By: Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 7/30/20 –
NICOLE P. BROWN
Nikki began her career in 1997 with Champion Nutrition. In 1998, she joined her father and brother to add her expertise to the successful start-up of Cyto Sport / Muscle Milk. Here she was instrumental in creating the infrastructure of their operation which became a 200,000 square foot headquarters housing business operations, marketing and a state of the art manufacturing facility. She began to direct the Brand in early 2001 and was named Chief Marketing Officer in 2009. She led all brand activity including innovation, packaging, advertising, sports marketing, collegiate programming, lifestyle marketing, national events and sampling. Her efforts resulted in unprecedented revenue acceleration in the protein category and acknowledgements including Beverage of the Year(2008), Best of the Small Companies Under 1 B (2009), Packaging of the Year (2009) and Most Innovative Brands (2013). In 2014, the family sold the business to Hormel Food Company, where Nikki stayed in her role. In 2016, she joined her father and brother at Flavor Insights, a start-up specializing in the functional food and beverage space helping companies with flavor, innovation and application. Nikki serves as CEO. In 2019, the entrepreneurial family launched the ALTWELL line of CBD products where she has led the brand and marketing efforts. She is a graduate of University of Southern California and lives in Alamo with her husband and four children. When not running from sports to dance, they love to travel.
Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I graduated from USC and went to work for my dad days after. Our family has been in wellness and sport nutrition for decades and soon after I started with him, we started Cyto Sport (my father, brother and a few others). A few years in, we founded the Muscle Milk brand. I led our brand efforts from packaging, messaging to customer collecting. I grew into the CMO role leading all brand building and consumer facing efforts. We sold the business in 2014 to the Hormel Food Company. I stayed in the CMO role until 2016. I left to help my father with his latest start up, Flavor Insights, which specializes in flavorings for food and beverage products. While we love the flavor business, we knew we would get back in the branded space eventually. In 2018, the idea behind Altwell was born with our first products launched early this year. In addition to the businesses, I am a mother of four active kids that range from 13 to 6. We enjoy our alone time as a family and so love getting away with
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story
While building the Muscle Milk brand was the highlight of our careers for all of us (our family), I think selling a family company to a food and beverage giant was an interesting and memorable process. The process itself is a huge learning. It wasn’t easy and you learn more than you want to know about all the different parties involved along the way. For entrepreneurs, brands and their businesses are like a baby and learning to step back and let others raise your ‘child’ doesn’t come naturally for most.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
It goes without saying, we all have lots on our plate. It’s hard to disconnect given how our world is wired. When you vacation, you still have the ability to connect. It really never stops. We wanted to get into the CBD space in hopes that we can be a part of this bigger movement towards alternatives in health and wellness. We need more balance and calm. I visited my doctor shortly after turning 40. I shared similar complaints as many women (working or at home). I wasn’t sleeping well, feeling anxious, etc. I tried some of her suggestions and found that it was a short-term fix for me. I turned to alternatives like CBD and revised my routine. I am pretty sure I will need to routinely reevaluate and modify.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
On Instagram at @AltwellCBD.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental wellness. I am learning that my needs are changing, I need more sleep, I need more calm. I feel like I am changing biologically, and I need to embrace and support it. I need to make tweaks to my normal. Be in touch with yourself. The change or unknown sneaks up on us. With little ones we are generally trying to survive. Be empathetic. I have also realized that everyone has a little something they are dealing with. Some are big and some are small. A little grace goes a long way.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
- Eat healthy
- Try and move around and or workout every day
- Take a minute or two for you- even if it’s an extra 10 minutes in the shower as you start or end your day
- Drink more water and tea and less alcohol
- Keep up with people that keep you laughing