November 22, 2015

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Sarah Michelle Gellar wants to help us slay in the kitchen, and connect to family while at it.

The “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actress is one of the latest celebs to turn entrepreneur with last month’s launch of Foodstirs, a baking kit and lifestyle e-commerce startup focusing on natural ingredients.

“Between inspiration and execution — there’s a gap there,” she said.

Gellar joined BlogHer Food ‘15, the SheKnows Media food blogger conference, last week at the Hyatt Regency to talk about the venture, including the influence of Chicago’s storied Leo Burnett advertising firm in her business development.

“My last show that I was on was ‘The Crazy Ones’ that took place in Chicago. It was about advertising and our entire first episode was about the pivot,’ she told about 750 bloggers and brand executives. “It was an amazing experience. I thought that show was what I was meant to do for the next 10 years of my life.”

In the series, which aired on CBS for one season beginning in September 2013, Gellar played the daughter and partner of an ad agency head played by Robin Williams. Williams committed suicide in August 2014, three months after the show was canceled.

“My pivot is I took what I learned from advertising and marketing and content, and I now put it all into this,” she said. “That’s what brought me to this place.”

Gellar, who started the company with friends Galit Laibow, a public relations professional, and Gia Russo, a former Martha Stewart creative and product expert, shared other aspects about the entrepreneurial endeavor, including:

The concept: “Ultimately, we are a lifestyle culinary brand. We would like to bring important memories back to the kitchen through experience. We are about cleaner ingredients, sourcing higher quality, original mixes and kits. We’re about connecting.”

Getting started: “I’d noticed that the way we consume content is changing. The business I had started in as a child is a very different business now. A lot of people are realizing that you don’t just turn your television on, watch a program with commercials and advertising the way you used to; and I wanted to be part of the new content and new creators and I couldn’t figure out where my place was in all that.

“And I wanted to be home with my young children.”

Learning business: “Two years ago, I didn’t know what VC meant. I thought it was V.C. Andrews, the author who wrote ‘Flowers in the Attic.’

“But when I do something, I do it 100 percent.

“We see a lot of celebrities put their name on stuff. I wanted more than that. I wanted to be there every day, I wanted to go raise the money.

“I got my food handler’s license. It was a little competitive in the office to see who would get the highest grade.”

Playing on celebrity: “Maybe the name gets us in the door, but it gets you in the door as a little bit of a novelty. You have to ask when they’re taking you seriously — if it’s like ‘Let’s see what Buffy has to say, and maybe I’ll get a picture for my kids.’

“There was definitely a lot to prove, and I feel like I’m still proving it.”

Sourcing: “For us, the struggle has been to find all these ingredients. Not everybody knows there is food coloring that’s not artificial.

Programming: “Why can’t we have our own channel? Why can’t we do our own programming? I have a better idea about what audiences want because I am the audience. We can put stuff out there because it moves us.”

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