Rachel Bieber was a chef and food stylist living and working in Oakland, California, when she got the entrepreneurial itch, primed and ready to create something she could call her own. Rachel began slowly, testing recipes to find the perfect flavor profile, avoiding processed simple sugars in favor of more wholesome ingredients. She baked on Sundays—her only day off—and hit the pavement delivering baked goods to a growing list of local cafes. Soon Rachel had built a loyal following and was serving large clients such as Adobe and WeWork, providing sweet treats for events and as corporate gifts. Just as things were picking up and her vision for dedicating herself to her business 100% was in sight, the bottom dropped out. The pandemic hit, and like many small businesses, Rachel’s dried up; she was left to seriously reconsider her options.
“I was exhausted,” says Rachel. She took her time, resting and teasing apart the unsustainable aspects of her business. “I knew the scale wasn’t sustainable as it was. It was a great idea, but it needed work; there was so much I didn’t know.” Never one to shy away from a challenge, Rachel got busy researching a more sustainable business model and tapping into a passion for justice she developed as a teenager.
“When I first learned about human trafficking, I was about 13. It hit me hard,” explains Rachel. “The idea that young people like me were being exploited was a lot to take in. I didn’t have a place to put that concern at the time, but it stayed with me.” As soon as her expanded, scalable business model took shape, her desire to fight the injustices of a global human crisis was also rekindled, and Food & Courage was born.
The mission of the business was clear; Rachel was committed to supporting organizations like Thorn that are building technology to defend children from sexual abuse online. She also knew she didn’t want her business to contribute to America’s health crisis. Her gluten-free and dairy-free cookies are made with only natural sugars, such as dates and monk fruit. Full of antioxidants and fiber, these unprocessed sweeteners are low-glycemic and don’t impact blood sugar levels the way refined sugars do. “I call them live-saving cookies,” says Rachel with a smile. “We’re rescuing children from human trafficking and offering healthy alternatives to the junk food no one needs.”
Rachel’s vision for the final product was specific. If her cookies were to become a go-to corporate gift, she needed sleek, executive-style packaging to impress.
“I knew I wanted a white tube with a clean design from the very beginning. The only place I ever saw something close to my vision was in the liquor store. High-end liquor stands out and is almost exclusively packaged in a gorgeous tube. I knew my cookies needed to be that elegant. Also, why are round cookies usually packaged in a square box? Makes no sense. That definitely had to change.”
With a clear vision for paper tube packaging, and in addition to several other packaging providers, Rachel engaged with Paper Tube Co. and the discernment process began.
“I always make it a practice to consider three options before landing on a decision. In this case, I talked to three packaging manufacturers. Paper Tube Co. was by far my first choice. And from experience, I can say it’s not always quite that easy. Their team was brilliant to work with and landed on the perfect design for my business.”
Food & Courage is set to launch on June 1, 2022, and Rachel is eagerly anticipating the impact her business will have on organizations such as Thorn.
“We estimate it takes an average of $2,000 to get a child out of human trafficking. Thorn uses innovative technology to scan the dark web to identify the children featured in online content so they can be extracted safely. We’re committed to educating others and supporting the work of Thorn as well as safe houses such as Her Song, which supports women and children transitioning out of the abusive cycle of trafficking.”
Rachel’s road to launch has been filled with challenges, yet she is determined to succeed. When asked if she has advice for others looking to promote products with a purpose, she is enthusiastic in her response:
“Take your time. Being an overnight success is unrealistic and overrated. If you clearly define your 'why' and refer to it daily, it will become your true north, fueling your passion as a natural extension of your company. Don’t be tempted to rush and condense your success into a 9-second video on social media.”
“You won't get most things right the first time, and redefining failure and success can be useful. To most entrepreneurs, failure simply isn't trying. I would advise you instead to dig deep. Learn how you process success and failure, and then build out healthy habits in every area of your life so you always have safety nets to catch you when you fall. Stay healthy and rested so the creativity can flow.”
Rachel has big plans for Food & Courage, with a goal to get 16,000 kids out of trafficking in the next two years through profit-sharing donations alone. The brand will expand to create more products and add retailers and large events as the business grows. “We’ve got work to do,” says Rachel. “We’re not just selling cookies, we sell courage. Cookies are included as a bonus.”
“I’m so proud of what we’ve built with the help of Paper Tube Co. This partnership will eventually save the lives of thousands of children. The beauty of that goes way beyond the elegance of a paper tube. I am very excited to build a long-term relationship with Paper Tube Co.”
—Rachel Bieber, Founder, Food & Courage