Angie Bastian, along with her husband, Dan, are the founders of Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP, one of the most successful homegrown snack food stories in the 21st century.
Angie and Dan Bastian were looking to put aside some money for their kids’ college fund when they started a small kettle corn business out of the family’s garage. They sold the popcorn at festivals and sporting events, eventually becoming the official popcorn of the Minnesota Vikings after delivering several free bags of popcorn to the players to eat while they watched film during training camp. Eventually, Angie retired from her work as a nurse practitioner and Dan from teaching history to run their company full-time.
The ultimate game changer took place when Angie’s Kettle Corn became BOOMCHICKAPOP, and the rebranding took place. Several years later, Dan and Angie, sold the business in the fall of 2017 as a part of a $250 million dollar buyout by Conagra Brands.
In this episode, Angie shares with us:
- How the popcorn company started,
- The behind-the-scenes story of the naming of BOOMCHICKAPOP,
- The strategies they used to overcame setbacks to build the company,
- Why we should not discount our own unique perspectives, and
- Her personal passions driving her today.
“Don’t discount your own unique perspective.” Angie Bastian
HIGH PERFORMANCE MINDSET SHOWNOTES FOR THIS EPISODE: www.cindrakamphoff.com/529
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TO READ ANGIE’S PREFACE IN DR. CINDRA’S BEYOND GRIT FOR BUSINESS BOOK: https://www.beyondgrit.com/
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Cindra Kamphoff: Well, I’m excited today to have Angie bashed in today on The High-Performance Mindset. Angie is the founder of the best popcorn in the whole world., Boom Chick-A-Pop, which is the only one that I eat, and I’m a fan. I’m a huge fan. White Cheddar is the best just to be clear. And Angie also wrote the forward of my new book Beyond Grit for Business. So, I’m really excited to have you, Andy. I’m grateful that you’re here just to help inspire others and to give them some real strategies about mindset of business growth, and just to the mindset to allow people to thrive. So, thank you so much for being here today.
Angie Bastian: Well, thank you. Cindra. It’s great to be here with you and it was an honor to write the forward for your book.
Cindra Kamphoff: It was an honor for you to do that, and I was thinking, as I was preparing for today, I was thinking about the first time I know that we met, and you heard me speak at a high school. I actually clearly remember that little keynote. It was when I had just started kind of doing more mindset training and so it was pretty cool. And then obviously, you know, we’ve interacted lots of other different times, and our friendship has grown so much for me. I think you’re a strong woman that I admire so much. And I think about what can I build in my business? And you’re just one of those roles models the role model that. I’m continuing to consider and think about. So, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.
Angie Bastian: Well, Thank you. It’s funny, because if you live long enough, you’ll become somebody’s role model.
Angie Bastian: That’s awesome. Let me do something. You know somebody’s bound to notice Say, hey? I want to kind of do that, you know, or be like that that makes me so happy. I want my kids to, you know, to also kind of like, learn something or grow, or you know, as a parent. You just want what you’re doing to be relevant to your children and have them, and to have that go beyond your circle of you know, family or life. It’s really extra special to have an impact on the world in a way that’s positive. So, thanks for noticing.
Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, my gosh, yeah. And I think about the impact that you’ve made in so many different ways, right, not only with this like incredible popcorn, and now, seeing it all over the world, you know, whenever I travel and my mom picks it up, you know, because she’s so proud of you.
Cindra Kamphoff: Let’s get started with your story, and you know you started popping popcorn in your garage to really fund your kid’s college education, and so you know, tell us about what that was like at the beginning.
Angie Bastian: Sure. Well, my husband was a schoolteacher, and I was a psychiatric nurse practitioner? We were all fully employed, but we had 2 little kids, 3 and 5 and you know we just had a little freak out, and that we hadn’t started saving for their college, and we were just kind of restless, and wanted to do something that was together as a family. And also, we thought, well, we could teach our kids how to do it, too. And our motivation was really very sort of small. In the beginning. We didn’t set out to create a global popcorn brand. What we set out to do is do something for our family and to teach our kids. you know, maybe the value of work, and learn how to make change and smile and say Thank you to a customer. So, we bought a tent and some equipment off the website in 2,001 of a couple in Gig Harbor, Washington. that was building this equipment. We got a little recipe, and we started popping kettle corn in first time in front of rainbow foods in Mankato, Minnesota, and then we just went everywhere we could those first 3 years to pop kettle corn on, you know street corners and fairs and festivals, and dragging our kids along. And you know I don’t know it was. It was kind of craziness, and we just put everything back into that business, and we were able to get connected with the Minnesota Vikings at Training camp and we gifted the Vikings some bags of popcorn on a Sunday night when they were watching film, and the next thing we knew their sales and marketing team. I asked us if we wanted to be the official kettle corn and the Minnesota Vikings, and that gave us a whole new platform and a larger audience, and from that we got a meeting with the lungs and buyer leaves buyer, which is a specialty grocery store chain in the Twin Cities area, and we move the operation indoors. bought a bought some new equipment rented about 150 square feet in a grocery store kitchen that was vacated, and Dan quit teaching, started building and delivering, building this little business, and delivering into the backs and grocery stores, and that was in 2,004. We started at St. Peter Food Co-Op, one little co-op store and 3 lunch and Buyer Lee stores. we are making everything by hand. I could.
Angie Bastian: I continued to work in my job as a nurse to support the family and we went all in and for him in 2004 and by the time we were at I’m going to say, about 2010. We have probably about 80 employees. We had outgrown to production plants. We had settled into and built out another construction or another production plant, and we attracted the attention of private equity because we had grown, and we were in Costco. We were in testing and Target, and we were in a lot of grocery chains in the Midwest, and private equity out of Boston invested in us, and 2,011 in a minority position. And they helped us grow, and in 3 years we had a liquidity event including our employees and a new private equity came in out of San Francisco, TPG. Growth, and they invested in 2014 and Dan and I stepped out of the business became board members. We’ve hired a brand-new leadership management team and built the company again and sold to Konaker brands in 2017 and had yet another liquid of the event for some for our employees. And you know it was. It was quite a journey, but the Boom Chick-A-Pop was a rebrand in 2011. That we worked on and over the years. It proved to be, you know a brand and a product that could stand on its own. And you know I like you go into the grocery store and see it, only you probably buy it. I fixed the shelves because they’re messy, and so I fixed the bags, and so I still can’t help being Angie to fix the bags on the grocery store shelf wherever I am.
Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, I love it, Angie. Well, thanks for that, you know. Quick rundown of actually how you built it because I know people have to be wondering what were the different steps you took actually to build it, and then, you know, sell it to Kanangra for a quarter of a 1 billion dollars, right? When you kind of think about that, it’s pretty mind blowing to think that it started in, you know, in 2004 into just for grocery stores, right popping it by the end to 16 years later. This brand that is recognizable, and that you could, you know, sell.
Cindra Kamphoff: I think that’s really incredible. How does that you know when you think about what that moment was like for you to actually sell it, and completely, you know. step away. What was that like for you?
Angie Bastian: Well, it was dramatic. Let’s call it that, but it wasn’t that we weren’t prepared for it, because we came to understand that you know 7 years before that when you enter into a relationship with private equity. You know you switch from sort of a family-owned business to an investor engaged business, and investors want to realize gain. So, in the way they do that is often is in a brand or in CPG. Is to is to sell. So, we kind of knew that would be what would happen along the way, and had, I would say that first engagement with private equity, had we sold that, you know, without being involved, and had to step away entirely in 2,014. It would have, I would have felt, both in and I would have felt relieved, but really sad, I think, because I don’t care if you are ready to be done. but then when we had the second private equity, come in, buy out build again. we reinvested in the company. sat on the board, built this team. That was just this a plus team, and then it was fun, you know. It was just really fun, and the whole I mean it wasn’t without its turmoil and difficulty. But it was more fun for Dan and that point, and you know when it’s sold in 2017, you know I just felt like my kid just graduated from college. That’s what it felt like to me. I was happy, and we well, we felt like we did it, but you know it was still ours, that it still feels like it’s ours, but I know it’s not. You know it’s the business going on to thrive and live independently and honestly. I have had a non-compete that just expired October of 2022, so I was still tied to the success of the business in in in a very loose way, but still connected legally to the business, in a sense, you know. And so, you know I’m just getting used to not being connected anymore. And it’s it was a slow process of untangling that intense connection, and I think Dan and I are just getting used to that now.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. Well, I could imagine it’s, you know it’s your baby. It’s like your kid graduated from college, and I could imagine the investment like the emotional investment that it took just to build this. And I’m wondering, Angie, what I really want to kind of dive into and focus in on is the mindset it took because, I mean, even as you are going through the different steps and the risk taking that it took. When you take a step back and say what allowed you to take the risks the way that you did.
Angie Bastian: What I would say is that you know we took incremental risks.
Angie Bastian: In the beginning, I would say, and you know the first investment for us was, you know, about 8,000, some or $10,000 on a credit card, right? And that’s how we paid for our first investment, and then the risk was the time that you use to build the business, and that risk of what you’re giving up instead, you know, of building a business which is you know it’s TV time when it’s early on, you know, like, okay, I I that’s no risk out. We’re just out chugging away building. So those first couple of years it didn’t feel risky.
Angie Bastian: It just felt like we were doing something, you know. But then, as we continue to commit to a greater degree, and every time you commit to a greater degree, what we came to understand is that there’s larger risk associated with that and its financial risk. It’s more time. it’s. It’s more identity risk like okay, I guess we’re all in now, I guess. I’m, you know, like when I retired from nursing I didn’t retire from nursing until we took on private equity, and then we were both like it just felt like suddenly there was no safety net under us. We are all in now, but that didn’t happen in the first 3 years, you know we didn’t
take that kind of risk. I think we took financial risks that were significant in 2007 when we built out a production plant and you know more depth than we ever expected that we would take on, and in my whole life. I never expected, but it didn’t feel ominous to us. I mean it was. It was significant, you know. But you know we were of the mindset like, okay, this is what we gotta do. We got it If we want to move forward. We have to take this risk, and we’ll just we’ll hold it. We’ll just have to hold it and act, you know. Just make sure it doesn’t fail, you know, or just and you know, every day we have little failures. I would say that, but the whole thing can’t sail right like we can’t have a recall. We can’t fail on the product. We can’t sail on certain things, but we could sure fail like on a lot of things which we did because we didn’t know how to do it right, or we didn’t know how to do this. And so, it was just about like we had had enough experience up until that point, to know that when we fail, we would know what to do, to fix it, and to make it right, or to learn from that, and move on, or get this resource to the table. Or and so every time we did that it was like we grew a little bit more. We understood the business a little bit more, and we felt a little bit more confident. Whenever we did have those kinds of failures. And then, when we, when we started looking at like this, could be a really big failure like we could owe people millions of dollars.
Angie Bastian: If this whole thing if the whole thing would fail, and that felt like a pretty big risk.
Angie Bastian: But what I would say is that we have. We have built that confidence in ourselves that like that we didn’t take that big of risk the first the first decision we made we took that risk. When had we built confidence in ourselves that we could we? We could do this, and you know what there’s a lot of things out there you can’t control. And so, we are like, well, okay, if for whatever reason, there’s something happens like a tornado hits the plant that we can’t get like. And we end up like losing this business. Will all a lot of people a lot of money but will be fine. We’ll be fine. We’ll just pay them. We’ll pay back the money for the rest of our life, but we’ll be fine because the things for us that really mattered. Were us for the people that we loved and cared about, and you know, and our reputation. And you know we weren’t just going to walk away from. You know that risk we knew that it came with strings attached, and you know we would never cut those we would. We would honor those, and because we knew who we were, and so we wouldn’t abandon who we are, just because there’s risks there. And so, it would just mean that you know our lives might have gone in a different direction. and so that’s how we talk. That’s how we kind of settled in our mind that risk, and I would also say we didn’t dwell on the risk we just we do. We knew it was there, but it wasn’t like something that that you know.
Angie Bastian: No, no, it’s like you’re like, okay. We know it’s there. We signed it. We know how much we owe people. Let’s go. Let’s go. Let’s go focus on what we can do. Let’s go. Let’s go, fill this thing, and that’s and that’s why I think we handled risk.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, thanks I really appreciate that answer, because I think about how it was. It was like calculated risks. It was like, slow, you know, slow risks over time, and it wasn’t just like it went from your garage buying something for a 1,000 to you know the next day selling it to Conagra right like it’s. It was small risks that the smaller risks of the time, but it was like the confidence that you had allowed you to take those risks, and I think about people who are trying to build something, maybe building their career, building their own business, and building. Their confidence is really important to continue to believe that they have the skills, and what you said is like you weren’t dwelling one of the things that could go wrong. It’s like. Well, what can I do to create this?
Angie Bastian: Exactly. I mean you know there’s enough that can go wrong in a production plant every single day. You can’t just focus on that, you know, and you get a lot of notes like when you’re early, and you’re an early entrepreneur. You have a new product, and you get an appointment with a buyer which you think victory. I’ve got an appointment with a buyer, I’m like I’m. I’m in, you know, and they can still say no, and but for us it was always you know. It’s not that we expected. We kind of
came in expecting them to say yes, because we had, you know, in our own we had such great product. We had all this stuff, but they would say no, you know they would say no, and for us you know it’s as an entrepreneur that’s like getting punched in the face a little bit. and you, you kind of take a step back, and then the goal, I think, in those situations is it is to never ever react in anger or burn a bridge or do something like it just. We just never did that, because you know, we were as gracious as we possibly could be, and for us it was also a more about connecting with another human being, and making sure that, like they liked us, or they they cared about what we were doing, or that they carried about the business. So maybe, you know, in 6 months, when they maybe wanted to give us a slot in the shelf, and they thought about like you know somebody that they want to do business with it. We were hoping they would think of us, you know, and so we would keep in touch. And we would, we would, you know, always treat them like we would want to be treated instead of like
that sort of reactive, like dejection and rejection that you get, and how you can react and say, Well, you know forget that I’m going on to the next store, you know, and see if they want us, because that could be the reaction, and then being, and it’s kind of how you can feel sometimes after you get a bunch of those, you know. And you know for us. We just tried never ever to do that.
Cindra Kamphoff: Well, I appreciate that answer, because I think you know that he goes involved when we feel defeated, or we get angry or frustrated right? And then I’m thinking about some of the people that I coach one on one Angie who are maybe entrepreneurs or their people in sales or financial planners, and they can. You can easily be easy to react with like frustration.
Cindra Kamphoff: You know what’s you know or take it personally like. There’s something wrong with you when really it might not have just been a good time for them to put popcorn on their shelf at that point.
Angie Bastian: Right? Right? I do think we always try to kind of take in
feedback on. You know we could do better to, you know, because maybe we did come into hot and heavy, you know. Or maybe we did, and come in too aggressive, or I don’t know I’ve been in. I’ve been in plenty of buying offices with professional salespeople that they act so salesy. I can just see the buyer shutting down, you know, like the buyer doesn’t want to hear kind of their approach. And I always felt like, you know, and we always encouraged our people to just be people, you know, just you know, and we have a product, and we know how to ask for the sale and all of that. But I just, I think if I always tried to put myself in that buyer’s chair.
Angie Bastian: and they’re seeing like every half an hour every hour. You know all of these people coming in and telling them the same thing. We have the best product that you’ll ever it’ll ever have, you know, because we say it is, and all you know, and we’re the best thing this year, and we’ll. We’ll do all these wonderful things for you; you know they hear that like 10 times a day, you know. And so, you have to distinguish yourself.
Angie Bastian: Maybe in a relationship, you know, or in in that, that that that you get with someone, or in building that relationship. And I think you know and presenting a brand and a product that’s of interest to them. And you’ve got it. I also think one of our keys was thinking about like sitting in the buyer’s chair ourselves and thinking about how they would respond, and how I’m looking at this product and this person to help me do my job better as a buyer, you know, and that was, I think, helped us in a lot of ways, you know, to make them look better, because that was our goal. You know they they’ve got their job is to get as much revenue out of the real estate. They’re given on a grocery store shelf and let’s help them. Do that, you know. Let’s help them do their job better if we can. You know, if we’ve got something that we can offer them to make them look good, not just us, you know. So that was important for us.
Cindra Kamphoff: It makes sense, Angie, that you know your message to your people is just. Just Be a person, just be a human right like, connect with them personally, because I think that that’s also who you are, you know, really authentic, and just like a connector, you know I know early on there was some disappointments, and I think about when you first told me about how that you were going to. You asked the Minnesota State Fair if you could, if you can, if you can have a booth there, and they turned you down and so it kind of makes me laugh now. But I’m curious about how did you deal with those setbacks, and what was the mindset that you dealt with? How did you actually deal with something that didn’t go great?
Cindra Kamphoff: And what advice? Maybe you would you give for others who do experience setbacks, you know, maybe small or big.
Angie Bastian: Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, we were, I would say we were pretty far along in our business when the Minnesota State Fair opened up
like an RFP for cattle corn because they had apparently someone. They had been there for a long period of time, and they were very loyal, and we understood that we weren’t trying to, you know do that. But when they opened up the Rp. We’re like, oh, let’s go. We’ve got to be in, you know we’re already a well-known brand in in Minnesota, and it made so much sense to us. And we were going to invest and build a kiosk and everything like that and then they turned us down which didn’t make sense to us right like we know why, right? It just didn’t make sense to us. They have their reasons, but I think, very quickly. We just walked. We are just we are like, okay, all right. That’s not where we’re going to be like they don’t.
Angie Bastian: That’s not it for us. Let’s go. Let it, and really let’s just let’s not invest any more time and energy into that situation, and in fact, we use the investment that we would have otherwise used to do that to build another portion of our business which was in the branding and CPG space. And so, you know, had we been distracted, and we stayed there exactly like to get in there.
Angie Bastian: We might not have had the energy and resources to focus on this other direction which we are like. Fine, you don’t want to. Okay, Great. We’ll go. We’ll go. We’ll just keep going, and we kept in touch with the State there, and I think they eventually kind of reached out to us years later, and we were like Well, we don’t really do that anymore.
Angie Bastian: Had had we had we stayed there, I think, Dan and I we saw the steak there is like, Whoa! That would be. That would be the hallmark of success for our business if we would have kept that definition as the hallmark of our success. Dan and I would still be hauling our kettle corn maker up there every year, and you know, we wouldn’t have realized the kind of success for our investors and our employees, and we it just
this other whole thing probably wouldn’t have happened.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, isn’t that incredible, like as I’m listening to this, I think about you know this phrase like, how are how do things happen for you? Not to you? And I think about how, maybe not getting into the State fair was a gift in some way. Yeah, and you wouldn’t be it or distracted you from what ultimately you could build. And I think that’s a great reframe that people can have when they’re going through. A disappointment or difficulty is, ask yourself. Well, okay, maybe this is I’m just supposed to be meant. I meant to go on a different career path
or maybe there’s something you know better at the end of this tunnel than it than right now. What seems to be the thing that I really want, or we desire.
Angie Bastian: Well, and I think the key to that. Is that what you just said, I, I think this thing is going to something else could be better, I think, in the entrepreneur’s mindset is like I’m going to go make something better. Then love it. I’m going to go this because you, because you kind of feel like you have to prove something to yourself in a way I felt like, or we felt like.
Angie Bastian: And so yeah, and maybe that’s a dysfunctional way that that entrepreneurs work, I don’t know. But you because you’re trying to prove to yourself, and you’re trying to prove to everybody else that what you’re doing is relevant and matters and you can, you can, you know, and that you can get validated out there. And so, but it it’s a drive that that you know we always felt like you know rejection, or whatever was
with motivation or competition. Same thing, motivation to go be better, and we are going to make ourselves better. It doesn’t just happen. I don’t think you got to make it happen.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. And I think that’s so much about mentality, you know, as I work, Angie with some of you know, really great professional athletes. That’s actually what I see is a differentiator is when they’re faced with a disappointment or difficulty or rejection that they have this sort of like sort of maybe watch me mentality. You know that it’s like, oh, I’m going to go make it happen. And I love the way that you just tweak to that is in a, from the entrepreneur standpoint that I was like, okay? Well, that door closed. How can I go make something better
and be motivated when you’re faced with rejection, instead of just giving in and saying, well, okay, that’s not for me or doubting yourself in some way, because can. I just tell you, and this may be there’s a little there’s more than a little satisfaction that that in a couple of years I think
Angie Bastian: You know, after we got the rejection is they’re going to wish they would have chosen. And then they came back and asked you, I think you know. But we just didn’t do it anymore, you know. So, it was. We were beyond that, you know, and you sometimes outgrow your rejections that you’ve had in the past, you know. So, if and if you didn’t, you might end up getting stuck there. So, you know we just never.
Angie Bastian: Never really dwelled on any of the rejections that we had, and just moved on quickly.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, I think that’s hard for people to do. Angie. Was there anything that you did specifically in your own mind. Do you think that came natural to you? Do you think it was helpful to have you and Dan together like what allowed you to actually move on quickly.
Angie Bastian: Well, you know, I think the first time I mean, you know, everybody is experienced personal rejections in their lives, broken relationships, things in the past, you know that. Look, I wasn’t always
capable of moving on quickly when it came to rejection, because I at my heart broken like everybody else, probably in their lives. We’ve got, and you know, as a young woman and you know everything is there to learn, you know I mean I Every experience I felt like was for a reason for me to learn or to grow, and you know, even personal experiences of rejection. you know I had enough space to look back, and I think, Dan, in the same way we had enough space to look back on things like that, and just say it’s. You know we know what that’s like, you know. We know what we know what you know really feeling stuck in a place feels like, and here we don’t want that like I don’t want that in my life. I don’t want that in my career. I don’t want that, and you know, in in our partnership. And so, I think you know that that growth happens through it for me at least, happened through experience. And it just didn’t make sense in a business
to stay stuck in anything, you know. And so, because I knew what that felt like, and I knew that kind of you know that circular down the drain so that could feel like, and it just didn’t it. It’s just didn’t make any sense to take that mindset into building something. It just it’s an opposite. It’s pulling in opposite directions. And so, you know, I would say you know both Dan and I together were like we were already in agreement like this is not how you live, your, how we would live our life. We don’t want to get stuck in anything, and so it just made sense to us. It felt rational to just move forward. Let’s go. Let’s I love Lizzie’s song. You know that one song about I don’t know it’s, you know. Walk I push and swear and walk your ass right out the door, you know, you know. Put your head. You know all of that. Some shoes. That’s exactly right, like, okay, deal with reality and go move on. Do what you gotta do, and that’s truth in business, too. You know it just is. It’s like it is.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, there’s a strategy I talk about in the book called Learn Burn, Return, Angie, and it’s just this idea that this I mean, it gives you a structure, and how to do that. It’s asking yourself, what am I learning? And then, literally, once you take the lesson, you can burn it. You can move on, and I think it’s easy. Sometimes it’s easier for some people than others. But I want to hear is what you both did the decided on you. You know your conversations with you and Dan that it was like, All right. We’re this is how we’re going to live, and we’re going to we’re not going to dwell because you’re right. We just kind of get this in this circular cycle.
Cindra Kamphoff: There was a moment that I remember when I was interviewing you for the book, and you said like the best for the best moments was, You know, those times where you could give your employees a check right after you sold it, and what that was like just to be able to give the people that supported you into making this brand, and I want to talk a little bit about
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Cindra Kamphoff: the people that you had. And you were talking in the in the preface of the book that you know, creating a culture where people felt liberated to be of their authentic selves, to share their ideas and perspectives was really important, because it allowed people to like to unleash their creative energy. Tell us a little bit about how you built that culture, and how you think that culture ended up helping you be successful in the end.
Angie Bastian: Yeah. Well, you know it’s a culture that you know didn’t get created in a day. I’d say that you know it’s a foundation. I think that Dan and I built on in the way that we first tried to treat each other, you know, being married, building this, you know, like at which is the very basic premise of that is, expect the best out of someone, not the worst, you know, like you just like, even though you might be upset, you know if but just kind of go with that. Go with your best instincts about that person, not your worst, you know, and so that that kind of I would say that kind of culture of collegiality and looking at someone
with the intent that their intent was for good, and not to be destructive in any way, you know.
Angie Bastian: And I don’t, and I do don’t mean that in terms of like this toxic positivity because we all make mistakes, you know. I just mean like. But when somebody makes a mistake, you know it that it’s you know they might not have meant to. You know they were trying to manipulate. They were trying. They like to look at something like that. It’s an opportunity for growth. It’s an opportunity for us to learn more about each other, like there’s room for people to be human in this system, and to make mistakes and like I have your back on this in, or I’m here to support you, and that’s really important when you’re on a production floor, working with you know, equipment that is dangerous. And you know, I think the way that we talked about it is OSHA comes in, and they make sure that you have a standard of safety for your employees. And then we took that mindset of safety, as you know, that physical safety that OSHA really requires to keep people safe physically safe. we took that into. Let’s make sure people feel you know, safe, but everything about them is safe like who they are, who they are, in their in their choices of religion, or their social groups, or their ethnicity, and that everybody has something unique to offer, and let’s make it safe for them to be expressive of who they are. And you know, in our production, plan it wasn’t easy, because sometimes we had.
Angie Bastian: We had people that were dealing with drug and alcohol issues with drug Court. We had people that were immigrants. We had people with none of that, you know they were college students, and so that there had to be there had to be some give and take, and some latitude for people to be human. And yet, grace, I would call it grace for each other; and I think that when people feel safe emotionally, and bottom-line physical safety, you know nobody is getting hit. Nobody’s getting burned with the you know all of that stuff that can happen in production plans that people feel physically safe and emotionally safe. Their anxiety, energy, just kind of drops.
Angie Bastian: And there’s a lot more space and room for problem solving and empowerment and visibility to see things that maybe, you know anxiety makes some tunnel vision, you know, or if they’re just trying not to make a back, you know, not trying to get fired, you know, or whatever that is that that people experience at work, or whatever fears it is. What we just try to do is have accountability here. The guard rails. Here’s the structure here. Here are the rules of operation. You can’t treat each other badly. You know there’s rules about working to like the switch from where the switch can’t wear this. You keep the food safe. All these things work within these guard rails, and then bring your best self to work. And you know we have. We’re all here together, and it we might as well make it fun. We might as well make it a community where you feel like you’re in it, together with somebody, even though you’re just making popcorn to sell. You’re really doing much more than that. You’re building bridges with the people you’re standing next to, or sitting next to at a desk, believe me, we had people at desk yelling at each other. It wasn’t always peaceful, but know, if there was room for a dynamic exchange of ideas and personalities within it, you know. And then sometimes you’d have to just say, really back a little bit, let’s, you know that was maybe inappropriate and but every, but people were clear about what was inappropriate. And what was it? And yet. I think that culture is hard to manage in a way, but as that culture kind of evolved it, it became really very much easier for our Hr. People to manage to manage the business, you know, to manage human resources than it did without those that dynamic sort of changing sounds kind of Lucy Goose environment. But it became. It became really an enjoyable place for so many people, and we still have a Facebook page of Auntie’s alumni that we go on, and people connect their cause they miss each other.
Cindra Kamphoff: They do? That’s awesome. Well, I think that was an incredible response. Angie and a couple of things that I wrote down that I just want to. Highlight is like expecting the best of the person, and I think sometimes we don’t always, and maybe our default is to expect the worst to protect ourselves. So, expect the best you, said Grace, and like, I think, ultimately, it’s like acceptance of people to create this environment of safety. You know, as we kind of as I keep on thinking about what your you know what you continue to be passionate about. Tell us what about? I know you’re really passionate about just like helping women and helping them grow their business. Or, however you might, you support them, and so tell us what? Where? You where you’re spending your time now, and what you’re passionate about.
Angie Bastian: Well, actually, you know I do some mentoring for women who are in business and entrepreneurs. I also am a chairperson of the Board of Directors for a company called Prosper of Food, and it is a vertically integrated benefit corporation with a non for profit that, is supporting shareholder farmers in Central America. And we’re bringing their products to market to the global market and through the benefit corporation we are able to get profits to flow back, to create a middle class. and to elevate farmers. And these are these are farmers that are used to living off of $2 a day, you know and so we are. We are selling cassava flower. we have a production plant that’s produces that buys Yuka from farmers, and we have been able to stabilize the Yukon market in Nicaragua. Which is a second poorest country in the in the Western Hemisphere behind Haiti and it is it’s a place where there’s a lot of room for growth, and you know, and the people are wonderful. And there’s a school. We just got back from Nicaragua that we’re educating. There’s a school that’s now graduated 7 classes and you know there there’s a lot of impact that can happen in a place like this. And so actually, I’ve spent a lot of time. I still am very passionate about supporting women. But I’ve gotten involved in in international economic development and using my contacts from my CPG: world and food world to open up markets for people where global markets were inaccessible in the past.
Cindra Kamphoff: Well, that’s incredible, Angie. I think. you’re I can hear just so much of your heart right like your heart, and in terms of building boom, take a pop, but also in your heart. in the things that you’re continue to be passionate about how you spend your time now. there is one question I wanted to ask you is about the name of boom tick a pop, and I think that’s such a cool name and such a sticky name. I remember the first time I saw it, and it rebranded from Angie’s Boom Chick-a-Pop, and I was like Well, that’s cool. Tell us how that came to be.
Angie Bastian: Well in 2010 we were Auntie’s kettle core and still, and we wanted to expand product offerings beyond sweet and salty. We I wanted some plain I’ll see salt popcorn plus skinny pop. It just gotten launched on the market, and it was really eating our lunch because they had a position that they had position the popcorn as a as a diet and snack play, and the consumers are responding to that. I was personally annoyed by it because I felt like it was sort of reductionistic in a way, and
it maybe gets back into the stores and look at how are we talking, how our marketers talking to consumers about food, and what I noticed at the time is because we were in the natural and organic snack aisle is that they were very permissive color palettes, very masculine looking color, palettes, and very permissive messages about eat. This food is really good and then there were other brands that were using more playful, more colorful wording and language, and those appeared to be aimed at children and adolescents. And then the food that seemed to be aimed at. Women was
more in line with their assumption that we were all in on, on a diet or something, or that we were all supposed to look a certain way, or you know I don’t know it just personally annoyed me. And so, we you know we were trying to figure out a strategy how we compete in the marketplace, how we launch some new products and so we hired a creative agency, Mono out of Minneapolis and their creative team took our problem. and we were like we really want to do this in a different way. We really want to come into the marketplace. We’ll, we’ll give the consumer the product they want. But we’re going to do it in a little bit of a different way. And Here’s how we want to do it. We want it to come from a position of empowerment. We don’t want to be our sales guys honestly kept saying, can’t you just name it, Angie Skinny or Angie is, you know, nearly naked, or and I was like No, we are not doing that, and nearly naked because there was out there called there like it was something near, and they were. That was the language. That was because it was, you know, very little fat, very little. So, all of that. But it was. It was really it was really like; you know. What. Why are we talking like this to about food, you know. And then I started looking at advertising and the advertising seem to position women with food as a moment of conflict or as a sexualized behavior. That’s what it looked like to me at the time, and I was like we are not going to do that. That is not how we’re going to talk to people about women and food. And, in fact, let’s do something where at women are actually eating, where we show up on the shelf in a way that celebrates the feminine. That is clearly feminine energy. that captures the attention of consumers, and especially women like they’re going to stop in front of it and go. Hey, I like this. I don’t know what it is, but I like it. I don’t know why, like it, but I like it like, can you help us do this? And can you?
Angie Bastian: Yeah. And so, we were going to name this product something different and they came up with a couple of names and boom! Chick of Power pow was one of those names, and we all started laughing right and we are like because there was this immediate energy in the room. But we had. We had an analyst at the end of the table. This is. These are the days that we all sat around a table and worked on one table in this big kind of room, in a garage in Eden Prairie, and after these you know 24-year-old brilliant marketers left. he said, you don’t like a palpal is seventies and why don’t take a PAL palace 70 is for? Well, we can’t have that, you know, but it also made me think. Well, let’s take that energy back like it Really, let’s take it back. Let’s do something with it. Let’s connect it to the let’s connect it to the product a little bit closer, and they did that. They came back with Bo to the pop. We are like, let’s go you know I was. I was even a little too afraid that that bright yellow bag was too much. And I said, let’s try why they go. No, I really think we should do yell, and we’re like, okay, you let’s go like I knew it was right. I was kind of scared, but knew it was right. They knew it was right. We launched it in May of 2,012, and by August the bright yellow boom, chicken pop back, and she’s going to pop by August of 2012.
That grocery bag was our number one selling grocery stores after 4 months, and that was after being a business for 9 years. So amazing, so consumers voted right, and they voted with their pocketbook, and we got we got distribution on the coast that we never would have got. Have we not been sort of provocative like that? And I would just say the design of it of the package was really out of necessity, because we needed that package to do a lot of work for us because we didn’t. We didn’t have the money to do advertising at that time. So, we knew we had 2 and a half seconds to capture someone’s attention.
Angie Bastian: So how are we going to do that? And you know this is the brilliance of creative people when you give them. You know a brief about this is what we want to accomplish. We don’t know what that looks like they bring it to life, and they brought it to life. And that’s how it came to be.
Cindra Kamphoff: That’s awesome. I love that it was. You know we’re going to be boom chick of Powell, but the Pop isn’t so much better. I love that story, and what I love mostly about Angie is that it came from a place of like empowering women. And you know I mean first of all; your product is incredible. I do think it’s the best popcorn that you can buy. But then also to know that it came from like the packaging was more about like empowering women and not making women feel like. They’re not enough or right. They don’t have this this perfect body or that. They needed to eat it to be skinny right? And so, I love the heart of how it came to be, which is empowering women.
Cindra Kamphoff: So good. Well, I know there’s so many different things that we could talk about. But what I want to finish up with is just tell us what your advice would be for people who are maybe trying to build something. Maybe they’re entrepreneurs, or you know, maybe they are listening because they’re inspired about building something bigger in their career. What advice would you give to people who want to build something bigger, maybe as a business, or just in their career.
Angie Bastian: Well, I think what immediately comes to mind is Don’t ever discount your own unique perspective on anything or your own unique purpose in the world, whatever that is, you know. And you know you built you, you know just no one ever thinks exactly like you think, and the way that you think might feel obvious to you, or the way that you might see the world might feel like it’s obvious, but it it’s probably not. And you know we might be you know, an example of, you know just the way that I saw something in the marketplace that was maybe a little different than anyone else was able to help us create a brand that was worth 250 million dollars, you know, and that was just built. I mean, we did execute product and everything. But you know it’s clear the 2 together. It’s the execution and the perspective together. Building. That is what created this value, both tangible and intangible. And so Don’t ever discount that the way you see things in the world might be valuable as you build your career or build your business.
Cindra Kamphoff: Outstanding. And you well, I so much appreciate
the whole hardness that I think you and Dan live with, and I can see you know, how you’ve built this, and you know that your heart was so in it. And here’s a couple of things that I want people to remind themselves of. As I kind of summarize today. I love what you said about when you’re when you face with a rejection just to never react with anger, frustration, keep those bridges open, and instead ask yourself, you know. How can how can you grow? What can you learn? How can you take this as a motivation? To continue to be your best right. And you talked about like not dwelling on the negative.
Cindra Kamphoff: And when we’re talking about the culture you said, expecting the best out of people creating that emotional and psychological safety. And then your last comment about owning that unique perspective is really powerful. So, I know. I’m hopeful that you and Dan are going to write your own book coming up sometime soon. But if you’d like to read Angie’s forward in my book beyond grit for business. You can hold over to beyondgrit.com, and it’s free shipping right now.
Cindra Kamphoff: Angie, how would you like to end today and what’s the thing you’re thinking about?
Angie Bastian: Well, I just have so much gratitude for everything that our life has become, and you know all the all, the good and all the bad, because it all put together. It created, you know, the life that I that I have now, which is given me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. And I, you know, just to be able to meet you Cindra.
Angie Bastian: Learn from your wisdom and your book. I learned stuff reading your book beyond dread for business, and I was like, oh, that’s how to describe what maybe what I was sort of thinking I didn’t know how to say, but she knows how to say it, you know, and so I just I just every moment in life is there’s something to be grateful for, and you know I’m just so happy that that my life is come to a place where I get to be around people like you Cindra, and you know, and other people that we get to meet in the world it’s where it’s that where the energy is great things happen when there’s vibrations between people and I just it’s so. True it’s so, true and I just think you know, building relationships is one of the most important things you can do in in any part of your life, whether it’s personal business, social, collegial. It’s just so important. And I just appreciate this relationship.
Cindra Kamphoff: Well, thank you, Angie. Thanks for being such an incredible role model. And for all that you do in the world, and for inspiring millions of people. And I think, after hearing this today, people will see Angie’s Boom Chick-a-Pop differently, because they hear the back story, and then it’s you know it’s I would just say like more than popcorn if you were the top part or the popcorn you hear, like the real person behind it. So, I’m grateful that you spent some time with us today. Thank you so much for being here, Angie.
Angie Bastian: Thanks, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.