Giada De Laurentiis — known for her nearly 20 years on Food Network as a celebrity chef, cookbook author, and restaurant owner— is ready to take another “leap” with her personal brand and e-commerce site Giadzy.
De Laurentiis said she’s on a mission to “bring real, good, authentic, organic ingredients from Italy to the United States” and provide a place for her fans to buy ingredients she often uses herself. However, the chef told Yahoo Finance that the decision to dive into Giadzy “took quite a while,” adding it was “a leap I wasn’t sure I wanted to take.”
Since launching the site in 2016, her team has grown from 3 to 7 people, and is ready to grow even more. In 2022, Giadzy raised $1.4 million dollars in funding led by Watertower Ventures and BAM Ventures. Currently, the platform features 200-plus products from 30-plus different purveyors in Italy, with a 200% growth rate compared to a year ago.
This fall, the company will have an have an official re-launch of the website with a new customer experience and showcase more than 150 new products in the shop, with more than 100 items to come for the holiday season.
“It’s been a fun adventure to learn all about the entrepreneur business, which is completely different way of thinking than what I’ve been doing for 20 years, so I’ve learned a lot and I’m hoping that it’s a long, fabulous journey,” De Laurentiis said.
She adds that having big names to back this dream certainly helps.
“It took … I’d say eight to nine months before we were ready to go to market and actually pitch this, and I’ve been lucky enough to be in business with two bigwigs in the VC [venture capital] world, especially in Los Angeles, Brian Lee from BAM and Derek Norton from Waterhouse.”
With celebrity chef status, Giada thinks people probably assume it’s easy to get funding, but said “I don’t think it is.”
She added, “The VC world has changed dramatically in the last year and so I think it’s become very difficult.” She said the same questions come up from potential investors: “Do you really have time to do this? Because you do so many things, and you’ve got a child and all the rest.”
According to Harvard Kennedy School, the 30-year average of all-female founders’ share of VC funding is 2.4 percent. De Laurentiis encourages other female founders to “stick to our guns” in times of adversity, adding that “there’s a wonderful community of female founders out there.”
She recommends networking with other female entrepreneurs. “I always say to people, if you’re looking to do this, really tap into that female founder community because they really will help you sort of navigate the business.”
Social media is also key for De Laurentiis. With a combined 5 million-plus followers, she says the platforms help to keep people interested in food.
“I started doing social media years ago when it first started and I remember people saying to me, like, ‘Why bother?'” Now she says it consumes her most days. “I really enjoy the medium of the way that TikTok and Instagram Reels and all of the quick bites— you know, I come from a world of longer form shows.”
Giada says the apps “make cooking and food and ingredients hip and cool, which means that everybody will want to know more about it and then we’ll become a healthier society as a whole.”
She thanks her daughter Jade for helping to launch her initial online presence.
“It is so much fun. I enjoy it. Thanks to my daughter, I got in it early, and it’s a great way for us to bond as well.”
Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at email@example.com.
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