Her one word to describe private brands? 'Limitless'
Robin VanDenabeele, who helped transform Downers Grove, Ill.-based Fresh Thyme Farmers Market's private brands program, was recently named director of Chicago-based IGA Exclusive Brands, overseeing IGA’s (Independent Grocer Alliance) private label redesign, product development and marketing.
We recently caught up with VanDenabeele to ask her some questions about the store brands industry and what she might've done if she was born 100 years ago.
How did you come into the world of private brands?
I started my career in the consumer packaged goods/food world when I graduated from Western Michigan University’s food marketing program. From that day forward I have always been slicing and dicing data or researching food consumption or working on brand strategy. I took a risk after being on the data and analytics side to move over to category management, and that’s how I landed in the private label world.
Describe the private brands industry in one word.
Limitless … there is nothing private about private brands. We should always shout to the moon about the beauty of brands that we believe in.
What do you like most about the industry?
The ability to create an experience from a retailer’s vision through taste, quality, innovation and connection. I promise myself that there should be an experience with each item that’s launched.
What do you dislike most about the industry?
When someone doesn’t believe in my vision. I tell myself to keep the faith and always hustle harder.
What one great thing does the industry have going for it?
The consumer is really digging the innovation.
What is the industry’s biggest challenge?
Import challenges, lead times, minimums, speed to market and business closures.
What trait in yourself do you attribute most to your success?
Well, there are a couple that I believe shaped my character and success: being an achiever, activator, strategist and visionary.
What is the biggest obstacle you have ever overcome?
Realizing at 27 years old that going back to college was critical to shaping my future and the future of others that I can mentor.
It’s 5 o’clock (or later), what do you do for fun?
Do you mean 5 a.m.? I am most likely doing an Orange Theory class. I love running.
You have a week off. Where do you go and why?
I would most definitely go skiing in Utah or Whistler, B.C.
If you were born 100 years ago, what would you have done for a living?
I would have been an artist or a sculptor.
What song do you love to crank up in the car?
“Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.