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Third-generation family member sees increasing role at Frieda’s

Alex Jackson

At the age of 22, Alex Jackson is getting back to her roots and giving back to them. In addition to her full-time position at Los Angeles-based Frieda’s Inc., she spends her free time volunteering as an adviser for the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization and is a staff member for the Teens are Leaders in Training program. “I am very passionate about youth and leadership programs, and I try to give back to the programs that shaped me as a leader throughout my youth,” she said.

Ms. Jackson is also part of the legacy at Frieda’s Inc. Her mother, Karen Caplan, is the chief executive officer, and Frieda Caplan, her grandmother, is the company’s founder and namesake. The third-generation family member had been working at the company for just under a year when Frieda’s celebrated its 50th anniversary April 2.

While Ms. Jackson has been Frieda’s communications coordinator for only a short time, she grew up surrounded by the company. “My first job was unpaid and part-time: Frieda’s official taste tester when I was two years old,” she said.

Alex Jackson at the age of 2, hard at work as a taste tester for Frieda’s Inc. and sitting on the lap of Frieda Caplan, her grandmother and the company founder.
(Photos courtesy of Alex Jackson)

At the age of 12, she attended the United Fresh Produce Convention. “It was a very memorable experience because I was actually representing Frieda’s for the first time, sampling product and educating people coming to our booth,” she said. “I met a lot of key players in the industry that year, such as Steve Grinstead, Jeff Oberman and Tom Stenzel, who have remained mentors to me to this day.”

Things became more official when she was 15 and began working at the family business as an intern, floating around to whichever departments needed assistance. The experience instilled in her the values and professionalism that she still maintains. “It also opened my eyes to the many different working parts that go into Frieda’s everyday success,” she said. “I was able to dip my toes in every department around the company and learn how they operate and contribute to Frieda’s.”

As the communications coordinator, Ms. Jackson is the primary publicist for trade and consumer media. Her various responsibilities include assisting in executing publicity on behalf of the company’s clients; writing copy as well as editing packaging, in-store signs and fact sheets; and working directly with consumers in customer service, providing recipes or refunds. She also plays a part in the company’s social media, promotions and internal communications. “The biggest reward with being the media contact for Frieda’s is that I not only represent the company, but I represent our family,” she said. “When members of the media ask about the family behind the business, they get to speak with a family member and the future of the company.”

While youth and lack of hands-on experience are intertwined, she pointed out that she is quick to ask questions, which can provoke new concepts or ideas. Ms. Jackson also pointed out that her age lends certain advantages to her current work: “Being younger in a public relations position provides a different insight in how we send messages to our consumers. I am able to explain to the creative team at Frieda’s how someone who is from Generation Y will perceive a certain message, promotion or campaign, as well as what about a product will interest and drive them to buy it. I am also able to provide insight on how different social media outlets should be used to target the audience that is using them the most — Generation Y — and what content is most appealing.”

Frieda’s is not Ms. Jackson’s only foray into the produce industry. She spent the summer of 2010 in Sydney, Australia, working for Perfection Fresh Australia, and she was also a marketing intern with DMA Solutions in Dallas.

It was during her time with DMA that she attended the PMA Foodservice Conference — the first time she had been to an industry event without her mother — and knew that the produce industry was for her.

Shortly after her 2011 graduation from George Mason University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in business, Ms. Jackson joined the family business.

While attending George Mason, she became a sister of the Alpha Phi sorority and was the 2010 chapter president. When time allows, she still travels to visit her friends in northern Virginia, and she also hopes to travel abroad in the near future.

Ms. Jackson also enjoys working out and — keeping family in mind — spending time with her little sister, Sophia.