Both of my parents were always politically active, and it started at an early age. In fact, when my mom was in college – she did not want to run for office herself, but she organized the campaign to get one her friends elected as Student Body President at UCLA. That friend happens to be Judge Harry Pregerson who went on to be a Ninth Circuit Court Judge, which is one below the U.S. Supreme Court!

My dad stayed active in local groups here in Southern California and helped organize a community group to reduce Gang Violence. Part of that was helping campaign for the first woman elected as Orange County Supervisor, The Honorable Harriet Weider.

Both of my parents felt it was important to be active citizens and to exercise your right/privilege and vote. Some of my earliest childhood memories were going to our neighborhood polling place with mom and dad (and my sister Jackie) and watching them cast their vote (this was before you could vote by mail).

So, it should not come as a surprise that while our mom was alive, Jackie and I wanted to honor her within our produce industry. In 2001, we established and funded the Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship, through one of our trade associations. I remember walking into my mom’s office with Jackie to share the exciting news that we created an annual scholarship in her name. It was her passion for being an active citizen and support of enriching family businesses that led to this annual scholarship. This allowed members of any family business within the produce industry to apply and attend the yearly fly-in to the Capitol for the Washington Public Policy Conference in DC.

Since its initiation, we have awarded between two to four scholarships each year and have made many new industry friends. Either Jackie or I will attend the conference, meet up with the scholarship winners, and help guide and connect them with produce peers throughout the conference. Some have even visited us at our office – meeting Frieda when she was alive!

Washington conference attendees.

So, it was an amazing coincidence, as I thought about writing this blog, that I received the following email last week, from a previous scholarship winner:

Hi Karen,

Hope you’re doing well.  I enjoy keeping up with you on your blog, fun stuff.  I just had an “aha” moment and had to share and say thank you.  

Since returning to the ranch, I’ve gotten more involved with the political side of things.   Gradually learning the players…listening more…. building relationships, etc….it has been great. I’ve been on the board of California Citrus Mutual for several years now and have done a lot of state government relations work and have really enjoyed it.   Recently the incoming board chair asked me to join their executive committee. A big part of that role is doing advocacy in DC.   As I was just now working on final logistics for my trip, I realized I’m going to be there almost at the same time as the Washington Conference.  It dawned on me that 12-13 years ago I went to the same conference thanks to a scholarship I received from your family. So, thank you!  

I know my attendance at the conference so many years ago has been so influential. And not just for advocacy in the citrus industry. My young daughter Laura and I, did an advocacy trip to DC for JDRF when she was six years old, and she still talks about it. The fire has been lit in her as well.

Have a great rest of the week and let me know if you ever pass through the Porterville area. Would love to show you around.

 Warm Regards,

Julia Inestroza, Family Business Owner and Citrus Grower

It is amazing how things work out and that a small scholarship for a 2-day conference several years ago, could have such an influence on all members of a family.   Have you ever thought about the impact you could make if you went to Washington DC? Or even to your own state capitol or city hall? What if, instead of complaining about what our elected officials are doing, that you chose to be on a subcommittee, attend a hearing or listening session and made your voice heard.

It’s not as hard as you think it might be and you could make an incredible difference not only in your community, but for the next generation.

That is what motivates me. What motivates you?

Karen

 

Los Alamitos, CA (September 2022) – As award season kicks off this fall, Frieda’s Branded Produce has picked up four honors in the 2022 Kitchn Essentials, grocery edition. Each year, Kitchn names essential grocery items that have gained fan-fare and become staples in consumers’ grocery carts.

“Being recognized with four awards is the proof point that our new branding is breaking through and speaking to consumers,” says Cindy Sherman, Senior Director of Marketing, Insights & Innovation at Frieda’s. In fact, in a recent study 56% of those surveyed said they were more likely to buy Frieda’s vs the leading specialty competitor.

Kitchn is a multi-media consumer engagement platform that strives to connect with its large audience in a personal voice to help guide the planning, shopping, cooking, and organizing of busy, fulfilling lives. They provide inspiration for the food their readers want to eat. Kitchn receives over 439M monthly impressions across their website, email campaigns and social media channels. Other winners of the 2022 Grocery Essentials list include Dave’s Killer Bread, Goodles Macaroni & Cheese and Magic Spoon Cereal.

The Frieda’s items that were selected within the produce category include Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, Popjoys® kumquats and Rambas® Rambutan. “If you can get your hands on a fresh rambutan, I’d highly recommend it,” says Kitchn Contributor Amanda Marikar. Rambas® new branding pops on the shelf and creates an opportunity to shake things up in the tropicals category, as 73% of shoppers are searching for produce variety.

Slightly left of produce, the final honor was recognized in the plant-based category where Frieda’s Soyrizo™ took home the award. The plant-based category is gaining substantial growth, and of the 16 Kitchen honorees, Soyrizo™ was the only sausage alternative on the list.

“The Kitchn inspires better, healthier and more delicious eating for the consumers who follow them, so to be recognized for our products that do the same fills our hearts in every way”, says Sherman. Be prepared as your shoppers demand these award-winning products.

Contact your Frieda’s account manager today, and head into award season stocked with these traffic-driving products in your produce department. Source: C + R Research omnibus survey in partnership with Frieda’s, 2019.

Survey of 1,000 people. Survey population representative of U.S. demographics.

 

About Frieda’s Inc. Frieda’s Branded Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.

Last month in this blog, I shared advice to my 30 year old self.  In it, I mentioned that I hoped that my two daughters, Sophia (age 28) and Alex (age 32) would read my own advice and reflect on the the impact that has on their own lives.

That blog was actually published by one of our produce industry publications, AndNowUKnow  a few weeks later and it was personally rewarding to receive many emails from industry friends who said my advice really resonated with them.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened up an email newsletter from The Snack a few weeks later and learned that my eldest daughter Alex had written her own self-reflection and that same publication published it.

Alex is brave and really opened up the kimono when sharing her personal journey, and her reflections on what it was like to grow up as my daughter and Frieda’s granddaughter.  It is with great joy and admiration, that I share her comments here:

I remember when I was turning 30 in 2019. The first thing that came to my mind was, “I am not anywhere near ready to run a company…”

No one asked. However, it became apparent to me that I had put the pressure on myself to know the answer to that unasked question as I approached my 30th year, because it was burnt in my head that my mom became President of Frieda’s, our family business, at the age of 30.

In 1985 when my mom, Karen, turned 30, I was not even a glimmer in her eye (or however that saying goes). My mom was jumping into the infinite abyss of the unknown that only my grandmother Frieda had experienced: being a woman running a produce business. Karen worked with Frieda for almost 10 years, and Frieda was also supposed to be her source of inspiration. I feel alone just thinking of how alone my mom must have felt not knowing many other women business owners during that time. When a challenge lies ahead, we naturally turn to those who have done it before, and I am not sure my mom had anyone to turn to.

My mom took on a lot at the age of 30. She “had it all” on paper: She was married, had a house, car, and ran a business. At the age of 30, I also “had it all” on paper, but I felt unfulfilled from the depths of my being.

What I did not have at the age of 30 was self-love, belief in my inner voice, and belief that I was enough. I must imagine my mom Karen had the same thoughts at some point in her 30s.

So, as I turned 30 years old, I remained lost, unhappy, and unmotivated. I gained 50 lbs self-medicating with food. A few months after I turned 30, my grandma Frieda died. That sucked. I panicked, worrying about where I was going to turn for reassurance I was capable of everything I was taking on in my life, as my grandma, Frieda, played that role for me as my only antidote to my rampant imposter syndrome.

Then COVID hit.

Then…I woke up. Specifically, on December 29, 2020, while giving birth to my beautiful, perfect, cherub child Eli. And that awakening has continued every day since.

Jody Boyman, psychologist, wildlife photographer, and entrepreneur, shared on the Second Life podcast something her graduate advisor said to her when she was at a crossroads in her life: “Women’s lives are nonlinear. You have the opportunity at every moment in the day to make a radical pivot if you want, if that is your decision.”

Shortly after giving birth, I realized I needed to make a radical pivot in order to love myself, knowing loving myself meant I could finally live up to my full potential. Over the previous two years, my unhappiness within myself was so palpable. I was grasping on to any answer to the question I kept asking myself, “What would make me happier?”

Answer: No. Absolutely not. Tried that, didn’t make me happier.

I realized I was in a relationship that subtracted from my self-love, and I had to end my 10-year relationship, five years married, with my child’s father.

It was the best decision I ever made, and the scariest one as well. I was tearing apart a “family.” I was going against everything I ever wanted (no divorce). And I was also so unhappy, unmotivated, insecure, and bored.

What did I want?

I wanted to love myself. I wanted to love my growing career in an industry that fulfilled me. I wanted to love being Eli’s mom. I wanted to try new things and spend time with those that support me and share open and honest communication.

Today, I am on the other side of this journey. Not completely out of the woods, but for the first time I’m confident in myself. I have a healthy relationship with food, I have overcome my imposter syndrome (that was tough), and I am happy.

Money does not buy happiness. The job title does not buy happiness. The house, the car, and the clothes do not buy happiness.

On the day she gave birth to Eli, Alex Jackson "woke up"
My daughter Alex and her adorable son, Eli.

Self-love can provide endless amounts of happiness. A relationship where you feel heard and valued can add to that self-love.

I imagine my mom had a similar journey in her 30s (and 40s and 50s), however, in the 1980s, ’90s, and early 2000s, it was taboo to say you were unhappy when everything on paper added up to happiness.

Nothing magical happens at the age of 30 that triggers a pivot. It seems to be a common milestone year for my mom and me. The awareness may have been all I needed to know I have the authority to make changes. I’m responsible for my own happiness, and I’m the only person that can prioritize an adjustment. Like Jody’s advisor said, you have the opportunity at every moment to make a radical pivot.

Karen’s five pieces of advice are crucial. I have a business coach—two, actually—and they have helped me live to my full potential. I finally have a financial advisor for the first time (financial confidence is very freeing). The rest of Karen’s points? Check, check, and check.

Part of the changes Alex Jackson has made in recent years have been so she can fully enjoy her role as a mom

I wouldn’t change my journey for anything because it all leads me to feeling happier than I ever have. So, here is what I wish I knew at the start of it:

    1. Self-love is the only type of love that will make you truly, deeply happy. Without self-love, anyone else’s love for you will not fulfill you. You will always feel like something is missing.
    2. Listen to yourself. Your inner voice is powerful. You know yourself better than anyone. And, in order to listen to yourself, you need to love yourself.
    3. You are not alone. When you feel alone, I challenge you to call someone you trust and say you need to talk, and they will listen. They will make you feel less alone. They may not have the answers you need, but they will assure you that you are not alone.
    4. See a therapist. Mental health is sexy. If #1 through #3 sound scary/hard/impossible, see a therapist. My therapist’s name is Beth, she’s a Libra, and she is the best.
    5. You are enough. You deserve to realize how valuable you are and that everyone and everything in your life should be adding to your greatness, not subtracting from it. If this also sounds scary/hard/impossible, see a therapist

Advice is a dime a dozen, and everyone has an opinion of how everyone else should live their lives and run their business. It is easy to be critical when you are outside, looking in. It is much more challenging when you’re looking into a mirror. Your personal and professional life are more intertwined than we give them credit. Finding passion in the work toward self-love will only illuminate the passion in work, too.