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Teffola's road to Whole Foods Market

To a healthy natural food startup, Whole Foods Market is the white whale. The chain is massive but has local brands. They have a banned ingredients list to build shoppers trust and with the Amazon merger, it’s become even more so a part of people’s routines and habits.

I first met the buyer in 2018 at a conference where we’d go on to win an award. She said to get in touch when I had 3 flavors. I sent samples in 2019 thinking the rustic charm of the brown Kraft bag and the flavor of Teffola Original would get us in. Obviously I was ignored.

When category review came around in 2020, I wasn’t in the best headspace. Call me hippie or woo woo or whatever but the energy just didn’t feel right. I let it pass without submitting. So summer of 2020, when I knew we were launching new flavors, I naively wrote an email with the subject line “Teffola - New Flavors”. The email was way too long and chock full of rookie mistakes. Not only ignored but it was left unread.

There are a lot of ways a brand could get into Whole Foods and in the words of one of my mentors, “the best way to get into Whole Foods is the way that gets you in”. Meaning try anything and everything. I talked with store directors and grocery managers. I’ve gone into stores, posed as a customer and inquired about Teffola more times than I can count. I had my sister call as a customer and the Whole Foods grocery person had actually met me and said “oh yeah I met her. you can find Teffola at Plum Market”.

Now that category review time is here again, we’re trying something a little different. The box that we’re sending in is going to give the person who opens it the Teffola Brand Experience. Inside this "bold & brave" painted box will be all three flavors, a jar of teff, buckwheat and millet, sprigs of lavender, and 100 pieces of paper with reviews from our incredible fans. We're going all in.

Will this work? I really hope so. But if it doesn’t, we’ll keep trying.

Want to see more behind the scenes? Check out our Instagram highlight “The Road to WFM” here.