My Launch Into the Natural Products Industry: The Spark That Ignited the Flame

Exhilarated, overwhelmed and hopeful were only three of the million emotions that were going through my mind as I stepped onto the tradeshow floor at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. As a first timer attending Expo, you would think I would be frozen in my strappy black ballet flats, but the thought of sharing the same beliefs and dreams as more than 77,000 industry professionals around me created an extreme sense of comfort in my body. I was so hungry to work with all of these passionate individuals and companies, no pun intended. It is the home of organic food companies, after all.

My long weekend started off with the Hot Products booths in the Hilton hotel. The energy and excitement from all of the different displays bounced off of the walls throughout the entire banquet hall. I was taking samples left and right, telling the sales and marketing directors of each company who I was and what I did, and stopping after every few conversations to just take it all in. Little did I know, I hadn’t seen anything yet.

A little taste of Organic 101 alongside my Friday morning coffee topped off the next day. This seminar was led by professionals in organic certification to educate new people entering the industry about the organic label and its significance. I felt honored to be learning from a member of the USDA National Organic Program and another who once was the youngest organic farmer in the country about the four different Organic categories: 100 Percent Organic, Organic, “Made With” Organic, and Specific Organic Ingredients. It was great to learn that a product in the “Organic” category must meet specific criteria that includes all agricultural ingredients certified organic, except where specified on the National List. Items on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances identify what substances may or may not be used in organic crop and livestock production. This list is reviewed every five years to confirm that each substance continues to meet required criteria, ensuring the straightforward truthfulness of the organic industry.

Later on that day, the highlight of the entire trip happened. The whole team, in our black dresses and green scarves, attended The State of the Industry: How We Will Fuel Growth & Change the World. In this address, Protect Our Breasts was recognized as one of the new top influencers in the industry by New Hope’s Carlotta Mast. During this inspiring and humbling experience, I realized that I, along with the five women sitting next to me, the three other National Executive Board members, and the chapter ambassadors and members at six college campuses are doing something bigger than ourselves – we are changing the world. We’re not just sharing the conversation about toxic chemicals in everyday products that can contribute to a cancer diagnosis, but we’re potentially saving a life for each person our message reaches. As the weekend moved on, the waterworks continued.

At the Hall of Legends ceremony, celebrating and awarding the great individuals who have made significant contributions to the natural products industry, Protect Our Breasts’ advisor and executive director of the Sustainable Food Trade Association, Katherine DiMatteo, was inducted. In her acceptance speech, Katherine recognized her opportunity to work with young industry professionals at Protect Our Breasts and explained how proud she was of all the work that we have done so early in our careers. As the tears were streaming down my face, it was in that exact moment that I knew I wanted to continue a career in the Natural Products Industry. It was hard to believe that these leaders who have accomplished so much in their lives were applauding our work and the things that we are all doing.

Thursday March 9th, 2017 to Sunday March 12th were days that felt like the fuel to fire a rocket ship, preparing for me to blast upward into the sky and fly around the earth to spread a message now so near and dear to my heart. I am so optimistic for the future of Protect Our Breasts and extremely enthused to be working with new companies and products through the newly blossomed relationships we have all created at Expo West. We may all dream of a healthy and safe world to live in for ourselves and our loved ones, but it takes the motivated and driven young men and women involved in Protect Our Breasts and a committed natural products industry to make those dreams a reality.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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