Stacey Marcellus: Founder, Cappello's

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My Native Admission Statement: Diversity is as key to the health of a business as it is critical to a natural ecosystem. Sometimes you have to move to a farm in Argentina for a year and grow your own potatoes to figure out what you want out of life. The experience of feeding myself and others from seed to gnocchi helped shape my current mission with my company, Cappello’s. To craft delicious, nutritionally relevant foods using only simple, real food ingredients that all people can enjoy. I hope to empower other women through my brand and my work because sexism is not dead. It’s far from dead, and it needs to die. https://cappellos.com/

How did you get into the industry?

I’ve always had a passion for food and for feeding people but it wasn’t until I gave up my first career for a life that I thought could add a different kind of value to the world that my passion truly began to flourish. Working on an organic farm in Argentina, I was able to cultivate not only fresh produce but also a spiritual closeness to nature. I gained a unique perspective on the joy that one can gain from feeding yourself and others naturally and directly from the earth. Drawing from my experiences in Argentina and my journey to better health, I realized the need for accessibility to nutritionally relevant foods. Upon my return, Ben and I brought Cappello’s to life to serve that purpose.

Any emerging industry trends?

We are seeing a distinct change in the way that people talk about grain-free foods. Most who embrace a grain-free lifestyle are looking to ease digestive issues, relieve inflammation and balance gut health. Going grain-free means going that extra step beyond gluten-free and eliminating ALL grains, including corn, rice and quinoa. 

People are shifting the way they perceive frozen foods. Not so long ago, you only visited the frozen section of your grocery store if you were looking for a tv dinner that was packed with fillers. Now, brands like Cappello’s are changing the set by taking advantage of the freezer to capture food in it’s freshest moment without the use of preservatives.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

As of now, frozen pizza is experiencing an immense amount of growth in our industry. The frozen pizza category is a $3.4B category up 4.4% vs last year. Frozen Pizza Crusts, while only a $32M category, is up 69.8%, driven by natural/organic brands.

Our core consumer is Paleo and Paleo positioned products are up 41.5% in Natural Channel dollars and up 51.3% in Conventional Channel dollars vs YAGO

Another challenge that we face in the industry is educating consumers on the benefits of grain-free living and the differences between grain-free vs. gluten-free. Most who embrace a grain-free lifestyle are looking to ease digestive issues, relieve inflammation and balance gut health. Going grain-free means going that extra step beyond gluten-free and eliminating ALL grains, including corn, rice and quinoa. 

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

One of the founding ideas for Cappello’s was to shift the prepackaged food paradigm in a nutritionally relevant and sustainable direction. Almonds are our magic ingredient. They offer a taste profile that rivals traditional wheat-based products, but with a far superior nutritional profile. This diverse ingredient is nutritionally dense, and filled with protein, fiber and healthy fats. We want Cappello’s to continue to be a source of uncompromised delight for the body and spirit. To bring good and creativity into the world in the most deliciously unique paleo-friendly, grain, gluten and guilt-free ways. Our consumers are a huge driver in our pursuit of growth and one of our biggest goals is to become more available to them by focusing on distribution. We know consumers are looking for healthier alternatives to their favorite foods and we are the perfect solution for household staples like pizza, pasta and cookie dough.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

We are passionate about building awareness on what it means to be grain-free. Eight years ago, we were one of the first full grain-free brands and we want our consumers to know that we will not deviate from using nutrient dense, simple ingredients. As we expand our portfolio, we will always be that North Star for people starting on a new food journey (like Paleo or Keto) to help them navigate that space.

We have some awesome new food innovations coming in the next year and can’t wait to unveil them once they’re ready for our eaters to enjoy. With our plans for expanded distribution, we hope that more patrons than ever will be able to eat Cappello’s to their hearts content. 

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

To match our newest flavorsome, epicurean creations, Cappello’s itself has gone through an evolution of its own. With the intention of transforming the world’s perception of frozen food, we have reimagined and innovated our packaging to incorporate mouthwatering photography on the box and in doing so, we hope to create a relationship with shoppers through visual storytelling that brings our consumers closer to good food. 

Staying focused on our collection of high performing items has been one of the keys to success. When we innovate, we want to be really thoughtful that each and every item has an incremental impact on the business and that we’re not innovating just to innovate creating harmfulful distractions. 

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

The most challenging and rewarding part of leading a rapidly growing business is how quickly you have to reinvent yourself and the role your playing in the company. In the beginning, Ben and I were responsible for every function of the business from the creation of each and every strand of pasta to maintaining the books to the higher level strategic and vision driven decisions. As we’ve grown and talented folks have come into the organization we need to always question where we can bring the most value and how we can best support our Crew. Sometimes it’s best when we get out of the way. We are constantly working on how to give individuals autonomy so they can thrive while still providing structure and vision.

The biggest lesson we’ve learned is that when you hire right it is much easier to delegate and let people run. Cultural fit, the right set of skills, experience and drive is absolutely critical to having a thriving working environment that charges forward and protects company culture. 

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

We were inspired to create dishes that could be enjoyed by all regardless of dietary restriction as we saw a need for simple, real ingredients in the gluten-free category. The quality of gluten-free alternatives are most often still nutritionally inferior to gluten-containing products and we felt that we had found a way to change that by choosing to produce grain-free foods, leaving less room for altered components.  We want all of our customers to feel that they have access to delicious offerings that are better-for-you without ever having to compromise on taste. 

How do you motivate others?

I try to motivate others by leaning into people’s strengths and encouraging people to think big. I  also try to remind people that what they’re doing makes a difference in people’s lives.  

Career advice to those in your industry?

Remember that we can use our minds as a tool for transformation. Our perception of the world and how we approach challenging situations can unlock incredible opportunities. There is almost always a silver lining in disappointment. Remain patient and persistent. 

Also, remember that creativity and having fun is extremely important. The more you exercise that muscle the more it will positively bleed into the work you do.

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What do I do best?

Trial and error. I am pretty comfortable failing and am not afraid to try things that I’ve never done before. I have a level of persistence that has helped to make things possible that could have easily been deemed too hard.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I have a strong intuition, one that I cannot ignore. The more time I put into raising my awareness through things like meditation, continuous education and spending time in nature, the stronger and more balanced I am. I have a deep curiosity and belief that we can do incredible things when we shift the way we think and align our attention with the outcomes we desire.

What are my aspirations?

Professionally, I want to create meaningful accessibility to Cappello’s products and keep an emphasis on the type of culture we are building and fostering. I want our employees to be thrilled with where they work and the type of impact we are having in the world. I want Cappello’s to continue to take corporate responsibility seriously and do more and more for people and the planet as we grow.

Personally, I’m dedicated to creativity and a personal sense of joy. Someday soon, I’d like to have a compound where friends and family can have a place to escape and connect.

My Biggest Success?

Becoming aware of food and the effect it has on everything. Nothing has been more life changing than becoming intune with my body and how all the inputs affect the output. 

My Most Challenging Moment?

Leaving my previous career to explore the unknown. When I moved to Argentina, I didn’t have a plan other than to learn Spanish, to see a new part of the world and to simply see what might happen. I was leaving an abundant career not knowing what I would ultimately do next. Stepping into not knowing what my next day or week or year would look like, without attachment to the past, was challenging but was extremely rewarding in ways I could have never imagined.

My Motto?

A permaculture principle -  The problem is the solution

My Favorite People/Role Models?

In business - Brian Camastral (former president of Mars Corp) & Phil Anson founder of Evol Foods

Authors - Alan Watts & Yuval Noah Harari. 

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Telluride/Ridgeway Colorado… And anywhere that I can snowboard. I love Argentina and Mexico… But so much of the world is enchanted and there are so many places I still want to experience. 

My Favorite Products/Objects?

My vitamix

My Current Passions?

Making chandeliers out of repurposed glass

My Pic of the Day:

This is a picture of my mom from when we visited the Denver Art Museum this weekend. I’m titling it Infinite Mumzie - we call her Mumzie. She is the most loyal, real and beautiful woman you’ll ever meet…. And guess what? her last name is Cappello.

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My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Stay present - don’t be stressed.

Thought of the Day: Time heals 

Action of the Day: Listen more than talk

Deed of the Day: Helping to sauder my friends gas tank

Tip of the Day: Try to think about what you can do for others more than you think about yourself

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

It’s access to the great outdoors

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Favorite restaurant - Arcana in Boulder

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – On the weekend - sleeping - during the week meditating 

10:00 AM - Checking things off the list

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal? 

I’m guilty of not eating lunch much of the time… Yes, I am one of those horrible people who ruined lunch breaks.

7:00 PM -  Making dinner listening to music or podcasts

11:00 PM - Time for bed… Unless I get manic and decide to paint or do something creative and let time slip away. 

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

1 - Butter coffee (coffee, MCT oil, butter) - this is my breakfast and often gets me through lunch too. 

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

For biz - Slack

For the soul - Spotify

What should everyone try at least once?

Sea urchin - but don’t just try it once… keep eating it until you finally love it and never look back. 

Where do you enjoy getting lost? 

In the woods in consciousness

What Else to Know?

The permaculture principles and ethics - I’d like to live into these with everything I do. From building to gardening to business.

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