Impact Brands: 3 Stories to Snack On

By Roderick Kelly

Co-founder, K+L Storytellers

I recently walked the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, trying the many varieties of beef jerky, hot pickles and health bars. Yes, health bars. I could hear my wife Michele whisper in my ear from 40 miles away: “Pass on the beef jerky and eat healthier.” And so I did. Well, kind of. LOL.

As I sauntered the aisles and talked to people, I came across three companies that really impressed me because of their impact brand stories.

Story #1: Kiwa

This Ecuadorian-based manufacturer of premium vegetable chips has a great story about working directly with regional farmers to provide them with an improved way of life.

 Kiwa sales manager Maria Jose Guillen.

Kiwa sales manager Maria Jose Guillen.

Through its direct trade with farmers, Kiwa provides self-sustaining economic success to small, impoverished farmers, many of whom farm unique vegetables that are only native to South America. “We work with development organizations to help farmers get out of poverty,” said Maria Jose Guillen, sales manager for Kiwa, whose chips can be found in more than 30 countries. In the Chicago area, the many variety of chips many varieties of chips include plantain, beetroot, cassava and native potatoes share shelf space with more recognizably-named chips at Mariano’s and Pete’s Fresh Markets.

“Think about the many men and women working in remote fields and villages, left behind and oftentimes forgotten by a world that continues to move faster and faster. We proudly connect small farmers in Ecuador and Peru with world markets. Every time someone enjoys a Kiwa product, the collective heart of humanity beats a little louder,” says Kiwa co-founder Martin Acosta. That’s impressive, and the chips are delicious. Never thought I’d eat a beetroot chip. (Full disclosure: Kiwa is a client of K+L Storytellers).

 Story #2: This Bar Saves Lives

 Emily Baker, social media and retail marketing specialist.

Emily Baker, social media and retail marketing specialist.

If this company name doesn’t scream: “Listen to my story,” I’m not sure what does. And listen I did. With each bar sold, this Los Angeles-based company provides a portion of the proceeds to nutrient packets, which are delivered to malnourished children around the world.

“Every time you buy a bar, we give life-saving nutrition to a child in need. We eat together,” is the company’s mantra said Emily Baker, social media and retail marketing specialist for the company. This Bar Saves Lives has provided millions of nutrient packets saving thousands of children around the globe, she said.

That’s a feel good for everyone.

Story #3: Fresh Toys

At first glance, I thought Fresh Toys was like a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Inside each box of gummy candies, there is a miniature toy from one of eight collection themes: fairies, pirates, ponies, kitties, puppies, warships, ivy schools and homes. The packages and toys are all designed by 20 young moms and dads whose intent it is to “make kids smile, and give a boost to their imagination, good heartedness and happiness,” according to co-founder Alex Polanski.

FreshToys.JPG

Being a creative myself, I marveled at how the company’s goal is to have children use these toys to create stories and to fantasize, much like our generation did by playing with green plastic US Army men or doll houses with miniature rooms and furniture. “Our ultimate mission is to provide affordable, safe, and fun novelty toys. And that’s what we do," according to Polanski.

Even the company’s title focuses on the toys rather than the candy. Founded in Europe, the company has only recently distributed in the United States, although to find them in stores, you will have to travel to Pennsylvania or Wyoming until distribution ramps up.

 Great stories, cool products and impactful brands. Now, where did I put my stash of beef jerky?

These Five Young Authors Wrote A Book. What Can You Give Away?

 

5 young authors. 3 stories. 1 published book. THEY DID IT!!!!

IMG_0457.jpg

 

What do you know that you can give away? How can you change young people for life? What is your legacy, that leave-behind to the world? 

Two years ago, I started a program called Your Extraordinary Story to teach middles-schoolers how to write a short story in teams.

This past year, I was invited to bring YES to an after-school program at Washington Middle School in Aurora, Ill. What an honor!!!

We published an anthology of short stories called 3 Lessons. When you write a short story, you get creative confidence - not just about writing, but about creativity and about your ideas.

THANK YOU to Dr. Burton, WMS principal, the My Genius Now grant leaders Pat Swanson and Ann McBride, and the Dunham Foundation for believing that the arts transform all of us, especially our youth. And thank you to these young authors who, with a pencil, a spiral notebook and their imaginations created beautiful, unforgettable stories.

What do you have in your wheelhouse to give away? What knowledge, tools, advice, mentorship, passion can others benefit from? 

A Salute to Our Youth

By Roderick Kelly

Co-founder, K+L Storytellers

One hundred seven young men donned identical tuxedos. Their dates wore beautiful white debutante gowns with matching gloves that extended beyond the elbow. These young adults were experiencing their first “grown up” event where they were treated as equals. The setting was the Drury Lane Oak Brook ballroom, bulging with more than 800 attendees. The event was Marmion Academy’s “Salute to Youth” gala.

It sounds like a cliché, but these are our future trailblazers.

For the first hour of mingling and eating of appetizers, many of the seniors approached me with their right hand outstretched, a smile on their face and a “hello Mr. Kelly” on their lips. They introduced their dates and we engaged in small talk. I saw our son doing the same with other parents.

I have known these young men for four years, some of them longer. I’ve watched them grow from boys to men.

And the tone was set for the rest of the evening. The speeches were predictably genuine and heartfelt, and with each, the students could get a glimpse into their future – as independent-thinking adults, as future parents and as groundbreakers.

And then the spotlight shone on them. The 107 senior students and their dates beamed with nervous pride as each couple walked up on stage for their introductions. Each man graciously deferred to his date as she curtsied to the attendees. Each smiled and visibly exhaled as they left the stage, arm in arm.

“Salute to Youth” is their reward for four years of hard work. It’s their swansong before graduation.

Regardless of the path each takes, I know their future is bright, and they will make this world better. In fact, they already have.

Salute to our youth.

 Our son Peter and his date Sophie.

Our son Peter and his date Sophie.