Q&A with Elizabeth Giannuzzi of Siren Snacks
Elizabeth is just the coolest. I met her at The Good Fest LA earlier this year, where her company - Siren Snacks - had a booth. She has been a wealth of information and an incredible mentor to me throughout the Granola Butter launch. She's smart as helllll & hardworking to boot. Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello! My name is Elizabeth and I’m the co-founder of Siren Snacks. I’m originally from Boston but now live in San Francisco and can’t imagine living anywhere else. When I’m not working, you can find me experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, planning day trips around the Bay Area, eating all the fresh fruit samples at San Francisco farmers markets, hanging out in Dolores Park, or trying out new fitness classes. I’m vegan, so I love testing out new plant-based recipes and hosting dinner parties with friends. I’m also a Certified Sommelier and and before launching Siren I spent some time working in the wine industry. Before that I worked at Goldman Sachs in their Investment Banking division, so I’ve definitely experienced the full spectrum of work environments in terms of office culture, hours, and work-life-balance.
What was the inspiration behind Siren Snacks?
The inspiration for Siren Snacks came from my own health journey and struggle to find plant-based, clean ingredient snacks that actually taste great. Growing up, I was the opposite of a healthy eater - my main food groups were pizza, pasta, and french fries. I had a huge wake-up call in my early 20s during my senior year of college when I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called dermatomyositis - my immune system was out of whack and had started attacking my muscles and skin cells. The first few years following the diagnosis were a total roller coaster - I was going on and off different immunosuppressant drugs that my doctor had prescribed and was dealing with some pretty extreme and unpleasant side effects that kept me from feeling like myself. After about two years of this, I decided that I’d had enough and began researching more natural alternatives to help heal my immune system. I decided to switch to a plant-based, anti-inflammatory diet and quickly started to see improvements in my symptoms. This was a huge lightbulb moment for me as I started to understand how the foods we eat play a huge role in how we look and feel.
It was around this time when I started to become really interested in food and nutrition. I began experimenting in the kitchen and started making my own clean ingredient alternatives to many of the packaged snacks and protein bars I’d been eating for years. My sister Abby has always been the chef in our family, so she got involved and helped me create homemade protein bars and bites that were plant-based, gluten-free, grain-free, and even soy-free. We realized that we were on to something when our friends kept asking for more samples and we found ourselves eating these protein bites every day. I enrolled in Stanford Business School, and quickly found myself at the epicenter of a culture that's obsessed with start-ups and entrepreneurship. I definitely caught the start-up bug, and decided to launch Siren Snacks as a full-time business after graduation.
What do you love most about your job?
I love that every day is different and presents new challenges. I also love getting to interact with Siren customers and meet so many new people through this job. The first time I saw someone in a store with Siren Snacks in their shopping cart I literally teared up.
What do you love most about yourself?
Maybe it’s because I’m the middle child, but I’ve always been really persistent which I think has served me well as an entrepreneur. I also love having red hair!
Take us through a day in the life of Elizabeth. We want all the deets!
During the week my alarm usually goes off around 6:30am - I’ll take a quick glance over my inbox and usually head to a workout class around 7am. I love trying out new classes to keep things interesting - my favorites are pilates, spinning, and HIIT workouts like Barry’s Bootcamp. After my workout I’ll usually grab a coffee on my way home and then have breakfast around 8:30am. I tend to go through phases with my breakfasts, and lately I’ve been loving the grain-free oatmeal by Pure Traditions.
After breakfast, each day is totally different. Some days I’ll spend my time meeting with new grocery stores or gyms, and other days I’m at Siren’s production facility overseeing our production and order fulfillment. I also spend a lot of time coordinating in-store demos or sampling events to help build brand awareness. I run Siren’s social media accounts, so I spend some time each day engaging with our followers and creating new content for our blog and Instagram. Finally, I dedicate time each week to overseeing the financial aspects of Siren, such as reviewing our inventory, creating sales forecasts, and updating growth projections.
I try to start winding down around 9pm each day- I live with my boyfriend Tucker, so when he’s home we’ll often cook dinner together or watch one of our favorite shows before bed.
What's on the horizon for you in 2018?
We have big plans for Siren in 2018, and hope to expand our distribution beyond San Francisco into a number of new cities including Los Angeles, New York, Portland, and Denver. We’re also continuing to build the Siren team and have some new product lines that we’re planning to launch later this year!
Personally, I’m also really excited about all of the travel I have planned in 2018 - I’ll be going to the East coast in May for my five year college reunion and then will be in NYC for a few food industry events later this summer. My family will also be traveling to Israel to celebrate my parent’s 60’s birthdays in September, so I’m really looking forward to that!
And lastly, what makes you feel like a kween?
Extra long baths, lounging around in a bathrobe, fancy floral candles, opening a great bottle of wine even when there’s no special occasion, and home cooked meals with the people I love.