Meet a Maker

Meet a Maker: Sasha Millstein of Aunt Ethel's

This New York-based founder is reinventing the classic frozen pot pie with her aunt's famous recipe.

Meet a Maker: Sasha Millstein of Aunt Ethel's

Pot pie is quintessential comfort food. And as the leaves start to fall and the temperature starts to drop, there's nothing we crave more! But leave those processed, preservative-ridden pot pies of yore in the freezer, and say 'hello' to Aunt Ethel's Pot Pies. Founded by Sasha Millstein using her aunt's signature pot pie recipe, Aunt Ethel's uses only fresh, quality ingredients including organic chicken and fresh-cut vegetables.

Sasha spoke with Foodboro about her background as an Angel Investor, her journey to entrepreneurship, the challenges of the frozen foods industry, her approach to work/life balance, and what she recommends for other early-stage food founders.

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Before starting Aunt Ethel’s, what were you up to?

I was an Angel Investor and also worked in Real Estate.

What led you to entrepreneurship?

My DNA ;) I think my time as an Angel Investor inspired me to want to surround myself with entrepreneurs. I also noticed that I started investing in mainly CPG companies.  Entrepreneurship has always been deeply embedded in my family starting with my grandmother who came to America after surviving the Holocaust.  

Why the name “Aunt Ethel’s”?

It’s my aunt’s middle name and while she never liked it, she always thought it would be a great name for a diner...or a Pot Pie company ;)

Retail relationships: do you sell DTC? What retailers do you work with?

We are launching in the Fall of 2021 with DTC and some local Retailers in New York.

Who in the industry do you turn to for inspiration?

Tech.  I think people in tech are always trying to streamline processes, make them more efficient, and less friction for consumers.  I hope we can do the same thing with food but make it delicious and nutritious as well!

Any other brands in the industry that you admire?

I always compare ourselves to Annie's.  I think what they did with Mac n Cheese is similar to what we’re trying to do with Pot Pies and eventually the rest of the frozen food category.

What sets you apart from other frozen brands out there?

We reinvented the pot pie by deconstructing it and then putting it back together to allow you to reheat it with the highest quality in the shortest amount of time.


What have been the challenges of navigating the CPG industry? Especially with a frozen product!

Finding a USDA facility to self-manufacture

Can you tell us about your experience with the Shopify for Startups program?

I wish I had joined when we were selling on-line. But, I have been an investor in Shopify for many years and they were the first place we turned to to build our website and set up our POS system so I have always been closely connected with them.

As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health, "turn off" work?

I travel.  I have a ton of family that live all over the world; Bali, Mexico, Denver, Seattle so I try to visit them as much as possible. 

Drink and eat as much information as you can!

What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?

Take your time to build the foundation of the company and get your pedestrian MBA in the meantime. Drink and eat as much information as you can!

What food and beverage trends are over-hyped and which are here to stay?

Over-hyped are ‘Superfoods’. Can’t we just eat real food with real ingredients and stop acting like we’re Superheroes who need Superfoods?! I’m also kinda over the Spiked Seltzer craze.  How many more companies do we need to push sugar/alcoholic seltzer?! (Foodboro note: you've gotta try this Delta-8 enhanced seltzer!)

What does the future look like for the brand, what are you currently working on?

We are currently focused on launching and just getting the product out.  Friends of mine joke to me and say “Sasha, you’ve practically built a diversity arm into your corporation, but you haven’t even sold a pot pie, YET!!”. I tend to run before I learn to crawl so right now we’re focused on crawling and getting the product out there before we take over the Frozen Food Category. 

Read more Meet a Maker interviews here!

Pot pie is quintessential comfort food. And as the leaves start to fall and the temperature starts to drop, there's nothing we crave more! But leave those processed, preservative-ridden pot pies of yore in the freezer, and say 'hello' to Aunt Ethel's Pot Pies. Founded by Sasha Millstein using her aunt's signature pot pie recipe, Aunt Ethel's uses only fresh, quality ingredients including organic chicken and fresh-cut vegetables.

Sasha spoke with Foodboro about her background as an Angel Investor, her journey to entrepreneurship, the challenges of the frozen foods industry, her approach to work/life balance, and what she recommends for other early-stage food founders.

Want more maker interviews in your inbox? Check out our weekly newsletter!

Before starting Aunt Ethel’s, what were you up to?

I was an Angel Investor and also worked in Real Estate.

What led you to entrepreneurship?

My DNA ;) I think my time as an Angel Investor inspired me to want to surround myself with entrepreneurs. I also noticed that I started investing in mainly CPG companies.  Entrepreneurship has always been deeply embedded in my family starting with my grandmother who came to America after surviving the Holocaust.  

Why the name “Aunt Ethel’s”?

It’s my aunt’s middle name and while she never liked it, she always thought it would be a great name for a diner...or a Pot Pie company ;)

Retail relationships: do you sell DTC? What retailers do you work with?

We are launching in the Fall of 2021 with DTC and some local Retailers in New York.

Who in the industry do you turn to for inspiration?

Tech.  I think people in tech are always trying to streamline processes, make them more efficient, and less friction for consumers.  I hope we can do the same thing with food but make it delicious and nutritious as well!

Any other brands in the industry that you admire?

I always compare ourselves to Annie's.  I think what they did with Mac n Cheese is similar to what we’re trying to do with Pot Pies and eventually the rest of the frozen food category.

What sets you apart from other frozen brands out there?

We reinvented the pot pie by deconstructing it and then putting it back together to allow you to reheat it with the highest quality in the shortest amount of time.


What have been the challenges of navigating the CPG industry? Especially with a frozen product!

Finding a USDA facility to self-manufacture

Can you tell us about your experience with the Shopify for Startups program?

I wish I had joined when we were selling on-line. But, I have been an investor in Shopify for many years and they were the first place we turned to to build our website and set up our POS system so I have always been closely connected with them.

As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health, "turn off" work?

I travel.  I have a ton of family that live all over the world; Bali, Mexico, Denver, Seattle so I try to visit them as much as possible. 

Drink and eat as much information as you can!

What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?

Take your time to build the foundation of the company and get your pedestrian MBA in the meantime. Drink and eat as much information as you can!

What food and beverage trends are over-hyped and which are here to stay?

Over-hyped are ‘Superfoods’. Can’t we just eat real food with real ingredients and stop acting like we’re Superheroes who need Superfoods?! I’m also kinda over the Spiked Seltzer craze.  How many more companies do we need to push sugar/alcoholic seltzer?! (Foodboro note: you've gotta try this Delta-8 enhanced seltzer!)

What does the future look like for the brand, what are you currently working on?

We are currently focused on launching and just getting the product out.  Friends of mine joke to me and say “Sasha, you’ve practically built a diversity arm into your corporation, but you haven’t even sold a pot pie, YET!!”. I tend to run before I learn to crawl so right now we’re focused on crawling and getting the product out there before we take over the Frozen Food Category. 

Read more Meet a Maker interviews here!

Pot pie is quintessential comfort food. And as the leaves start to fall and the temperature starts to drop, there's nothing we crave more! But leave those processed, preservative-ridden pot pies of yore in the freezer, and say 'hello' to Aunt Ethel's Pot Pies. Founded by Sasha Millstein using her aunt's signature pot pie recipe, Aunt Ethel's uses only fresh, quality ingredients including organic chicken and fresh-cut vegetables.

Sasha spoke with Foodboro about her background as an Angel Investor, her journey to entrepreneurship, the challenges of the frozen foods industry, her approach to work/life balance, and what she recommends for other early-stage food founders.

Want more maker interviews in your inbox? Check out our weekly newsletter!

Before starting Aunt Ethel’s, what were you up to?

I was an Angel Investor and also worked in Real Estate.

What led you to entrepreneurship?

My DNA ;) I think my time as an Angel Investor inspired me to want to surround myself with entrepreneurs. I also noticed that I started investing in mainly CPG companies.  Entrepreneurship has always been deeply embedded in my family starting with my grandmother who came to America after surviving the Holocaust.  

Why the name “Aunt Ethel’s”?

It’s my aunt’s middle name and while she never liked it, she always thought it would be a great name for a diner...or a Pot Pie company ;)

Retail relationships: do you sell DTC? What retailers do you work with?

We are launching in the Fall of 2021 with DTC and some local Retailers in New York.

Who in the industry do you turn to for inspiration?

Tech.  I think people in tech are always trying to streamline processes, make them more efficient, and less friction for consumers.  I hope we can do the same thing with food but make it delicious and nutritious as well!

Any other brands in the industry that you admire?

I always compare ourselves to Annie's.  I think what they did with Mac n Cheese is similar to what we’re trying to do with Pot Pies and eventually the rest of the frozen food category.

What sets you apart from other frozen brands out there?

We reinvented the pot pie by deconstructing it and then putting it back together to allow you to reheat it with the highest quality in the shortest amount of time.


What have been the challenges of navigating the CPG industry? Especially with a frozen product!

Finding a USDA facility to self-manufacture

Can you tell us about your experience with the Shopify for Startups program?

I wish I had joined when we were selling on-line. But, I have been an investor in Shopify for many years and they were the first place we turned to to build our website and set up our POS system so I have always been closely connected with them.

As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health, "turn off" work?

I travel.  I have a ton of family that live all over the world; Bali, Mexico, Denver, Seattle so I try to visit them as much as possible. 

Drink and eat as much information as you can!

What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?

Take your time to build the foundation of the company and get your pedestrian MBA in the meantime. Drink and eat as much information as you can!

What food and beverage trends are over-hyped and which are here to stay?

Over-hyped are ‘Superfoods’. Can’t we just eat real food with real ingredients and stop acting like we’re Superheroes who need Superfoods?! I’m also kinda over the Spiked Seltzer craze.  How many more companies do we need to push sugar/alcoholic seltzer?! (Foodboro note: you've gotta try this Delta-8 enhanced seltzer!)

What does the future look like for the brand, what are you currently working on?

We are currently focused on launching and just getting the product out.  Friends of mine joke to me and say “Sasha, you’ve practically built a diversity arm into your corporation, but you haven’t even sold a pot pie, YET!!”. I tend to run before I learn to crawl so right now we’re focused on crawling and getting the product out there before we take over the Frozen Food Category. 

Read more Meet a Maker interviews here!

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