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Founder Feature: Jamie Melzer

Jamie Melzer, founder of Watermelon Road, knows there’s nothing sexy about raisins. But what about dried fruit called Mango Margarita? Or Pineapple Mojito? Go on…

Jamie Melzer is proud that Watermelon Road sells wholesome, whole fruit snacks made from just a few simple ingredients. But even she acknowledges that the dried fruit market could be pretty bland and boring.

Let’s dive into some Q&A with Jamie about her journey along…well…Watermelon Road!

TFP: Why did you start Watermelon Road?

JM: I saw a void in the market for healthy, plant-based snacks that I actually wanted to eat over and over again. And particularly in the dried fruit category. I love dried fruit because of the simple, unprocessed ingredients, but the category was boring, bland and commoditized. I wanted to bring flavor to our products without adding any artificial ingredients or preservatives. We use citrus as a natural preservative and add herbs and spices to really enhance the flavor - and nothing else!

TFP: How powerful have you found food to be as medicine?

JM: Food as medicine has become a mantra in our household (our parent company name is MED Kitchn as in food is medicine). For us, that just means eating whole, unprocessed ingredients and preparing them simply. Shifting to this approach 8 years ago eliminated my husbands ankylosing spondylitis symptoms - something that years of medication failed to do.

TFP: From research analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch to food entrepreneur –– What about your past career prepared you for running your own business? What was a total shock?

WR: I spent roughly 12 years researching, analyzing and modeling industries and companies, which I thought would give me an advantage when launching my own. But the truth is, I spend about 5% of my time focused on our finances and 95% on everything else. Launching a company in a new industry has been a crash course on sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, shipping, branding, marketing, PR, customer service, hiring, and the list goes on and on. It can be overwhelming at times, but the best way to learn is by doing and every day I am learning something new.

TFP: Why did you join The F Project?

JM: Having the support of fellow female entrepreneurs has been such a huge help for me as I launch and grow my business. I loved the idea of paying that forward and collectively supporting such an incredible group of women and companies. This is a group of individually strong, fierce and accomplished women, but I truly believe that together we are stronger.

TFP: What inspires you most?

JM: The idea of building a better future for my daughter and creating something that she would be proud of.

Katelyn Murphy-McCarthy

Katelyn is a writer and editor specializing in creative nonfiction. She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, and loves hearing and sharing the stories of women who are making a difference.
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