#RICE22 Session Spotlight: 7 Brands Driving a New Era of Customer Experience - Retail Innovation Conference & Expo

#RICE22 Session Spotlight: 7 Brands Driving a New Era of Customer Experience

In a rapidly evolving marketplace, brands of all categories are finding new ways to stand out and capture the attention of their target consumers. Through savvy marketing tactics, purposeful offerings and community-driven experiences, emerging brands are cutting through the noise — and today’s digital, socially responsible consumers are listening.  
Now more than ever, consumers don’t want to support brands that merely “talk the talk”; they want to support brands that “walk the walk” and embed their mission and values into everything they do. At the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo, our primary goal was to include up-and-coming brands that were making a big splash by creating innovative and intentional customer experiences. Here is just a small sample of the amazing businesses that will take the stage this year. Get ready to be WOWed! 

Sackcloth & Ashes

Want to learn more about how brands are keeping sustainability and social causes at their core? Bob Dalton created Sackcloth & Ashes with both in mind! 

Founded in 2014, Sackcloth & Ashes is a mission-driven company that donates a blanket to a homeless shelter for each one purchased. As CEO, Bob’s goal is to donate one million blankets to homeless shelters by June 1, 2024. The blankets are made from recycled materials and are produced in a water free, dye free and chemical free process, adding a sustainable layer to an already powerful mission.

You’ll have the opportunity to hear directly from Bob Dalton as he will be speaking on a panel session titled, Activating In-Store Communities with Events, Experiences and Inclusions,” during the Retail Innovation Summit on Wednesday, May 11. He’ll have a dynamic discussion about how mission-driven companies can partner with retailers to forge tight-knit, store-driven communities. 

Couplet Coffee

Specialty coffee that tastes great and promotes inclusivity? SIGN US UP!  

Gefen Skolnick, Founder of Couplet Coffee, is a first-generation immigrant and proud queer woman. Of course, she’s also a coffee fanatic and wanted to create a specialty coffee that was also more community focused. The one-year-old brand has accelerated sales through its DTC website launch thanks to various artist collaborations and viral content on TikTok. Couplet Coffee is also going into stores by tapping into intentional retail partnerships.

Need more than beans and grounds? Couplet Coffee also sells fun merchandise and equipment for consumers to purchase along with its incredible brews. Find out more about Gefen’s incredible growth story by attending the DTC Innovation Forum. She’ll be speaking on a panel session titled, Creating a ‘Retention-Ready’ Acquisition Plan: Lessons from Booming DTC Categories.

Another Tomorrow

Ethically and responsibly made clothing? Check! Education and complete transparency into each item? Check! Platform for activism to amplify all voices? Check!  

Backed by science and data, Another Tomorrow was founded by CEO Vanessa Barboni Hallik. Another Tomorrow is a conscious, luxury clothing brand that pushes the boundaries of what responsibly grown, and ethically manufactured materials can achieve. By having QR codes on each clothing item, consumers have full transparency into each piece’s journey along the supply chain. 

Hear more from Vanessa on how she uses technology to deliver on brand authenticity during the Retail Innovation SummitShe will be speaking on the panel session, “Championing Brand Authenticity and Transparency: What Does It Really Mean Today?  


The adventures of parenthood don’t have to be completely overwhelming…right? Spoiler alert: Lalo, the modern baby and toddler company, thinks so! 

By creating a fun in-store experience for parents, caretakers, babies and toddlers, Lalo offers an unmatched customer experience. As Co-Founder, President and CMO, Michael Wieder has helped the company evolve from a digital-only DTC brand to a brand truly embracing the art of community-driven spaces and “retailtainment.” Lalo has changed the game of physical retail in the baby-care category by featuring interactive touch points such as a Play Café, made-to-order play experiences, parenting seminars and even a stroller parking lot!

Be sure to check out Michael’s fireside chat, where he’ll dig into “Experimenting with “Retailtainment” to Drive Engagement and Customer Loyalty,” within our Design:Retail Conference.

Boy Smells

Calling all scent lovers and candle connoisseurs 

Matthew Herman, Co-Founder and Creator of Boy Smells, is transforming this space by embracing all parts of the gender spectrum for candles. He even coined the term “genderful.” Boy Smells’ mission is to dismantle binary ideas around gender in daily routines and encourage people to live in full spectrum — without compromise.

Matthew and his partner scaled their gender-neutral candles out of their kitchen into a warehouse and successfully rolled them out into all Nordstrom stores. (We love to see it!)To hear more about their incredible growth story, be sure to check out the panel session titled, A New Framework for Brand Storytelling: Consistent, Contextual and Credible.You won’t want to miss it!


“Better products made through better processes, that better support people and planet,” how can we not get behind this?

KOTN is a certified B Corporation with one of the highest B Impact Scores of apparel brands in North America and has also been voted B Corporation’s Best of the World in the community category. They work directly with 2,000+ small-holder farmers to create sustainably sourced, well-designed, everyday essentials. Additionally, they help fund and build primary schools in Egypt. (To date, the company has built 7 schools and funded 15 – wow!)

If you don’t already know about this brand, you must listen to their Senior Director of Merchandising and Planning, Jennisa Visram, during the panel session at #RICE22: “Small Businesses that Scaled During the Pandemic and Proved Resilient.”

Mike’s Hot Honey

We saved the hottest brand for last – foodies take note! 

Founded in 2010, Mike’s Hot Honey became a well-known topping for pizza, creating an entirely new category of honey. 

 This innovative and unique topping is now available in over 2,500 restaurants and continues to amaze consumers, especially with collaborations such as: Maille Dijon Mustard x Mike’s Hot Honey! CEO Matt Beaton will discuss tips and tactics for optimizing owned channels and adapting to upcoming challenges and opportunities during the Internet Retailer Conference on the panel session titled, Inside Perspectives from 7-Figure Sellers.  

As you can tell, we are so excited to showcase these unique brands and more at the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo! It’s brands like these that empower us all to think differently and break the mold in customer experience. Register now and give yourself the opportunity to be inspired to take your business to new heights! 

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