Owner, Trade Labels
Owner, Trade Labels
Lynn Rajewski was born and raised in Eastern Connecticut and despite her many travels all over the country, she settled in and built an incredible business right in the heart of Mystic, Connecticut. Trade Labels is a one-stop-shop for nutrition labeling, offering standard and custom designs, product attribute logos and more, for bulk food merchandisers.
She attended Boston College, graduating with a degree in marketing. She started working in the natural food industry and stayed for a decade doing sales and marketing for Erewhon, later acquired by U.S. Mills. She eventually moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she launched Trade Fixtures, serving as co-owner and Vice President. Nationwide, the company produced and supplied bulk food fixtures in both the natural food and supermarket arenas.
Lynn left the company in 1993, moving back to CT to be closer to her family with her one-year-old son. Around the same time, the FDA passed legislation that all foods sold from bulk bins had to have the same nutritional labeling as individual packages. A colleague suggested that she start a company to address the new FDA requirements. After considering her knowledge and expertise in the natural food space, she decided to try it.
“I had a lot of contacts in the industry, so I started a database, working at home as a single mom with a young toddler and was committed to expanding,” Lynn said.
Soon enough, Rajewski went from having 2,000 products to 24,000 products.
As Trade Labels grew, the FDA added more requirements, which only increased the need for labeling for bulk foods. In 2022, a new regulation will require all products that were bioengineered or genetically modified to be labeled as such. The process will start with Rajewski and her team contacting all of the vendors with products that would potentially need new labeling.
Helping supermarket chains stay current with their product offerings is a large component of Trade Labels, from getting the correct nutritional information from food manufacturers to approving it with a supermarket’s headquarters for appropriate distribution.
“The accuracy of what we do is imperative. From start to finish, from initial importing of the data to the final design, what we do requires incredible attention to detail,” she explained.
Lynn is most proud of raising her son as a single mom, and being the only company in the country that offers what she does, at scale. She is grateful to have mastered a niche offering, gaining the trust of major retailers as valued customers.
“I started in my living room on an old school computer in 1994, and now I have seven full-time employees and serve clients like Whole Foods, Kroger, and many more. It took a lot of hard work, but it has been worth it every step of the way,” Lynn said.
Due to the pandemic, the past couple of years have been challenging for Trade Labels.
“The nature of bulk food means customers grabbing a shared scooper to fill up a container out of a giant bin. COVID caused many of the stores to shut down access to their bulk bins completely. It was devastating,” Lynn explained. “I knew I needed help, I knew I needed guidance in understanding what was available for me and how to utilize it to support my business. A quick Google search luckily took me to the WBDC website and it was the best thing that could have happened at the time.”
With the help of WBDC, Trade Labels was able to secure both PPP funds and the EMG Grant.
Lynn used the grant to update her software, streamlining and automating her production process. When a label is created, the data is imported into a ready-to-print template, saving on a tremendous amount of manual editing with each label and product attribute logo.
“I am so grateful that the EMG grant kick started the development of this software. Not only will it automate so much for us, but it will also allow us to have an online subscription program for retailers so that in a pinch, they can create their own custom labels. Even more so, it will allow Trade Labels to potentially expand into other industries, which is incredibly exciting for the continued growth of the company. It’s opening so many doors for us to expand.”
“Yes, the WBDC guided us through turbulent times, but it did so much more than that. It re-energized me as a business owner and leader. It was almost like being able to go back to school and learn the most important parts of what you’d learn in a classroom, in a very convenient way,” Lynn said.