What did you eat for breakfast today?
Danielle: Today, we had our amazing Chia Protein Waffles with Maple Syrup. It’s delicious and packed with nutrients, so we don’t even feel the need to snack before lunch.
What’s your workout?
Whitney: We try to go to Taryn Toomey’s The Class whenever possible. It’s a 75-minute cathartic mind-body experience. It challenges you to push your body to its limit, but gives you time and space to practice self-motivation and work through obstacles in your physical body. It’s a great way to de-stress and reset your mind.
What inspired you to start your business? Where did you start and where are you now?
Danielle: Sakara Life was created to add balance to our own lives. Whitney and I are childhood friends from Sedona, Arizona. We grew up together and both moved to NYC around the same time. Whitney was working at a high-pressure job on Wall Street and was feeling the effects of stress manifesting itself in her body. She had gained 15 pounds and suffered from cystic acne. After visiting nearly every dermatologist in New York and trying everything from accutane to acupuncture, nothing seemed to work. At the same time, I was working as model and actress and struggled with body image issues, roller-coaster diets and weight fluctuation. Food had become an enemy. Diets had only taught me what not to do and never taught me that the right foods can change your overall wellbeing.
We knew there had to be a better way, so we worked together to create a healthy meal plan with the proper nutrients that could give the benefits of long-lasting weight loss, clearer skin and so much more. We stopped counting calories and started using food to work toward our benefit and not against us.
Knowing there is no fast track to wellness, we wanted to make a meal plan that was convenient and delicious. The journey to living healthy shouldn’t be torturous. It should be fun and transformative. We started seeing results instantly and wanted to share with others so we started with our friends and received tons of referrals. We were preparing and delivering every meal ourselves by hand at the time, until we finally raised $700 at a dinner party to start hiring help. Nearly four years later, our team delivers almost 40,000 meals per month, and this month we launched the delivery service nationwide.
How large is your business? How many employees do you have?
Whitney: We currently have more than 65 employees. Our program launched nationwide this month, so we are expecting to grow our team to meet new demands.
Tell us a success story about funding your business.
Whitney: We are extremely proud of our business model. We were able to operate as a bootstrapped company until this month, when we received a $4.8M Series A funding round. It’s the first capital influx since we raised $700 at a dinner party to launch the business in 2012.
What do you see as challenges for you and your business? What are some opportunities?
Whitney: It can be a challenge to ship extremely fresh fruits and vegetables nationwide. All of our ingredients are organic and have no preservatives, so there is no margin of error when shipping. We feel as if we’re not only nutrition experts, but we’ve become logistic and packaging experts as well at this point as we’ve put in a lot of time and research to perfect our packaging and products for broader distribution.
Danielle: The quality of our products and ingredients are our main priority. Our mission is to help as many people as possible through our programs, but we won’t sacrifice quality to meet demand. It wouldn’t benefit our clients or our company. Sometimes it means we have a waitlist, but it’s a balance we are willing to do.
What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?
Whitney: A huge aspect of our program is educating our clients about how to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. We want to teach our clients how to feed their body, mind, and soul. We share tips, inspiration and advice from top healthy-living experts through our website and S-Life Magazine.
The program is based on our values or what we call our “Pyramid of Health” that consist of the fundamental aspects that make a person healthy—physically, mentally, and spiritually. The pyramid includes food, home-base, love, discover, body, and take flight. Balancing these aspects of your life equals health and true clarity comes from creating balance in all aspects of your life.
All that you create in the world starts with how you nourish your body. A healthy diet consists of clean, whole foods with a diverse array of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that feed your body, mind, and spirit.
Love, Sex, Companionship
As food nourishes the body, physical intimacy nourishes our soul. But the love you offer others must first be rooted in yourself.
Body and Movement
Movement helps us to connect to our physical body; taking time to do so is essential to maintaining inner strength.
It’s the space, the person, the physical or emotional place where you find comfort, acceptance, and love. This is where you can be your true self in an honest, open environment.
Create, Discover, Inspire
Creation feeds the human spirit and provides you with new opportunities to learn, engage, and live meaningfully.
True health and wellness means nourishing each area of your life. Once you do that, you can reach balance, rid your body and mind of negativity, and truly take flight.
Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now? Why does s/he inspire you?
Jessica Alba. She is a mom, entrepreneur, and self-made leader on this wellness journey with us, who pursued her goals to create safe, healthy products.
What’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?
For better or for worse, sexuality is always part of the equation.
Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs?
Definitely. For us, we harness our female energy not only into managing our teams, but in the way we nurture all of our business relationships from clients to vendors.
What the best advice you ever got, and from whom?
Whitney: Never take no for an answer. There is ALWAYS a way—just because no one else has thought of it, doesn’t mean it’s not possible.