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Kumana Brings Avocado Sauce to Own Backyard

Downtown-based Kumana Foods, makers of avocado sauces, is set to expand into approximately 308 Albertsons Co., Vons, and Pavilions locations across Southern California in September.

The company said its products also will be stocked at 124 Safeway Inc. locations in Denver starting this month.

The Southern California launch marks Kumana’s first venture into their hometown region and gives the company a foothold in more than 700 Albertsons and subsidiary locations on the West Coast.

“We are excited for our rapid growth on the West Coast and are especially thrilled to make our avocado sauces available to our home base of Southern California,” Chief Executive Francisco Pavan said of the deal with Albertsons and Vons. “Our next step is to consolidate the market further by getting into the food service industry.”

Pavan said he wants his avocado sauces to become a cult favorite, similar to what the Sriracha hot sauce became.

The company was started in 2016 by Pavan and vice president of product development Todd Vine, and made its official debut to the market in March at the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim.

The company signed with Safeway at the annual show. Three choices of the sauces – dubbed “be original,” “be sweet,” and “be hot” – were in 400 stores in Northern California and Portland, Ore., by Memorial Day weekend.

Honest Co. Panel

Jessica Alba hosted a panel at the headquarters of Playa Vista-based Honest Co. – where she is a co-founder – about unique challenges facing women entrepreneurs. The Aug. 20 discussion included Alli Webb, founder of Irvine-based Drybar, a hair service company; and Payal Kadakia, founder of New York-based ClassPass, a fitness class app.

Alba, who co-founded the consumer-goods company in 2012, led a discussion of subjects that ranged from work-life balance, equal pay, gender parity and mentorship.

Kadakia said that women entrepreneurs continue to face biases in funding.

“There aren’t many women in the decision room and when you have products that are predominantly made for a female audience, then you’re faced with finding a way to make funders understand the need,” she said.

Webb emphasized the importance of work-life balance, saying life is too short to be uninspired at work.

“I want the best experience not just for our clients but our stylists as well and I think as founders, it’s important to show that support and be vocal about what’s working and what’s not,” she said.

The businesswomen said they often define leadership in non-traditional or “non-corporate” ways. Alba, who also is an actress, said that in the entertainment field she sometimes “dulled down” her smarts in order to be successful.

Honest Co. received a $200 million minority investment in June from Greenwich, Conn-based private equity firm L Catterton after facing lawsuits, product recalls and the departure of co-founder and former Chief Executive Brian Lee. The company also backed away from a planned initial public offering, and multinational consumer-products conglomerate Unilever reportedly nixed an acquisition bid in 2016, choosing to purchase Honest Co.’s competitor Seventh Generation Inc.

Simply Inc. Conference

West Hollywood-based Simply Inc., a fashion and beauty event company, held its annual Simply L.A. conference on August 11.

More than 300 people gathered at the Americana at Brand outdoor mall in Glendale to network, attend workshops, panels and hear from brands about best digital media strategies, best practices for social media influencers, ideas for retail pop-ups and new beauty products.

Simply was founded in 2012 by Sarah Boyd, whose background in fashion PR led her to launch the company. It was acquired in May 2017 by New York-based Nylon Media Inc., a multimedia company, for an undisclosed amount.

“I started Simply to help connect people in the field by throwing events and it’s grown into something so much more seven years later,” Boyd told the Business Journal after concluding an interview on stage with Shadowhunters actress Emeraude Toubia.

Boyd declined to provide revenue numbers but gave an estimate saying, “We are definitely making a million dollars a year now.”

Her company connects consumers with stylists, bloggers, editors and influencers with potential employers, companies, and brands.

The conferences the company throws occur three to four times a year start with packages ranging from $250 to $500 per person. The company also partners with shopping malls to provide workshops once a month.

“This is everything I hoped for our events to be, creating actual connections that can result in furthering the careers of so many young women,” Boyd said.

Staff reporter Shwanika Narayan can be reached at snarayan@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8351.

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