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Rachel Kruse, BS 98
Founder & President, Organicville,
Rachel Kruse has never tasted meat. “I’m a third-generation vegetarian,” Kruse says. She grew up in Milwaukee, Wisc., and remembers watching her grandmother make her own salad dressings. Kruse knew they were good for her and at 5 years old declared that she would start her own salad dressing company when she grew up. At age 27, she did just that.
After Haas, Kruse worked for Andersen Consulting for six years. Then, in 2004, with savings and a Small Business Administration loan, she took her passion for healthy eating and seven salad dressing recipes from her grandmother’s kitchen to launch a national brand. Her first customer: Wild Oats Markets, then the nation’s second-largest natural and organic foods chain.
She called her business Organicville because she wanted it to have a sense of place, like Emeryville, Calif., where she was living.
“Haas taught me to do research with my peers, to talk to people in the food industry, and to work hard,” Kruse says. She also learned the importance of eye-catching branding. Each Organicville label is colorful, hand chalked by an artist, and represents Kruse’s travels.
Today Organicville makes 42 products—from ketchup to marinades to sriracha, a Thai hot sauce—that are sold in more than 7,500 stores in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and Dubai. All of the products are certified organic, gluten free, and vegan; almost all are sweetened with agave nectar.
So, what’s next for Organicville? “More products, like our non-dairy ranch dressing, one of the most popular items,” Kruse says. “I like to take the tastes people enjoy and add something new to them. I’m having fun.”