've accomplished because often when you're in the weeds and just focus on the day to day, it's hard to see how far we've come and all the unbelievable things that we've been able to do over these past seven years. So I think the importance of reflection and celebration is really important for anyone who's starting a business.

Bill:

Now, that's perfect and a great place to leave it. So grateful for Amy and Shelby Zitelman who are the CEO and COO of Soom Foods, respectively two thirds of the magnificent Zitelman sisters who were responsible for all of this tahini goodness that we all have come to know and also come to love. We're so grateful for you spending some time with us and wish you and the brand and business all the best.

Shelby:

Thank you. So much fun being here.

Amy:

Thank you so much Bill.

Bill:

Of course.

Bill:

Our sincere thanks to Amy and Shelby. Really cool company, great family obviously, so much fun. These are sister act types of companies that are built around great passion that are working every single day to make sure family comes first. There's all these stories of family businesses and some of the challenges related to that, particularly across generations. But these are some really good examples and Soom is of a business that is no doubt stronger because of a deep family bond and platform that underlies all that Amy and Shelby are building at Soom. If you like Real-World Branding and what we do here, please support us. A couple of different ways to do that, one is to give us a rating and a review in the podcast app of your choice. We're told that the more ratings and reviews we have, the easier it is for us to be found by those who would enjoy a business of brand building contents.

Bill:

That's one way another way is to click subscribe. We're pretty much every other week, although we just missed one, but we promise we'll get back on the every other week interview clip. And just to make sure you don't miss any episodes, click on subscribe, make sure that comes down almost magically from the air into the podcast app of your choice. And then lastly, let's keep the dialogue going on Twitter @billgullan, @finchbrands or any other source of getting in touch. We love ideas for future guests and topics. We greatly appreciate feedback among those who... And by those who spent some time with us each time we put one of these out, which we so greatly enjoy. So we will sign off from the cradle of liberty.