#SWAAYthenarrative

#HowIDidIt: From Cooking Meals Out Of My Apartment To Running A 9-Figure Meal Delivery Brand

4 Min Read
Business

How can we help overcome the national health crisis and allow people access to nutritious food on a regular basis?

It's a question I've been driven to answer since 2009, catalyzed by one of the scariest scenarios a daughter can imagine: the health crisis of a parent.

Determined to help my father overhaul his lifestyle and overcome the sudden obstacles he faced, I began prepping healthy, homemade meals. When friends and family members noticed the remarkable recovery he made, they became interested in the plans too.

This inevitably led to the birth of Fresh n' Lean, my organic meal delivery service. What started as a solo 19 year old student cooking meals out of a one bedroom apartment in Redondo Beach, CA, has since evolved into a 9-figure brand, with 100+ amazing employees operating out of a state of the art facility.

I'm often asked why Fresh n' Lean has continued to grow while other food delivery services struggle. I believe it comes down to many interacting variables that I wish to share with you today, with the hope that they might someday help you as you embark in your entrepreneurial journey too.

Know Your Values: Fresh, Convenient, And Delicious

Whenever you pursue something in life, whether it's a scary fitness goal or starting your own company, it's important to know your values, and to stay true to them. This is something I was taught from a young age, and was super aware of with Fresh n' Lean.

Our mission has always been to achieve three things: to make food that's healthy, accessible and delicious. It's about getting that balance between each component. If any one of them is missing, the formula doesn't work.

Sure, it would be easy to cut corners with the quality of our ingredients to save money, but that's not the point! I have a strong desire to impact people's lives in a positive way –– a 'reason why' that directly ties into the work we do. I'm also surrounded by a tribe of inspiring individuals who believe in the vision, which helps massively.

Our mission has always been to achieve three things: to make food that's healthy, accessible and delicious.

The collective understanding of our value system helps us stay true to the mission and to be completely transparent with how we operate the business. This creates trust and brand loyalty amongst our customers - a key component for future growth.

Taking Risks: Bootstrapping To Nine-Figures

Anyone who has started their own venture can attest that the early days are a little shaky. There are always going to be problems that pop up (usually at the most inconvenient times), and key decisions that need to be made.

One of the latter that I was faced with at the very beginning was whether or not to turn to investors for capital, or to bootstrap Fresh n' Lean. I went with the second option and committed my life savings to self-fund my venture. Looking back, it was a bold move. I put it all on the line to make my dream a reality, and thankfully the risk paid off.

Sure, initially it meant that we had certain restrictions when it came to funding, but I like to think those restrictions lead to innovation. Because we had limited options, we were forced to be creative and to come up with novel solutions to challenging problems.

It has also meant we've had a much easier time when it comes to choosing the direction of our business. Because we don't have to answer to a board of investors, we're able to explore various avenues with a degree of freedom –– like our recent move from online to in-store.

Be Creative: Leaping From Online To In-Store

The latest evolution of Fresh n' Lean has been a dive into the brick and mortar sector, with the recent opening of our first On The Go store in Santa Monica.

Though many people believe brick and mortar is dying, we still feel that there are various opportunities to pursue. Grab-and-go healthy food near business centers is still something that's lacking in many areas. We're also in the process of partnering with Hak's Foods to bring ready-to-eat meals into grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Gelson's, and Costco.

As well as being a viable business venture in itself, having food in stores also gives people a chance to try our product before signing up for an online subscription. We're always trying to think outside the box when it comes to business growth, and this is just another example.

There are always going to be problems that pop up (usually at the most inconvenient times), and key decisions that need to be made.

Sure, we could have listened to the naysayers, played it safe and stuck to what we know. But if we always take the comfortable route, how will we ever know what we're truly capable of?

If I could sum up the main things I've learned over the past ten years, it would go something like this: the key is to never stop learning, growing or innovating. Know your mission, keep moving forward, and always be ready to adapt.

This article was originally published August 19, 2019.

5 Min Read
Self

The Psychological Power Of Clothes

She walks into a room ready for her presentation. She wants to land this new client and has worked weeks on it. She heads to the 35th floor of the tallest building on the block knowing she has documentation that is sure to impress. The conference room has a 20-foot long table surrounded by executives in blue suits, button-down shirts, pencil skirts, and blazers.

At this point, she realizes she didn't take into consideration the other important component of her presentation... she is not dressed appropriately.

Is it true that there is power in clothing? Can an incredible outfit increase your confidence and add validity to your brand? Will you perform your job better or feel more empowered? Will first impressions of you be more positive?

For me, the answer is a resounding yes. I believe that clothing can greatly impact first impressions and make a lasting impact on anyone you interact with. Like it or not, people will judge you on how you look and they will make both conscious and subconscious decisions about you based on what you're wearing… Is she trustworthy? Is she the expert we need? Will she fit in our corporate culture?

Can an incredible outfit increase your confidence and add validity to your brand? Will you perform your job better or feel more empowered? Will first impressions of you be more positive? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.

After all, if you were hiring a financial advisor, and one walked in with a pair of jeans and the other in a pair of trousers and blazer, who would you trust with your money? Even if you don't realize what you're doing when you interact with people, there may be more going on beneath the surface. It's something to think about for sure.

Here's another example, let's say you want to hire a party planner for an event. You meet with the first candidate, and she is wearing a wrinkled shirt and her fingernails are chipping and half-painted. Whereas candidate number two walks in and has on a pencil skirt, pumps, and silk blouse. Who do you think would pay more attention to the details associated with your party?

In 2019, WWD wrote about the psychological effects clothing has on a person:

It is said that clothing is what makes and defines a person. What you wear tells others what you are and makes a statement about your taste, character and individuality. It gives an insight into your nature, whether you are casual or formal, playful or serious, cool or just composed. Whether you are attending a job interview, out on a date or just strutting by the beach, your apparel tells us so much about you at a simple glance.

We know that it takes 5-7 seconds for a person to subconsciously form an opinion about you. Our eyes take in how you look; after all, what you're wearing will influence how you are perceived. How do you want to be perceived to your audience, your clients, and in your working industry?

How do you want to be perceived to your audience, your clients, and in your working industry?

And it goes way beyond the external. There is scientific data that shows how an individual feels differently when dressed in a variety of styles. In an article from Research Gate, they found that, "Fashion choices can affect both self-image, the impression that you convey to others and in turn, the way in which people behave towards you."

Have you ever heard of the term "enclothed cognition"? It refers to the phenomenon in which people tend to adopt the traits and properties they associate with the clothes they wear. In a study on the psychology of clothing, that same article as above reports that, "Participants judged women to be more forceful in job interviews and were more likely to recommend them for hiring when they were dressed in a more masculine style compared with a more feminine style," and that "Both men and women are attracted to stylish clothing that fits them well, makes them feel well-dressed and looks current."

On some level, we may all agree with that statement.

Naturally, as a personal stylist, I am a true believer in the power of clothes. I have seen my clients' exhilaration as they take in their transformation, brought about by an outfit, a new style, and clothes that look incredible on them. I have also witnessed physical changes like their facial expressions, huge smiles, laughter, sparkling eyes, and even a change in the way they walk. It's almost like there has been a shift in attitude toward their inner beauty, which has increased because they feel and look amazing and confident.

Although most of us are no longer strutting our way to the boardroom, the psycholigcal power of clothing is still necessary and relevant, especially now that we're confined to our home offices. Most of us are on virtual calls or live streaming from our computer, and it's easy to not prep as much for your "waist-up" meetings. But, like it or not, you should look on-brand, and put together clothes that are relevant for your industry. Not only will your peers perceieve you as more professional and more put-together, but I am sure you will also feel better, be more alert, and have more energy.

Most of us are on virtual calls or live streaming from our computer, and it's easy to not prep as much for your "waist-up" meetings. But, like it or not, you should look on-brand, and put together clothes that are relevant for your industry.

I'm not saying you need to look like a superstar every second of every day. However, I want you to think about the positive impact well-fitting, stylish clothes can have on both others' perceptions of you as well as your inner-confidence and intrinsic behavior.