Goods with a soul

By: Tyler Quinn

I don’t care what you’re shopping for – we live in a day and age in which options are boundless. The toothbrush aisle at Target is enough to give me a fit and the experience is consistent across the spectrum of consumer goods. Often times, products can all look similar and all claim to be the best. The differences among them can be so nuanced and esoteric that the average shopper is left paralyzed by analysis. Given that this mind-numbing problem is only getting worse with more and more brands flooding the marketplace – paper towels to wireless speakers, restaurants to gyms – I’m forced to try a different approach to product selection.

For me, finding brands that appear to have a soul solves the issue. Brands which, through marketing, copy writing, product quality, website, blog or any other means, demonstrates that behind the goods they’re pedaling, is a story, a group of real people, a sincerity and honesty to the work and a really clear vision about why they exist. The more tangible the soul, the easier the selection process is for me.

As brand stories go, WholeMe has one that I’m proud to say I play a small part of. This is of course, nothing more than my own personal perspective on what is undoubtedly a more complicated tale but maybe that’s what I like about WholeMe – it’s a company whose history is so close to my own that I can literally have a personalized rendition of its origin.

See, long before WholeMe clusters took the world by storm, my friends and I were stuffing “DateMe” bars down our throats as fast as we could. It was a rare treat to get your hands on the company’s first iteration of nutritious snacking. Your best chance at getting a glimpse and taste of this incredible treat was to show up to a community gathering at one of my gyms. My business partners and I had our own proud small business story to tell and you could hear it firsthand at one of our holiday potlucks, Memorial Day BBQ’s, or St. Patrick’s day gatherings if you simply joined a conversation with any of our incredible community members.

Distilling another long and detailed story to its basic pieces, my partners and I had become a family over years working together and growing our small gym into a real, credible business. As an extension of that family, each member added their own special energy to the mix, bringing our business that much more to life, lending to it more character, more charm, more soul. Today I’m proud to say that I’m the co-owner of two businesses. Each has gone on to levels of success that completely eclipse those early days. And yet, it’s those early days that sit most happily in my memory and which I most commonly recollect.

Among the fine people bringing personality to my baby business were two women from different walks of life, with different personalities and different skills (although husbands with somewhat similar flares for life). They were connected only, perhaps, through their shared place of exercise. Together, the DateMe bar went from nothing more than a pan of exceptionally well received potluck goodies, to individually packaged items for sale in our tiny, dorm-room like refrigerators, to a Twin Cities wide phenomena being sold at CrossFit gyms from Stillwater to Plymouth.

Krista and Mary might tell you differently, but I sure like to think that our tiny little gym family was the perfect incubator for what was their tiny little idea to create an authentic, gutsy, and active company driven to create delicious, nutrient-dense foods. When I pick up a bag of WholeMe clusters, I can still think back to the origin of it all. I can remember being gifted with a garbage bag of DateMe scraps that I happily brought home and devoured with my roommate. I can remember special-request DateMe birthday cakes and the honor of hearing about possible ideas for next generation WholeMe products before anybody else. WholeMe has a soul and I’m proud to say I’m a small, small part of it.

When I stand in line trying to pick a toothbrush out of the thousand different toothbrush options, my indifference to Colgate vs. Crest is manifest in my ability to grab one without looking up from my phone. On the other hand, these days when I see WholeMe in Whole Foods, I damn near blush with pride at knowing how far the company has come in such a short time. Of course, there are many companies with proud stories, and wonderful souls, but I can’t know them all. The one I do know, however, is good enough, true enough, and close enough to me, that among the endless options, the choice is always easy. (Photo Credit: Athena Pelton)

Tyler Quinn (@t_k_q) is a co-founder of Union Fitness and Alchemy365, where he works as Chief Talent Officer. Tyler resides in Marcy Holmes, loves his Golden Retriever, Fletcher, drums, reads, writes and travels as much as he possibly can.

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