When You Have A Nutty Idea, Always Fear This More Than Failure

+ Danielle LiVolsi, NuttZo; Kun Yang, Pricklee


It’s common for someone to see a jar of NuttZo for the first time and wonder, “Why is it upside down?” The majority of the brand’s nut- and seed-based butters are packaged such that the twist cap is at the base of the jar, allowing for the ingredients’ natural oils to rise to the top and make it easier for consumers to stir and blend before use. The unique design is essential for attracting awareness and gaining trial, but as NuttZo founder and CEO Danielle LiVolsi explained in an interview featured in this episode, winning customer loyalty and a policy of no regrets have been the keys to her brand’s success.

Founded in 2008, NuttZo, which markets all-natural snack bars in addition to its butters, has become a nationally recognized brand available in over 10,000 grocery stores including Walmart and Costco. A former radio sales executive, Danielle bootstrapped the company’s launch and development and has emphasized steady growth and a focus on consumer demand for high quality ingredients and customer service. A mother to two adopted sons who are the inspiration for the brand, Danielle also leads NuttZo’s sister nonprofit, Project Left Behind, for which a portion of all sales support orphaned and underserved children around the world. 

As part of our conversation, LiVolsi recounted the creation of NuttZo and the creative ways that she won the brand’s first retail buyers, why she adheres to the Nordstrom model of customer service, the reason she has turned down offers to invest in the company and why she fears regret more than she does failure. 

Also featured in this episode is an interview with Kun Yang, the co-founder and CEO of Pricklee. Co-founded by a team of pharmacists and launched in 2017, Pricklee markets beverages made from prickly pear juice and is described as “cactus water.” Yang recalled Pricklee’s backstory, how his team is leveraging consumer awareness about coconut water to build the brand, the impact of localized social marketing and what he described as the keys to learning the ropes of the beverage business and adapting quickly.

In this Episode

0:45: Interview: Danielle LiVolsi, Founder & CEO, NuttZo — LiVolsi and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif kicked off their conversation with a discussion about a helpful Facebook Group called #OMGCPG, how global supply chain issues affected the launch of a new product, why getting massages are great for ideation and how she de-stresses and avoids burnout. She also recalled early challenges in product development, how she landed meetings with a Whole Foods buyer and the founder of natural grocery chain Jimbo’s, why she’s adamant about not accepting outside investment unless it’s a ‘perfect fit’ and why she tapped her mother to manage phone-based customer service for the company. Later, she explained why she is still regularly involved in sales meetings and why she believes that despite missteps in building Nuttzo, she wouldn’t do anything differently.
44:48: Interview: Kun Yang, Co-Founder and CEO, Pricklee — Latif sat down with Yang for a conversation with Yang recorded at Natural Products Expo East 2021, where the entrepreneur discussed the inspiration for Pricklee and its diverse team of founders and how the company is using coconut water as a point of reference for new consumers while simultaneously calling for “NOMOCOCO.” He also spoke about how Pricklee is utilizing TikTok and Instagram to target consumers in specific regions of the U.S., the brand’s uses of SMS-based marketing and why building a community of advisors has been critical to the company’s growth. The interview also includes a brief cameo from none other than The Beverage Whisperer himself, Ken Sadowsky.

Also Mentioned

NuttZo, Jif, Pricklee