From Kickstarter to DTC Darling: Fly by Jing's Brand Manager on Growth & New Channels

We caught up with the marketer behind the internet's favorite chili crisp to go deep on what it takes to get in front of your target customers-- and stay there.


The consumer landscape looks pretty different than it did just a few years ago, pushing so many DTC native brands to switch up their growth & acquisition strategies. In this new miniseries, we pick the brains of the founders, marketers, and operators behind brands navigating the shift. Today: Fly by Jing's Brand Manager, Elizabeth Jarrard, on getting in front of the right customer-- and staying there.

What are some of the biggest hills you’ve had to climb in the last year or so as a marketer? What’s the dream state for Fly by Jing in 2024?

We started originally as a Kickstarter, and then as a Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) Brand. In the last year we have expanded our retail presence significantly, and are now nationwide at Whole Foods, Albertsons-Safeway, Target, Sprouts, and more. Our big challenge right now is reaching consumers doing their weekly grocery store run who have never heard of us and convincing them it's time to take their meals from "meh" to "mmmm" with Fly By Jing chili sauces.

How have the DTC and omnichannel landscape changed for Fly by Jing in the last year or two? Are you feeling bullish, and on which channels?

Since 2020 the DTC and omnichannel landscapes have been changing faster than ever. Our goal is to be available wherever you want to shop-- whether you're a Costco Member, Amazon prime loyalist, Whole Foodie or love getting exclusive merch on, we got you. We're excited to also expand more in early 2024 with TikTok Shop. 

You’ve grown the assortment so much and so strategically (and deliciously) since you launched the original hero SKU. How do you think about that sort of expansion in an omnichannel sense? Do you want all SKUs in all doors? Or do you land-and-expand?

Our goal is to have our Bestselling Core 4 of Sichuan Chili Crisp, Xtra Spicy Chili Crisp, Zhong Sauce, and Chengdu Crunch in our retail stores. We have a wider assortment available on  and as well as in small independent stores/Shoppy Shops. 

What are some of the biggest hurdles driving sell-through in stores? Where do things get stuck? What tactics or tools actually work?

First, making sure that you can find us in stores! That's not only being in the retailers you love but having a really good store locator for fans who are looking for us, and also showing on social media how to actually find us in stores. In some stores we're in the "global flavors" aisle and in others we're with condiments. And of course, whenever we can get an end cap or secondary placement, that helps our fans find our products.

Second, we want to show you how delicious our products really are, so we've had success with demos of our product with experienced brand ambassadors.

As an omnichannel brand, how do you approach customer data? How do you recoup what you lose by growing so much in retail/wholesale?

We are lucky to have access through SPINS and Nielsen to our sell-through at retail, which we combine with the data we receive from Amazon and our DTC website. This quantitative data we pair with qualitative feedback from our CX team plus surveys.

What advice do you have for marketers who are pushing a DTC brand into new sales channels for the first time, as a brand that’s nailed that expansion?

Having a highly engaged community on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, email and SMS will help you to not only get initial retail buy-in but have a successful launch. Jing's initial launch on Kickstarter in 2018 and her direct connection with our community has helped to propel us in all our retail launches. Lightning round questions!

Lightning round ⚡

Your take on some of the new trends and channels we're seeing? TikTok Shop?

TikTok is investing very heavily and subsidizing promos on the platform. Rich opportunity. Requires a lot of time to ensure products don't get pulled down (for no reason), and to generate a high amount of high quality posted + LIVE content. 

What's your favorite omnichannel brand? Who do you look to for inspiration or think is crushing it?

Olipop, TruFru, LiquidIV, Graza!

Favorite Fly by Jing product so far?

Sweet & Spicy Zhong Sauce has been my fave since day 1.

Fly by Jing uses Thingtesting to power sell-through, acquisition and survey in retailers like Sprouts, Costco, and Whole Foods. Curious about learning more or doing the same? Learn more about our growth tools here.