On Season 15, Episode 10 of "Shark Tank," the Sharks get introduced to Fishwife: a food company that sells premium, ethically sourced, tinned fish. The company was co-founded by Becca Millstein, a former music industry professional, and television writer Caroline Goldfarb (who is now only an advisor for the company). Millstein and Goldfarb created Fishwife in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While Millstein and Goldfarb were in quarantine, they regularly ate tinned fish for convenience. Millstein explained to Cherry Bombe, "We were all working full-time jobs trying to get high-quality protein into our diets while not having to cook three meals a day because that's exhausting." They weren't alone. To avoid going to the grocery store, many Americans started turning to the foods in their cupboards for sustenance, which created a popular trend of eating tinned fish. Millstein recalled, "I very much started to notice in my peer group and then digging deeper into culinary media that there was a rising tide of interest in tinned seafood in the US."
There wasn't an American brand capturing the interests of canned fish fanatics like some European brands had been doing. Once Millstein and Goldfarb saw an opportunity to build a premium tinned fish brand to fill that void, Fishwife was off and running. Here are three things you don't know about the product, brand, and creator of Fishwife.
The Name Of The Company Is Making A Statement
Fishwife was founded by two women, and the company's name is a strong reclamation of a term that evolved into a misogynistic label. The word "fishwife" originated during the 1500s as a moniker for the fish-selling daughters and wives of fishermen. It's strongly associated with the British Isles but was also used elsewhere in Europe as well as the United States.
However, Dutch fishwives weren't relegated to "wifely duties." They actually sold the fish at fish markets because many of the men were at sea. Art historian Alena Buis explained to Atlas Obscura, "The women in the Dutch republic were able to own property, sign contracts, own their own businesses and represent themselves in court." The sight of independent Dutch women working at fish markets appalled many English merchants because the women were, as Buis put it, "speaking their minds and running businesses."
Over time, the term "fishwife" devolved into a pejorative used for women who were maligned as brazen, vulgar, or boisterous. Millstein and Goldfarb have turned that negative connotation into an empowering badge of pride with the name of their company, honoring those female trailblazers in the fish-selling market. Fishwife proudly states on its website, "We relate."
The Product's Packaging Art Was Done By A First-Timer
The tinned fish from Fishwife comes boxed in colorful packaging with eye-catching illustrations. The visual presentation of the products seems to have played a significant role in the success of the business, as the packaging aesthetically distinguishes Fishwife products from other canned fish products on store shelves. Millstein told Marketing Brew, "The visual of what it was going to be, it just kind of struck a chord with consumers very, very quickly."
Interestingly, the artwork for the packaging was done by an artist who had never done product branding before: illustrator Danny Miller. According to Millstein, as the company has grown and evolved, Miller's work has become the only "locked" element of the company's original business strategy since its formation in 2020. She believes that working with Miller gave the company a greater distinctiveness than a more corporate route would have achieved. Millstein explained to Acid League, "I think we have been able to create a really original brand because we weren't working with a branding agency that just kind of cranks them out."
The Creator Of Fishwife Wants To Change Perceptions About Seafood
Millstein absolutely loves seafood, and she wants Americans to love seafood just as much. However, according to Millstein's studies and observations, seafood consumption in the United States is much lower than it ought to be. She explained to Eater, "Average seafood consumption in the U.S. is among the lowest in the industrialized world ... due to two key factors: lack of knowledge about how to prepare seafood and lack of understanding around quality and sustainability of seafood."
The Fishwife CEO is trying to help solve these issues using her products and her company's branding. The tinned fish seller has taken all of the guesswork out of preparing her seafood products because all of them can be consumed straight from the can. You don't have to prep, cook, or season Fishwife products. Just open the cans and enjoy the fish.
Millstein is also trying to educate consumers about the quality of seafood through her products' marketing. She explained to Cherry Bombe, "What we're trying to do is create this really friendly, inviting brand ... and in doing so, bring people in a friendly way, get them to try a whole bunch more species by creating products that are ready to eat. It's a huge component of why people eat seafood." Millstein is certainly getting a huge platform on "Shark Tank" to further educate the masses about the preparation, consumption, and sustainability of seafood.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.