20 Questions: Rachel Gutierrez
-By Bob Needham
While working for Unilever, a British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company, Rachel Gutierrez, BBA ’08, had a life-changing idea while listening to a presentation on food trends. The idea: creating a coffee flavored with real, natural spices.
“I went home and starting experimenting and couldn’t stop thinking about the idea,” she says now. Before long, she founded a company, Bom Dia Brands, named after the Portuguese for “good morning.” Today, her coffee company is a top seller on Amazon.
We recently asked Gutierrez to sit back with a fresh cup and answer our “20 Questions.”
- Why did you decide to commit to all-natural flavorings?
Via Bom Dia was my first product line. I launched it because there wasn’t anyone selling 100 percent naturally flavored coffee. I saw it as an opportunity that aligned with food trends. Now, we also have Cold Brew Lab, which is the second brand under the Bom Dia Brands umbrella.
We also have partnered with 10 other coffee brands and have become a top seller of coffee on Amazon. We only have two employees, but we work with creative agencies, freelancers, and third-party production partners to keep everything running.
- Which is your favorite Via Bom Dia flavor?
I love the Cinnamon Chocolate flavor.
- Why is it important to source your coffee from farmers you know?
We only sell high-quality organic coffee and we know the source of all our beans. It is important to understand where your coffee is coming from. It is one of the most chemically treated crops in the world. There is a lot of low-quality coffee on the market that is full of chemicals.
- What’s the biggest challenge facing the coffee industry today?
More and more people are understanding the importance of drinking high-quality organic coffee; however, they aren’t willing to pay the price for it. They say they want organic/fair-trade but then still want to buy a bag for $4 — it just doesn’t work like that. You have to pay for quality in food and beverage.
- What has been your best business decision so far?
To launch on Amazon a few years ago. We’ve grown our Amazon business to selling over 200 different coffee products and it has been very successful.
- What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to work in fashion in NYC — I even went to shadow my cousin for a week who worked for DKNY. Once I realized the realities of the industry, I was no longer interested.
- What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Don’t stress too much over what your career will look like in 5-10 years. I never imagined or predicted that I would be running my own coffee company. Enjoy the moment, work really hard, and everything else will fall into place.
- The thing you learned in business school that you’ll never forget?
I will always remember the group projects. Ross really focuses on solving problems with a team mindset, and that is 100 percent applicable to real life in your career.
- Most-cherished Ross experience?
Joining AKPsi business fraternity. I learned SO much from being with this group of like-minded people.
- What do you miss most about Ann Arbor?
Football games, NYPD pizza, walking through the Diag. College life is the best in Ann Arbor.
- Who is today’s most important business leader?
Since I’m so involved with Amazon, I have to say Jeff Bezos. He is brilliant.
- What’s a book that you’ve read recently? How was it?
The last book I couldn’t put down was Red Notice by Bill Browder.
- What’s your best recommendation for a show to binge watch?
Younger, since it’s based in NYC and is very entertaining.
- Who or what is most played in your music library?
Latin music — Shakira, Mana, Juanes, Carlos Vives.
- Favorite comfort food?
Chocolate, always chocolate.
- What’s the most thrilling/adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
Traveling solo to Australia, Peru, Spain, etc. There is something so exciting about exploring a new country alone. You end up learning a lot about yourself and also meeting a lot of interesting people.
- Unfulfilled dream?
To be a serial entrepreneur. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. It is so exciting to launch your own idea and business and to be your own boss. I love creating new products — so many ideas, so little time!
- Must-have app on your phone?
ClassPass for scheduling workouts.
- Three people, living or dead, you’d like to have dinner with?
Sheryl Sandberg, Deepak Chopra, Jeff Bezos.
- Most important room in your home?
Kitchen — everything revolves around the kitchen.