Ketchikan, AK

In the competitive landscape of sustainable food enterprises, Jenn Brown’s Foraged & Found stands out not only for its commitment to biodiversity and health but also for its serendipitous origins and remarkable success. 

The name also echoes Brown’s professional journey and the search for meaning and purpose in a fast-paced professional landscape that can rapidly drain our creative potential, leaving us prone to burnout. “Foraged & Found” is more than a brand; it’s a beacon of innovation, sustainability, and empowerment in a domain where women-led initiatives continue to break new ground.

One Marketer’s Unlikely Professional Segue Reignites a Love for Adventure 

Early in her marketing career, Brown never fathomed that less than a decade later she’d be an Alaskan trailblazer in sustainable, kelp-based foods. She grew up in California, and while she did enjoy cooking from time to time, more than anything she had a mind for adventure and a desire to see the world. 

As an adult, her passion for people and ideas naturally drew her to marketing, which took her first to Seattle and then to Australia, where she spent years working tirelessly and climbing the ranks. She stood out as a highly capable and dedicated professional, and as a result, she quickly rose through the ranks at work. Nonetheless, she also woke up one day to realize, like so many of us, that she was incredibly burnt out.  

By chance, while taking a sabbatical back in the US, she was offered a summer position as a chef on a sporting yacht in Alaska. She took the opportunity, and the rest is history. 

“I was stunned by Alaska—the freshness of the fish and the strength of the local community,” Brown recalls. She felt her creative energy returning as she experimented with local ingredients to whip up exciting new foods. The time was so transformative that she signed on to return the following summer. 

Kelp Meets Jenn. World Meets Kelp. 

As you can probably assume considering Brown’s talent for marketing and business, her venture into the sustainable food industry was no leap in the dark. She pinpointed almost immediately that Alaska’s charm, from the allure of its people and traditions to the wealth of natural beauty, could all be traced back to what she describes as the “richness of the local biodiversity.”

And no adventure she took in Alaska was more fortuitous than her first kelp harvest. 

“Kelp is a zero-input crop,” Brown explains. Not only is it high in iodine, which is vital for human health, particularly for the thyroid, but it also grows from the micronutrients abundantly floating throughout the world’s oceans. And while kelp (or seaweed as it’s commonly called) is barely talked about as a source of nutrition in the “lower 48”, it’s a dietary staple for many Alaskans. 

It’s in the space where new ingredients and flavors mixed that Brown’s artistic energy took on a life of its own. Her first masterpiece was a line of kelp “pickles”, which received rave reviews and pushed her to re-don her marketing cap. 

There are also various types of kelp, and they offer different textures and culinary possibilities. “The difference between sugar kelp and ribbon kelp is the difference between carrots and spinach,” Brown explains, “and each has a unique plant structure.” 

By studying their respective characteristics, she’s come up with pickles and salsas you’d never even know were kelp-based. Brown recounts all of the free samples she’s handed out in the past. “People would ask ‘What are you sampling?’ and I’d just say ‘Pickles!’”

While a few samplers noticed something was fishy (pardon the pun), plenty of others didn’t. 

Embracing Leadership: Steering a Woman-Owned Business to Success

With a robust background in marketing and a global perspective honed through experiences from Seattle to Australia, Brown’s approach to “Foraged & Found” was not only visionary but strategic and logistically sound.  

“My corporate background was super helpful in truly understanding what it takes to get a product to market,” she explains. “One of the biggest adjustments is the speed of the grocery industry, though.” Whereas early in her career, deals would take place over weeks and months, the time between talking with Whole Foods and seeing her products on shelves took over a year. 

Her ability to appreciate biodiversity’s value translated into a business model that leveraged Alaska’s rich marine resources, focusing on kelp—a sustainable and scalable choice. Brown’s strategic planning from concept to market analysis, laid the groundwork for a business that was as thoughtful about its impact as its profitability.

As an entrepreneur and leader, Jenn says she draws so much from her relationships with loved ones and close friends. “I’m always blown away by the women in my life and what they can do.” She celebrates the women-owned status of “Foraged & Found”, as well as the culture of inclusivity and sustainability that she and her business partner have sought to cultivate over the years. 

Expanding Horizons for Kelp-Based Foods 

Under Jenn’s guidance, “Foraged & Found” quickly moved from a local festival favorite to a brand recognized on the shelves of Whole Foods stores across the country. 

Her decision to focus on kelp showcased her innovative thinking and ability to identify and capitalize on unique market opportunities. This sets “Foraged & Found” apart in a crowded marketplace and makes kelp products a transformative success simultaneously aligned with broader social and environmental goals.

Brown’s business acumen is evident in her adept navigation of the food industry’s complexities, from production to distribution, showcasing a keen understanding of consumer trends, health consciousness, and the growing demand for sustainable food options.

Scaling with Purpose

Looking to the future, Jenn’s vision for “Foraged & Found” is not just growth for growth’s sake but scaling with purpose. “We’re looking to double production output this year over last year, which we’ve been doing every year,” Brown says, following a “pretty aggressive” but responsible approach—considering the scalability of kelp as a resource, engaging with local communities, and maintaining the integrity of Foraged & Found products.

As “Foraged & Found” continues to grow, its roots remain firmly planted in the values that Brown’s championed from the beginning: sustainability, health, and community. Brown’s business acumen, resilience, and leadership inspire aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere–especially women looking to make their mark in the business world.