Startup Stories: Q&A With Thrive Market Brand Director Jenna Engleman

March 21, 2018

Welcome to Startup Stories, a series that takes you behind the scenes to share what working at a startup is really like. Our mission at Thrive Market is simple: to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. But fulfilling our big dreams takes a team of dedicated, inspiring, funny, and tenacious people who show up to work every day eager to make a difference.

Today we’re introducing you to Jenna Engleman, our Director of the Thrive Market Brand. If you’ve been stocking your pantry with anything from The Thrive Market Collection, like turkey jerky or apple cider vinegar, she’s the force behind every product launch. Read on to learn why she loves a standing desk, her favorite part of the job, and the snack that keeps mysteriously disappearing from her pantry!

Let’s start with the basics. Can you describe your role at Thrive Market?

I have the privilege of helping lead the team that brings all of our Thrive Market Collection products to our members. From sourcing the ideal partners to orchestrating the announcement of new launches, to determining the right promotions to re-engage our members, I work with so many different teams throughout the company.

Startup Stories Jenna

Is there anything people misunderstand about your job, or something that might surprise members to learn about your work?

Many people think that a retailer’s brand—also known as private label or white label—is an inferior product compared with the branded items in the market. However, this could not be further from the truth! We use our brand to elevate what’s already on the shelf, making packaging more sustainable where possible, removing questionable ingredients, improving supply chain, and working directly with the farmers.

What do you enjoy most or find most fulfilling about developing and launching new products?

I get most excited when our new products are “out in the wild”! I love seeing people post about how they’re enjoying them or hearing what new things they’d like to see our brand launch. I love seeing influencers I follow like PaleOMG and Whole30 founder Melissa Hartwig Urban post about our new launches! Our team is proud of what we do on a daily basis, but it’s invigorating when others are just as enthusiastic about our products as we are.

What does a typical day look like? Do you have any routines or rituals that help you feel your best? Or a favorite nibble to grab from the kitchen, perhaps?

True to most jobs now, no two days look alike. I try to keep order where possible (like a tidy inbox), which makes space for anything unplanned. As soon as I’ve responded to or handled an email, I file it away so anything in my inbox is left as a To Do—the sweet spot is really 15 emails or less. I’m also a big fan of a standing desk to help mix things up throughout the day, and for taking walking meetings when possible to get outside for some fresh air and beautiful SoCal sunshine.

Jenna Standing Desk

What inspires you to live a healthy lifestyle? Is there something in particular that drew you to Thrive Market?

I love being active and staying healthy, and the opportunity to help others achieve a healthy lifestyle by making our products more affordable and accessible is what first drew me to Thrive Market. The fact that members share their success stories from finding alternatives for special diets like keto and low-FODMAP, or being able to afford organic when they thought they could only afford conventional, or better managing their autoimmune diseases, are some of the things that keep me here!

When do you feel most successful or proud of your work?

I feel most proud when I take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come as a company. When I started two and a half years ago, we didn’t have any Thrive Market branded products. Now there’s over 300 and so many more in the pipeline—our team grew from two people to seven—and we have so many opportunities ahead! Looking back at where we came from makes me excited about where we’re going.

Give us a peek at what you eat during the day—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack!

After my morning workout, I typically break my fast with lemon and hot water. Breakfast depends upon the time of year. In summer, I enjoy a smoothie (spinach, apple, berries, egg white protein, collagen, ginger) and in the winter I love something warming like Against All Grain’s Nut Porridge.

Lunch is some combination of protein and vegetables like chicken breast and baked Romanesco or asparagus. I’m definitely a sucker for an afternoon snack. Some favorite go-tos are our very own Thrive Market Paleo Snacks (I’m a bit addicted) or some celery and almond butter.

A delicious dinner in our rotation is some sautéed cauliflower rice with rainbow chard, garlic, mustard, and chicken sausage topped with fried eggs over easy. And we love to end the night with some tea and cookies or chocolate…yes, I’m aware that makes me sound like a 70-year-old grandma!

Thrive Market Collection

What’s one thing you want others to know about Thrive Market, that they might not learn from ordering, reading the blog, or visiting the website?

A lot of rigor and detail goes into deciding which products to develop under our own brand. It’s a combination of member requests, marketplace trends, industry analytics and several other data points that we use out of the gate. Thrive Market is raising standards on everything from how the ingredients are sourced to what material is used for the packaging, to the overall sustainability of the supply chain. And of course our products need to taste great and be affordable, too!

Last but not least, what’s your favorite Thrive Market product and why?

It’s hard to pick your favorite child! In terms of what we use the most, it’s hands-down our organic extra virgin olive oil and our organic ghee. Not only do these products have incredible sourcing stories, but they’re absolutely delicious. A go-to snack is our Paleo ranch snack bag, and my husband absolutely loves our chocolate-covered almonds. I have a hard time keeping them in the pantry … they just seem to disappear!

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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