We had the good fortune of connecting with Stefanie Garcia Turner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stefanie, how do you think about risk?
I’d say I was raised as a pragmatic risk-taker which sounds like an oxymoron. But I view risk as a given in life and the only difference in the risk level is how far people are willing to step into the unknown. For me, I’ve looked at opportunities that have arisen in my life and career and have firmly picked the path that I wanted to pursue the most. But I’ve had to go into it thinking, ‘well if this doesn’t work out, I always have X’. It’s kind of a mind trick that has made me be brave enough to make these decisions and take the risks that otherwise I may have shied away from.
What should our readers know about your business?
I have always been passionate about food and have worked in the industry for a retailer, a couple of brands, as a consultant, and now as an entrepreneur. I’ve loved aspects of all of these roles but creating TUYYO has been the one that has brought all of my career interests together. I am both a creative and an analytical person and launching a brand of food and beverages that encompasses my cultural pride as a Latina and allows me to create the products that I feel will add to the evolution of Latin American foods in stores is really a dream come true that I never knew I had.
The road hasn’t necessarily been hard but there have definitely been challenges that have tested my anxiety levels along the way. The first challenge was just going from ideation to creation and committing to a brand that I feel embodies what I want to bring to the world. The decision to move forward with creating my first line of products, all-natural simple ingredient instant Agua Fresca powder mixes, was driven by both a gut-instinct and market data showing that nothing like this existed in the market. There are powder drink mixes available but almost all of them contain questionable ingredient lists and none of them provide flavor from actual fruit. I figured this is a differentiated product but it has traditional roots that people from Latin American cultures, as well as many other cultures, know about and understand.
There will always be challenges that appear along the way but really it is about seeing the challenge, or problem, and weighing the solutions and decisions that can be made and picking the best option for where I am at in the journey. This may mean saying no to a huge retailer that wants the product but will ultimately bankrupt me because of the investment needed to make it successful. But I am looking to build this brand to have a place in people’s homes across the US in multiple categories and I am willing to make the hard decisions to make the end-goal a reality. Just recently, TUYYO was chosen as a top emerging brand out of 500+ applicants by a national food distributor here in the US called KeHE Distributors LLC. With this, TUYYO is on its way towards that end goal!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them on a road trip up the coast! We’d start off having breakfast at S&W Country Diner in Culver City. The food is solid and I love the low-key vibe of the spot. I would then take my friend to Echo Park for a stroll around the lake and some shopping on Sunset. After working up an appetite we would head to lunch at Yojimbo in Fairfax. I love their bowls and it will fill us up for our trip up the 101 towards Ojai. En route we’d stop at Erewhon in Calabasas to grab a cold brew and wander the aisles looking at the enticing array of products they stock. We’d finish our drive at the Ojai Valley Inn for the evening, enjoying the change of pace from the city. For dinner we’d indulge ourselves at Nocciola and their amazing pasta dishes with a glass of Cabernet from the Central Coast.
The next day we’d take our time getting up and grab a coffee at Beacon Coffee before heading for a hike nearby. We’d grab lunch at Farmer and Cook before heading back on the road towards Santa Barbara. The Canary Hotel is our pick for this beautiful town with its cute rooms and Mediterranean feel. We would refresh and then head to one of the many wine tasting spots in the Funk Zone and enjoy the sea breeze and laid-back vibe. Dinner would be at Barbareño, a delicious California-centered restaurant with an amazing seasonal menu with ingredients sourced from the Central Coast. We’d end that night with a cocktail at Test Pilot, a tiki-themed bar, and sleep in the next day. Shopping along State Street and strolling along Santa Barbara’s beachfront would bring a perfect end to the excursion.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family is my biggest support system. When I first pitched my very broad and undefined idea to them I was sitting at a kitchen table surrounded by cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and siblings and just put it all out there. All I had was a notion in my head and they instantly understood the vision and offered to help at any step of the way. That was two years ago and now I have a product line launched with a second line on the way and a company that I am proud of. All because they believed in me.