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From Southern Comforts to Vegan Delights: Lauren Joyner's Plant-Based Revolution



Entrepreneurs like Lauren Joyner are stepping up to transform our food systems in a world increasingly aware of the environmental, health, and ethical impacts of our dietary choices.


Lauren, the founder of House Party, is reshaping how we indulge in one of America's beloved treats—queso. 


On the latest episode of the Plant Based on Fire podcast, Lauren shares her journey from a UX designer to pioneering a thriving plant-based queso business that doesn't just aim to replicate traditional flavors but enhances them with healthful, sustainable ingredients.


Lauren's transition from a meat and dairy-rich diet to a plant-based lifestyle was not just a personal health choice but a catalyst for innovation. Missing the cheesy dips of her Southern upbringing, she ventured into her kitchen not just to satiate her cravings but to create something transformative. Her creation, a potato-based queso, is now a sensation, featured in over 200+ whole foods market stores and venues, revolutionizing vegan comfort food without compromising taste.


Insights You'll Gain From This Episode:

  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: Learn how Lauren pivoted from UX design to food innovation, applying tech industry principles to iterate her product based on consumer feedback and data.

  • Product Development: Discover the challenges of transitioning from home kitchen experiments to commercial production, including achieving shelf stability and scalability.

  • Market Strategy: Understand how Lauren positioned her vegan queso in mainstream markets, not just as an alternative but as a preferable choice due to its health benefits and taste.

  • Consumer Impact: Gain insights into consumer reception and the strategic decisions behind product placements in stores, aiming to appeal to not just vegans but all snack lovers.

  • Future Goals: Hear about Lauren's plans to expand her product line, continue to innovate, and cater to evolving tastes and dietary needs.


Lauren's story is a testament to the power of passion driven by purpose. Her commitment to providing a healthier, allergy-free alternative to traditional comfort food without sacrificing flavor has not only filled a gap in the market but has also set a new standard for what plant-based snacks can be.


"Every jar of our queso is a step towards a healthier, more sustainable future, without giving up the joy of eating,"

Lauren mentions during the interview. She continues,

"We're not just creating alternatives; we're setting the stage for the future of food."

As Lauren articulates her journey and the hurdles she overcame, her story resonates with aspiring entrepreneurs and anyone looking to make a positive impact through their work. 


Her advice is clear:

"Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. It's about making a difference, one jar of queso at a time."

Join us on this flavorful journey at Plant Based on Fire, where we delve deeper into how Lauren Joyner and House Party are crafting a delicious revolution, one dip at a time.


Whether you're a long-time vegan or just looking to spice up your snack game, Lauren's insights offer a valuable lesson in how innovation, driven by authenticity and commitment, can create lasting change in both our diets and the environment.


Don't forget to subscribe and leave a review if you're inspired by our guests and their plant-based missions!


Listen to the full episode here


Subscribe to the Plant-Based On Fire podcast on your favorite streaming platform today and stay connected with our ongoing exploration of the complex plant-based business world.


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>Episode’s Transcript

Please understand that a transcription service provided the transcript below. It undoubtedly contains errors that invariably take place in voice transcriptions.


Bryan (00:00.238)

Hello everybody, and welcome to Plant Based on Fire, where we talk about plant-based businesses and their inspiring stories to thrive in our industry. I'm your host, Bryan, and the best way you can support our podcast is to like, subscribe, or follow us down below. And I'd love to hear from you. What did you love about this episode? And can you suggest an awesome guest or two that we should have on the show next? Help us out. Joining us today is Lauren Joyner and she is the founder of House Party, a plant -based queso brand creating a dairy product alternative that are better for people, the animals, and obviously the planet. Welcome to the show, Lauren. Thanks for being here.


Lauren Joyner (00:41.257)

Thank you so much for having me on the show. So happy to be here.


Bryan (00:45.038)

I am so excited because I am a huge fan of my nacho dip and taco Tuesdays and all sorts of cool stuff. And I was reading your background and how you got started in it. So I'd love for you to just sort of hit us with that sort of origin story. What was the initial inspiration behind creating this plant -based queso? And, and I think you were a user experience designer before this, right?


Lauren Joyner (00:49.353)

Yes. Yes.


Lauren Joyner (01:06.153)

That's correct, yes. Well, I'd love to get into it. I love talking about all things cheesy dip and my origin story. But before I dig into that, I was holding up the jar earlier for everybody to see. So this is my company, House Party, as you said, we make cheesy dip that is packed with vegetables, B vitamins, and it's actually free from the top nine allergens as well. So think of it like a junk -free junk food.


I love to say that there are so many vegetables in our sauce that it's basically a salad. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. So I would love to talk through why I got into this business, what I'm working on these days and where I hope to go moving forward. And I will try to make this quick because I know I can't talk for five, six hours. So I'll do my best to make it short. Wonderful.


Bryan (01:38.222)

I love it, that's awesome.


Bryan (01:54.062)

No worries, yes. So hit us with the background. Obviously, you grew up like the rest of us, loving nacho dip and everything else under the sun on that front. How did you decide, hey, I need the plant -based version of this?


Lauren Joyner (02:09.705)

Yes, so you're absolutely right. Think cheesy sauce, cheese dip, whatever you want to call it, nacho cheese. It is a quintessential American comfort food. It's a classic, you know, a staple in our diet. And it's been around now since roughly debatable between 1930s, 1940s. But we've been eating this stuff, you know, everywhere in sports arenas and restaurants. You can find it in hospital cafeterias, even gas stations.


and of course the grocery store as well. And so this food is everywhere and we consume as Americans a ton of it every year. Based on my sources, you know, roughly Americans are consuming almost a billion dollars worth of this cheesy sauce in all sorts of forms a year. So we love it, right? And it's delicious. It's got that rich cheddar flavor that's super addictive and it's just a great comfort yummy food.


Bryan (02:58.926)

That's right.


Lauren Joyner (03:06.409)

I personally grew up eating a ton of cheese dip. I grew up in Arkansas. And if you've been to the South, if you're from the South, you will know that cheese dip or queso, if you're in Texas, depending on where you are, it's a staple in your house. And I grew up eating cheese dip almost daily. It was and still is now my favorite food. And it was something I grew up completely addicted to.


Bryan (03:27.278)

I love it.


Lauren Joyner (03:32.169)

And it wasn't until really my late twenties that I started to just really clean up my diet and try to educate myself on the food I'm eating and how food impacts our health. It impacts the environment. And I became more exposed onto how our food specifically, you know, meat and dairy, how that food was made and what was actually happening behind closed doors. and that all that knowledge, you know, kind of coming together really put me on a path to.


start eating more of a plant -based diet, eating more vegan diet, and completely giving up, eventually, giving up cheese dip, which was hard for me to do initially. It took me several years, honestly, to completely cut it out. It was the last food to go for me. And so thinking about how this product is just such an American staple, but we all sort of know and can agree, regardless of your diet, that...


Bryan (04:15.854)

Mm -hmm. Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (04:28.457)

cheese sauce is a junk food. It's not great for us. In fact, it's sort of like a running joke that it may or may not even be real food, right? So there's this interesting sort of agreement on all sides that this is not good for us. And so I set out to make a replacement that didn't rely on using animals, no cows, but also had some added nutritional integrity behind it. So that's why, you know, I'm using vegetables. There's carrots. That's actually the second ingredient after water now in our product.


Bryan (04:31.566)

Yes.


That's right, yeah.


Lauren Joyner (04:56.265)

potatoes, jalapeno pepper, we use whole real pepper in the sauce, tomatoes, onion powder, garlic powder. And so adding some additional nutrition in there, you've got the B vitamins for energy, there's no allergens. So truly trying to make a replacement that everyone can enjoy and actually benefit from as well without compromise. And so if you do try our sauce, I think you'll be shocked that it tastes like junk food. It's got that just rich, cheddary taste.


Bryan (05:24.558)

Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (05:25.353)

you know, that you know and love. And so that was really my big goal summarized as concise as possible.


Bryan (05:31.566)

I love it. No, it's, it's no, that's awesome. Like, and there's so many little questions there that, that are there to unpack. Like, so if we talk about like the market entry, like how did you get started? Cause I spoke to so many, vegan food creators and they either go the food lab route or they go down the farmer's market or there's so many different ways you can get started and sort of prove it out. And then I'm curious about like, how did you,


Lauren Joyner (05:52.137)

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.


Bryan (05:56.91)

figure out the tricks to shelf stability. Cause in order to get to the grocery stores, it's gotta be there ready to sit there for a month or two kind of a thing till it sells. So help, help unpack for some of the entrepreneurs, lessening some of those challenges and how you overcame them and how you got your first foot in the door.


Lauren Joyner (06:02.281)

Yeah.


Right?


Lauren Joyner (06:13.897)

Yeah, I would love to. You know, so you mentioned earlier, I do come from a tech background. I was a designer for the first 10 years of my career. Everything from brand to UX to building products and mobile apps. And I think working in that environment, you get into this mindset where you throw something out, you test it, you see what the response is or the data, and then you course correct, you iterate on that, and then you launch other versions and you're just constantly learning.


and trying to improve. And so it's a combination of being somewhat intuitive, but also being analytical and looking at the data. And so I've realized that I think I maybe intentionally, maybe unintentionally applied that mindset when I started my company. When I first launched the business, I obviously knew nothing about the food industry. I was just a typical consumer. Didn't really know honestly what I was getting myself into, to tell you the truth.


Bryan (07:07.95)

Right.


Lauren Joyner (07:10.505)

And so I knew I had a lot to learn, but I knew where I wanted to eventually go and what my big vision was. And being a mission driven company, to be honest, that has helped me tenfold and just keeping going, right? Because the food business is a tough business. It's a low margin business. There's a lot that you're playing up against that may or may not be fair. And so having that mission driving me really helped me go.


get through those early days and still does today. But to answer your question more specifically, I started out in a commercial kitchen space. So there's a wonderful place called Kitchen Town here in San Mateo, which is in the Bay Area in California. And essentially I went down there to sort of pitch this idea that I had and told them I basically needed help to understand how to get from point A to point B. And they were wonderful and immediately were excited about what I wanted to do.


and essentially said, okay, come in here, come, come, you know, take out the space and we'll help you learn what you need to do just to get going and what your options are. So I actually, for the first year was working downtown and then driving to this kitchen at night after work, trying to learn, you know, what I was doing. And I started out, just early days, I was hand peeling vegetables, like did not know a thing about what I was doing. That's where I started. And I,


Bryan (08:35.694)

Right, right.


Lauren Joyner (08:38.377)

with what's called a PFR registration, and you can essentially get licensed to sell your product on a very small scale out of a commercial kitchen. So that's where I started. And then from there, once I started getting early traction and good signaling, that's when I decided it was time to invest in scaling up the formula and making it scalable and moving to a co -manufacturer. So that was sort of my next step. And when you're going through that process, you...


You work with a, what's called a process authority through the FDA to make sure that your food is safe and, you know, acidified properly. This is getting into the weeds, but essentially that's what's involved in making a product shelf stable that can be sold, you know, on shelf. So, a lot of learnings in these first few years and through the scale up process and working with a co -manufacturer, this was happening at the same time when the pandemic was sort of at its height, which added a lot of layers of complication, obviously.


Bryan (09:27.906)

Mm -hmm.


Lauren Joyner (09:34.313)

And there was a lot of learnings from me to understand what it means to scale a formula. It doesn't mean that you're taking a recipe and 10xing it, right? Things break at scale and you have to adjust your process according to available equipment. Things that work on a small scale may not work at a bigger scale. So there's a lot that goes into that process and there was a lot of learning that went into it. But very proud to say that today, I think we've really, we've really,


We cracked the code. I feel really, really excited after five years of cracking at this. I'm really proud of where we are today. And we have a formula that, as you said, is shelf stable, which means it doesn't require refrigeration. And it has a two -year shelf life, which is on par with what you would expect from buying, let's say, a toasty -dose cheese dip. So really, really proud of that. And that makes a big difference when you are competing on retail shelves.


Bryan (10:05.966)

Yeah.


Bryan (10:12.398)

Mm -hmm.


Bryan (10:29.518)

love it. Yeah, I mean, congrats on that iteration and that process. So I have to ask you the question then, what was the consumers reaction? Who were your first test subjects? And then how did you get the market share to say, look, I'm on to something? Because I try to explain this to everybody. I put nutritional yeast, my nooch, I put my nooch on everything. But not everybody loves it, right? Like I tried to get my mom to do it. She's like, No, this does not taste like cheese. And to me at this point in my life,


Lauren Joyner (10:38.545)

Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (10:49.097)

Love it. yeah.


Bryan (10:57.71)

It does. And I like it. I put it on my salad, whatever. So how did, how did you, you know, find that balance to say, you know, maybe I haven't quite hit that, that full cheese flavor per se, or you're pretty darn close. Like talk to me about the consumer reaction side.


Lauren Joyner (10:57.801)

Yeah, right.


Lauren Joyner (11:12.425)

yeah, well, you know, gosh, there have been many iterations. I don't even know what formula version that I'm on now, but in the early days, it was not great. Like there was a lot of mistakes made. And the crazy thing is I think now where it is today is very close to kind of more where I started, but with massive improvements that I didn't even think were possible five years ago. But I always tell people when it comes to consumer feedback,


And this just kind of is a lesson for anyone. Remember, there are people that exist that don't even like water. So it is impossible and a race to the bottom to try to make something that is universally loved by everyone. So just a good little reminder because it's impossible to do. But I've been really... Yes, yes, exactly.


Bryan (11:48.206)

Yes.


Bryan (12:00.878)

I hear that all the time from my daughter because my daughter goes, dad, I don't want water. Water has no taste. So yeah.


Lauren Joyner (12:09.257)

Yeah, 100%. So just remember that, you know, when you're getting feedback. But, you know, I, I got lucky. The first account that I ever had, the first like real account was actually Oracle Park baseball stadium in San Francisco. And they brought me into the stadium. And at the time, it was the first time they'd ever brought, you know, a dairy free cheese in and they were pairing it with impossible. And this was in 2019, like a month before the pandemic started.


So you know where this story is going. But that was my first ever account. And I think getting the chef there to like the product and believe in it, that really changed everything. Having that initial, you know, just proof of concept validation. And it did well. And then from there, started adding on more food service accounts. When the pandemic hit, I had to figure out a path forward. So I pivoted to get retail ready.


Bryan (12:37.902)

Yeah. Right.


Lauren Joyner (13:04.777)

started selling the product online and then eventually last year launched into grocery with Whole Foods Market actually, which has been amazing. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yes, we're on the chip aisle there next to their dairy 365 queso. Yeah, but you know, consumer feedback has been really, really strong the majority of the time. Obviously there's going to be people that haven't liked it or it hasn't been a fit for them. And I'll still get that today. But what's been exciting is that over time,


Bryan (13:12.462)

That's...


Lauren Joyner (13:33.897)

I've started to gain more customers that don't eat a plant -based diet. They may or may not be dairy free. They're just looking for a delicious, you know, party dip. And that was really my long -term goal is to make a product for the masses and to lead with taste and fun, which is why intentionally on our new label, the first thing you see is house party, cheesy dip. And then you see this fun cow who's welcoming you into its home.


There's string lights and everything. And so that was intentional so that people are seeing this, they're excited, that looks like a delicious cheesy dip. And then when you turn it, you can see, there's vegetables, there's all this healthy stuff. And if you're really interested, then you can read the full panel. But it's been really exciting to see, particularly in our demos in store and Whole Foods Market, how many consumers, I would say, honestly, eight out of 10 are non -vegan.


Bryan (14:13.934)

Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (14:27.497)

buying the product. And for me personally, as a mission driven company, that's been extremely exciting to see. And we have families that have kids that have allergies. There may be someone who's trying to cut out dairy because they're lactose intolerant or someone that's trying to eat more plant -based or just someone that says that looks like a delicious dip. And so it's been exciting to see the customer evolve and grow. And I've had to just to give a shout out to just.


Bryan (14:46.446)

Right, that's right.


Lauren Joyner (14:55.593)

the few loyal customers that I've had from the beginning that have ordered my product from the early days, like when it was nowhere where it is today and have continued to support me as I've evolved. And that just means everything. And I think consumers don't realize both the impact that they have on making changes in the grocery store, but the impact that they have on founders and business owners, just getting like a kind email or a positive review. It.


It is everything to keep me going. So it's really special.


Bryan (15:27.342)

I love it. It's so true too, cause like I'm a busy executive myself to a degree with what I do. And I do get some of the meal delivery services now and then I try and get one or two a month. Cause I want to a taste test them and put some reviews out there. But like, you know, there's the ones out there that do serve the chicken and the meat and stuff. And then there's like the purple carrots and the ones that are doing the more, you know, vegan only kind of a thing. And I would much rather give my money to the vegan only company.


Lauren Joyner (15:41.673)

I love it. Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (15:52.681)

Yeah. Yeah.


Bryan (15:56.558)

than the one that's doing both that hasn't quite, you know, like Oscar Meyer is getting into this space to a degree, but I don't, I don't, I love, I'm glad that they're doing it, but I want to support you. So get out there and support more people like Lauren on that front. I'm curious though. I'm curious though on the marketing side of it. So you're, you're taking a different approach a little bit to this in the sense that.


Lauren Joyner (15:59.626)

Right? Right? Yes!


Lauren Joyner (16:12.377)

I love it. Thank you.


Bryan (16:22.926)

You know, I purposely look for the giant V or the giant leaf or whatever, you know what I mean? To make sure it's vegan. Like I even ordered from a meal delivery service and I selected vegan and then I got the shipment and there was clearly eggs in some of the desserts. And I'm just like, so I want, I want a refund here kind of a thing. Like that's false advertising, but it's for you. It's, you know, you've got a cow on the label. You're not in the alternative vegan section of the grocery store.


Lauren Joyner (16:25.321)

Right. Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (16:37.065)

that's frustrating. Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (16:47.657)

Right?


Bryan (16:48.654)

I love the fact that you're mainstream right there next to maybe the low cost option and the fancy option and they're going to pick you and they don't even realize they're going to get home because it's just such a beautiful label. They're going to get home and they're going to taste it and they go, this tastes really good. What is in this? And then you go, my gosh, there's not even any cheese in it. Right. So, talk to me about the decision around making that choice and how you've navigated getting in certain parts of the grocery store. I'm so curious.


Lauren Joyner (16:52.233)

I'm going to go to bed.


Lauren Joyner (16:59.045)

You


Lauren Joyner (17:15.593)

Yeah, that's a great question. I sort of try to be hyper mindful of both sides of the coin. I think there is sort of this, I think argument from maybe a subset of the vegan community that feels like you should tote the vegan claim loud and proud. And by not doing that, it's harmful, which I could see that because there is a world where I think you do need to be...


We need to be excited and champion and just show how delicious and amazing this diet can be. But on the flip side, I'm also hyper aware of majority of my friends and family and how the average American eats. People don't want to feel like they are being pushed into a certain category. And I'm trying to meet people, the majority of people where they are today. And to be just brutally honest, the reality of the situation is,


The market has been, it's been really tough the last few years. It's food is a brutally hard business. And I don't think the average consumer really realizes how hard it is. Most of us are making literal pennies off of a sale, if that in grocery and just getting that space. the, the pressure that's on businesses to stay on shelf, is, is so high and it is really, really hard. And so I try to think about the bigger picture here. What's my goal?


My goal is to provide a competitor and eventual replacement for these junky American legacy products. And if my goal is to create something that provides more nutrition to more people, it has a positive impact on planetary health and the environment, and it reduces a reliance on factory farming and reduces our reliance on animals. It's not about me, right?


It's about those goals. So if you just apply an analytical mindset to this, okay, then how, what is the greater likelihood that I'm going to achieve this at a larger percentage and then what do I need to do? And personally, and what I think the data supports is let's try something different. Let's just make a delicious food that people can get excited about here and remove my ego and everything from it. That's just my personal sort of mindset and approach specifically for this product though. There is a unique opportunity here.


Bryan (19:08.078)

Yeah. Yeah.


Bryan (19:25.102)

Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (19:36.425)

and that nacho cheese is not technically defined by the FDA. And many of these products, cheese whiz, there's even a skew, I believe, of Tostitos cheese dip that has so little actual dairy in it that they also have to call it cheesy or cheese style product, right? And so there is this kind of interesting loophole and I think opportunity here then to, well, let me just make the same thing.


Bryan (19:48.418)

Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (20:00.969)

to get people to realize that, hey, we don't even actually need the dairy in this. And in fact, here's all the things that you can gain too by removing that. So anyways, I could talk about this for hours and I'm very open to opinions and new data. And I always want to sort of shift accordingly to what's going on. But that's the decision that I've made right now. And it's been really tough getting to the chip aisle.


Bryan (20:08.654)

Mm -hmm. Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (20:28.233)

and I'm excited to be there. It's everything that I've wanted, you know, I... Thank you.


Bryan (20:32.462)

I am too. Congratulations. I mean, no, that it's a, it's a tough, tough accomplishment. I guess there's two comments that pop in my head from this is number one, like there's this gentleman, I don't know. I've seen him on Tik TOK and probably a few other places who goes up and down the aisles and looks at all the people that are on the aisle and, and, and see who owns all the products and 99 % of all the products on every grocery aisle is owned by the top five companies.


Lauren Joyner (20:49.001)

yeah, there's a lot of those now.


Lauren Joyner (20:55.881)

yeah. The big, yeah.


Bryan (20:59.342)

And so people like you that do crack into that armor and get that little spot on the shelf, maybe it's at the bottom, maybe it's at the top, but it sounds like you're poised right in the middle of that in between the ship bags, perfect eyesight. Like that is well, well done. So I support all vegan companies that are finding the way to do it. Like whether they go all in on their vegan labels and want to get people like me or the ones that are the secret spies helping change the world. We need both kinds to change this world. So thank you.


Lauren Joyner (21:06.889)

Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (21:12.681)

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Lauren Joyner (21:20.617)

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yes.


Lauren Joyner (21:28.201)

I 100 % agree. And when I go to the grocery store, I do go straight to that refrigerated section. And so that's another thing that I've, the downside is I realized when I've done demos, someone that does void dairy, they will say to me, I'm sorry, I don't do dairy. And I'll have to say, no, actually this is dairy free. And they may not realize that because they're used to shopping in that one little section. But I think we deserve to be all over the grocery store.


Bryan (21:34.478)

Yeah.


Bryan (21:50.158)

Yes, yes.


Lauren Joyner (21:54.377)

And there's so many accidentally vegan products over the grocery store. We don't have to make it weird, right?


Bryan (21:54.734)

That's right.


Bryan (21:59.662)

Yeah. It's like being a kid in the candy shop or something. When you walk into a restaurant or a grocery store and everything is vegan, like that would just be heaven. Like I don't have to look at anything to before I make my decision. The other, the other, the other little tangent I want to take is down just cause it's so relevant. Cause I saw, I think it hit mainstream news in the past week is that, I don't know if I have the website open to, to do it, but they have the, the cheese competition.


Lauren Joyner (22:03.177)

Yeah!


Lauren Joyner (22:07.977)

Yeah, 100%.


Bryan (22:28.142)

And they were tasting the, the cheeses, all the, all the international cheeses and the one, I think it was a climax foods, climax blue came out with their cheese and they were set to win the whole competition. And then they got wind the fact that that's not really cheese or doesn't have dairy in it kind of a thing. And so they did a little side thing and then they basically kicked them out and somebody else won.


Lauren Joyner (22:28.457)

Mmm! Yes!


Lauren Joyner (22:36.073)

I heard about that. Climax. Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (22:44.649)

It's amazing.


Lauren Joyner (22:49.545)

Right, right.


Bryan (22:54.126)

Like, how does, what's your reaction to that? Like, I was just blown away that that happened. Like, clearly as a blind taste test, congratulations Climax Foods and Climax Blue. Like, whatever they're doing, like congrats on winning that. But as a cheese company, I'm just curious, like, what's your thoughts on that?


Lauren Joyner (22:54.601)

Wow.


Lauren Joyner (23:05.385)

yes. Absolutely.


Lauren Joyner (23:13.545)

Yeah, you know, I heard about that and you're absolutely right. I don't know like firsthand. I haven't spoken with anyone directly about, you know, what happened, but that's so exciting. And I had the opportunity to taste one of their cheeses at the Good Food Institute, had their convention last year, or conference, I'm sorry, conference in San Francisco. And they're delicious. It's phenomenal. I'm so excited. And I do also just want to point out,


Bryan (23:34.99)

Right.


Lauren Joyner (23:43.305)

I am such a supporter and get excited about any and everything that comes out in the market. And I respect anyone and everyone's approach. And I think we need the full circle of approaches here. And I just, I'm that person that I run out when there's like a new product available and I just get it, you know, it's just, it's just so exciting. Yeah. And, you know, they're making such delicious products and I cannot wait to get my hands on that. Yeah.


Bryan (24:02.35)

Great, me too. Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (24:10.857)

That is, that's wild. I can't believe that happened. And I think they actually even got a shout out from Stephen Colbert, I believe, which is amazing. I think so. Yeah. I think he actually even tasted it like on air or something like that. So that's just like, that's amazing. And that's, that's so exciting. And that just goes to show like how incredible that their product is, right? That's just amazing. Like, it's just.


Bryan (24:18.286)

Did they? I haven't seen that episode yet. Yeah, that'd be awesome.


Bryan (24:27.214)

Yeah.


Bryan (24:31.374)

Yes, I know. I've got that tab open on my browser just to make sure I buy it and taste it. And I hope they're sold out everywhere. So thank you for sharing your thoughts on that. I guess as we try and bring it back around to some of the people that might be watching this that are in that entrepreneurial startup kind of mode, what if any lighter insights you can share on the funding and the growth pieces of that?


Lauren Joyner (24:37.481)

Yes! Yes! yeah! absolutely!


Lauren Joyner (24:51.849)

Yeah.


Bryan (24:59.374)

I mean it takes a lot of money to bring a product like what you've got to market the Countless nights of losing sleep. I'm sure testing and hand peeling food and getting to where you are. I mean, it's been a mountain for sure Congratulations, what insight on funding and growth and some lessons for the entrepreneurs up?


Lauren Joyner (25:01.129)

Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (25:09.353)

Ha ha!


Lauren Joyner (25:13.833)

Thank you.


Lauren Joyner (25:18.281)

gosh, so many. I'm not even sure where to start. I think when it comes to funding, I think early on you have to just make a decision and it can evolve and change, right? But do you wanna become a lifestyle brand or do you wanna be a growth brand and maybe go the traditional VC model? I think all approaches are important and it's just sort of a personal decision on what you want to do.


You know, I've seen a lot of the headlines as you probably have that, you know, VCs are pulling out of the plant based space and blah, blah, blah. You see all these headlines and companies are focusing on profitability now overgrowth growth is dead. All this stuff. To be honest, I try to stay out of it. It's it can feel a little bit like noise and a distraction. And I try to stay, you know, keep tabs on what's going on. But at the end of the day, if you are out there,


running a plant -based companies, thinking about starting one. At the end of the day, whether you're food tech or food, you're just making food. Let's be honest. That the end goal is to get it to be consumed by a human being. So we're all making food here and just keep pushing forward. This is a long game, right? So whatever's the trend today is not gonna be relevant in five years and things are cyclical, right? So just keep your head down and keep charging forward because this is a long, long, slow...


Slow play here, right? You know, you think of these, think of the big legacy brands. It's not been overnight. They've been building their brands for, you know, half of the century, if not more, exactly. So, you know, it's a long game. And so to think that you can come in and change and just change, you know, eating habits and disrupt industries and dismantle legacy brands overnight is not going to happen. But so I think to surrounding yourself with people.


Bryan (26:45.166)

Yes.


Bryan (26:53.422)

hundreds of years to a degree. Yeah, yeah. Mm -hmm. Yeah.


Bryan (27:09.358)

Right.


Lauren Joyner (27:12.361)

whether it be investors, advisors, friends, that can just remind you of that. I think that's just so important not to lose sight of. And I think if every business is gonna hit hurdles, it doesn't matter what space you're in and just keep charging forward and focus on the mission, pull yourself out of it. And it's hard to do that, but think about what's your end goal here. And it's really not about you. It's what you're trying to accomplish outside of yourself.


Bryan (27:37.294)

I love it. Yeah. So tell us about the house party future. You know what I mean? Like is, is, do you have a couple different flavors right now? Like I'm the spicy guy. I want my spicy, spicy, super hot queso dip. where, where's house party going over the next few years?


Lauren Joyner (27:42.397)

You


Lauren Joyner (27:47.657)

yeah. Yeah. I love it.


The party is going to continue. Yes. So we have two flavors right now, mild cheddar and jalapeno cheddar. And I'm with you. I think my palette for spicy food just keeps increasing, which is probably a result of me just eating too much spicy food. But I would love to make, you know, a super hot, like an extra hot, you know, flavor. Some people find even our mild to be a bit spicy, but for me, I will add.


Bryan (27:57.742)

I love it.


Bryan (28:08.394)

Yes. Great.


Lauren Joyner (28:22.153)

pickled jalapenos on top of our jalapeno cheddar flavor. So I would love to expand, you know, our flavor line. There's also a number of other products that I am so eager to start working on and get them to market that have not yet been done in the dairy free sort of with the dairy free angle. So think about all these like just chunky classic American snack foods. That's what I'm going after. Essentially all the stuff I grew up eating.


Bryan (28:24.654)

Okay.


Bryan (28:48.494)

I love it.


Lauren Joyner (28:50.729)

Selfishly, I'm just looking for replacements for myself so I can, you know, eat these foods every day. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.


Bryan (28:53.698)

The secret, the secret behind Houseparty. There we go. I love it. I hope you come back on the show when you have another one to launch and we would love to help you expand and make the awareness out there to our community. How can we support you? What can we do as a community to help all the people watching here want to know and how can we get in touch with you?


Lauren Joyner (29:02.569)

That would be amazing.


Thank you. Thank you so much.


Lauren Joyner (29:17.225)

Thank you. Well, anyone listening, I love to talk to anyone and everyone, even if it's just you're a customer or you're a founder, whatever, reach out anytime. I'm happy to give my direct email. It's lauren at house party snacks .com. House party .com is taken. So we're house party snacks .com. And yeah, so I think in terms of support, I would just say,


Bryan (29:37.718)

Yeah.


Lauren Joyner (29:48.169)

You know, if you're a consumer, just recognize how much of an impact just one decision really makes. I know it sounds ridiculous and it's so easy to think if I just buy this product, like it's not going to make a difference, but my goodness, it does. Because especially when you're in grocery retailers, they're watching every sale. We are able to look and see how every store is doing every week. And one sale is matters so, so much. It makes such a difference. So just.


realize that even though it can sound, it's easy to get defeated, right? And unfortunately, a lot of my friends brands have closed their businesses in the last couple of years and it's easy to get bogged down in these negative headlines. But, you know, there's a lot of us that are still charging forward and, you know, the power lies with you, the power lies with the end consumer. That's really how we're able to make changes.


And even if that's not something that's in your budget or interesting to you, just being positive and just being a great champion and be kind and I think just always lead with positivity when speaking about your food choices and all that. Just be kind, I think, at the end of the day. That helps enormously and support each other. Yeah.


Bryan (31:03.438)

I love it. So go check out housepartysnacks .com. Help Lauren make enough money that she can go buy houseparty .com and own that one too. That's our goal. That's our new goal, Lauren. I want you to own houseparty .com and buy from whoever owns that site right now.


Lauren Joyner (31:10.121)

I love it. That would be a great goal. I love it.


Lauren Joyner (31:21.321)

Yeah, if the house party app that closed in the pandemic is listening guys, you don't need it anymore. Yes, yes.


Bryan (31:28.878)

That's right. Hook Lauren up here. So check out housepartysnacks .com. Thank you so much, Lauren, for being here. We really appreciate you spending some time.


Lauren Joyner (31:36.105)

Thank you so much. I appreciate it so much. And thank you for making this podcast and giving a platform to vegan brands and all that. It's amazing. Thank you for what you do.


Bryan (31:39.982)

Bryan (31:48.27)

Thank you. That is all the time we have for this episode of the Plant Based on Fire podcast. I'm your host Brian. Until next time, keep the fire burning everybody.

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