Blogger, marketer, chef, and CEO of local startup Farmstr, Janelle Maiocco, knows all about the power of making. And, sometimes, “making” makes your days very busy.
“There are just no normal days in a startup, when you’re moving quickly and wearing so many hats,” Maiocco said via phone last week, describing the whirlwind year she’s had since we talked with her last November. She’s pushing hard to realize her vision of making Farmstr, which helps local farmers sell their goods directly to consumers through the Farmstr website, the Airbnb for local farms. For Maiocco, every day brings a fresh mix of investor wooing, team building, press schmoozing, and of course, growing her business.
She’s also added one more event to her busy schedule: speaking at this year’s Seattle Interactive Conference on Wednesday, October 15th. The theme for this year’s conference is “Makers,” putting a spotlight on leaders who use their creativity to fuel innovative, interactive businesses.
“Making” is familiar territory for Maiocco, who has roots in Dutch dairy farming and agriculture, and credits her creative passions as directly influencing her decision and ability to create Farmstr. “It was important to me over the course of my career to push on marketing and business, but also continue to pursue my passions, hobbies and interests,” she said.
She started her blog, Talk of Tomatoes, to explore her passion for food, as well as satisfy her marketing curiosity by better understanding online communities. The blog’s success created networking opportunities that helped make her future business endeavors possible. “It really morphed into something so much bigger, better, and more,” she said.
Maiocco’s love of food also led her to culinary school, where she learned how to wield her “sword in the kitchen,” and to speak the same “language” as the experts she wanted to engage with. “Today I can have meaningful conversations with people on how to store potatoes,” she said. “The amazing thing in my experience, is that I have been able to fold those [activities] into my career path as a CEO.”
With Farmstr, Maiocco remains focused on making her company the best it can be for farmers and customers alike. After a year of steady business growth, the Farmstr team has increased in size from three to eight full-time employees, and is planning an update to the Farmstr website later this fall. With Farmstr still a fresh-faced company, Maiocco spends lots of time and energy engaging with investors, which typically means “a lot of work, a ton of conversations, and pitching on stage,” she said.
Through it all, she’s maintained a passion for learning and creating, a gumption for trying new things, and a sense of humor, as you might guess from the title of her SIC talk, “When the Manure Hits the Fan.” “The talk is really about how Farmstr got started, why it got started, saying yes to things that terrify you, but doing it to learn and to grow…it really is about, you know, ‘go for it’.”
Catch Janelle Maiocco’s talk “When the Manure Hits the Fan” at Seattle Interactive Conference at 2:30 PM in room 202 this Wednesday, and check out the video above for an intro to Janelle Maiocco and Farmstr.