WOMEN CRUSH WEDNESDAY
Food and cooking have always been a centerpiece and passion in our family... Whether it's a new exciting recipe or a traditional favorite, a major holiday or a summer barbecue, we’re cooking together and then sitting around the table laughing and eating together. Food makes the best memories.
Mama Millin, Pure Batch
When I see someone relate to my mom and when they come over to hug her for making a product their child can eat, after never having a real treat before that they actually like, those are the moments that really make it worth it for me. Genuinely, I believe we can make a difference in the way people view traditional dessert.
Angela Millin, Pure Batch
Location: Millstone, NJ / Hillsborough, NJ
Hometown: Staten Island, NY
Industry: Organic foods manufacturer and being a Mom
Company: Pure Batch
Female Inspirations: My Grandmother Anna, who instilled my love for combining cooking and family
Current WCW: Ellen Degeneres
Location: New York City
Hometown: Millstone, NJ
Industry: Sales / Branding / Marketing
Company: Pure Batch (also Director of New Business Development for Harper+Scott, the fastest growing company in the promotional product space)
Female Inspirations: My mother/business partner
Current WCW: Susan Lyne (BBG Ventures), Bethenny Frankel
Angela and Mama Millin are a team filled with a tenacious, diligent and caring spirit. I met Angela Millin when I entered the University of Miami in 2008. When I first met her, she terrified me. Angela is a vivacious, enrapturing woman who is the only human I know who can manage to run a company, work a 9 to 5, and truly be there (heart and soul) for every single one of her friends and family members, and still be standing the next day, no less. She gets it from her Mama. That’s why their company is going straight to the top. Because it’s not just a company built off of hard work and tenacity, it’s built from the heart. To learn about what inspired Angela and Mama Millin to create Pure Batch and all the fun involved of working with your family, read on!
What inspired Pure Batch?
MAMA MILLIN: For me, Pure Batch was really a “make lemonade out of lemons” situation. After battling breast cancer (something both my mother and mother-in-law also fought and beat), the side effects of chemotherapy often left me with a very unappealing outlook on eating and it was devastating. Unfortunately what saves us, hurts us. There were poisons traveling through my body killing the bad but also the good. As I began to feel whole and was starting to heal I took some time for myself to enjoy life (aka: eating whatever I wanted, and what I wanted was a lot of pasta). A few years after my battle, I had a scary doctor appointment that left me feeling if I didn’t make changes to my lifestyle, the cancer had a greater chance of coming back. I quietly began seeing a nutritionist who helped open me up to a new world of ingredients and I began understanding the connection between food that tastes good and food that is good for you. I took my love of cooking to the test and developed what is now known as The OG Pure Batch Protein Brownie so I could have something I could enjoy every afternoon. After rounds of evolution, our family and friends were eating the brownie as much as I was and I asked Angela if she thought we could start a business. She said, and I quote “you don’t have a business, you have a brownie…”. She then encouraged me to try and make more products with similar ingredients before we could really talk about a business. Three months later, I had made over 26 batches and the rest is history! What really keeps me going is feeling stronger in my 50s and in my “new” body than I ever have before.
ANGELA: My mom, and she continues to inspire it every day.
What has the process been like of creating a company ground up? What are the difficulties?
MAMA MILLIN: Starting a business at 54 years old with my 26-year-old daughter was both exciting and challenging. Very early on we decided we wanted a company where it would be possible for all people to have the opportunity to eat what I was producing and we soon realized what that actually meant, both financially and physically. For example, the certification processes alone (so far USDA organic, vegan, gluten free, soy-free and WBENC with more on the horizon) have been an unbelievable undertaking in meticulous paperwork and costs, not to mention the build out of a production facility specific to our needs before we could even begin selling and the sourcing of ingredients that meet our certification standards without cross contamination of our allergens. People warned us that the food industry is tough, but boy oh boy am I learning it firsthand. We make as many connections as we can to learn and grow and have been very lucky that so many of our friends and family have helped us along the way. I am the type of person who likes to do it right the first time around, so I’ll spend hours on the phone just to get one answer. Right now, we’re preparing for Expo East and I think I filled out a form yesterday about where we were allowed to breathe. I joke around, but you know what, we are on a mission to create satisfying, delicious treats that “everyone” can enjoy without any reservation and I’m such a mom in that way - I won’t stop until I succeed.
ANGELA: I agree with mom and would add that there is no start-up path equal to another. Each company has its victories and difficulties. When I see someone relate to my mom and when they come over to hug her for making a product their child can eat, after never having a real treat before that they actually like, those are the moments that really make it worth it for me. Genuinely, I believe we can make a difference in the way people view traditional dessert. Look at what she’s done with the traditional Pignoli Cookie! I know how cliché it sounds when founders babble on and on about the uniqueness of their products and why “there’s nothing out there like it” but, the truth is, we want to pave the way for clean/refrigerated/preservative-less items like ours. Given that there really ISN’T an established market comparable to what we’re doing at Pure Batch, it’s been a challenge to educate buyers on the why’s and how’s behind the brand when they’re used to seeing lower SRP price points and longer shelf lives. It’s as much about education right now as it is about sales.
What makes Pure Batch clean? What makes it different from other healthy desserts?
MAMA MILLIN: I can assure you, and/or show you my notes that Angela yells at me for doing by hand, Pure Batch uses only the highest quality ingredients available on the market. I won’t settle for anything less. The biggest difference is that the majority of healthy desserts sacrifice taste for nutrition. At Pure Batch all our products are nutritious and delicious. I just can’t have people saying my food doesn’t taste good. It hurts me to my core. Our customers, or as we like to call them our “Pure Batch Family,” usually find it hard to believe that we do not use flour or eggs or any type of dairy amongst other things. Most importantly our raw truffles are DATE-FREE, unlike so many others… I really just hate dates.
ANGELA: The dates thing, she really has a hang-up there for sure. To be fair though, that is probably the biggest difference. Anyone producing something similar to Pure Batch is heavily reliant on dates and the taste and texture really can suffer from that reliance, not to mention how high the sugar content is. From a clean perspective, we’re sourcing machines. If you’ve ever filled out USDA Organic paperwork for certification, you deserve a gold medal and a bottle of prime Brunello. Here’s a fun pro-tip: as my mom mentioned earlier we actually have over 26 products in the line, but are only presently working on 6 skus* for retail sales. Very cool, very exciting, but also we had to certify 100+ ingredients over those 26 products. Believe me, we’re as clean as clean can be!
*skus* : Stockkeeping unit
What’s your favorite Pure Batch dessert?
MAMA MILLIN: If I had to pick just one, it would have to be The OG PB Protein Brownie. I ate at least one every day from mid 2014-2015 and still lost a lot of weight in addition to getting healthy. That Brownie was my rock. It was also my first born batch so I might be partial, but like I say, they are all my children now.
ANGELA: She’s really being modest. She lost 50 pounds in under a year eating that brownie. I LOVE being able to tell parents that it’s a black bean based, 8/8 allergen-free brownie when their kids eat it and love it. It’s a nutritional phenomenon. Personally, my favorite batch is actually The Snick Truffle. If I eat a “bad” dessert, it’s probably a donut and these truffles are just so perfect in the morning with my coffee.
What is your favorite part about getting to work with family?
MAMA MILLIN: My favorite part about working with my family is their ongoing support. We truly are a family business and at the end of a crazy day, we still love each other. It does not get any better than that especially with your daughter by your side!
ANGELA: I just think family is everything, so to be able to run a business where my mom is my partner, my Uncle is our CFO, my cousins (who I usually refer to as my sisters) are integral in our marketing and operations, and my dad is our ever-available and ever-present support system (really though, that man will do anything for us), I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling. I also genuinely consider my friends to be family and they have been standing behind this business in every way possible since day one. The real beauty of working with all aspects of family is everywhere I look, I trust.
What are your goals with the future of Pure Batch?
MAMA MILLIN: I’ll let Angela take this one…
ANGELA: *laughs* Well, I have a lot of goals for this company and to be honest, they’re consistently evolving. We will absolutely remain true to the core values of the company and continue to push to have at least one product on our production line for every person to be able to eat without reservation or hesitation, regardless of restriction. That’s our #1 priority. I know for sure I’d like to have Pure Batch step into the spotlight as a disruptive and category-starting brand in the refrigeration space. Beyond that, I’d love to have Pure Batch become a true lifestyle brand with focus on my mom’s spirit and tenacity allowing us to build out into different categories beyond grocery.
Has food and cooking always been a centerpiece and passion in your family? Why is food and cooking important in your family?
MAMA MILLIN: Food and cooking have always been a centerpiece and passion in our family. I actually can’t remember a time when our family would come together without talking about what’s cooking in the kitchen. Whether it is a new exciting recipe or a traditional favorite, a major holiday or a summer barbecue, we’re cooking together and then sitting around the table laughing and eating together. Food makes the best memories.
ANGELA: It’s insanity. We’re eating breakfast and talking about dinner. My cousins and I will get on the train from NYC back to our houses in Jersey (we grew up across the street from one another) and immediately call to see what my mom and aunt are cooking. I’d walk into our house with at least 5-6 girls on a Friday night after dance classes for a sleepover to homemade pizza and pasta and zeppoli, every week growing up. Food is family. One time, I’ll never forget, I had just had lunch with a friend and we came into our house and my mom said, do you want to eat something, are you hungry? And we said, "oh no thank you we just ate!" And she said, “…does that matter?” She then proceeded to put out a spread fit for a small army. It compels conversation and my mom is absolutely right, it makes memories.
I really want to know what Thanksgiving is like in the Millin household.
MAMA MILLIN: Thanksgiving in our household is a feast and a time to count our blessings. We blend the American traditional recipes with an Italian kick. We all gather around in the kitchen often tasting and sampling while cooking Grandma’s Italian meat stuffing. The antipasto is always better than the year before and Angela usually makes a new appetizer which is always very creative and loved - her rendition of Jean Georges’ squash on toast is unbelievable. Red wine is constantly flowing, there’s always a disproportional amount of bread and cheese for a traditional Thanksgiving, and there’s always different people around my table. By the time we reach the “American” part of the meal (turkey, etc.), we are all way too full to breathe but somehow we manage to return to the fridge later and start all over again. My nephew is notorious for opening the fridge at about 9 pm and then again at midnight to make sandwiches.
ANGELA: This might be a good time to mention, we’re not vegan or gluten-free. Mom and I both eat an organic, primarily Mediterranean-based diet. The reason we chose to have our company hold all of these stats is because we strive to be as inclusive as possible so everyone can have the same enjoyment in their treats and not be subject to making alternate choices. But back to Thanksgiving… honestly, Thanksgiving doesn’t really do it for me. I love all holidays and all time with my family but my favorite holiday that I will host when one day when I don’t live in <900 square feet in Manhattan, is Christmas Eve. The only part of me that remains a traditionalist exists on December 24th. I wait all year for the 7 fishes (7 different fishes, not the same type of fish done in multiple iterations) and the ceremony of it all. Frying calamari around the counter before dinner, opening presents at midnight, clams oreganata… I’m getting excited just thinking about it. That night is such an important part of being an Italian and we lean in pretty hard. You’ll have to come sometime Moll, you’d love it.
How can we order and munch on some Pure Batch treats?
Right now, we’re selling in different stores throughout the tri-state area, mainly in organic independent markets. For a complete list of retailers please check out our website, www.pure-batch.com, where we also sell all of our batches directly! *For everyone that has read this article to the end, we’d like to offer a special WCW discount on your next Pure Batch web order. Use the code SmollsWCW at checkout.* If you have any questions, always feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Smolls recommends the Cookie Dō Truffle as her favorite Batch!
Check out our website: www.pure-batch.com
EXPO EAST BOOTH #2117 — See you there!