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Tess Palma-Martinez of ‘Completely Golden’: “You are different from everyone else, do what is right for you”

“Have a bank account specifically for business growth. Set aside 10% of every sale in this account.” Spending money on business growth is often scary and many people put it off which leads to their business suffering, or even dissolving. Whether it’s a seminar for entrepreneurs, hiring a coach, paying for a business lunch with […]

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“Have a bank account specifically for business growth. Set aside 10% of every sale in this account.” Spending money on business growth is often scary and many people put it off which leads to their business suffering, or even dissolving. Whether it’s a seminar for entrepreneurs, hiring a coach, paying for a business lunch with an investor, or hiring an assistant- you’ll have the money set aside for just that.


The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.

As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tess Palma-Martinez.

Tess is a chef, Culinary Director, certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, model, and healthy lifestyle influencer. She is dedicated to inspiring a Completely Golden state of wellness through cultivating a healthy lifestyle. She specializes in one-on-one nutrition and lifestyle coaching, private dinner parties, wellness retreats and workshops, and menu development.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thanks for having me- I’m happy to be here! My childhood was pretty unstable. I am an only child and grew up in Saratoga Springs, NY. My parents were both active users and my dad left when I was 4 years old. I grew up with my single mom and extended family for extra support. My mom stopped drinking when I was 8, and has been sober ever since. Since I could walk, I was taking care of myself. My safe place was in the kitchen. Everyday after school I would bake while I waited for my mom to get home. The instability and traumas I had experienced were soothed by food and by the time I got to highschool I was 200 pounds.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The grass is always greener where you water it.” I have done many searches to find the true author of this quote, but haven’t had success! This quote was a major ah-ha moment for me. I was struggling in all areas of my life- weight, career/purpose, relationships, health and constantly looking for something to fix me, or wishing I was a different person. I had always heard the more popular version of that quote, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” which left me feeling hopeless. When I realized I had to tend to my own grass, rather than spending all my time peering over the fence, things started to change.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The Expanded Podcast with Lacy Phillips

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?

My career has always felt like a shot in the dark. Some things would stick, but most wouldn’t. I am a die-hard entrepreneur so it doesn’t matter how many times I fall down, I get back up with new ideas and try again. With nearly 2 decades of experience, my trust muscle is strong.

I owned a kitchen and garden store for 4 years, from 2015–2019. When it closed, I went back to school for nutrition and realized my love of cooking has been a thread through all of my endeavors, just never the main focus. While in school, I started hosting dinner parties and cooking for wellness retreats around the world. It all seemed to come to me, rather than me trying to make something happen. Then the pandemic came, and everything stopped.

What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?

I was able to shift my career as a Retreat Chef, traveling the world cooking for wellness retreats, to becoming an Instagram influencer in the food and wellness space. Quarantine was a beautiful time where I was able to traverse the grief around losing these jobs and traveling to beautiful countries. I had the space/time to pivot. My days were open to experiment and have fun. I began an online cooking show called “What Do I Eat Next” and learned about media post production. I started a personal wellness routine, got into the best physical shape of my life, and shared this with my social community. Then, I started modeling for local clothing designers who were transitioning to online sales and was able to weave in my love of fashion and design, while talking about body positivity.

Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?

I remember sitting in my bed, about 2 weeks into the pandemic. All of my retreats were officially cancelled. I had been developing a gluten free, vegan menu for a new restaurant and they decided to postpone opening for another 2–3 months. I now had no income and I sat there thinking, “I just have to take this online, there’s nothing else I can do.” I ordered a gooseneck phone holder from Amazon for 20 dollars and downloaded a free video editing app on my phone and got to it. The first few videos are cringeworthy, but soon they got better and I learned more. I started having guests on my show to help keep my spirits high. I just kept playing- going in with an open mind, leaning on what I knew, and learning along the way.

How are things going with this new initiative?

Well, I am currently in New Orleans, LA on a cross-country road trip! Every city I stop in I am filming cooking videos of foods that I encounter along the way. I just did an episode for grits, a southern staple! I have been on a few podcasts and asked to host COVID-safe dinner parties in a few cities along my route. So, the playing continues! It has really helped me open up to the idea that opportunities come to me from places unknown. I just keep following the breadcrumbs.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Every person I have ever come in contact with has helped me get to where I am now. The butterfly effect- each movement affects what follows. I am grateful for the path of my life and all who have shaped it with me.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I was approached by the Food Network! They reached out for me to participate on a cooking challenge show and after watching a few episodes I passed on the opportunity. While I struggled with the idea of, “What if I never get a chance like this again?” I realized that the opportunity came to me because I was staying true to myself.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. “You are different from everyone else, do what is right for you.” I was often told to settle down or grow up when starting a new endeavor. People thought I was scattered, flakey and unreliable. Now I know that evolving and taking risks are my strengths. I look at them as super powers. When other people tell you what to do, they are really telling you what they would do, mixed up with their fears and projected social norms.
  2. “The moment you lose interest in your business is when you start to lose your business.” Someone actually did tell me this, just as I was starting out, but I overlooked it. It wasn’t until years later when I was considering closing my store, that I remembered. A light bulb went off to the exact moment when I started to lose interest in my business, and it was all downhill from there.
  3. “By the time you feel you need to hire someone, you should have hired them a month ago.” I recently heard this on a podcast and was actually the reason I’ve hired a social media manager. I was feeling overloaded by the many hats of entrepreneurship and social was the thing that added the most pressure. It’s been great having someone to assist and talk through ideas, someone whose only job is social media management.
  4. “Have no more than 3 tasks on your to-do list, each day.” Our minds can’t navigate more than that while also having time to process and stay open to new possibilities, in one day.
  5. “Have a bank account specifically for business growth. Set aside 10% of every sale in this account.” Spending money on business growth is often scary and many people put it off which leads to their business suffering, or even dissolving. Whether it’s a seminar for entrepreneurs, hiring a coach, paying for a business lunch with an investor, or hiring an assistant- you’ll have the money set aside for just that.

So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?

This may not be for everyone, but I stopped looking at the news. I realized that if it is important enough, I will hear about it, and that has held up to be 100% true. I don’t feel left out of the know and I am able to stay present in my life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

What a question! Everything starts from within, and how we treat ourselves is the way we treat others. A fun and very interesting exercise is to look at yourself in the mirror for 1–5 minutes, while saying compliments to yourself. Give it a try! Set a timer on your phone and see what happens.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I would love to make lunch and eat with Lacy Phillips, the founder of To Be Magnetic and the Expanded Podcast, mentioned above. Since following her podcast, and more recently joining the Pathway, I have seen phenomenal shifts within myself. She is an amazing expander of what is possible for any of us, if we can work through our own blocks and go after what we most desire.

How can our readers follow you online?

My favorite ways to connect are on Instagram and my newsletter! You can find me at @iamcompletelygolden (or @completelygolden) and you can sign up for my newsletter on my website at www.completelygolden.com

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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