First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Lindsey Cunningham: We are making the best out of each day and staying healthy. Thank you for asking, and I hope you and your family are doing well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded RollinGreens.
Lindsey Cunningham: Our story began back in 1980, as boulder’s first organic food truck. Chef ko’s family took to the streets to serve their delicious, wholesome meals on wheels. After three years of serving the community, with three kids and a fourth one on the way (famous chef ko), the Cunningham family went on to pursue other careers.
In 2011 nearly 31 years later, RollinGreens was revitalized by chef ko and his wife, Lindsey. After five years of being a farmer’s market staple and successful catering service, the duo couldn’t keep up with the millet tot demand. People lined the streets for hours waiting on the millet tots and other innovative creations from RollinGreens. In 2016, millet tots launched into national retailers, and the story continues. RollinGreens strives to inspire socially conscious consumers to live with purpose by eating good food that provides great fuel to live our best lives.
Chef Ko-Head of Innovation:
Ryan O Cunningham is a pioneer from Boulder, Colorado, nicknamed Ko from his early days as a Japanese Kickboxer, is now known for knocking it out in the kitchen. From a personal chef to working at one of L. A’s top-rated restaurants, he is Nationally recognized for his unique, healthy, and delicious offerings. Chef Ko creates quality products that are easy to prepare while never sacrificing on taste. He has your back in the kitchen.
Born into an entrepreneurial family from Scarsdale NT, Lindsey grew up with the dream of opening her own restaurant. She was nicknamed Pistol. Lindsey’s persistence, passion, and risk-taking set her apart from the crowd. She received a BS from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Journalism Broadcast News. After two summers being a page with NBC, she decided to listen to her childhood dream and started the RollinGreens food truck with now-husband Ryan O Cunningham. Lindsey is the CEO of the company and is consistently growing the business.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
1.) In March of 2020, distributors put what’s called a threshold on products deemed “non-essential.” They didn’t have enough room on their trucks to keep up with the demand of every single item in the grocery stores, so they had to choose. Products like eggs, milk, chicken, those types of items were essential. Our products were deemed non-essential, so for over 60 days, our distributors were not ordering, delivering, or stocking the shelves with our products. This caused problems with our supply, sell through, revenue, customer satisfaction, and more.
2.) At the manufacturing level, our Co-packer could not keep up with our demand. Even though they raised the pay, gave incentives, workers did not feel safe coming to work. If they did get COVID, they would have to quarantine for over 14 days, and in some cases, they never returned. They were limited to only one line because they didn’t have enough help to run both lines. This has caused enormous delays and un-stocked shelves.
3.) Dry ice shortage-The shortage of dry ice tremendously affected our direct to consumer business. Not only have the shipping costs been higher to the consumer because dry ice almost doubled in price due to the shortage, but everything had to go to 2-day air because they had to limit the amount of dry ice in any given shipment.
4.) On a positive note, from in-store to online, our sell thru rate has been at an all-time high.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Lindsey Cunningham: What we have always done and continue to do now more than ever is pivot. When problems arise, whether it’s from COVID or just the every day of running a business, you have to continuously reposition your company for success. Expect and prepare for problems. It’s not about the actual issue at hand. It’s all about how you handle it. On a daily basis, I hear something that cannot be done. I won’t take that as an answer. It must be my journalistic side, but I want to get to the route of the problem, understand it, and change it for the better.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and RollinGreens in the future?
Lindsey Cunningham: With everything going on in the world right now, stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. We already had the weight of the world on our shoulders being entrepreneurs, then add COVID on top of it. We keep active, fuel our bodies with nutrient-dense foods, and positively train our minds on a daily basis. The power of positive thought and manifestation has become even more important during these times. And the most important, surrounding ourselves with our family who we love more than anything, and the philosophy in which RollinGreens was built off of…family!
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Lindsey Cunningham: We are constantly innovating and have some very exciting products launching in the market in 2021. We view our industry as a big ecosystem. For what we are trying to help change in the food system, there is enough space for us all! From a startup to a later stage brand, we all have a big job ahead of us.
Your final thoughts?
Lindsey Cunningham: The silver lining of COVID is that it has taught us to be more patient and really pursue the why we are operating our business. At the end of the day, we want to make our healthy, tasty products accessible to the world.