Episode 247: Chrissie Zavicar

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“Anyone who is in a position where you are marketing food and beverage, where you yourself are a mom, you’re going to be blown away at the perspective that Chrissie has when it comes to the way that alcohol culture is everywhere.” Lori Taylor (2:53-3:09)

A longtime member of The Produce Moms team, Chrissie Zavicar is consistently tenacious about pushing us to strive for, and achieve, ever more ambitious business and marketing goals. But she pushed in a very different and profound way when she shared her addiction and sobriety journey, challenging us as food and beverage marketers to change the way we think about our relationships – and responsibilities – when it comes to alcohol.

Chrissie Zavicar secured an internship with the Detroit Lions out of college working in New Media, interviewing players and overseeing the website. An eternal early adopter, she transitioned into the role of Social Media Manager at a time when social media, and its management, were things we were all still figuring out. Chrissie struck out on her own as a consultant in 2014, helping individuals and brands elevate their professional profiles and statuses on LinkedIn. She is now the owner of Stack Brands: a branding, brand strategy, and marketing consultancy formed in partnership with former Lions wide receiver Herman Moore. 

She is also a champion for all people who are at any stage of a sobriety journey. First and Sober is Chrissie’s passion project: a very transparent and vulnerable newsletter on her LinkedIn page about her choice of living sober, and how difficult that ongoing journey can be. 

“I just want to talk about it, share my experience, so people don’t feel alone, and so maybe they’ll think about what they’re going through. Because I didn’t realize how alone I felt until someone reflected my experience back to me.” Chrissie Zavicar (36:07- 36:20) 

Inspired by The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins, Laura McKowen’s blog, and other writings that candidly discussed how you can have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol even when you’re not physically addicted, Chrissie quit drinking for good in June of 2017. First and Sober is her commitment to paying it forward – sharing her story with those who may not even realize they need to hear it.

Choosing LinkedIn as the medium to launch such a personal endeavor may seem counterintuitive at first, but Chrissie’s reasoning is twofold. First, her primary audience is there; First and Sober reaches tens of thousands of followers from around the globe. 

Second, Chrissie particularly wants to reach the functional alcoholic. These are high functioning people who appear to have it all together – career, family, friends– but who might be spending their days waiting for it to be time to have a drink and unwind. Much like some people can turn to food as an emotional crutch, they are leveraging alcohol as a way to cope with stress, insecurity, or past trauma, and waking up the next morning at a physical disadvantage and filled with dread, anxiety and shame. When you make the decision to stop drinking, Chrissie points out, you realize how prevalent drinking culture is and how much pressure it places on the recovering alcoholic. Business events are often centered around an open bar or happy hour, coworkers head out at the end of the day for drinks. There are alcohol brands targeted to parents, with “Mom” and “Dad” literally in their names; think how often you’ve heard “Mommy needs a drink” or “wine is Mommy’s favorite” in recent years. 

“What message are we sending our kids, that we’re telling them we can’t handle parenting them without alcohol, that it’s so difficult to be their parent that we have to numb out, we have to medicate ourselves?” Chrissie Zavicar (22:41-22:57)

You may even have heard phrases like “Wine is my favorite fruit,” co-opting the most wholesome thing in the entire grocery store in order to bestow a healthy halo over alcohol. Why is alcohol positioned as a positive in so many ways, from parenting to advancing in business, when it’s so often objectively negative?

Even if meant light-heartedly, it’s a slippery slope when you consider the number of lives ruined by alcoholism – something that ethical marketers should keep in mind. If you’ve found yourself, post-pandemic, drinking more than you’d like; if you are inspired by the new year to change your relationship with alcohol; or if you would like to learn how to better support and accommodate those who choose to refrain from drinking, be sure to subscribe to First and Sober at linkedin.com/chrissiezavicar to read more about Chrissie’s journey and join the open conversation about alcohol addiction and healing. A First and Sober website is on its way!

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week! 
  • Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here

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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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