Welcome to The Quality Makers, an interview series highlighting pioneers in the direct-to-consumer space. Join us as we get an inside look at the world of digital shopping through the eyes of the individuals shaping it…
Roxana Saidi has long been ahead of the curve. She founded her own social media consulting agency, Rx Social, in 2010 — years before brands knew how crucial those platforms were to their survival. Now, she’s blazing another path, this time in the alternative milk category. Táche (as in pis-tach-io) is a line of delicious, creamy milk fit for coffee snobs and home bakers alike.
Made 100% from pistachios, the versatile beverage is a sustainable, healthy alternative to the almond and soy and oat of milks past. For Saidi, the inspiration for Táche goes back to her roots. Not only were pistachios abundant in her Iranian-American household, but her upbringing in California nursed a hypersensitivity to the need for water conservation. In a health-obsessed, environmentally-conscious, and culturally curious society, the pistachio’s reputation as a super nut is on the rise. Read on to find out why these little nuts are the next big thing.
To start, can you tell me about how Táche was created?
RS: While founding and growing my own social media agency in the early 2010s, my home state of California was experiencing the worst drought on record. Coincidentally, this was also during the rise of almond milk. I was thrilled to see a non-dairy milk alternative that wasn't obtained from soy or rice on the market, but I was impacted when I learned just how much water it takes to produce.
As an Iranian-American, I grew up eating pistachios regularly as they are a staple in Middle Eastern households. In 2015, I had the proverbial lightbulb moment at a family lunch in Paris. I was craving my go-to almond milk latte, but almond milk hadn’t made its way over to France yet. That’s when the classic “aha” moment hit me: “couldn’t I take pistachios, which I’ve eaten my whole life, and make a delicious plant-based milk?” I saw that there was an untapped market for pistachios in the U.S. and decided to start experimenting in my kitchen with a Vitamix and a cheese cloth. After making hundreds of iterations of Táche and receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from friends and friends of friends, I was inspired to fully dive in.
In terms of health, taste, and environmental impact, how does pistachio milk compare to our other favorite plant-based milks on the market?
RS: Táche is the rare product that ticks both the health and sustainability boxes in the alternative milk category. From a flavor standpoint, we struck a delicate balance where the pistachio flavor is distinct and delectable, yet not overpowering to its pairing. Táche is made with only pistachios, not blended with rice or other nuts, so it has a smooth and satisfying taste differentiating its flavor profile when compared to any other product in the space.
Táche uses and sources the highest quality pistachios in the world, which are not only better for the environment, but are jam-packed with protein, vitamin B6, and heart-healthy fats. Pistachio trees also require 75% less water than almond trees. Similarly, unlike most oat milk options, Táche contains absolutely no vegetable or canola oil — a critical differentiation as just one serving size of oat milk with rapeseed (i.e. canola oil) is the approximate equivalent of the oil used in frying a medium order of fries. Táche has significantly less calories, carbs, and sugar than its competitors yet does not sacrifice the creamy texture customers crave.
Founders these days are often drawing from their own experiences, their own heritage, and applying those lessons to larger global issues. On a personal level, what does it feel like to be working with a crop that has such cultural significance to you and your family, and was born from the environmental issues happening around you?
RS: It means everything to me. Growing up, pistachios were always a mainstay in my life. My childhood was punctuated with them–from my earliest years of my father teaching me how to open the shell, to family celebrations decorated with overflowing bowls, to learning about the different varieties of pistachios. The most rewarding part of launching Táche is that I’ve been able to share my love and passion for pistachios with the U.S. and bring this health-boosting nut to consumers.
I also brought my entrepreneurial father, Morteza, out of retirement to help launch Táche, so it has been incredibly meaningful to be able to work and learn from him, alongside my husband, Kyle, who is our third co-founder and heads up sales. Having the opportunity to work with my family and see the success of Táche being welcomed into homes all over the country is truly rewarding and humbling.
Can you speak to the experience of funding, researching, and launching all of this during a pandemic? Were there any unexpected benefits to having to primarily work in the virtual space?
RS: Táche was launched in November of 2020, in the midst of the global pandemic, but had already been in the works for over five years. We bootstrapped the business through our R&D phase from 2015-2020, starting our pre-seed raise just two weeks before the pandemic began. We’ve raised two rounds of funding to date, bringing some well-known investors like former CPG founders to distribution partners to personalities in the wellness and culinary worlds to join the Táche family.
The alt-milk industry is unique because no one will manufacture your product unless you’re ready to do 250,000 units the very first run. Essentially, you have to scale the whole business before you can even launch. We made sure to focus not only on our online presence, but also in food service—primarily in specialty coffee shops, restaurants, and hospitality—using our connections we built over the last several years. After sampling, slightly stalking, and befriending coffee shop owners throughout the New York City area, it was rewarding when Butler, Ralph’s Coffee, and Maman officially came onboard when we launched. We’re now in over 2,500 retailers, cafes and coffee shops nationwide including Devoción, Verve, and Maman, as well as in select specialty and natural grocers like Erewhon, Thrive Market, Good Eggs, Lassens and more.
How did your experience with Rx Social contribute to the founding of Táche?
RS: Building Rx Social gave me the opportunity to work with clients like Fairmont Hotels, Fred Segal, Biologique Recherche, and Revolve Clothing, both strategically and creatively. We led the strategy and execution of campaigns that other brands weren’t even considering yet.
I wanted Táche to have a completely different look and feel and be antithetical to all the other alt-milks options out there. There were three pillars in the brand that I wanted to create: interesting, elevated, and quirky. I spent 18 months looking for the right agency to partner with me in bringing my vision to life. From Copenhagen to Charleston, I searched far and wide. When I came across Mexico City-based Futura I knew my search was over. We worked hand in hand for just under a year and it was truly a dream partnership. It’s been quite a journey launching Táche, but so rewarding and I feel that the transition has gone as smooth as it could.
What dreams and goals do you have for Táche as you continue to grow?
RS: Looking around the grocery aisles for pistachio products, you’ll notice there aren’t many categories. In a typical market you’ll see pistachios in roasted or raw form, as ice cream, and now pistachio milk, but not much else. This is because most brands don’t have the supply chain in place. As the only true pistachio milk in North America that doesn’t use other filler nuts or rice, we have the supply chain to make approachably priced yet premium pistachio products across categories. This means that Tàche, compared to other brands, has more possibilities to grow, expand and experiment.
We often say, “Táche is not a pistachio milk company; we’re a pistachio company.” In June, we released our most requested flavors, Vanilla and Unsweetened Vanilla, totaling four products in our lineup. We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of bringing pistachio-based products to a wider audience and our mission is for Táche to become synonymous with healthy, innovative pistachio products across the supermarket, from the refrigerated perimeter to the pantry aisle.
What are some DTC products that you’ve been loving lately, or companies that excite you?
RS: How much time do we have? There are so many! Some of my favorite DTC brands doing exciting things include OffLimits, Crown Affair, Omsom, Rose Inc, Brightland, Nette, and Flamingo Estate (stay tuned for something very fun that we’re doing with them!). I’m proudly a big proponent of my fellow female-founders and find them endlessly inspirational.
As a founder featured in our “Quality Makers” series, what does “quality” mean to you?
RS: Quality means being transparent with your consumers about your purpose and vision – it means standing up and taking action for what you and your brand believe in; making an impact and being a values-driven company. As part of our ethos as a female-led and founded brand, we proudly donate a portion of our profits, product, and our time to programming for the Lower Eastside Girls Club of New York, which helps nurture the growth of underprivileged girls in our community.
Looking to upgrade your breakfast station? Make the switch at Táche.