Magic Mix Stars on Chronicle

Massachusetts-based spice company Magic Mix is making home cooking easier

The company was created by Sharon-based chef and entrepreneur Reema Chandra

NEEDHAM, Mass. —

Sharon chef and entrepreneur Reema Chandra is hoping her product will help make spices feel less intimidating for home cooks. Magic Mix is a blend of 19 spices curated by Chandra. The debut product is Magic Mix Mumbai, which takes inspiration from the flavors of Indian cuisine. Chandra expects to release two new blends soon: Azteca and Shanghai.

The Republik Gets Responsible

Shutterstock FLEX

Matt Shapiro


Matt Shapiro is Partner, VP/Creative Director at The Republik, a group of free thinkers willing to push one another into powerful collisions of insights that dismantle the tenets of size, money, and power to meaningfully impact lives.

Tell us how and why you became involved in socially responsible communications, any thoughts on why design can be an especially effective tool for this goal, and, if you wish, give us an example of a project of which you are proud.

As creatives, we are natural problem solvers. I believe it is our responsibility to use our privilege and influence to help promote the causes we believe in and uplift our community. As a young musician, I used that platform to promote organizations and missions for good. The natural progression into my advertising and design career provided a much more useful application, to be honest. Design is a powerful tool that connects people, and can break down various barriers. Republik chooses to align itself with organizations that desire a positive social impact, such as our client Happy Dirt (, whose mission is to make healthy organic food accessible to everyone and delivered in sustainable packaging. We also recently did a rebranding and awareness campaign for Harmony NC LGBT+ Allied Chamber of Commerce, an organization that nurtures and supports the growth of LGBT+ business professionals. We find this kind of work brings a sense of pride that is incomparable. It only drives us to do more and to do it better.

Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does this moment in time present any special opportunities, urgencies, or obstacles to designing for good?

There are two main obstacles we foresee challenging creatives. The first is relevancy, as we move into next year we will continue to see the shift in how design, advertising, and marketing is consumed. The speed at which this cycle happens will continue to accelerate and we will have to find ways to cope with that. The second, an “Us vs Them” mentality has created a sense of division but as creatives, we have the power to influence positive change by using design to communicate, educate, promote good, to make this world a better place. It’s at the heart of our “job” to do some good every chance we can.

AgencySpy’s Tools of the Trade


Tools of the Trade: Jessica Darke From Arcana Academy

By Kyle O’Brien on Oct. 7, 2022 – 10:00 AM

Tools of the Trade is an AgencySpy feature to help highlight the many tools that help make advertising and marketing folks successful. The tools can be anything that helps you perform at your top form, from your favorite drafting table to your best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.

Next up is Jessica Darke, executive producer at Los Angeles agency Arcana Academy.


What is one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it inspire you? 

My pen. My pen isn’t just regular pen. It’s a pen designed to last for seven years. Seven years of to-do’s, inspirational quips, and notes-to-self. My pen is on a mission to prevent pens from going into landfills. Did you know that billions of pens are thrown away each year? Writing with a Seven Year Pen reminds me daily that we can make little choices with big impact.

Why is it your favorite?

I selected a Seven Year Pen that says “Feelings” as a reminder to embrace my empathetic spirit while objectively moving projects forward. I also love how younger generations claimed and memed this word, “feelings.” The pen makes me feel old and youthful at the same time.

I use it every day. I keep it in my notebook or use it as a bookmark. I love to underline or copy sentences that inspire me while reading.

How did you acquire or hear about it for the first time?

Googling “non-toxic, sustainable pen.”

How does it help you to be successful?

It reminds me to slow down. As a producer, I am wired to move quickly. Having speed with control ultimately saves me—and my team—time and money.

Does it have sentimental value?

No. But, ask me again in five-and-a-half years.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral? 

Only with someone else as the personality.

BooneOakley Has Sextro


Sextro Vodka: Have It With Just About Anyone

Not many vodka brands contain the word “sex.”

That’s more or less the inspiration for the producers of Iowa Legendary Rye to call their first vodka offering Sextro. It also happens to be the last name of the woman credited with creating the rye almost 100 years ago.

That fact also explains the placements of out-of-home ads in Las Vegas and select other cities encouraging people to drink the drink (or else fulfill its double meaning) with, well, just about anyone.

Examples include “Have Sextro on the first date,” “Have Sextro with yourself” and “Have Sextro with someone you just met.”

The brand’s roots date to the 1930s Great Depression era, when Lorine Sextro began producing what became Iowa Legendary Rye on a farm in Templeton, Iowa.


When her grandson decided to expand to vodka, “We agreed to modernize the brand a bit,” David Oakley, president and creative director of the BooneOakley agency, tells Marketing Daily.

“I said you ‘don’t want people to drink Sextro. You want people to have Sextro.’ It’s a simple idea and a great way to get your name remembered.”

BooneOakley recommended OOH for the launch because “You have to be as simple as possible. The messaging we have really lends itself to outdoor.”

In addition to billboards generating awareness, they can also be used as “social objects,” according to Oakley.

“People are taking pictures of these things and sharing them on social media. So it’s a social and outdoor play.”

The Gate Crowds The Street

CrowdStreet Plays The Nostalgia Card In New Campaign

CrowdStreet, a commercial real estate investment platform has appointed New York-based The Gate to be its agency of record to build awareness, trust and interest in the brand. 

The Gate is tasked with positioning CrowdStreet as the most trusted resource for alternative investing in the real estate sector and making it part of the mainstream financial conversation. 

The agency has designed a campaign around the insight that “investing in something real matters” and is intended to remind consumers of important assets they collected in their youth like baseball cards or records. Sample the work here.

The Gate is a full-service advertising agency with $250 million in client billings. In addition to its New York headquarters, it has offices in San Francisco, London, Edinburgh, and Shanghai.

Arcana Academy Gets Healthy


Arcana Creative Agency Creates Vitabots, Kids’ Vitamin Brand

Vitabots, a brand-new children’s vitamin brand, has had no problem developing a good relationship with its ad agency. That’s because Los Angeles-based agency Arcana Academy is not only developing the brand’s creative. It also developed the brand itself.

Yes, Arcana is now directly in the CPG and D2C business, after having spent the past eight years developing Vitabots — from sourcing its manufacturer (Vitasome Labs) to fulfillment and distribution.

The product, under a new entity called Professor V, LLC, is now sold through Amazon and plans “to remain direct to consumer for as long as possible,” Arcana creative director and co-founder Shane Hutton tells Marketing Daily. “We will likely begin targeting brick and mortar after our first 18 months.”

How and why did Vitabots come to fruition?


“We have regular ‘What’s Your Best Idea?’ meetings at the agency. Doesn’t matter if the idea is related to advertising or not. If we love it, we’ll do it,” explains Hutton in the press release announcing the new product. “Well, nearly a decade ago, a big idea came through: a better children’s vitamin.”

We’ll let the Arcana-created Vitabots website  pick up the story from there:

“Our story begins in the lab of Professor V, a selfless doctor who works tirelessly to find a way to provide proper nutrition to children around the globe.

“When Professor V’s groundbreaking formula of nutrient-delivering, nano liposomes garner him worldwide success, his ex-colleague and rival Dr. Osteo goes mad, stopping at nothing to rid the world of Professor V’s work.

“In response, Professor V creates the Vitabots, a team of super robots whose main function is to stop Dr. Osteo’s nefarious plans, ensuring the health and safety of the world’s citizens.”

In non-kids speak, explains Vitabots, “the Vitamin C is wrapped in a cloaking device that makes your white blood cells just think it’s a normal everyday cell. The result is way better absorption of the Vitamin C. They are also delicious, made with organic ingredients, gluten-free, and don’t have that chalky Vitamin-y taste.”

The agency is first promoting Vitabots on Amazon and social channels, and hopes to start paid media in three to six months. 

Merchandising the Vitabots characters that it has created, Arcana also plans to sell a coloring book and a set of action figures.

Future plans include education videos about vitamins, minerals, and healthy eating.

“Professor V’s Vitabots,” as the brand’s label puts it, is currently selling for $31.99 on Amazon. That gets your kids 60 fruit gummies boasting of “Sour Power.”  

One- to three-year-olds should take one gummy daily, and kids four and up two gummies.

If you’re talking about just one gummy, incidentally, we’d suggest not calling it a Vitabot, which is an entirely different company  in the private-label online meal planning business.

V-One Vodka Aiding Ukraine

Western Mass. vodka maker heading to Poland to aid Ukrainian refugees

Updated: Mar. 03, 2022, 4:36 p.m. | Published: Mar. 03, 2022, 4:36 p.m.

Paul Kozub, V-One Vodka
V-one Vodka founder Paul Kozub poses with the brand’s “Farm To Glass” distillery in Kamień, Poland. Kozub is going to Poland this weekend to support Ukrainian refugees. (Photo Provided)

By Ron Chimelis |

HADLEY — Paul Kozub said his conscience and his commitment to the people of Eastern Europe made the decision for him.

“I feel I have to go Poland,” said Kozub, whose company, Valley Vodka Inc., will donate $1 for every bottle sold in March to assist refugeees from war-torn Ukraine. 

Valley Vodka, headquartered in Hadley, is the maker of V-One Vodka, an award-winning brand that Kozub created. He is expected to arrive at the V-One distillery in Kamien, Poland on Sunday.

The distillery is located about two hours from the Ukraine border, where refugees have been crossing the border in droves.

“I feel such a connection to Eastern Europe. This will be my 60th trip in 17 years, but only my second in the last year and a half,” Kozub said. “I’m overdue. I used to go three or four times a year, but then COVID-19 slowed us down. My last trip was in June of 2021.”

He is not only going to the distillery he owns with a partner, but bringing $5,000 of his own money to support the refugees pouring over the border from war-torn Ukraine. The current exchange rate for currency will work favorably, he said.

“The exchange rate is usually about 3-to-1. But with all that’s been going on, it’s up to around 4-to-1, so my money will be worth 25% more,” Kozub said.

Announcement of his support has been posted on Facebook and other social media outlets. It was not a hasty decision, and the region’s volatility gave Kozub pause.

“I have a wife and four children under 8. I began to think that maybe I shouldn’t go. But I have to go,” he said.

”My life was forever changed for the better when I made my first trip to Eastern Poland 17 years ago to start my craft vodka business. In 2019, I purchased a distillery in Kamień, just a few hours from the Ukrainian border. I feel compelled to do something to help the people of Ukraine.

Kozub owns 51% of the distillery in Kamien. In addition to visiting the plant, he will travel to the Ukraine-Poland border to meet directly with refugees.

His partner in the Kamien distillery has a cousin near the border, where long lines of refugees have been reported. Altogether, Kozub will be in Poland for a week.

“I hear there’s been something like a half a million immigrants crossing,” he said.

Kamień is 219 miles (352 kilometers) southeast of Warsaw.

V-One Vodka has been crafting small batch vodka in Eastern Poland since 2005. It was the first craft vodka made from 100% spelt, a type of grain related to wheat, barley and rye.

It was won several awards and competitions and launched six successful flavors since 2012.

“We’re launching a new flavor, so I was ready to return to Kamien,” Kozub said. “Now, with what has been happening, I feel I have to go.”