Meet Goni Light of SoCo
These days, consumers are demanding more from the products they buy – they need to be healthy, make us feel good, be delicious, and, bonus points if they create social impact.
SoCo, or Seeds of Collaboration, was founded by Goni Light and Yonatan Sela, who upon coming to America, noticed that there was no authentic, delicious tahini to satisfy their craving. Goni, the co-founder and mother extraordinaire, shares more on SoCo, their products, the brands’ mission, and glean some of her expert advice on balancing being both a mother and entrepreneur!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to found SoCo.
Goni Light (GL): Yonatan and I have been tahini addicts for many years. It’s fabulous taste, simplicity, nutritional value and unique ability to upgrade almost any dish made it a household staple and a popular superfood across the region (before superfoods were even a thing!). However, when we came to the U.S, it was nearly impossible to find authentic, stone-ground, flavorful tahini. It has been a very frustrating experience not just for us, but for all of our fellow tahini addicts, and we kept on hoping that someone would do something about it…
The first time we started getting serious about bringing the magic of tahini was, believe it or not, at Burning Man! We built a Tahini stand and people fell in love with it. This was an incredible experience, but back then we didn’t think we would turn into a business. Finally, when I was about to become a mother two years ago, I thought a lot about the kind of professional life I wanted to lead. For a long time, my desire has been to create a business that I’m passionate about, am proud of, and that has real, tangible impact on others that extends far beyond financial profit. That’s really when and how SoCo came to life.
Tahini is touted as a super food ingredient. What are some of its health benefits and uses in everyday life?
GL: Tahini is definitely what we now would call a “super food” ingredient. It is extremely rich in protein (there are 6-8 grams per serving!), sugar-free, low-carb, a great source of iron (roughly 10-20% of your daily value per serving), very rich in calcium (our products range anywhere from 5-40% per serving), and gluten-free. Plus, it is Keto, Whole30 and Paleo friendly.In terms of usage, in our house it serves as our ketchup & mayo, oil & vinegar, peanut butter & jelly – everybody has it at home. It’s also the dirty secret of hummus – 40% of any hummus plate you eat is actually out of tahini! We eat tahini with basically everything – it makes it all taste way better! Some of my favorite uses are to spread it on bread, dress my salad with it, use it as a sauce or add it to my smoothies. I also love to put it on top of ice cream!
What are some of the challenges you face in building a business while juggling being a mother?
GL: Being able to set your own working hours to fit with family life provides a flexibility that I am grateful for. It does, however, come with its drawbacks. For example, I have to give up most hobbies, a lot of quality time with friends and, oftentimes, I work nights and weekends so I can give enough energy to both SoCo and to my family. They both require a ton of attention! While I haven’t mastered the balance yet, reminding myself that I’m doing what I love and am passionate about keeps me going.
I worked for 6 years at Procter & Gamble, loved my job, and always felt like I was growing and surrounded by people that I learned from, however, I don’t remember being so excited to start my day like I do now at SoCo, and that is everything to me.
What are some of your tips for other women entrepreneurs?
GL: Running your own business means that you’re on a constant roller coaster with so many ups and downs. It becomes even more important to surround yourself with people that elevate you and inject positive energy into your life, even if it means taking a step back from some people which can prove challenging.In terms of handling the mental side of this roller coaster – my biggest fear is not failing, but not trying. I would rather live every day knowing that I’m pursuing my dreams and passions rather than not doing so because I’m afraid to take a risk. There are definitely times that it’s not easy, because of all the uncertainty and the crazy, unstructured hours, and there are more surprises, both positive and negative, that come with starting something from scratch.
Your business will truly be your baby in the amount of time and attention it requires, and it can be tough to have a human baby involved in that equation, too! But, as your responsibility grows, you will find extra drive within yourself that will push you forward. Lastly, a new habit that I’ve started is to do at least one thing for myself every week, even if it’s just something small, like a candlelit bath. These little things help so much when you need a moment to just care for yourself and come back to the table ready to keep pushing forward.
What are your future plans for SoCo?
GL: We want to make the healthy choice easy. To make it taste and feel great, and use it as a force for positive change. Choosing what to invite into our bodies and minds, and what to leave out – is the key to living well. Follow along for some exciting news on our site and Instagram!
Photo: c/o SoCo