PureWild started in 2019 with homemade herbal juices in Cindy Convery’s kitchen, and by 2021 Cindy’s company was negotiating with Whole Foods to sell her bottled marine collagen drinks in 60 locations. Cindy, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, had no experience with food distribution, but built upon her background in restaurants, business, and start-ups. “You have to do every job in your company and you have to understand every level…. I have done every job and made every mistake.” She found collagen experts, took an online course in food product distribution, and started by emailing her local grocery chain in southern California. The boutique chain, Erewhon Markets, quickly put the drinks on their shelves.
In 2020 Cindy began visiting larger bottling plants and arranging national distribution. The pandemic began to boost sales as consumers focused on healthy food products, and PureWild’s restorative collagen drinks, certified non-GMO, found a growing market. Cindy’s Tribal connections proved a strong and defining support for the company; she opened a regional office in Oklahoma and worked with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations to distribute the drinks within Tribal areas. Using the Indian Loan Guarantee and Insurance Program (ILGP) helped Cindy to focus her business goals on these Tribal collaborations, yet still provided enough flexibility to work simultaneously with other sales platforms and outlets. Working with Chickasaw Community Bank and ILGP, PureWild was able to increase the original funding amount to keep pace with the company’s rapid growth. “My company wouldn’t exist without the Indian Loan Guarantee Program,” Cindy affirmed.
Cindy has also worked with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma and American Indian Foods, a program that assists Native American agribusiness owners and entrepreneurs. PureWild is one of the only beverage companies in the world headed by a Native American woman, and it continues to innovate with online sales platforms and award-winning product packaging. Cindy is thrilled to have built her company to this level. “It’s about whether you really enjoy the job….And putting one foot in front of the other in a mindful way. It doesn’t matter what your skills are. It all comes back to the product.”