Food & Organics: Meet our client Mama Earth

In an exclusive interview, the CEO of Mama Earth, Mary Graham answered our questions about the company and its challenges for 2021.

March 12, 2021

Innovation , News , Sales tax recovery , Sustainability

For the Love of the Earth

Mama Earth is a grocery delivery subscription service but they are more than that; their mission is to help people nurture the planet while their nurture their families. Over the past 14 years, they have been building an alternative food system that supports local, sustainable farming practices and seeks to reduce our environmental footprint.

They are proud to be a certified BCorp – a rigorous designation to a rare group of companies who use business as a source for good. In fact, there are only 230 companies in Canada with this distinction and only 21 food companies in Ontario.

Meet the CEO of Mama Earth, Mary Graham

In an exclusive interview, the CEO of Mama Earth, Mary Graham answered our questions about the company and its challenges for 2021.

Mary Graham is the CEO of Mama Earth and she spent 30 years in executive roles at well-known retail and consumer-branded companies like Starbucks, Yum Brands, Procter & Gamble; Mostly in the marketing & strategic planning roles, and now at Mama Earth as CEO.

She sees herself as the “Chief Possibilitist’” in that it is her job to help her team to see what is possible and then create a roadmap for how to make possibility happen.

Why did you choose to create Mama Earth?

Our founders, Alex & Heather Billingsley, created Mama Earth almost 14 years ago. They had amazing foresight and saw a niche in the market that has become almost mainstream today.

For a certain audience, that internally we refer to as The Conscious Foodie – they have a very high expectation for their food. They want convenience (delivery, easy site experience, variety), an up-market experience (highly curated, discovery of new products and cooking tips, and amazing quality), but they also want help in making conscious ethical choices (organics, long-term soil health, supporting local, minimizing environmental footprint, promoting re-use over re-cycle etc)

It’s a tall order and often results in a compromise. Our target needs help — they need a curator and aggregator so that they don’t have to make a compromise.  That is where MEO comes.

How do you see Mama Earth and your role evolving in the future?

These elevated expectations for the total food experience: convenience, up-market, experience, consciousness, choices, is becoming more & more mainstream. But the traditional grocery system is not built to deliver on all three. It is largely about what I call delivering on the table stakes – delivered to your door, on-time, good quality, good variety, fair price, etc.

At Mama Earth, we are committed to over-delivering on consumers’ rising expectations. We are committed to entrenching a circular economy, supporting small farms and local artisans, and food producers, and ultimately building a community of members who recognize that we are all in it together to create a more sustainable & connected food community.

Discover more about Mama Earth and their product.

What’s your challenge for 2021?

The pandemic essentially leapfrogged e-commerce by 3 years. As an existing delivery service, we recognize that we are very fortunate to have been in one of the industries to have thrived during this time. Our challenge has been keeping up with the demand, and operationalizing it safely for our employees. This continues to be a top priority into 2021.

Our employee experience and our ability to operationalize the growth while still giving an amazing experience to our members is the most important thinf we focus on every day.

Additionally, we need to continue to reinvent and raise the bar what makes us unique, which goes well beyond the table stakes of delivery convenience, but creating an amazing curated up-market food experience, while deepening our social impact with regards to farming sustainably, minimizing our environmental impact, helping put a dent in food insecurity in Ontario, and in minimizing food waste throughout our system.

How do you describe being a woman in business and the evolving role throughout your career?

First, let me answer that by saying it’s not about being a woman or being a man, it’s about being a human first. And that starts with recognizing that the people you work with all have lives that extend beyond work and you have to encourage and welcome people to bring their whole authentic selves to the table. It’s easiest to default to focusing on the tasks, the business metrics, the analysis, etc, but the human element has to trump everything.

This is true for everyone, but the further you grow in your career, it will become less & less about what you do, and more about what you enable others to do. Having said that, I’ve had to learn this over the course of 30 years. If I could talk to my 22-year-old self just starting in the business world, there are a few things I would tell her:

Don’t underestimate or undervalue your impact — good and bad. Our words and actions create ripples that extend well beyond you, so be conscious to create positive ripples;

Find your voice & confidence — we all have an inner critic; learn to recognize it and then quell it. Someone once gave me a really great trick, and that is to give your inner critic a name. That way you can consciously recognize when she pops up, maybe give her 5 or 10 minutes of airtime in your head, and then consciously tell her to go away.  Try it, it works!

Be introspective, study yourself, and learn your gifts, especially as they reveal themselves over time. It is not enough to just “be confident”, but to really understand what is unique about you that should make you confident, and lean into that. Everyone has gifts, and the sooner you figure out yours the better. And equally important, recognize what you are inherently not good at, don’t beat yourself up for it, and surround yourself with people who complement (not compliment!) your gifts.

Let our team help you improve your business performance

We are glad to work along with Mama Earth team on their sales tax mandate and are looking forward to seeing their future projects flourish!

Our sales tax team is ready to help you improve your short-term cash flow, contact us!

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