Cindy Jewell, former VP of marketing at California Giant, launches Jewell Marketing
Cindy Jewell has had an illustrious career in the produce industry, first with the California Strawberry Commission and then with California Giant Berry Farms, but always as an employee. For years she has dreamed of someday establishing her own marketing company and implementing some somewhat unconventional concepts that she is passionate about.
With the founding of Jewell Marketing, she has made that vision a reality. “I am accomplishing a dream and an idea I have had for a long time, and I am excited about that,” she said.
Jewell Marketing will be more than a traditional marketing firm, explained Jewell, who is also currently chair of United Fresh Produce Association, a volunteer board member of Alliance for Food & Farming, and co-founder and executive director of Tour de Fresh.
Her new company will have two primary focuses. One will be building brands for clients, telling their story, and generating growth using creative concepts and new ideas rather than the standard marketing formulas in common use. It is an approach that has proven effective for her in her previous employment.
The second focus of Jewell’s new company will be cause marketing — helping clients identify their values and what they stand for as a company, what they are passionate about, then build a formal philanthropic program to implement that vision, getting staff as well as leadership involved in the effort.
“Those kinds of things make a big difference to employees, to the community, and to clients and customers,” she said.
Jewell’s entrance into the produce industry was with the California Strawberry Commission. “That was my first job in produce,” she said. “I didn’t even really realize that I was getting into produce at that time. I was just answering a classified ad to be a secretary.”
She spent 19 years at the strawberry commission, working her way up from secretary to executive vice president, giving her a chance to work with all of the strawberry growers and shippers in California. She did not come into the organization with a marketing focus, but it was her creative, innovative side that drove her success as a marketing executive.
“I come from a very creative family. Everyone on my dad’s side made their living as artists and art professors, and my son is an artist. They are always thinking, always creating, always trying to come up with different ideas,” she said. “It’s a fun existence.”
Jewell went to work for California Giant in 2004 as marketing director, then as vice president of marketing. “They took the reins off and let me do whatever I thought I could to help build their brand and build the company,” she said. “I think I do my best work when I am not restrained. It’s not always by the book, but it’s a lot of fun, and I get some great results.”
At California Giant, Jewell also worked with the owners in building and implementing their foundation in support of community charities.
The co-founding, with Anthony Gallino, of the Tour de Fresh charitable cycling event in 2014 is a great example of walking the walk. The annual event has raised over $900,000 and placed more than 250 salad bars in schools across the U.S.