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California Baby pulls its products from Whole Foods Market

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Tensions have been rising between vendors and Whole Foods since Amazon (AMZN) acquired the supermarket chain last year.

And one vendor has decided to pull its products from Whole Foods. After 23 years, California Baby CEO and founder Jessica Iclisoy said she decided to cut ties with one of her first retail partners.

“They’re changing their business but that doesn’t work for me. Our visions don’t necessarily dovetail. My role as a founder is to protect my business,” Iclisoy said Thursday afternoon at Vanity Fair’s Founders Fair conference.

During a discussion about how female entrepreneurs should exercise their power, Iclisoy emphasized that she did not approve of the way Amazon had changed her relationship with Whole Foods.

“My idea of success doesn’t necessarily come in dollars. My idea of success comes in freedom… in control,” she said.

Last month, Whole Foods orchestrated a meeting with its key vendors to address their concerns surrounding Amazon’s changing strategy. Suppliers and vendors have expressed disappointment and frustration with the culture shift under new management, pushing out smaller upstarts in favor of larger companies. Small dairy brand AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery was forced to shut down after Whole Foods severed ties just 14 months into a seven-year contract, according to Business Insider.

California Baby CEO Jessica Iclisoy speaks with Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd and Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones onstage during Vanity Fair’s Founders Fair at Spring Studios on April 12, 2018 in New York City.

Yahoo Finance has previously reported on the internal disagreements brewing within Whole Foods, and the possibility of products like Coca-Cola coming to store shelves soon.

California Baby is a $80 million brand that makes organic shampoos and skincare products for babies, children and adults that are cruelty free and free of gluten, oat, soy, dairy and nuts.

The company has robust relationships with many large retailers, including Target and Walmart, but Whole Foods was one of the first chains to carry Iclisoy’s products.

California Baby founder and CEO Jessica Iclisoy confirmed that she is parting ways with Whole Foods, one of its first retail partners.

Whole Foods Market did not immediately respond to requests for comment. California Baby, which was still featured as one of Whole Foods’ local vendors on the grocer’s website, declined to elaborate beyond Iclisoy’s comments at the event.

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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