Jack & Friends with Jessica Kwong feature #37 of Together Talks
Updated: Oct 25
"Together Talks" feature # 37: Jack & Friends presented by KLS, freight company
Some Background on Jack & Friends
Today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the fortune to interview Jessica Kwong founder of Jack & Friends. Jack & Friends believes in inclusivity—especially when it comes to food. That's why they are on a mission to make snacks you can feel good about eating, regardless of your lifestyle or diet. Their jerky is carefully crafted to ensure as many people as possible not only can consume their product, but also enjoy it. Made with jackfruit and pea protein, Jack & Friends jerky is not only vegan and top 9 allergen-free, but also a good source of protein and fiber with no added sugar—truly a "plant-based jerky for any lifestyle."
Meet the Friends!
The company soft-launched its first SKU in March 2019. Currently Jessica is the only full time employee, but she is supported by three fractional employees, and additional supporting agencies. The product is currently sold in multiple stores and their website. The locations can be viewed here. Currently the company has 3 flavors
Jack & Tom - Tomato & Poblano Pepper
Jack & Barb - Sweet Barbecue
Jack & Teri - Ginger Terriyaki
Jessica told us that the plan from inception was always to be creative with the name and branding to highlight the star ingredient, jackfruit. Each "firend" is then named after the predominant flavor in that jerky to create a fun play on the names and ingredients. The goal was to have a name with a message that also allowed them to focus on creativity a fun challenge that also matches their brand mission of inclusivity,
While studying food science at Cornell University, Jessica led a student product development team. This would become the springboard for her to dive into entrepreneurship. Upon developing the concept for a plant-based jerky and completing that competition, she discovered that not only did the product have a lot of potential, but it would enable her to create a brand with a mission that resonated with her. She could create something she was passionate about that was sustainable. Jessica made up her mind and turned down a full-time offer for an R&D position and a multi-billion dollar food company, she was going to embark on creating a brand that breathes inclusivity into its message.
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Jessica shared how she constantly is learning and tweaking the approach. Most recently, it has been the lessons experienced on the retail side. She explained, "Because our product is more 'niche' compared to others, we want to be more specific with the doors we are in." Jessica advised us that retailers are reaching out which is a great development, but she is remaining committed to selecting the right partners. Jack & Friends is currently focusing on fitness studios and outdoor recreation outlets, which allows them to have a targeted approach with health conscious and active individuals who would appreciate their products. "There is competition for shelf space, eyeball attention, and in-store location. It might make more sense for us to continue to grow through targeted independents before we attempt to get into the larger retail space," Jessica noted.
The most direct competition for Jack & Friends is plant based jerky, followed by traditional meat jerky, and even protein bars as the categories have similar use cases. We asked Jessica what separates her company from the competition, and she educated us that not only is the product vegan, but it is top 9 allergen free. In addition to those two caveats, it is also a good source of protein and fiber, AND contains no added sugar. Starting at Cornell with her research and then founding her company, Jessica did a ton of R&D to hone in on a product concept and develop the macros of the product. Most plant-based jerky produce force consumers to choose between either allergen-friendly status or protein content. As a result, Jessica said it alienates millions of consumers who have allergies or consumers that are focused on nutrition. Enter Jack & Friends which provides for all. If only there was a word for that.... ah that's right, INCLUSIVITY!
Jack & Friends mission of inclusivity also translates to the community efforts of the company. During the pandemic, Jack & Friends donated products to various organizations, including Founders Give (now Wellfare) to provide different hospitals and healthcare workers. They also made a conscious effort to donate products and funds to similar organizations during this time, along with creating marketing opportunities with organizations they were passionate about like Welcome to Chinatown and Pridelines. They also participated in social media efforts during the pandemic to raise awareness for hate crimes against Asian, including various promotional efforts to raise attention.
Jessica has a clear vision for the company that doesn't pigeonhole them into just Jerky. As evidenced by the creativity of the brand and product names, she also possesses creativity for future product lines. "Eventually we want to expand outside of snacking into the frozen/refrigerated meal sector. The ethos will remain consistent with Jack & Friends in that all products will continue to be inclusive of diets and health restrictions, and jackfruit remain as the star ingredient," said Jessica.
For the remainder of 2023, the goal is to increase brand exposure while increasing the reach of product availability and distribution. On a longer time frame, the goal is to introduce new Friends to the jerky line and a new product line as well as new product lines.
We were curious what Jessica's favorite aspect of working at Jack & Friends was, and she said "Being the founder, being able to bleed, sweat, and cry for this business and then see it grow before my eyes has been rewarding. Having a tangible product makes it extra special and always puts it into perspective. It is hard to get that feeling and experience outside of entrepreneurship."
As always, we closed with asking Jessica if there was one moment that stood out to her on her journey. "Probably, the first visit to our current manufacturing partner. It was such a big hurdle to find the right partner that it felt like a black hole that would never work out. I flew out to meet with owner and went through a crazy production trial before revamped the whole process to adapt to their facility. But in the end, we made it work, and the company was all in and ready to support us. Creating that bond and trust the first time definitely strengthened the relationship. It was such a long journey, so securing that partnership to help us scale it was a wonderful and validating moment."
Interested in being featured with "Together Talks"?
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Contact us as we would love to learn your story and share it amongst our audience.
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Jack & Friends is offering a special discount for all the loyal "Together Talks" readers.
Use the coupon code "TOGETHERTALKS" for 15% off any order!!!
Jessica recently served on a panel for the Women Innovators Talk, which she classified as "a rockstar group of women!" Check out the link, here. The company has also been featured in the New York Times, Vegnews, and Today. Jessica has been a part of multiple podcasts including, Contendercast, Essential Ingredients, and 15 Minutes of Genius.
To stay up to date with all the recent news on Jack & Friends, check out their socials, below!
Klimson Logistics Solutions - Jack & Friends with Jessica Kwong feature #37 of Together Talks
*Klimson Logistics Solutions is an Industry Leading Customer Service 3PL. Our focus and commitment to our clients has us striving to be the BEST customer service 3PL for LTL, FTL, Reefer, and Drayage in the country. KLS, freight company, is a 3PL providing nationwide logistics solutions. KLS shipping services include: LTL freight, FTL freight, Reefer LTL freight, Reefer FTL freight, and Drayage. Klimson Logistics Solutions thanks you for viewing our marketing campaign "Together Talks" if you have any interest in being featured or questions regarding your freight operations please contact us today!
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We handle every shipment with the exact same process. It does not matter if you move one shipment a year or ten per day, you will receive the same level of customer service from us. When we started this company, we had one goal in mind, treat every shipment like it was our own. With our vast knowledge of the industry, we understood what a customer would want from a communication standpoint. We applied that process to be the standard here at KLS. Our reliability and being able to depend on our consistency is why we have such long-standing relationships with our clients.
Every shipment in our industry starts with a quote. We are firm believers that time is money, thus we strive to have quotes back in a 5-10 minute reply time for LTL and FTL, any FCL quotes are at the mercy of the carriers getting back to us. For LTL we have the flexibility to quote both off of NMFC and also Density depending on the carrier. Utilizing our services, you’re allowing us to use our expertise to class your freight accordingly to ensure we are providing the best rate we possibly can.
Once a quote has been submitted and a client chooses to proceed with KLS handling the arrangement of the shipment our full process begins. We create the BOL that will be used for the shipment. If it is a new location for our system, we will obtain all the important/special details (reference numbers, contact details, shipping hours, closed for lunch, dock/doors, etc.). We meticulously build every detail into our software for all future shipments involving that location. After we have both locations built and necessary reference numbers have been applied we will tender the shipment to the carrier. We use this method because it provides us a real time pickup number from the carrier to obtain updates prior to pickup. Our staff will either email the BOL directly to you or to the shipper (at your request) the minute after the tender has been accepted by the carrier. LTL carriers require a 2 hour window prior to close time in order to schedule it for a same-day pickup attempt.
The following morning you’ll receive an email from us. It will either provide the reason the pickup was missed (driver’s trailer filled up, driver missed the close time, truck broke down, shipper said no freight, etc.) or if the pickup was successful you will receive the PRO (tracking) number from us, along with the eta for delivery. Our staff will track it throughout the duration of transit and advise if anything happens that will alter the estimated delivery date. The day the shipment delivers we will email you with confirmation and the POD (Proof of Delivery), should you require it.
Your shipment has been quoted, scheduled, picked up, and delivered. The next step is waiting for the carrier to invoice us and make sure the rate matches up. If it does, we close out the invoice from the carrier in our system and automatically your invoice is created and sent to the requested party at your company. In the event the carrier has an additional charge on their invoice “Variance”, we will never send you an invoice with an additional charge without first identifying you of the charge.
Let us repeat, NEVER WILL WE JUST BILL OUT AN EXTRA CHARGE WITHOUT YOU BEING NOTIFIED.
You are our customer, we represent you. Should the carrier provide an extra charge on an invoice, “Lift gate, additional weight, reclass, detention, etc.) We notify you of the charge via email first. Second, within that email we identify what is required should you choose to dispute the charge. Again our goal is to honor your request, if you want to dispute, we will dispute. During a dispute we will provide you updates every step along the way. Once a dispute is closed out, whether it is approved or rejected, then we will invoice you as the invoice has been resolved.
For reference, our company only had 6.2% of all shipments go to dispute in 2022 and we successfully won 91% of those disputes on behalf of our customers.
This is our process for every single shipment you move with us. We don’t cut corners, we don’t hide from difficult situations. We believe in being available, honest, and transparent. We don’t ever want to tell you that a shipment is lost, damaged, misrouted, but it is our duty to notify you the second we find out something has gone wrong. We hate to present bad news, but it is part of the job. What you can guarantee is that we will work a shipment all the way through and turn over every stone until we get a resolution for our clients.
Our core business is LTL and FTL. Within these options we have options for both dry and refrigerated/frozen. We also offer FCL/Drayage options. Our company as a 3PL has nationwide options and services clients across the US.
Let’s breakdown our services more in-depth
LTL: Standard and Guaranteed CFS (Imports & Exports) Tradeshows Hazmat Anything that is on a pallet can be moved LTL. Typically LTL is up to 10 pallets, but the sweet spot for a carrier is 6-8 pallets at most for an individual shipment. LTL quotes are good between 5-30 days depending on the carrier. LTL can be quoted either via NMFC or density to determine the class (we do this for you).
Volume: Anything over 10-12’ of space in the truck is the technical rule for a volume shipment. When we run a quote for you we will determine if it qualifies for volume and provide you a rate if available. Volume moves allow you to get a reduced rate for larger shipments. The caveat to volume shipments it the quotes are only valid for 3-7 days and they move on capacity between terminals. If a terminal is backed up they will move their LTL freight first before the volume freight, which can lead to longer transit times for volume moves.
FTL/Dedicated/Expedited: 53’ Dry and Reefer 26’ Box trucks with lift gate Sprinter Van The main difference for FTL vs LTL is space and transit time. For standard pallets you can fit either 26 or 30 pallets in a 53’ dry van. The other main difference is transit time, for FTL each day counts in the transit time, whereas LTL does not count the day of pickup, weekends, or holidays in their transit time.
Reefer/Frozen: LTL and FTL We specialize working in the CPG space with food manufacturers. We regularly deliver to the following locations: Kehe UNFI Core Mark DPI Wegmans Cugini H.T. Hackney Netrition HEB ALDI Chambers and Owens EBY Brown Nassau Candy Harris Teeter Wakefern NU INC Long Distribution
What makes KLS different?
There are thousands for freight brokers and 3PL in our industry. Barrier to entry is rather easy and agents or owners will often hire sales people without any intention of properly training them. It results in high turnover for many freight companies and a forgettable experience for the client. We choose to operate differently through our consistency. We truly care about doing right by our clients and prospects too. While we would love to help provide our services to every company we speak with, that just isn’t realistic. We won’t always be the right fit for every company that moves freight and that is ok. Our authenticity as a shipping company sets us apart from the competition and that is backed up by our testimonials. We also run a marketing campaign bi-weekly called “Together Talks”. We interview, highlight, and promote two businesses every week. Our goal is to grow our network, make new connections, and learn something new with each collaboration. Check it out on our website and if you’re interested in being featured reach out.
Our company also runs a year long charity promotion. Book your first shipment through KLS and we donate to the charity of your choice in your name. Our way of thanking you for giving us an opportunity to show you the KLS way and what makes us one of a kind. This entire package is what we offer to every prospect and every client. Our goal is to help provide answers that customers may have when it comes to shipping. We want to always be available as a resource and will always offer a lending hand whenever we can.