Describe yourself in 3 words...
Energetic, Optimistic, Persistent
What inspired you to start a kombucha company?
I discovered my love for holistic and fermented foods, like kombucha, while I was in graduate school for nutrition at Tufts University. Eating fermented foods just made me feel so good and helped me develop my philosophy on health: that it really comes down to what makes you happy. I stuck to that philosophy, but didn’t realize it would be my professional calling until I found myself in corporate America in my late 20’s feeling unfulfilled, but knowing that I wanted to make a more substantial mark on the world. I formed an entrepreneur club with my now-husband, Justin, and best friend, Vanessa and as we sat around, sipping on my home-brewed kombucha trying to come up with the Next Big Thing, we suddenly realized the idea was sitting in front of us all along! A few weeks later we were in the Brentwood Farmer’s Market and Health-Ade was born!
What are your healthy snack tips?
Snacks that have fat protein and carbs satisfy cravings AND hold me off until meal time. I find that snacks that have only carbs in them just don’t do the trick and I’m never satisfied—I want more. A 1/2 avocado with truffle salt is one of my favorites, or I’ll go with cut veggies and hummus, or a piece of cheese with an apple. Sometimes straight Kombucha will do the trick—I find a glass of health-Ade Pom at 3 pm takes me from lunch to dinner with no problem. ;)
How did your son inspire your business?
Well, the business started before I had my son, so he didn’t inspire it, but being a mom has no question made me a better CEO in two ways. First, motherhood is demanding, so I'm forced to delegate work and elevate above it to lead, and direct instead. Not only does more work get done, it’s done at a higher quality. Second, motherhood is so emotional—you love your child like nothing imaginable, so the emotion tied to work becomes a little less important. I used to say Health-Ade was my baby—and it was, but nothing like Hendriks is my baby, of course. This is a good thing for me, because the less emotion I can have when making decisions at work, the more effective they are. Now I can more clearly and decisively make a call for the business and save my emotions for 6pm, when I rush into Hendriks’ arms.
What are your favorite healthy, family-friendly restaurants in LA?
I love Rustic Kitchen by the Santa Monica airport—awesome organic food, plenty of healthy and kid friendly options, and a well priced delicious wine list. I also love True Food Kitchen—never had a bad meal there and Hendriks loves it, too. Pitfire is also a go-to when it’s pizza night! The other day I went to Au Fudge in the Melrose area for the first time and was blown away! Fantastic food, options for kids and a whole supervised indoor play area for the children
What are the steps to starting a major brand like Health-Ade, for those who are moms and looking to start their own company? Please share your advice
Just like becoming a new mom has no rule book, entrepreneurial adventures have no “steps.” I’m sorry to say, but there is no right way to do it. The important thing is that you DO do it. That you believe in yourself. You prioritize the time. And you figure it out, one challenge at a time. You will have to manage your expectations when taking on more responsibility—you can’t do it all. Expect to take some risks and make sacrifices. For example, you might not be able to make dinner during the week anymore, you might need to hire a nanny that can do the shopping and the laundry, and you might have to miss those girls’ nights for a while. But if you’re dedicated and strategic, you can do just about anything (just not everything) you want, AND be a mom.
What are your favorite weekend activities with your son in LA?
Anything with him is my favorite, that’s why I love the weekend. One thing we love to do is hop on a bike and head west along Bollona Creek bike path (we get on by Centinela and Culver). It heads through the Marina, where we stop to skip stones on the water and look at boats, and finish up at the beach, where Justin and I will crack a can of good Rosé or bottle of Health-Ade and watch Hendriks run around in the sand. We usually always get on our bikes as a family on the weekend. I also love going to the Mar Vista farmers market. I find when he picks out the food, he’s more likely to eat it. We also love just chilling at home, since during the week we don’t get to enjoy it as much.
What is a typical family meal in your home?
I used to cook six nights a week. But now the demands of work and motherhood together are too much, and I was losing my mind trying to do it all! Now, I’m so much happier. During the week, I rely on my nanny to make fresh food for Hendriks, and Justin and I order our meals from Klean LA, a delicious, healthy and organic fresh meal delivery service. I love to cook, but this is something I had to give up during the week and save for the weekend. So dinner during the week is done in less than a minute—we heat up some food from the nanny for Hendriks, and Justin and I heat up our healthy and fresh ready to eat meals from Klean LA, and we eat together. I’m not wasting any more than one minute preparing food, and every extra minute at home is spent with Hendriks, which is what I wanted. On the weekend, we have fun cooking. We pick out our favorite recipes and usually get creative. Justin LOVES to grill, so we’re usually grilling some kind of meat or fish. A typical Saturday dinner meal might be grilled salmon marinated with ginger/soy/green onions, my roasted smashed potatoes with dill, and sautéed broccoli loaded with roasted garlic. Hendriks loves to partake in our weekend dinners all the same. We don’t drink during the week much anymore, so the weekend meals are when we enjoy beautiful wine, where I’m not afraid to splurge anymore. After all, if I’m only having one glass—it better be damn good!
Pay it forward and name a few favorite mentors in your industry...
So many females inspire me. Oprah, obvio. But more locally Carbon 38 founder Katie Johnson, Hedley & Bennett founder Ellen Bennett, celebrity fitness trainer Lacey Stone—who literally gets my confidence levels back up to “level full” EVERY time I see her.
How do you spend your “me” time being so busy with your growing business and family?
This is a struggle, but it’s my focus for this year and I’m happy to report it’s going well. I am working out 4-6 days a week, for one. And this was hard for me because I could never find the time. I’ve realized you CAN find the time, as long as you’re willing to get up early and be flexible. I go to a 45 min Flywheel (spin) 3 times a week at 6AM and then use Aaptiv (a workout phone ap for running and at home HIIT exercises) every other day. Aaptiv is perfect for moms because even if you only have 10 minutes, there’s a workout for you! Just commit to every day, go to sleep early, and you can do it. I also give myself a massage every other week, which as long as I plan it out, works. If it’s too hard to get to the spa for this, I get one to come to me after Hendriks is asleep. I LOVE PRIV, a mobile service app that will bring top notch facials, massages, hair styling/makeup, and even workouts to your home or work. Finally, I spend three minutes in the first hour of being awake and three minutes in the last hour of the day meditating and marinating on what I’m grateful for. I have a “I am” statement I read every morning that reminds me of what I want out of life. It centers me. For me, the best part of all of this is it hasn’t cut into my motherhood or work time much at all—it does take extra support from my husband, who has to be home getting Hendriks ready when I’ve gone to spin class, but he’s happy to do it I think because he sees how happy it makes me. Plus I always repay the favor whenever he needs time off.