“Growth is about whoever you can talk to. Be persistent, not afraid to ask.”
Carla’s entry into the natural food market stemmed from personal necessity. Following a life-altering automobile accident, she began her journey by exploring nutritional alternatives—leading her to discover the vast potential of hemp.
“I’ve always noticed healing in hemp. It can feed you, clothe you, and house you,” she shares. This discovery laid the foundation for her groundbreaking creations—the Hemp Burger and Hemp Burger Crumble—dairy and soy-free options that not only captured the attention of health-conscious consumers but also caused a frenzy as the first filler-free burger alternative. “The first month of adding hemp into my diet, I felt better,” Carla reflected, noting the immediate impact hemp seeds can have.
Born and raised in Mississippi, Carla possesses a deep-rooted love for nurturing others through food. She would invite her neighbors to sample her creations and the varied feedback laid ‘grounds’ for new experiments in her kitchen. “One friend would strongly argue C was the superior choice and the other was going to lay their life down on A.” Carla’s story is far from one of happenstance. Her extensive experience in the hemp industry dates back to 2009. With a dedication to quality, she would travel overseas, source seeds from France and all throughout Europe, despite the expensive and intricate processing involved in breaking down hemp’s long fibers.
It wasn’t long before Carla garnered national attention for the first-of-its-kind hemp burger. Her collaboration with the beef council opened doors for a new recipe in 2019 and in a live broadcast, Chef Sean of the City Grill, indulged in Carla’s famed burger with homemade Hemp Pesto Aioli sauce to top. Retailers including Whole Foods, Luckys, and Alfalfa’s quickly took notice of Hemp Way Foods. In her first encounter with Lucky’s, her goal was to meet with the store manager and hopefully pique his interest. Rather than deferring the decision to a more formal meeting, he swiftly rearranged the already-tight shelves, pushing aside other products to accommodate Carla’s burgers. Pointing to the newly allocated spot, he asked “How does this spot look?!”
Although she credits passion as the recipe to her success, she also recognizes its potential to veer one-off course. “My passion overtook my progress, I became Hemphamous.” While Hemp Way Foods has scaled back since its inception, you can still find the products online or shelved in local stores. Carla advises entrepreneurs in the space, “Growth is about whoever you can talk to. Be persistent, not afraid to ask.”
“Boulder is a small business mecca. We want to make our premium products accessible here.”
Transitioning to Tripper
Now entrenched in the global realm of spices and flavors, Carla is in charge of championing premium products like Tripper’s cinnamon product line. With mutually shared ethos, she shares what makes Tripper a unique place to work, beginning with its close connections to farmers.
The company actively engages in programs to ensure every farmer is equipped with a pair of eyeglass while hand-picking vanilla beans. Tripper’s team also sends specialists out for soil testing. Their commitment to sustainable agriculture means crop alternation and complementary planting are at the core of their methodology. This creates a balance that benefits the earth and yields superior products. Hemp, for example, takes toxins out of the soil while spices like nutmeg or ginger have more natural pesticides. However, by alternating the crops, Trippers farmers can further sustain the future of the soil.
Carla stresses scrutinizing ingredient content and sourcing from reputable origins, noting the often overlooked but vast differences in cinnamon quality. As for layering on the flavor? “You can put vanilla in almost anything, it’s not just a sweetener,” citing creative uses like a chili add-on to balance out the flavor. In addition, butterfly pea extracts, a personal favorite of Carla’s due to their antioxidant properties, can be used as an addition in teas.
Looking ahead, Carla’s vision is to fortify Tripper’s presence in Boulder. Her aim is to democratize access to premium spices for local establishments with Tripper’s new line Origine for B2C customers. “Boulder is a small business mecca. We want to make our premium products accessible here.” To do so, she’s developing an online wholesale portal to cater to a broader customer base. Their goal is to accommodate local coffee shops with quantities fit for their needs.
What is your Ask and Offer for the Kiln Community?
Ask: As Carla seeks to expand Origine into smaller retailers she asks for connections with companies, grocery stores, or individuals that utilize vanilla or cinnamon in their products.
Offer: With an extensive network, Carla has built a strong community over time and expresses her desire to help however she can as she finds the greatest satisfaction in connecting people and providing advice.
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why do you Kiln?
I Kiln because of the incredible community involvement and willingness to support one another. During a recent demo everyone was just as eager to learn more about our products as they were willing to give advice. People genuinely want to help each other in this community.