Small Business Highlights

Small Business Highlight: Make Love With Food®

Our Small Business Highlight this month is the uniquely amazing and truly inspiring, Make Love With Food®, a farmers market fashion and lifestyle brand. The moment we learned about their mission and how they use promotional products to advance their brand, we wanted to share their vision and approach with other small businesses. Read on to discover how this business has found success while supporting local farms!  

(Photo credit: Nathan Donahoe at Make Love with Food®)

The Chief Eating Officer Behind the Yumminess

Meet Nathan Donahoe, the visionary and CEO (that’s Chief Eating Officer, FYI!) of Make Love With Food®. Nathan has an extensive culinary background which includes life-changing work as an executive health chef for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Malibu in 2005. He was able to revamp the menu from processed fare that was lacking in nutrients, taste, and sustainability, to organic produce sourced solely from local farmers’ markets. When asked by residents and visitors why the food tasted so good, Nathan’s response was one word: “Love.”  

From there, his passion for farmers’ markets and the family farmers who run them continued to grow. He developed a deep understanding of the challenges inherent in running a family farm, including droughts, pests, and high costs of production. It was clear that family farms were in danger of becoming extinct. Nathan used his business mindset to identify a source of consistent revenue that would help sustain these small farmers amidst the ups, downs, and unpredictable turns of organic farming. The result? Make Love With Food. 

Make Love With Food takes photos of small family farmers’ delicious produce and brands it on high quality apparel so farmers have revenue streams that, as Nathan says, “never get eaten and last forever!” Their mission: To save family farms by covering the world with their food. Make Love With Food gives a portion of sales back to the farmers’ market community in the form of marketing services or apparel.  

Nathan says their driving force, their “foodosophy” if you will, is the belief that love is the most important ingredient in food and in life. Judging by his beautiful mission and gorgeous merchandise, we think his philosophy is proving true! 

Make Love With Food Has the Ingredients for Small Business Success

Fellow small businesses owners: How many of Mr. Donahoe’s joys and challenges can you relate to?  

  • Nathan’s favorite part about having a small business? Freedom, freedom, and more freedom. This seems to be a theme among small business owners and also among younger generations in general. People want the flexibility and independence to apply their values to their work, to prioritize relationships at work and home, and to integrate meaningful growth and experiences into work.
  • Nathan’s biggest challenge in promoting his small business? Learning to conserve money and spend it wisely. Nathan’s aware that every marketing dollar counts, and he wants to make smart marketing choices that advance the Make Love With Food brand while staying within budget. Most small business owners can relate to the unique stress of wearing many hats (or banana peels, or corn husks as the case may be…), e.g., finance, marketing, sales, and payroll, to name just a few! Most small business entrepreneurs have a whole board of directors in their head at all times, competing for air time and top dog status. That can be exhausting!
  • What keeps Nathan going? As a small business owner, Nathan says he’s motivated by “the smiles on my farmers’ and foodies’ faces.” Isn’t this the very best and truest motivator? Connecting with customers and partners on a daily basis, and feeling like you’re lightening their load, lending a hand, or bringing them a little joy makes it all worthwhile. In so much of business and especially small business, it’s the relationships that get us out of bed in the morning!

The Role of Promotional Products in Advancing the Make Love With Food Brand

When asked about his use of customized products to promote his company, Nathan immediately thinks of his mom. “One of the most important life lessons I learned was from my mother: the power of kindness. This can be writing Thank You cards, baking cookies, calling someone just say “I love you”—doing things to show my friends that I truly care about them. The same applies to my business. I give my business partners custom pens from to show them that I value not just their business, but also their friendship.” We agree with Nathan’s Mom! In fact, speaking of writing thank you (and other) cards, check out our blogs on how to Create Custom Greeting Cards for Every Occasion. 

(Photo credit: Nathan Donahoe at Make Love with Food®)

What Inspired Make Love With Food to Design an Avocado Pen?

In partnering with an avocado farmer to help promote and sustain their family business, Nathan thought, “What more would an avocado farmer want to market themselves than custom pens with their avocados on them? I took photos of one of their best organic Hass avocados, added the neon green color to make it really flashy, and did the rest!” He chose to customize the top-selling Design Wrap Contour Pen, which is part of the option-rich Design Wrap family of pens, offering colors, themes, and design templates to suit every brand. When Nathan connects with farmers and customers, he is wearing his apparel and has an avocado pen on hand to direct folks to the Make Love With Food website for merchandise and more info.

How Does a Personalized Pen Help This Business Connect with Customers?

Nathan’s favorite way to connect with customers and prospective customers is to wear his fashion line around town. Invariably he gets stopped and asked where his t-shirt or other apparel is from. When a stranger asks where he got his awesome avocado shirt, he hands them his promotional avocado pen and encourages them to explore his online shop to snag one of their own! These encounters inspire new customers and also inspire Nathan with the assurance that he is on the right path. 

Any Final Piece of Advice for Your Fellow Small Business Entrepreneurs, Nathan?

CEO Nathan Donahoe believes letting customers know they are always on your mind is key. This mindful connection is part of Make Love With Food’s vision that “love” is the most vital ingredient in all things. Nathan’s advice? “Remember what my mother said about the power of kindness and customer gifts,” said Nathan. “Show your customers that you value not just their business but their friend. Show them you are constantly thinking of them!” 

Check out Nathan’s online shop Make Love With Food and enjoy the stunning food art on a range of quality apparel including t-shirts, yoga wear, kids’ clothes, bags, backpacks, shoes, and more. You’ll be glad you did! (We picked up the strawberry t-shirt, FYI!) 

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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