10/24/12

Wild Wednesday: Gilian of Little Duck Organic



Today is Wednesday, a favorite day of mine for many reasons.  The main one, is that I get to focus my energy on someone else.  It’s always refreshing to hear about other people and how they are living their lives.  Not only refreshing, but it’s eye opening, inspiring and invigorating!  Today I’m very excited to share with you my feature.  She is someone I had the opportunity of meeting at a recent trade show we went to in Baltimore.  It’s not very often that Keeley and I meet other young women in the start up food space, so I jumped at the chance to interview her!

She works for an awesome company called Little Duck Organics, that makes tasty kids snacks that are organic, colorful and delicious!  I hope you enjoy learning more about the wonderful Gillian!



1) Name, where do you live, occupation?

My name is Gillian Grefe and I live in the East Village in NYC. I am the Director of Communications for Little Duck Organics, an organic kid snack company based out of Brooklyn, NY.


2)  Please explain Little Duck products and the new product you’ve recently added.

Little Duck Organics makes organic kids snacks. All of our products are organic, non-GMO and have no sugar added. Our first product, Tiny Fruits, comes in four flavors (Strawberry & Mango, Apple & Banana, Apple & Blueberry, Pineapple & Mango). It’s a freeze-dried snack for kids 6 months and older made with no additives. It’s just fruit. They can be found at Whole Foods nationwide and other mainstream retailers.

And, our newest product, Mighty Oats is an ancient grain-based cereal that comes in three flavors (Strawberry & Vanilla, Blueberry & Cinnamon and Coconut & Banana). The best part about this new product is that our packaging offers zero waste to the consumer. The serving cups (it comes with 3) are compostable and break down in 6 months, the lids are recyclable and the outer cardboard casing is plantable (meaning, you can plant lettuce, tomatoes or carrots with your kiddos!). Mighty Oats will be coming to a Whole Foods near you by December.

3) How did you get involved with Little Duck?

It was actually kind of…fate. I’ve been working in the natural and organic business for a few years now and was working for Small Planet Foods in Denver when I realized I wanted to be closer to family and I was ready to explore a new city. During a trip home, I came to the conclusion that I was ready to make the move. I knew Brooklyn was the place to be in the food biz so I reached out to the only East Coast connection I had in the food business, Kristy with Quinn Popcorn and she wrote back within minutes saying she had the perfect opportunity for me. The next week was a whirlwind of Skype interviews with Zak, the founder + CEO of Little Duck Organics, and then a spontaneous red eye flight to NYC to meet Zak for breakfast. It was a perfect fit and the timing couldn’t have been better. Goes to show, when you really want something, just put it out there and opportunities will come to you. But, don’t forget, they don’t come to you unless you put it out there!

4) What has it been like working with a start up food company?

It’s a really fun environment. Lots of impromtu brainstorms, late nights, laughs and really good people and energy.

5) What is your role within the company?  

I am the Director of Communications. I manage all communication efforts, such as social and digital media, online outreach, press outreach and anything that may reflect the voice of the brand. However, being at a startup, it’s kind of an “all hands on deck” process of getting things done. So, if there is a job that I need to do to help out my co-workers in a bind, I’ll add it to my list.

6) What is the most exciting part of working for Little Duck and what is the most challenging?

The most exciting part of working for Little Duck is that we are able to really execute all of the crazy ideas we have. (For example, an Evil Laugh Contest or skeeball and bright lights at a trade show.) No one is holding us back. And, that is something that I hope where ever we are in our business, that we will be able to carry through. The most challenging part of working at Little Duck is more of a personal preference. I came from a very structured environment (not a start up) and so I’ve slowly been adjusting to the life of juggling all of the things that come across your desk in a less structured way. Plus, it’s hard to focus when you are working in an office full of folks that you would consider pals. It’s like working with your friends. It’s a good problem to have, I will say…


The Little Ducks crew!

7) You guys are a start up, but a little ahead of where Keeley and I are.  We dream about the day when we have employees and an awesome office where everyone is working together/sharing ideas.  We want to create a space that excites and invigorates people to work!  With that said, I feel like Little Duck has a similar goal.  How many employees are there and can you explain what the “office vibe” is at Little Duck?

We have 9 employees and only 7 of them work in our HQ in Brooklyn, New York. Our HQ is located in an old warehouse and we share our office with the equally rad Sprout Skincare (http://swbasicsofbk.com/), which is also a startup in the natural and organic space. The office vibe is very casual. It’s very “warehouse-converted-to-startup-office-in-Brooklyn.” We have an amazing view of Manhattan from our roof (and windows!) that we often escape to during the day or at the end of the day to catch the sunset. It never gets old. We also have an Indoboard to play on and 2 pups that run around from time to time. Not to mention sooo many {delicious and organic} snacks from our BK foodie friends! It’s an environment that encourages and welcomes creative outbursts, which leads to…never a dull moment and, a lot of great ideas. And I will say, the constant movie, music video and photo shoots that take place on our floor are definitely a plus.

View of Manhattan from the Little Duck Organics office!

8) What’s the biggest accomplishment that you’ve been a part of since working at Little Duck?

Well, I haven’t been with the company very long so I don’t have a huge list yet but I will say, the way we all conquered Expo East this past month was certainly a big accomplishment. We had a ton to do and little time to do it but we made magic happen as a team and I think it really had an impact on our brand.

9)  What is Little Ducks mission statement/overall goal.

Little Duck Organic’s was started by one guy (Zak) with a mission to provide kids with good food for a healthy lifestyle and world domination. Okay, forget the world domination and just focus on the good and healthy. That’s what we’re all about. :D

10) What is the response when people try your products?  I know they are advertised for kids, but do people of all ages buy them?  

Yes! Parents are often excited that they can eat them without feeling guilty since it such a low calorie snack. Some of our biggest fans don’t have kids - they just love the way they taste and the way we have branded them. But, we also have some really loyal kiddo fans. Because of our fun, colorful packaging, kids actually gravitate toward our snacks, so they are literally reaching for Tiny Fruits in grocery stores. Can’t complain about that. 

11) What do you love to do in your free time?

I love to hike, cook, go to the farmers market, go on adventures in the city (so basically, get lost and then find my way again) preferably on my bike, yoga and spin are two of my favorite ways to stay stress-free and, I actually choose to spend a lot of my free time in Whole Foods. Working or not working, I absolutely love that place…


12) Are you a foodie?  If so, favorite meal, cuisine?
Yes, I am a total foodie at heart. I’m not your typical foodie since I avoid gluten, wheat and most dairy and up until recently I was a vegan for 6 years but I really appreciate a good, creative home cooked meal or a good restaurant. I love eating seasonally so I have to say that right now, my favorite meal is a simple butternut squash soup made with green apples and curry.

13) What’s the most fun thing you’ve done in the last month or so?
Move cross country?! Yes, I think that qualifies as most fun… My mother and I drove cross country together actually - from Denver to NYC. Was quite an adventure. Corn fields for days but was such a nice way to see our country and not to mention, a really refreshing feeling.

14) Favorite flavor of Wild Squirrel?

Vanilla Espresso Almond Butter. Hands down. I could eat an entire jar in one sitting, but I won’t do that to myself. Or have I…?

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A big thanks to Gillian for being my Wild Wednesday feature of the week!  It is always fun to hear how other food companies are structured.  Even though we make totally different products, there are always lots of similarities!  We have done some product trading, fruit snacks for nut butter, and Keeley and I are very excited to promote Little Duck out here on the West Coast!  

I hope everyone has an awesome rest of the week!

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