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The Magic Lies Within Us

The Magic Lies Within Us

It’s been said many times before, and I will say it again here so you all know where I stand: Women are magic.

The feminine spirit is one of inherent beauty, balanced by both a delicate softness and an instinctual fierceness. I believe femininity is something that evolves over time—growing in intensity as we observe our mothers, grandmothers, and other feminine figures moving through the world.

It is true, also, that women are a marginalized group in our society. Historically, women and feminine people have faced discrimination and unequal treatment, sometimes making it difficult to navigate some of the same experiences lived by other groups. That is not to say that women do not survive—and often, thrive—in this society, because we most certainly do.

Just look at the Cultivate team. Currently all women. All strength.

When our good friend Angela Hernandez first presented the new produce marketing company to us, we were immediately sold. Her concept was to create an entity out of Fresno, California, that could serve operators in some of the top-producing regions in the country.

“Our desire is to elevate the brands of farming families across the western United States, creating go-to-market branding and pull-through sales strategies that generations can be equally proud of and profit from,” Angela, the company’s President and Founder, explains.

I want to pause here for a moment to address what is perhaps one of the most important aspects of my telling this story. While it is true that each of Cultivate’s founding members are women, what makes this company unique is not the gender of its leaders, but their individual expertise in their field.

The company is the joint dream of Angela and her partners, Jane Olvera Majors, Michele Visser, and Brianne Adams, who all have an extensive background in produce marketing. Jane, the Vice President of Strategy for Cultivate, has owned and operated a multi-million dollar marketing agency for nearly 30 years: JP Marketing. Angela first hired Jane’s agency years ago to help with branding the produce company she was working for at the time.

The two Capricorn queens share the same birthday, therefore their instant connection was no surprise.

“I think we knew at that point we’d work together in some capacity down the road, but not that we’d start a business together,” Jane explains.

When Angela and Jane began talking about the concept, they both knew they needed to expand their team. Angela had forged a previous relationship with Michele, the now Vice President of Business Development, and felt her upbringing in a valley farming family, as well as her career in business development for multiple start-ups, would be a tremendous asset to the agency.

In addition to that connection, Jane was well-acquainted with Brianne, Vice President of Operations, as she has served in account management and business operations roles at JP Marketing for nearly a decade. Jane was confident Brianne would provide the operational backbone to the new agency.

“We all met at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House location to temperature check the concept and discuss our roles, and the rest is history,” Angela recalls.

“Our desire is to elevate the brands of farming families across the western United States, creating go-to-market branding and pull-through sales strategies that generations can be equally proud of and profit from.”

Angela Hernandez, President and Founder, Cultivate

When the four women came together on that fateful day, it was clear they had struck gold. Each one of them brings different areas of expertise to the table, culminating into what has become a premium produce marketing agency.

Angela provides a deep understanding of produce marketing, having worked in-house at some of the biggest family farming companies for nearly 20 years and experiencing first-hand the strategies to get products on store shelves.

“Cultivate was born from my belief that food is the highest form of communion, and an ever-growing passion for supporting fresh produce suppliers is what keeps me going,” Angela describes.

Having operated JP Marketing since 1994 and been involved in launching hundreds of brands, locally and across the globe, Jane has gained an intimate understanding of farming operations, deep connections in ag associations and retail outlets, plus extensive experience in launching and growing brands.

Michele, on the other hand, grew up in a farming family and intimately understands the challenges of farm operations. Her successful career in sales for multiple start-ups means she brings a growth mindset to sales for the agency.

Last, but certainly not least, Brianne boasts more than 18 years of experience in account and operations management. She brings with her an extreme level of detail and reliability that provides clients and vendors with the utmost confidence and helps ensure everything behind-the-scenes runs smoothly.

“Based on our backgrounds, we can offer farming operations a 360-degree perspective on a go-to-market strategy. That being said, we are a mighty female force that brings both heart and grit to every project we work on,” Michele emphasizes.

Angela has been dreaming of starting her own marketing agency for the last several years, partly in response to the ongoing requests she received in her network. At the same time as this dream took root, Jane launched the Farm to Shelf initiative within her existing agency as a way to demonstrate a focus on ag marketing.

“Based on our backgrounds, we can offer farming operations a 360-degree perspective on a go-to-market strategy.”

Michele Visser, Vice President of Business Development and Founder, Cultivate

“However, without a dedicated sales effort, it has been difficult to get the word out in a meaningful way,” Jane points out.

So, when Angela approached Jane with the idea for Cultivate, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine their experiences and talents in a way that serves the ag marketing space.

So, why “Cultivate”? I know I cannot be the only one asking this question, though the answer is quite straightforward. It all comes back to the group’s deep connection to the produce industry and the multigenerational growers they aim to serve.

“The basic definition of the word cultivate is ‘to prepare and use land for crops.’ The clients we will super-serve are those that grow a crop from the ground up, so it defines our agency’s target audience,” Angela relays. “But, another definition of cultivate is ‘to foster the growth of,’ and that’s the essence of what we will deliver—growth in produce sales through strategic branding and marketing.”

When working with Cultivate, not only will you benefit from the unique perspective of a group of powerful women and their extensive backgrounds in the agricultural industry, but their ability to communicate with multigenerational businesses in a way that makes next-gen branding and marketing more accessible.

“We know sometimes farming families think it’s okay to continue doing what they’ve been doing and relying on existing relationships to generate sales. We also know produce shelf space is shrinking, and consumers are becoming more sophisticated,” Jane continues. “Produce buyers want products they can count on that will sell. In the end, branding and marketing is the only path to growth, and we’ve helped dozens of produce brands achieve their goals, so we know it works.”

This magical potion of marketing know-how cannot be bottled, bought, or replicated. The divine feminine is all around us, but partners like Cultivate are few and far between thanks to its team of ambitious founders.

What the future holds for this new company is yet to be determined, but I beg the question anyway.

“It is hard to say where we will be in 10 years, because the world of marketing is extremely dynamic and things change monthly,” Angela reminds me. “That being said, we are planning smart, incremental growth to ensure we create a profitable business while super-serving our clients.”

In speaking in depth with the women at Cultivate, the presently all-female editorial team at The Snack found kindred spirits. We came to learn that with a little faith, a lot of talent, and the magic of the feminine spirit, there is no telling what we can cultivate. 

The Magic Lies Within Us