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Entrepreneurs Grind

Emily Schildt, Founder of ‘Pop Up Grocer,’ Discusses Her Entrepreneurial Rise

On this week’s episode of The Tartare Project hosted by Phil Toronto, Emily Schildt, founder and CEO of Pop Up Grocer, joined the show to discuss her meteoric journey in entrepreneurship. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes College in 2009, Schildt has built a loaded resume over the past decade, which includes a stint at Chobani as the director of digital engagement and a role as the project food director at Fohr Card. Prior to starting Pop Up Grocer, Schildt created a consulting company called Sourdough in December 2013 to bring new products to the market by telling their stories, and from time to time offers a tech-free event series called ‘Things of Wonder’ to promote human connection in our ‘phone-addicted culture.’ Between all of her businesses, Schildt truly has her hands full and spoke with Toronto about her path to success with Pop Up Grocer.

Toronto began the conversation by asking Schildt about how Pop Up Grocer came to be. “Pop Up Grocer is a place to discover the latest and greatest products that fall under the food and grocery umbrella,” she tells Toronto before diving into the various products Pop Up offers. “It’s mostly food and beverage, but we also have home, pet, and body care. To date, we have traveled the country visiting different cities in which we open for 30 days at a time, and introduce them to the products that we select.”

Growing in the suburbs of Baltimore, Schildt wasn’t what she personally considered a ‘model student,’ but turned it around in college to eventually become the entrepreneur that she is today. While Schildt has undoubtedly achieved a lot in her career thus far, that transformation from the student that didn’t exactly care about school to one that became seriously focused on her grades and future remains one of her proudest accomplishments because it shows that how you start doesn’t determine how you finish. “I was not a good student as far as getting good grades, and a lot of people are surprised to find that out about me. In my junior year of high school, I had a 1.5 GPA, and I had to turn it around my senior year in order to get into college. I love to tell people that because it proves that you can turn things around if you are motivated.”

As the conversation continued, Toronto and Schildt discussed Schildt’s time in college, her many different internships, and how her early job experiences taught her the many lessons necessary to start a business. Referencing her days of doing marketing consulting for other companies, Toronto then asks Schildt how her role as a consultant prepared her for starting Pop Up Grocer. “I got the idea for it because I enjoy grocery stores, and pre-Covid, I traveled quite a bit.

The grocery store would always be the first place I would go to get a sense of how people ate and lived.” Always knowing that the ultimate goal was to create a grocery store of her own, Schildt struggled early on with figuring out the logistics of opening her own store. Through her clients’ help, Schildt was eventually able to get the help she needed to launch. “I knew that I wanted to open up my own grocery store, but I didn’t know how to do it because it’s a very capital-heavy business, and I didn’t have any money. Through working with my clients who were emerging food brands, I identified a white space where I could create a grocery store and cover my costs.

Toronto and Schildt covered a lot in their 30-minute conversation, including the details of how Schildt was able to get Pop Up Grocer off the ground. You can listen to the full convo above, and follow Schildt on Instagram

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