Greener creamer Greener creamer Greener creamer

Madeline Haydon couldn't find a delicious and good-for-you creamer in stores, so she made one herself.

Illustration by Olivier Kugler | March 2023

Nine years ago, Madeline Haydon came up with the idea for a "yummy," more healthy plant-based creamer. Working out of her kitchen, she spent months developing a formula. Then, after raising an initial $32,000 through Kickstarter, she started nutpods. In 2019, the company was Amazon's small business of the year. Today, in addition to being available online, nutpods is sold in 15,000 stores across the U.S.

“Nutpods wasn’t my first venture,” says Haydon. “When I was a student at Lander Hall, I would go to farmers markets and see these dried wreaths. They were so expensive. So, I had my first little side hustle in my dorm room. I would make wreaths and flower arrangements to sell. I did that for six months, but a dorm room is a small space to store your inventory.” Haydon went on to work in the medical field for 14 years before founding nutpods.

“Our team is 33 people. People are always floored with that number because we are a national brand. But I adopted a lean startup strategy. If we’re going to fail, we’re going to fail fast. Early on, we had fulfillment by Amazon, a small staff and a third-party warehouse—things that could easily be undone if nutpods wasn’t resonating in the marketplace. Now I don’t feel like a big brand even though we are nationally distributed and have more than $100 million in annual sales.

“My family’s long history with Washington started on a cold and rainy April day. My parents had fled Vietnam with five kids and we were living in tents at Camp Murray. I was the youngest, and one more was on the way. [Governor] Dan Evans and his wife welcomed us in person and saw that we—and other Vietnamese families—had access to resources. All six of us, against the odds, are UW graduates.

“My parents had high-paying jobs in Saigon. In this country, my dad worked as a machine operator on an overnight shift and my mother started out sewing curtains. We used food stamps and had subsidized school lunches. There was an initial shame. But I’m proud of that experience now.”