I’m an advocate of the ripple theory — help those in your immediate circle and encourage them to maximize their potential in hopes they’ll do the same.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Raquel Tavares. Raquel Tavares is the CEO/Founder of Fourth & Heart. A devout Ashtanga Yogini, snowboarder, mother of two young boys and lover of all things food, Raquel was born in Brazil and migrated to Northern California at the age of six with her mother and brother in the early 80s. She currently resides in Los Angeles and prides herself on her ability to tackle family, work, self and play — making sure to get the most out of each minute of the day. Since its founding 5-years ago, 4th & Heart is now the leader in the category of products that improve wellness and has successfully branched out into other aisles of the grocery store and is leading the ingredient innovation. 4th & Heart holds first of its kind recognitions including Himalayan salted ghee, sprayable ghee and single serve ghee.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Raquel! What is your “backstory”?
I was born in Recife, Brazil to an American mother and Brazilian father. My father died when I was two and half years of age prompting my mother to move our family back to the U.S. in the early eighties.
I spent my childhood in Northern California and ended up in San Francisco for university, where I lived for many years enjoying the beautiful bay area and taking on the quintessential California sports: yoga, surfing and snowboarding.
As the years progressed, yoga and fostering healthy lifestyles became a big passion for me, much in part to my mother who was a yogini and a nutritionist before enrolling at the California College of Ayurvedic Medicine — the Hindu practice of body, mind and spirit integrated medicine. During my mother’s time studying Ayurvedic medicine, ghee became a staple in the family household alongside increased awareness of health trends. So, when the time came to start my own company, I drew from my upbringing and our focus on predicting health trends and saw ghee as a future area that could skyrocket — and seems like I was right!
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
My top three lifestyle tweaks include, but not limited to:
For health and physical maintenance, I work hard to maintain a 5x/week yoga, run, swim routine. To heal from the stress of exercise I often will do a combination of cryotherapy, sauna and compression therapy. I enjoy the healing of inflammation from the cryotherapy as I suffer from auto-immune issues. The sauna is nice as it gives me time to listen to some guided meditations and a necessary pause in my day. Compression therapy assists with lymphatic drainage, which also helps keep me at optimum health, or at least for the majority of the time. Let’s face it, like everyone, I hit walls and burn out to a point that rest is the only true cure, but this weekly routine helps maintain life’s daily cadence between workouts, children and the intensity of being a food entrepreneur.
As a practitioner of Ayurvedic modalities and in order to age gracefully, I’ve adopted dry brushing and abhyanga to my daily routine. Dry brushing is done by taking a dry shower brush and brushing in the direction of your heart seven times all over your body. I then follow that up with Abhyanga — a massage with Mahanarayan Oil where I follow the pattern of the dry brush. Dry brushing is good for lymphatic drainage, reducing cellulite, reducing the appearance of fine lines on your body and clears away dead skin! Abhyanga benefits include increased circulation, stimulation of the internal organs of the body, helps get rid of impurities, helps with sleep, stamina, vision and overall lymph detoxification.
My third life hack is allowing myself to have fun, laugh and not take small things as seriously as I did when I was younger. It’s the “pick your battles” hack, which when you have children, you’ll need to master.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I believe if you’ve found your path, the universe will conspire to help you — my journey as a food entrepreneur most certainly confirms this thesis.
When I was in the ideation phase for 4th & Heart, I spent about 6-months trying to decide what food product I wanted to bring to market. My guardrails for choosing a product included the item must be authentic to me, shelf-stable, beneficial to health and something everyone uses daily. In 2012 I was in Whole Foods in Santa Monica, with my 6-month old in tow, while getting ready to order I witnessed an athletic surfer asking to put a stick of butter in his espresso. This casual encounter, along with three other occasions, led me to ghee. This was in 2012 before the good fat craze took off and it was my ah-ha moment.
Going back to my belief that being on your true path will be supported by the universe, when I needed a broker, one came to me through a referral. When I needed a lawyer, a close advisor introduced me to my lawyer who remains a close friend. Then, when I needed a new COO, boom, one appeared. I truly feel the universe is somehow protecting me and supporting me through this incredible journey.
All these moments have lent to meeting the most incredible people, some whom I would not have otherwise met. I’ve met athletes, musicians, bankers, well known entrepreneurs. I’m always awestruck by their tenacity and intrigued to learn about the paths they underwent to get to their endgame. It is extremely motivating to be surrounded by people in pursuit of their dreams. Often those who are mostly misunderstood and characterized as selfish or arrogant, are in fact working to improve the lives of others and to inspire the world to do better and be better.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I think the biggest mistake I’ve made as an entrepreneur has been to move a little too fast in the beginning. I wasn’t as cognizant of what type of team I needed to sit at the table with me. Now, I’ve learned it is important to have and hire people who unequivocally believe in me, the way I work and balance out my idiosyncrasies, nuisances, and weaknesses. What I’ve learned are the fundamental pillars in winning relationships and they are communication, trust, respect, and compromise. If one of these four is missing, you’ll need to either fix it or move on. The beauty of this journey taught me lessons I carry into my personal life. It’s truly a gift to do what I do. Mistakes are a blessing and a new springboard to be a better leader, partner, friend and/or parent.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I’m an advocate of the ripple theory — help those in your immediate circle and encourage them to maximize their potential in hopes they’ll do the same. Practically speaking, we use glass instead of plastic, source sustainable grass-fed butter, use organic ingredients, even though we can’t certify organic.
From a brand perspective, we aim to inspire as well and hope that this inspiration can touch our audience to shift their energy in a positive direction in hopes they do the same to others around them.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. 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?
I absolutely agree. I am incredibly thankful for my right arm, Max Dichter, our VP of Finance, my entire extended team, Mark Wilson, Adam Levitt, Kaitlin Torson, Christina Garcia, Raquel Miller and couldn’t have done it in the early stages without the help of my ex-husband and understanding of my kids. But it doesn’t stop there. I have the support of a roster of investors who backed us when things became tough and continue to believe in me and the company. It breeds a level of humility knowing so many people put their trust in you to support their wellbeing and their ability to grow their own funds, or otherwise. You heard it here first, you most certainly cannot do it alone!
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I wish those who waste most and buy the most packaged foods would be required to pay a tax on their waste. The hope is it would increase the consumption of whole foods and bring people back to the kitchen to cook their own food again.
What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
To be honest, I’m happy I went in blind, because the pitfalls taught me unforgettable lessons and have brought our group together. The most important “gotchas” to watch out for are regulatory, legal and finance. Therefore, I’d say:
- In order to not over or under capitalize your business, understand various types of financing structures and what is the appropriate amount of capital to revenue ratio. Read about debt financing, equity financing and learn what is best for your business and at what stages.
- Learn about Private Equity and Venture Capital potential “gotchas” and how you could be disadvantaged by accepting terms that may not be favorable to you.
- Get a good lawyer from the beginning — this could be the most important of all.
Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be? (Let another “woman in wellness” know that you respect her as a teacher and guide!)
I absolutely do! And while she isn’t in health & wellness, she is a chef. I absolutely admire Giada De Laurentiis.
I think women have it particularly hard in the spotlight with their personal and professional lives. I really admire her because she is a single mother, working her tail off and living unapologetically. I’ve gone through a divorce and while we are amicable, it will gut you and you need to rebuild again. Doing that, while maintaining health, a career and a smile on your face takes courage and a tenacity that’s hard for most to understand.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
I would say mental health, sustainability and environmental health gets to me the most. I’m always wanting to do more however in my small ways I contribute when I can financially or through action at home. I think it’s all inter-related. Meaning if we could catch mental health at a young age, treat and support it financially at a state and federal level, I think we could raise healthier humans who would have habits which contribute to sustaining health and well-being. I do think that garbage collection should be free in all countries, so we don’t see mattresses floating up onto the Santa Monica beaches. I have seen mattresses, closet organizers, metal shelving on the beach and it really makes me ashamed to think we live in a first world country and our beaches are as dirty as those I’ve seen in Bali, Brazil and India. My first instinct is to complain, but then I think — what can I do about that?
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
I have a personal page @raqtify and our fun and robust @fourthandheart! Come say hi!
Thank you for these fantastic insights!