The rapidly growing natural and organic product industry now has its own 501(c)(6) business association to serve as a collaborative and supportive hub for its local affiliates, members and sponsors: Naturally Network. Founded this past June, the network was formed from several Naturally affiliates across the country, each dedicated to growing the natural and organic industry. Natural Products Expo East, slated for Sept. 23-25 in Philadelphia, will be the official venue for Naturally.
Originally founded more than 15 years ago in Boulder, Colo., Naturally Network evolved from a growing regional need across the United States to support leaders on a national level, and now consists of more than 20,000 entrepreneurs, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, marketers, farmers, employees and business leaders representing 5,000-plus individual and business members devoted to business practices that benefit people and the planet. Naturally Network’s mission is to harness, accelerate and elevate the power and impact of conscious business practices, particularly in the natural and organic product sector.
“We are deeply grateful to the industry leaders who, without hesitation and in the depths of the pandemic, signed on to seed-fund the Naturally Network organization,” said John Grubb, Naturally Network’s board chair and Summit Venture Management’s managing partner, speaking of the Founders Circle of donors, many of whom are industry pioneers who helped get the association started. “Their generosity and humility (most prefer to remain anonymous out of respect for the front-line workers who kept the food supply chain running) reflect the enduring success of the industry and the collaborative sharing that is characteristic of this ecosystem.”
Naturally Network’s board of directors was formalized last June with 18 directors representing natural product companies across the United States and the diverse communities Naturally Network serves, among them Naturally Austin (Texas), Naturally Bay Area (California), Naturally Boulder (Colorado), Naturally Chicago (Illinois), Naturally Los Angeles (California) Naturally North Bay (California), Naturally New York (New York), and Naturally San Diego (California). Executive Director Sharon Reddehase was brought aboard to lead the organization in mid-2021, bringing more than 20 years of experience guiding and growing disruptive companies in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.
“More than ever, people want to support those brands that are making a positive difference for the environment, society and our communities,” noted Reddehase. “Naturally Network is already advancing in our mission thanks to our generous Founders Circle donors, our thriving local affiliates, our board members and sponsors. We are receiving inquiries from possible new local affiliates from across the country each week. Clearly, there is pent-up need for a strong, national network to serve entrepreneurs on their journey.”
The association will make its first industry appearance at Natural Products Expo East, exhibiting in the Grand Hall, and all Naturally affiliate members can stop by Naturally Network’s inaugural trade show booth to meet organization leaders and Reddehase. To educate its members, the association will hold an Expo East webinar, “Harnessing the Power of Community” on Sept. 17, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. CT. Speakers will include Once Upon a Farm’s co-founder and CEO John Foraker, Wicked Foods CEO Pete Speranza, and Mason Dixie Foods founder and CEO Ayesha Abuelhiga.
Naturally Network’s inaugural National Title Sponsors are KeHE, New Nexus Group, and New Hope Network, a division of Informa. At launch, the association’s Community Builder sponsors are Beyond Brands, Force Brands and IronClad Consulting Services.