Meet the RDs: Jessica Hollembeak

Jessica is a retail dietitian and utilizes Link to find brands that her customers would enjoy. In this interview, Jessica offers excellent advice for both brands and RDs. Link brands can connect directly with Jessica on Link!

Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get started as a dietitian and what do you do today?

I have been a dietitian since 2018 and shortly after began my first (and only!) RD position as a grocery retail dietitian, which is still where I am today. I have a love for all foods- from broccoli to chickpeas, to chocolate chip cookies and pizza! I have a 1.5 year old son who is my foodie-in-training and two dogs who love to hang out under the high chair during mealtime. 

What is your mission as a dietitian? 

My mission as a dietitian is to show people that eating healthy is NOT complicated. Making nutritious choices can be simple, enjoyable, and can very much fit right into each individual’s lifestyle, culture, and taste buds! 

What do you look for when choosing new products to buy, recommend, or bring in-store?

I look for a few different things when I look for new products to buy, recommend and bring to our store. First and foremost- nutrient content. I look for products that are low in sodium, added sugars, and saturated fat, but high in essential nutrients like protein, fiber, omega-3’s, calcium, and iron! Second- I look for products that are different and have a unique factor that makes them stand out to customers (this makes it much easier for me to help promote them!). Last, I look for products that I would actually buy and consume, myself! This means that the nutritional value, price point, taste, and versatility of the product are all on point. 

What is the value of working with brands to both you and your customers?

As a retail dietitian, there is so much value to working with brands. Working with brands helps me to find out about new products that I may not have heard about before. It also allows me to taste products and better describe and recommend them to my customers. The ability to communicate directly with brand representatives gives me a go-to resource to ask product questions and find out about key features that make their products stand out. By establishing partnerships with brands, I am able to better promote products in-store, therefore, increasing sales, and driving success for both our store and the brand! 

How did you start working with brands? (or what was your first brand partnership?)

Over the past 2+ years, I have worked with so many amazing brands. The RD Link has connected me with Manitoba Milling, Simple Mills, Forager Project, and Hilary’s to name a few! They have all been super supportive for all of my customer events. 

What are some of the more unique ways in which you’ve partnered with brands? 

One of my favorite things to do is a “goodie bag” event for our customers. I reach out to several brands within a certain theme, such as breakfast products, I gather samples, coupons, recipe cards, or other promotional items and create goodie bags for our customers. I put together a list of all of the products/coupons and where the product is located in our store. I hand them out to customers while educating them on breakfast tips and products- our customers really enjoy this.

What advice do you have for other RDs who want to connect with brands? 

I would advise RDs to reach out and establish connections whenever possible- whether it’s your favorite brand of all time- or one you’re unfamiliar with. Brands are continuously creating new products and making improvements to current products. Partnerships allow you to keep up to date on what’s available, product changes, and any potential new products that customers may come looking for. 

Do you have any advice for brands who want to connect with RDs? 

I love connecting with brands who are able to offer coupons and samples for our customers. In my experience, customers are much more likely to try out a new product if it is 1) in our circular 2) on sale 3) there’s a coupon 4) they can sample first. During the pandemic, it has been difficult to do sampling events for products that are not sold in individual packaging- so we appreciate anything that can come in single-serving packs! If you are unable to provide samples or coupons, sending us recipe ideas, product highlights, or notifying us of when the product will be going on sale, this is helpful too. 

Just for fun, what is your favorite kitchen tool?

Not sure this counts as a tool (more of an appliance) but hands down, Ninja Foodi! 

Connect with Jessica and see her latest partnership opportunities on Link.

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