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- Fishwife is a sustainability-conscious American fish and seafood canning company.
- The brand started out with simple offerings (tuna, salmon, trout), but much more is on the way.
- We spoke with co-founder Becca Millstein to find out what inspired her and what’s next for the brand.
“I wasn’t a big fan of canned fish,” Becca Millstein, co-founder of direct-selling canned fish startup Fishwife, told me during a
call from the brand’s sun-drenched headquarters in Los Angeles. The company shares its workspace with fellow start-up, Fly By Jing, Jing Gao’s thriving brand of Sichuan sauces, spices and dumplings, and the duo have just collaborated on a limited-edition box of Arctic-raised Atlantic smoked salmon, dressed in Sichuan Chili Crisp from Gao.
While studying abroad in Spain, Millstein fell in love with “this incredibly beautiful culture around canned fish”. She marveled at the physical storefronts (after which Fishwife HQ might well be modeled) and, perhaps more predictively, how the Mediterranean staple just wasn’t something she had met at her home in the United States.
Years later, Millstein (then a community manager at an art gallery) and her friend and future Fishwife co-founder Caroline Goldfarb found themselves housebound during a pandemic and subsisting heavily on canned fish. After a few questions, they discovered they weren’t the only ones in their group of friends turning to canned seafood. “Now,” Millstein said, “if a natural wine store has a product that isn’t wine, it’s canned fish.”
But as she increasingly noticed old, century-old European brands like Olasagasti and Nuri on the shelves of American grocery stores, she saw no American canned fish leading the charge.
“For such a staple, there are so few categories that haven’t had new entries in the last 100 years. For that alone, I was ready to go,” Millstein told me. . “The first day Caroline [Goldfarb] and I came up with the idea, we called 20 friends and one person thought we were a little crazy, but everyone thought it was so obvious. Right from the start, I basically felt one hundred percent confident.”