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In this episode…

Join David Hernandez, host of There’s Always a Lyric, as he speaks with the CEO and founder of uppercase industries, Becca Brown! Tune in as they delve into Becca’s entrepreneurial journey, how she manages to keep her clients satisfied, and of course the lyrics that inspire her.  

Episode Transcript

lotus823  (0:19)  

There’s always a lyric is sponsored by lotus823. At lotus823 your goals are our goals. We help consumer tech, home, and lifestyle brands gain visibility, drive relevant traffic, and increase sales through customized public relations and marketing strategies. Want to learn more? Head over to or get in touch at today.


David Hernandez (0:44)  

Welcome to another episode of There’s Always a Lyric. This is, as you all know, my podcast where I get the great honor and opportunity to speak to some really smart people in different industries across the landscape of manufacturing and marketing and retail. And today, one of my guests, a really exciting guest for me because there’s a parallel connection here with what our agency does, is Becca Brown. She’s the founder and CEO of uppercase industries, a marketing strategy and consumer insights company. The company specializes in building marketing and business growth plans based on consumer industry and business data. Their expertise is primarily in the food parenting and sustainability sectors. Uppercase works with big-name brands like Dr. Bronner’s and King Arthur Flour and small startups alike to grow their business with smart consumer targeting and creative messaging. Becca also serves as an advisor to CPG Startups. She has an MBA from Georgetown, McDonough School of Business, and a BA from Columbia University. Welcome, Miss Becca Brown. 


Becca Brown  (1:53)  

Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.


David Hernandez  (1:56)  

Yay. So I’d like to start off with a question about where you are right now. And then we can kind of work backward from there. I did the official reading of what your company is about. But can you tell me a little bit? What it’s like being Becca Brown right now in 2023, with the economy where it is with inflation, where it is.


Becca Brown  (2:20)  

Let’s see, we’re heading into our eighth year in business and actually our business. Thank you. Yes, the business birthday is I think it’s October 16th, I sort of have to look it up every year. 


David Hernandez  (2:32)  

It’s coming up, it is coming up. 


Becca Brown  (2:33)  

And I tried to do a little reflecting and kind of where we are and where we’ve been at this time every year. And I feel like right now we’ve really hit our stride in terms of honing in on our expertise. And being, I think we’re the most consistent we’ve ever been in delivering tons of value to our clients, which is great. So it’s a great place to be. I find myself having to sort of explain the need for what we do less and less. It seems to be becoming more obvious and clients are sort of getting it. And I think as a marketer, the less you have to explain your message, that sort of means the clearer it is to begin with. So yeah, and this has been a really fun year of getting some new clients. I always have a client wish list going in the back of my head or sometimes literally on paper. And this year, we’ve gotten several and they’re often big and small. So Dr. Bronner’s has been on my list for a long time. We’ve been working with them since the beginning of the year and a couple of small local brands to where I am in Burlington, Vermont that I’ve just had my eye on them for a while. And we have done some fun projects with those companies this year. So that’s been fun as well.


David Hernandez  (3:59)  

How did we get here? Like, it’s eight years. Can we roll back all the way back all those years ago? A different world, we lived in a different world. Right on so many levels. What was it like? What was the impetus? How did you get there? How did you know how did you arrive at saying this is what I’m going to do?


Becca Brown  (4:21)  

So, you know, the saying, necessity is the mother of invention. I feel that one pretty deeply particularly because of the mother part. So I was working at Applegate, internally on their marketing team, the Applegate Farm natural and organic meat company if people haven’t heard of it. I had just had my first child who, he’s eight. So he’s the same age as my business. It’s just not an accident.  


David Hernandez  (4:58)  

There were two births. 


Becca Brown  (5:00)  

Exactly yes. His was first by about six months and things were great with Applegate. But as it turned out during my maternity leave, they were acquired by Hormel. And at the same time, my husband got a job offer to move our family to Vermont, which is where I grew up. And we always wanted to move back. So we kind of knew we had to say yes. And when I went to pitch, I had always worked remotely. But when I went to pitch the idea of working remotely from Vermont, which was way farther away from the office than I had been previously, the new management at Hormel was not about that. And it didn’t seem like it was going to work out. So I had always wanted to start my own business. And I had a very supportive team, even though we kind of had this hiccup together at Applegate, my mentor there, Gina, you know, she helped me figure out, well, okay, maybe this is the door opening and not a door closing, right. As I mentioned, my son had just been born, it was becoming clear to me that the corporate world was not going to be the best fit for my new world as a mother. And so I said, Okay, I’m gonna try to start my own agency and see how far I get with it. And if it doesn’t work out, there’s tons of amazing businesses in Vermont, it’s a burgeoning economy up there. And I’ll apply for another regular job. So, essentially, what I did was I emailed everyone I knew, including my academic colleagues, and I had built up a great network of CPG-type companies sort of in the good food world, back then. And I had the amazing good fortune of essentially sending out one email to probably about 50 people. And that kept me busy for about the first two years of our business, it just there was a big need. And at that time, you know, you’ve been talking about the different world back then. The market was different. I mean there was so much growth happening. I mean, there’s still growth happening today. But at that point, there was so much need for marketing because social media was still kind of new, there was a whole content marketing discipline had just evolved. And they were trying to staff all those positions, and people really needed. You know, I really started out as a freelancer and developed more of an agency style with a team as the years went on. But that was the start. And, and I’m glad it happened that way.


David Hernandez  (7:30)  

I’m a great believer that none of us get to where we are by ourselves. You know, we, there’s people along the way that help us find our path. Sometimes that can point out or, or give us an insight that we had never really thought about. And just in general, act as a mentor or coach, and it comes in all different forms, right? It could be at work. Like the case that you were just speaking about a moment ago, was but it can also come in your personal life, through friendships, etc. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Maybe start with Gina.


Becca Brown  (8:06)  

Yeah. So I have to back up from Gina to give my parents a shout-out as my original mentors because they’re both actually entrepreneurs as well. And so, yes for better or for worse. So they are both my kind of number one sounding boards. You know, my mom in particular, I’m in touch with her just all the time and she’s a very strong woman. So, myself being a woman as well, that’s been a critical kind of role model for me to have. So that’s sort of the foundation and then yes, Gina was my boss at Applegate for about five years, and she’s just a force. She actually only just recently left the company there to start her own business now, which is exciting. And we’ve been in touch a little bit about that. But yeah.


David Hernandez  (9:02)  

Sorry what’s her name? Gina? 


Becca Brown  (9:05)  

Gina Nagel. Yes. So she really is an extremely creative person. She is a woman who knows how to use her voice and to fight for what she believes in. And she really taught me that. And she is also really passionate about the world of food and agriculture. And during my time working with her, I really learned the possibility as well as the difficulties of effecting positive change through a kind of traditional business model. And like I said, a lot of our clients now are walking that path and there are ups and downs and there are challenges and that’s an area where I try to support our clients, figuring out okay, we have this mission, and, you know, it needs to resonate with these groups of consumers over here, not to mention like, you know, management and the and the board and all of that, and how do you marry those things together to both drive the business and drive the change that you’re trying to make. So she was my education on that, I would say.


David Hernandez  (10:10)  

What do you feel like are the best values that you’re able to bring to these, especially to something like a startup or a mid-level player that’s trying to gain traction and get the visibility of some of the bigger players in a particular space? Where do you feel that your, I guess your value proposition really kind of inserts itself and makes a difference for them?


Becca Brown  (10:40)  

Yeah so I think there is there’s so much going on in there’s the field of marketing the field of the products and food and all of it. And I think the sense that I get from our client work, in terms of the value we must provide, is the ability to focus for them to focus. We help our clients focus, provide clarity, and also kind of on the emotional side, even though we’re very data-based, and numbers-based, and business-based, we have a calming effect on our clients. And so we are just great at finding the right area to focus on in the right time, kind of for the right people. So you know, whether that’s okay, you have a retail business and a wholesale business, right? And maybe you have an E-commerce too. You know, if you have a small team, you either need to divide and conquer, one person needs to retail one person needs to wholesale, or you need to pick one at a time and say, Okay, this quarter, we’re focusing on A next quarter we’re focusing on B, here are the metrics that we want to look at. And then also, you know, the biggest thing we help our clients do is hone in on who their ideal customer is, and how to effectively speak to them. And that itself provides so much clarity. I like to say, we help CMOs who are like just going around in these endless circles in meetings with their leadership, trying to say, Okay, no, we’re for this person over here. And everybody just has their own opinion, we help wipe out those opinions, provide the data, and then get a consensus on who to really target and what they care about.


David Hernandez  (12:27)  

Inevitably, in all of our lives there, there are troughs, or drops or failures. Although I personally don’t think failure is a bad word, I think it’s, you know it’s a learning part of your life through failure. Is there is there a particular failure that you can share with us?


Becca Brown  (12:51)  

Something that has tripped me up, not just once, it has to happen a couple of times, sometimes it takes more than one time to really learn a lesson. So as I mentioned, in the beginning of the, you know, when I started the business, we were doing just a lot. It was just like, you know, the freelance mindset of if somebody will pay me to do this, I will do this thing. And it led us down into a few types of services that probably, so it’s been eight years, probably for the first four years, that was fine. And then really, at that halfway mark, it was clear that that was not the best use of our skill, you know, a couple of different sort of marketing tasks. And I knew that and I kept doing the work, even though you know, we were still doing a great job, I feel like I’ve never had a feeling that we’ve like, really let a client down. And I think that’s intentional in terms of who we work with, but my heart wasn’t in it, my team’s heart what, you know, I tried to sort of delegate it to somebody whose heart was more in it. And what I really should have done is brought it up with the client, and found an amicable way to end. And eventually, that did happen, but I just let it go on for way too long. And so the learning from that is that even though oftentimes, you’re you know, you’re leaving money on the table when you have to do that, and that’s always hard. It’s worth it. Because what I learned after I ended up, having the conversation and kind of making an exit plan with that client is that the, you know, it frees up so much more valuable creative space in your brain and sort of on your calendar that you can use for the things that you’re really meant to be doing. And that’s what happened. So I hope that the next time I see that creeping in, I will act a lot sooner and just kind of deal with this situation.


David Hernandez  (14:49)  

How do you, when you look at yourself, do you have a particular way to approach things to find that balance? Is there a way that you can pull away from some of these things? And go inside yourself and re-energize? And, you know, so that you can be the best on a pretty consistent basis? I mean, we’re human, and we can’t be perfect.


Becca Brown  (15:15)  

Yeah, definitely. So I mean, I feel like that’s a big question. And I could talk about, you know, on a, like, sort of mental and emotional health level, but I’m actually going to answer it in a very practical way. Because I am a practical person. So I use my calendar to find balance. And I have learned, it’s been a practice of using, of setting aside time blocks of time, entire days, when I sort of have a practice that I do, where if I’m feeling really stressed out, or I’m gonna have a busy sort of two-week sprint of client work, I know, I need to look ahead at the calendar, maybe three or four weeks ahead and block out a day or to just unwind and do whatever I want. So I also sort of on a regular week-to-week basis, am pretty rigorous and strict with scheduling meetings, only Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. And then Monday and Friday, I just keep a pretty clear schedule, and usually ends up being, you know, time for client work, or on actually until very recently, I spent Fridays with my kids. So that was something that just being diligent about my calendar, you know, and the thing is, you don’t have to tell, like, if you’re scheduling a meeting with somebody, I have a scheduling link that I use, you don’t have to test, you don’t have to start the conversation with that, right? Like, I don’t want clients to feel like oh, you’re not available two days of the week, you know, that’s not a good thing. I want them to feel well taken care of, and like I’m really there for them. But you know, then you just click the link, and the times that are available show up. And you don’t have to have a whole sort of discussion about it. But then on the flip side, doing that really helps me to protect my energy and to show up as the best,  consultant, parent, friend, and human that I can. It also just it feels doable. Like I don’t have to think about it constantly. I just use my little technology tools. And it’s kind of like a no-brainer, which I appreciate because you to get that decision fatigue if you’re going back to the same choice over and over. 


David Hernandez  (17:29)  

No, I think it’s a great piece of advice about how others can create balance folks that are listening to this, it’s that you are deliberate about it. You’ve made a deliberate choice to block out time so that you can be the very best the rest of the time. And that you can be the best for folks on both sides. Right? Those people in your personal life as well as your clients. You know, that’s a great piece of advice, being deliberate and actually just making the time and then setting it. You have it as a perpetual, you don’t reinvent the wheel every week. That’s great. Which, speaking of advice, all these questions are kind of cascading today. But speaking of advice, can you share some advice? Now that you’ve I mean, you’ve been doing this eight years, it’s not like you’re a newbie, you didn’t start a year ago or six months ago, company’s now eight years down the road. Can you share some advice for that entrepreneur that’s listening or thinking about, you know, I think I can do this, whatever that company or business that they’re thinking about? What can you share as far as from your experience over the past eight years?


Becca Brown  (18:54)  

Yeah, so I think you know, when any type, this is true for any type of business, but especially for a consulting business, whether you’re a marketing consultant or a different kind of consultant, there’s so many things that you can do when you’re starting out, right. It’s an endless menu of options. But my advice is that all you need to be a business is one client. You need one client, and that’s it. And you don’t need a website. You don’t need a, I mean, it’s great to have a capabilities blurb that you can email people, but you don’t even need that, you need one client, which usually means you need to know one person who you think you could help, and you need to talk to them about it. Whether that’s a coffee shop or on the phone or you ask you know your best friend to introduce you. You just need that one person and then you’re going. What I see over and over is that when you’re starting out, you’re gonna pour your heart into that first client. The first few clients, they’re gonna give you glowing reviews. It starts this beautiful virtuous cycle and also you don’t need to know exactly every detail of what you’re going to deliver to them. You just need to trust yourself that you’ll know what they need when it’s in front of you. I see people agonize over like, Oh, am I offering two calls in the first month or, you just go start doing it, and you’ll figure it out. So that’s my advice.


David Hernandez  (20:21)  

I think that’s great advice. And, and you’re right, it starts with one. If you can just break it down to that it starts with one. And now you’re in business. That’s awesome. Okay, so my favorite question and the foundation of this entire podcast. If there was one song title, or lyric that captures you or your story, what would it be?


Becca Brown  (20:51)  

So yes this was hard for me because I was really overthinking it. Like there has to be like a deep song like a Beethoven symphony of work encapsulating my whole life. But actually, then I was thinking about this one of the songs I listened to in real life most often. And it’s “Good Morning” by Max Frost. And I don’t know if you know the song you have, obviously, you’ll listen to it after we talk. I hope I recommend that you do. But you were saying before something about how, when you’re talking about identity and betting on yourself, that’s what you said. And this song really brings that to life. It starts out like the chorus says, “Baby, it’s a brand new day.” And then it’s a song about how every day is a new day, and you have a chance to start again and to have a good morning. And then when another lyric is “The rest of my life is going to start today.” And so I just, I love that, I love the song. Because, you know, if I’m in a good mood, and I wake up, it just perpetuates the good mood, you know, I listen to a lot when I go running in the morning. If I’m in a bad mood, it shakes me out of my bad mood and helps remind me that like I control my own destiny, I have the option to bet on myself, it’s my choice to have a good day or a bad day. And I think as an entrepreneur, you need to remind yourself that a lot, right? Every day, you’re choosing to go out and do this thing, you got to give yourself a lot of pep talks. And you know, and it can be daunting to be in charge of making your destiny but it’s also I mean, I think it’s the most fun part of what we do. And it’s exciting. So this song always reminds me of that and kind of gets my head in the game where it needs to be. 


David Hernandez  (22:42)  

That’s a really, it’s actually a great way to live. In that song, I think you’ve really captured the idea of controlling your destiny because the one thing you can control is your attitude about what’s happening at any given moment. So that’s really beautiful. It’s almost Buddhist. Sort of a Buddhist quality to it. 


Becca Brown  (23:10)  

Yeah, I can see that. Yeah.


David Hernandez  (23:12)  

You’re kind of in charge of how your perception of your life is and how your day is and what you’re doing. It’s all through you. Yeah, it’s wonderful. So I have to put Max on my list. I’m listening to him. 


Becca Brown  (23:27)  

Well, yeah. And it’s, it’s also like, it’s not a serious song. It’s very peppy and funny and fun. And so I think that actually helps with sort of dealing with the weight of it all.


David Hernandez  (23:38)  

I agree. Well, Becca, this has been truly, truly a pleasure. And we went down some interesting roads while we spoke. Thank you so much for your time today, first of all, and for those who are in the brand world, please take a look at uppercase industries. I love what you said about using data to make decisions and not just emotions. Because the numbers don’t lie. And that it’s critical when you’re thinking about a brand launching a new product line, launching a category or just launching a brand period. You really need to understand who that customer is. And I think a lot of times I think you’ve come across this on your side of the aisle like we have on our side of the aisle is, you speak to some of these brands that are launching and they really have, obviously a very deep understanding of their product, but not necessarily exactly who the customer is. Because they’re they’re in love with their creation.


Becca Brown  (24:50)  

Exactly, which should they should be.


David Hernandez  (24:52)  

Right they should be. That’s where you come in.


Becca Brown  (24:55)  

That’s why I have a job.


David Hernandez  (24:58)  

Anyway, thank you so much. It’s really been a pleasure and I’m going to be listening to that song later today for sure


Becca Brown  (25:06)  

Great well thank you so much for having me this has been a treat. 


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