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Finding Our Why

Written by Catherine Nguyen.

There is something about crises that brings us back to our first principles. What I mean by that is that it brings us back to the “why.” Why am I doing what I am doing? Is it worth it considering how tough it is? Am I expending too much energy on an endeavor that doesn’t promise a return (financial, emotional, and mental)? Experiencing so many losses during the global pandemic – loss of routine, loss of social contact, loss of life as I knew it – made me reconsider what I was doing with my life and why, including reconsidering what I was doing with Wild Willett Food.

I started Wild Willett Food in April 2019, inspired by and naming the company after my kids and the three original wild crew members: Scarlet, Lilly, and Will. Soon after launching our first product, a fruit-forward beef jerky for kids, I realized the product’s appeal to parents, as well as their kids, and began preparations to refocus and relaunch the company.

Wild Willett Food was almost ready for relaunch when the global pandemic struck. Overnight, sourcing sustainable, clean beef became nearly impossible as beef processors across the country shut down. At home, I was suddenly overwhelmed with homeschooling and enriching three kids and two dogs, cooking 21 meals a week, and generally shouldering the responsibility of making sure the entire family was healthy and happy. I cried. Every. Single. Day.

So, I took a week to do some hard thinking about Wild Willett Food, our mission, and why I started a food company in the first place. I realized that Wild Willett Food’s mission from the very beginning was to be more than just a snack company. Our mission was to power and empower our customers to live happy, healthy lives. The first part was to create better-for-you snacks, but what about that second part? How could Wild Willett Food help people live happier, healthier lives? 

The first presidential debate took place during my week of reflection. Watching the chaos, negativity, and unkindness unfold onscreen crystalized my thinking and inspired me bring more kindness and positivity to the community. The next morning, I wrote a long, passionate email to my team (of 7!), asking them to help redefine our path forward. We have always said that Wild Willett Food is more than just a snack company, so I invited them to share the ways our lives can embody this principle. In response, my incredible team came up with a myriad of creative, thoughtful ideas and actions.

Over the coming weeks and months, Wild Willett Food will work to empower our community through robust messaging on social media, through creation of a blog with curated content to support and inspire women, through highlighting and lifting up other female founders, and through supporting frontline workers with handwritten notes and Wild Willett Food gift boxes. The energy in our team was incredible – powerful and inspiring. Wild Willett Food was founded to be more than a snack company. The pandemic and – yes – the presidential debate helped us return to first principles of who and what we are as a company. Focusing on that “why” redefined our path forward to a much bigger vision. We invite you to journey with us.