YouthForce NOLA connected Katelyn Martin’s talents with Brass Roots Foods

Katelyn Martin is a senior at Livingston Collegiate Academy and the Bard Early College program. She knows what she wants next. 

“I want to go to college and I want to become a marketing manager,” she explains. Her top choice right now is Tulane University. 

“As crazy as it seems, I’m very optimistic, and I just want to hope for the best. I have a plan, but I know that not every plan goes accordingly. There may always be something that goes astray, or obstacles that get in the way – I understand that,” she says.

Last summer, she had the chance to take some concrete steps toward her plan. At the recommendation of her school counselor, Martin applied to become a YouthForce NOLA summer intern. The internship program, which begins in June, prepares New Orleans’ public high school students for high-wage, high-demand careers. YouthForce interns earn a stipend while training in one of four fields: digital media/information technology, business services, skilled crafts, and health sciences. Martin chose the digital media track, which includes marketing.

“For the first month, they help us learn the different things you need for the workforce, like soft skills, learn how to do resumes, LinkedIn, all of these different things. So that was awesome,” Martin says. “And then the second month, in July, we partnered with an actual company or organization.” 

For Martin, that was Brass Roots Food, which makes vegan snacks from the Sacha Inchi seed, which they farm from Thailand and Laos . 

Due to the pandemic, the internship was virtual. Martin met the Brass Roots Foods team over Zoom. They asked her to help with their email blasts, blog, and social media. One of her first projects was writing a recipe using their snacks for the Brass Roots blog. Here, she encountered her first obstacle during the internship. The team had sent her some products to taste and use for the recipe, but they hadn’t arrived yet. Martin took action and drove to the warehouse herself to pick up some food to try. 

Then she went back home and got to work. She wanted to make a recipe that appealed to the most possible consumers. 

“I used company data to analyze the demographics of their customers…they had a good amount of people who have dogs from what I could see,” Martin said. “So I was like, ‘well maybe I can come up with something for dogs. So I came up with a dog treat.” 

Image from Katelyn’s dog treat recipe on Brass Roots’ website.

Martin came up with a recipe for a dog treat using Sacha Inchi butter, and Brass Roots posted it online.

Eventually, that box of snacks did arrive at Martin’s house. They were a hit. 

“If I had wanted to keep them to myself, I could not,” Martin said. “My mom and my brother were there. Firstly, my mom ate all my jalapeño ones…I was like, ‘oh my gosh, like just take it.’ My brother and I shared the white cheddar ones; he’s only six [and] he’s kinda picky. I gave my auntie some of the seeds to snack on–she loves most vegan food. So that was really cool.

”She then got the chance to help Brass Roots spread the word about their food online. She designed graphics for social media and created an Instagram story for their account. She also sent out an email “blast” to all of the customers on the Brass Roots mailing list informing them about the new dog treat recipe. 

Martin felt successful in handling these projects, and the Brass Roots team let her know she was doing a good job. Her manager, Kara Farley, who is the head of Public Relations at Brass Roots, provided constructive feedback to support Martin’s professional growth.

“She said I always put my best foot forward, and I always gave my best effort,” Martin explains. “Whenever they gave me an assignment or project to do, I always asked for more. I was able to go above and beyond–like for the blog post, for example, I hadn’t gotten the package yet, so I drove to their warehouse in order to get the supplies…they really valued me for that.” 

Martin valued Brass Roots, too. The experiences she gained and the support and stipend she received from YouthForce are key as she moves closer to achieving her goal of attending Tulane. She has made connections and gained knowledge that will serve her all through her education and career. But the foundation for her success in school and work was set long before she started her internship or got connected with YouthForce. That learning started much closer to home.

“I grew up in a single home with my mom. I always see her every day striving for what she wants. I think she’s about to go into a graduate program to get her second degree. I’m so proud of her. She’s amazing,” Martin says. 

“And she’s always taught me to work for what you want, and to strive for what you want to achieve in life. So, I think, really from an early age, she was able to instill that idea in my head, and I was able to just really pick it up.”

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