NBJ Award: Leadership and Growth
As first published by Nutrition Business Journal
Kristina Hall, co-founder and chief marketing officer of True Grace, a supplement company that produces vitamins, probiotics and omega oils all in an environmentally-conscious way, chose a scary time to launch her new company. "We ironically started the company the month the entire country shutdown, March of 2020. We quit our jobs at the end of February, of course not knowing what was to come, and then, yeah, we were stuck at home with a one-year-old and a three-year-old trying to plan our new business when everything was shut down."
But the COVID pandemic didn't shut down True Grace. The brand made it to launch and won a NEXTY Award for Best New Supplement for Expo West 2022 with their Daily Women's Probiotic.
But what makes True Grace an NBJ Award winner for leadership and growth is the company's passion and dedication to regenerative agriculture, conscious and transparent sourcing, and even their packaging: small reusable bottles made of recycled plastic (no virgin plastic is used), and recyclable pouches for refills.
The company started in 2020, but the first products launched last October. True Grace is about as emerging as an emerging company could be. "It's always a bit nerve wracking, building a brand when so much time goes by before you've actually had the big reveal," she admits. "You hope and pray that everyone's going to love your brand as much as you do. So, it's been really amazing to see the response we've gotten. And really the icing on the cake was to win that NEXTY. We are so proud of that."
True Grace is led by Hall, her husband Brian Hall as CEO, and Sara Newmark as COO, all veterans of the natural products industry with 70 years of combined experience, and their passion for the environment isn't just a marketing spin. The company is rigorous about the science behind the products, and equally prioritizes its determination to help the planet. "My husband and I have been in the supplement industry essentially our entire careers," Hall says. "We knew that if we started a brand, we wanted to do it a bit differently than how anyone else was doing it. When we set out to create our mission and vision, we started out by saying we wanted to regenerate the health of people and planet. And that's really what kind of inspired us in everything we do."
Because modern agriculture has depleted the country's soil and peoples' health is depleted, True Grace decided to help both by focusing on nutrient densities by way of soil health. "Because our soil is so depleted, sourcing ingredients that are regeneratively grown is really important. And then it's twofold, because the consumers that are purchasing those ingredients and taking those ingredients are regenerating their bodies."
That commitment to regenerative agriculture has been a hallmark of the brand from its beginning. The couple were introduced to the concepts by Sara Newmark's father Tom Newmark, a pioneer of the regenerative agriculture movement. Years before the term became a buzzword, Tom Newmark approached Hall's family foundation, "to see if we wanted to get behind and support helping create a standard."
That early understanding of regenerative agriculture is just one piece of proof that the Halls and Newmark are earnest about environmental issues, says Robert Craven, managing partner of Findaway Adventures and former CEO of MegaFood, where he worked with Sara Newmark. He admires True Grace because, he says, the founders are true believers, and they don't get lost in their passion for the cause. "They want to save the planet and change the world, but they've got significant experience that flows into their product in a way that's very thoughtful and very intentional. So, true believers are going to create products whether it meets a market need or not. It's not about the classic strategic approach."
True Grace, he adds, hearkens back to an earlier era of the industry. "They remind me of the natural retailers that helped start the industry. There were true believers there. That's the biggest compliment I can give to anyone in the space."