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Marni Wahlquist

MARNI WAHLQUIST | Artisanal Food Specialist

Marni Wahlquist is the founder of Vital Cultured Foods, a company which specializes in the production and sales of traditionally fermented local and organic vegetables based in Fort Collins, CO. She launched her company in January 2012, with the debut of her traditional fermented vegetables at the local Winter Farmer’s Market.

The journey to launching her company began in 1996 after graduating from Colorado State University where she studied Cultural Anthropology. At this time she entered the natural food industry and worked as a baker, chef, barista and produce specialist for Alfalfa’s Market and for Whole Foods Market. In 1999, Marni was invited to join a startup eCommerce company, Nature’s First Law (now Sunfood), a company which sold packaged foods and educational materials based on natural whole food living. There, she ran many aspects of the business including the management of products online and oversaw all web and phone sales, all customer service, as well as the receiving and shipping departments. Here, her fire for technology was ignited when she began photographing products, editing the images and uploading them to the website, as well as creating and sending customer email bulletins. With the company, she recognized the power of online marketing and the importance of authentically connecting with the customer.

In 2008, Marni joined Stephen James Organics based in Hong Kong. There, she had the opportunity to work with a team focused on the creation and distribution of meaningful food products for the emerging health conscious market of Asia. Marni was responsible for sourcing ingredients internationally, forecasting ingredient costs, for creating the organizational flow for production at the factory and for obtaining and maintaining third party certification.

Both of these experiences have given Marni great knowledge and experience with food production, eCommerce, wholesale and retail sales, as well as a deep appreciation for the full cycle of commercial food production, from sourcing the raw ingredients to selling the finished product and everything in between, including product creation, product certifications (organic, Kosher, non-GMO, Gluten Free), packaging, import (FDA regulations), export, marketing and distribution.

Through all of this, she has nurtured her passion for creating in the kitchen and for growing and expanding her knowledge of technology. Whether it be concocting a new dish or updating her website with new features, her zeal combined with the skills she gathered from her professional life enabled her to create Vital Cultured Foods. Her mission is to directly connect with farmers growing organic food and then utilize their bounties in her products to provide a nourishing and sustainable product for the community.

Ultimately, connecting with people is her true passion and creating a unique food product provides her this experience every time she sets up at a farmer’s market, festival or trade show. Marni believes “that information and practical knowledge is a potent catalyst for creating our dreams when it comes to producing a material product. Whether it be helping customers with their home fermentation projects or guiding a friend or colleague in launching or further developing a product or business, I deeply enjoy guiding others. I am honored to be a part of Vim Ventures”.