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Indie Foodzie: Interview with Co-Founder Emily Olson


Just when you thought a website like Etsy was fulfilling in satisfying your every desire to buy unique and handmade, Foodzie, a food marketplace shows up and tantalizes us with their “artisan producers and growers.”

Foodzie co-founders Rob LaFave, Nik Bauman and Emily Olson (twentysomethings all) started the online farmers market to connect farmers and food artisans from all over the country. Now, with over 35 producers (“and more in the pipeline,” says Olson), Foodzie can say their success in being the middleman is also to our benefit – allowing us access to homemade California cheeses, stone ground, organic chocolate from Massachusetts, and gluten free popcorn from Boulder, Colorado.


Single malt scotch bar by BonBonBar

Eager entrepreneurs with little capital to start a full-throttled retail or online business but wanting exposure to town lines far from their own see the impression Foodzie is having on the artisan and organic marketplace. Not only has Foodzie aggregated them on their site proper but has lent credibility and exposure to each where once they swam the internet sea without distinction.

We caught up with co-founder Emily Olson for some background on how it all got started.

PhotobucketHow did you come up with the idea to start Foodzie?

I was working for a specialty food retailer as a brand manager working directly with the buyers. We had small food producers sending in samples everyday, trying to get their products on our shelves, but there were so many hoops they had to jump through to make it into the store. In a retail setting, there is limited shelf space and at the end of the day, everyone can’t make it onto the shelves. I was discovering some amazing products from small producers and realized that they just needed a better way to connect with all the foodies out there who are looking for high quality, unique and delicious products. So Foodzie was created to bring the two together.

PhotobucketHow many food shows do you go for finding talent at Foodzie? What is your criteria?

We travel to about 4-5 shows per year. We tend to spend more of our time at farmers markets than food shows, simply because they are a better place to find the kind of producers we are looking for. Our criteria is listed at Foodzie.

PhotobucketI read in a recent New York Times article that Foodzie has gotten over 43,000 hits (now more of course) even with the sour economy. What makes you stand out? Why do people want to buy from you?

For us it’s about creating a whole different experience when it comes to buying food online. We love the stories behind our producers and from the beginning we’ve wanted Foodzie to be about their stories and their products and allow customers to connect with them. We’ve designed the site to really showcase how special each of their products are. This market of small producers is also very fragmented and I think our customers are excited to find a community where they can discover new products all in one place.

PhotobucketHow do you decide who to feature on your blog?

Whatever we’re excited about that particular day.

PhotobucketIs there any chance you could run out of finding new artisans or are there too many to keep up with?

Not anytime soon. It’s amazing, once we started looking into this market, we realized how many small producers there are selling at farmers markets and small, independent grocery stores whom most people have never heard of.

PhotobucketWhat has been the overall reaction from your producers?

They seem really excited about the opportunity, not only to get their name out there but to be a part of a community that’s devoted to supporting producers like themselves. Most of them understand the importance of being online, but they just don’t have the time to focus on their own site and they lack marketing people to it. They are each really passionate about making their cookies, truffles or olive oil and that’s where they want to spend their time. They welcome the idea of letting us help them with their online business.

PhotobucketWhat was your most memorable taste experience since Foodzie began?

I’ve been seeking out the best granola for a long time and I never really felt like I had found “the one.” My sister introduced me to Cherry Chocolate Macadamia Nut Granola from Michele’s Granola in Baltimore, MD and I have been obsessed ever since. It has a light crispy texture that’s perfect with milk or just scooped up and munched on by the handful. Absolutely the best.

Shown at top: Brown sugar pecan shortbread cookie mix by The Lazy Baker.