Nespresso Coffee with steamed almond milk, and FAGE Greek yogurt with lots of berries (blue and raspberries).
What’s your workout?
Spin or swim.
“Dynamic” on iPhone. I love the movement of an undefined object—I can redefine it in my imagination any way I please throughout the day. Sometimes I see planets, other times I see cell biology, and on my birthday I saw tiny champagne bubbles! My family and friends all agree that I have “an overactive imagination.”
What inspired you to start your business? Where did you start and where are you now?
As founder and CEO of Eat Like a Woman® my to-do list is different every day, and that’s why I love being an entrepreneur! My day starts with reading the latest scientific research abstracts in women’s health, and brainstorming how I can apply this new science to benefit a woman’s life. Creating products that can make life easier and healthier in our busy world drives my day. By nature I am a curious person who loves researching and solving problems. I could spend hours digging into a challenge and it only feels like minutes passed—time flies when I am in the ELAW “zone.” Still in the early days of starting up ELAW and growing inventory, we have an exciting line-up of nutritional products in development that will revolutionize how women think and feel about food!
After my smart nutrition bars that embrace the latest gender-based science came out in order to promote my second book, Eat Like a Woman, there was such an organic demand from women to buy the bars that I had no choice but to launch the business. Even GNC emailed inquiring about my bars before I was an official business. My entire life has followed a natural flow of seizing opportunities that land in my path, all of them unexpected. Since childhood I have embraced women’s advocacy and entrepreneurship.
I was an early bloomer and at age 9 got my first training bra—before anyone else in my grade. All the girls wanted to try on my bra during recess. Being an Air Force brat on a limited weekly allowance, I saw an opportunity to make extra money to purchase Liddle Kiddle dolls for my collection and started charging girls a nickel at the Catholic school to try on my new training bra during recess in the bathroom.
This was a win-win: they too would know the benefits of specialized undergarments during sports, and I could buy my doll collection. The bra was paid for in 3 recess sessions. I secured a 100% gross profit margin for the next 2 months until the head nun discovered my flourishing business and shut it down. Finding profitable solutions for women came early in life and never ended.
Having five complete career reinventions—from working on camera in television out of college to founder/President of my production company, Krystal Productions, to being one of the original Executive Producers to launch co-founder Oprah Winfrey’s first network (Oxygen Media), to being a two-time published author, to founding/being CEO of ELAW—I see serial entrepreneurship as my way to be the best person I can be: a woman finding ways to contribute to making the world a better place.
How large is your business? How many employees do you have?
Eat Like a Woman is a start-up that I have self-funded the past year. I have a small but incredible team now—VP of Operations and VP of Sales— and I also hire independent contractors to help as I raise my first seed-round of capital for a 2016 third-quarter launch of the ELAW® brand of smart nutrition bars, Life Stage Shakes, Happy Cookies, and yummy breakfast choices. So many resumes have come in from incredible women nationwide who want to be part of the ELAW movement—supporting women’s health using research that includes women. Once I secure seed funding, my team will grow as we create a scalable, sustainable company.
Tell us a success story about funding your business.
I have been fortunate my entire life creating opportunities for myself that have been fruitful. Once I learned how the world of money worked (thank you, Suze Orman!—her book Nine Steps to Financial Freedom changed my life!), I was able to self-fund ELAW as a start up. Now I am excited to do my first seed round so I can get products into the hands of women everywhere.
The biggest challenge for ELAW is that most investors are interested in tech, not consumer goods products (CPG). The scale is currently heavy on the side of tech for obvious reasons—the business model doesn’t involve complications like inventory, for instance. But the pendulum will swing back to CPG because we are all embracing tech and that can’t last. ELAW’s initial revenues are all online, using incredible technology interfaces like Shopify and Amazon, and so it’s positioned to benefit now as well as when things change. We have to remember we can all be connected with tech, but there still needs to be something to sell. The good news is there are investors out there searching for new frontiers—initiators of change—and that is the smart money I’m interested in.
Tell us a story about a success in your business or a mistake you overcame.
The biggest success story for me with ELAW has been having the most impressive professionals in the food and beverage business surround me, fueling the magical ELAW carpet ride. Every day there are miracles that have taken me from an idea to a reality, and the right people have crossed my path to help ELAW move forward every time.
I never look at mistakes as mistakes, but rather as opportunities laced with lessons. My biggest “opportunity” was trusting all the incredible professionals coming into my life to have my/ELAW best interests at heart. Lesson learned: as with any start-up, one must give up some control, but knowing whom to trust and to qualify their abilities and intentions is paramount.
Freedom! Freedom to create. Freedom over my schedule. Freedom to choose a stimulating career path based on my desires. Freedom to be where I want to, when I want to.
What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?
When I discovered that in 1977 the FDA barred women from clinical research, I was furious that women’s health had been compromised! Fortunately in the 1990s some women in DC blew the whistle, demanding equality in women’s health. It is hard enough for women to make time for their health in our busy world, and to know that the new science coming out today that has included women has not been applied to the real world propelled me to launch ELAW.
My mission is to change the face of women’s health by bringing awareness that differences matter when it comes to health. Women are not small men. Gender differences matter—from heart and bone health to metabolism to the brain-gut connection to how we digest food and absorb nutrients. ELAW provides women YUMMY healthy solutions that support a woman’s body, embracing the motto: healthy is beautiful!
What would you say is your “entrepreneurial superpower?”
Whenever I get an idea, I can see a path to making it a reality. I actually see things in my head, like a movie. They play out and I feel it is my responsibility to execute them. I feel like the vehicle to something much bigger than me.
Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now? Why does s/he inspire you?
Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, is a true inspiration. She found a solution for women, and men, to feel better about their bodies in the more revealing fashion options today. She was smart about her business choices, and owns 100%—impressive!
What’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?
The best thing about being a female entrepreneur is being a FEMALE! I love walking into a room and knowing most think, “she is blonde and small, what could she know?” … then blowing them away with smarts and savvy. I have been in the professional world since the 80s. A woman had to be ten times better/smarter than a man to get to the top on her own. I have never felt the glass ceiling because my Dad taught me to “step outside and just look over it.” That said, I have always created my own opportunities because I did not want to experience the glass ceiling that does indeed exist in many organizations.
Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs?
This is a tough question—I was supposed to be a boy named after my Dad, Stan—so I was also tomboy, proving a girl was as good as a boy. I knew both worlds, female and male, and I have managed well in the business world understanding both sides. I like to collaborate with women and men, and both do so differently. Neither is better or worse than the other if it gets you from here to there successfully.
What the best advice you ever got, and from whom?
“If you can see it, you can be it.”—from God one morning…