Its creating space for ourselves, to see, feel, to think, to react, to be. Its always there, always available to us. I like to think of mindfulness as being “proactive” rather than “reactive”.
As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Dawn Anderson. As the driving force behind OHi Food Co., Dawn Anderson’s commitment to leading and growing the brand was motivated by her personal need to find a fresh, healthy, delicious, and on-the-go bar to fuel her lifestyle. Launched in 2013 on Maui, HI this quickly growing natural foods company is dedicated to creating convenient, nutrient-dense superfood bars that were originally inspired by the health and flavors of the islands. Prior to starting OHi Food Co., Anderson was a college athlete and then chiropractor who was searching for a new purpose and passion. She started a new career as a corporate travel consultant, but quickly found that the stress and non-stop trips made it a challenge to continue her health-focused habits and found herself choosing convenient energy bars as her source of nourishment. After she began to feel sluggish and gain weight, she learned that the “healthy” bars she was depending on were in fact chock full of sugar, artificial ingredients, fillers, and chemicals. Anderson left her travel career and moved to Hawaii with her husband for a life reset where she started eating a more conscious diet that was plant-based and free from unwanted ingredients. She truly embraced the island lifestyle of wellness and self-care. To further her learnings, she traveled the West Coast for a year working at health forward restaurants and attended Living Light Culinary Institute, a raw culinary school, where she studied more about the industry, plant-based recipes and techniques. It was on her travels where she met two women who were hand making, packaging, and selling their own healthy food products. Inspired by what they were doing for their community Anderson immediately went to her Maui kitchen to work on perfecting her own bar recipes. She drew inspiration from Hawaiian flavors like Macadamia Nuts, coconut, and spirulina, while incorporating healthy fats and superfoods for balanced nutrition in a bar that combined texture, taste, and health. With days spent selling at local farmer’s markets and going door to door to all local retailers for distribution, she started gaining fans and retail placement, becoming available in over 100 locations. The immense support she received in Hawaii pushed her to look into expansion options, and soon thereafter she met Boulder Food Group who took a chance on the brand very early on and supported its growth to the mainland. The Southern California Whole Foods locations was the first major retailer to carry the OHi Superfood Bars outside of Hawaii and spurred Anderson’s dream forward. In order to grow the brand, she and her husband moved to Los Angeles and she worked with the Boulder Food Group to rebrand the original bRAW line to OHi Food Co., relaunching the company in January of 2018. Currently, OHi Food Co. is quickly gaining traction with retailers nationwide and expanding their consumer base with every bite. OHi in Hawaiian means “To Gather” and in Maori means “To Rise, To Elevate.” Anderson strongly believes that their company mission is in their brand name. To elevating those around us through simple food and simple kindness, so we can all rise, all shine, all thrive! She is on a mission to provide nourishment for consumers, our ‘Ohana’ (family), by always being conscious and transparent. Whether working with retailers, promoting the brand, or developing new innovations, Anderson takes pride in keeping the company true to the founding vision and commitments. The current line of five bars includes: best-selling Coconut Macadamia, Almond Crunch, Super Green, and Double Chocolate — with the newest Peanut Butter bar debuting in September 2018. All varieties are a great source of plant protein and good fats, combined with nourishing superfoods. The whole line is non-GMO project verified, predominantly Paleo, low glycemic, and free of grains, soy, refined sugars, and dairy. Each offering is also certified vegan and gluten-free. When Anderson is not expanding her company, she enjoys spending time outdoors and practicing yoga. She lives in Los Angeles where she is learning to enjoy surfing in a wet suit! Anderson is looking forward to eventually returning to Hawaii and becoming a mentor to other small business owners in order to repay all of the support she received during the early days of OHi.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
It’s been a journey, that’s for sure! I started off as a chiropractor, and saw first hand how so many people could become ill from the stressful lives they lead and the foods they eat. I travelled extensively for work and was eating a ton of ‘nutrition’ bars but my health had never been worse. I realized how much people needed simple convenient on-the-go nutrition as an easy way to simplify their lives. I vowed to create something to help people eat whole foods everyday without sacrificing taste or convenience. That was how OHi Superfood Bars were born!
According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?
Wow — I am thinking it is much higher now! No it has not always been this way. We’ve never been more interconnected and disconnected at the same time through all this technology. I feel this technology lends itself to inefficient multi-tasking and feelings of being rushed or overwhelmed. It’s amazing how much life (and your mind) slows down when you become present in it and put down the phone, computer, TV, IG, FB. It really requires a conscious effort to “turn off” — whether that be through going into nature, hanging out with a friend, or mediation. I’m a huge fan of meditation and make it a priority to sit for at least 15 minutes when I first wake up each morning.
Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?
When I feel rushed, I feel stressed. It seems I always make more mistakes when I’m rushed, and having to go back and fix those mistakes takes me more time then proper planning would have. When we feel rushed or stressed we don’t have the time to make genuine personal connections and value the people in our lives. Research and my own personal experience has shown that meaningful relationships are one of the most important factors that lead to happy, fulfilling, purpose driven lives. It’s hard to eat healthy when we’re rushed and always on the go. You don’t always have time to cook or stop for a nourishing meal and this can greatly affect your ability to be productive, be healthy, be happy. Having personally experienced this led me to the vision for what became OHi Superfood Bars!
On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?
When we’re stressed, work can seem overwhelming — like there’s a never-ending to-do list! It can be hard even to know where to start and you spend all your energy worrying instead of doing. When I slow down, focus on my breathing, become more present as I work, suddenly life seems a little easier, more manageable. The calls I need to make go more smoothly, I manage to get more done, work doesn’t seem so draining. Slowing down and remembering what’s important not only helps me get more done it also helps me be a better person. To me, that strongly ties in with the vision of OHi Food Co — to help nourish people so they can be their best selves and elevate others through simple kindness.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
Meditation — especially at the start of my day always helps me connect to myself. When I do not, I find that I jump out of bed, look at my phone and my heart and mind are off to the races.
Take quality time away from the stress — we don’t have quantity so make it count! Really unplug, remove yourself from the day to day
Be with friends, be with those who are present with you, have space for you, make space for them
Participating in a fun, inspiring, fill you up activity that helps you become single minded, focused on the now, brings joy
Work Out! For me its yoga, walking and surfing
Being in nature, walk on the beach, hike and really “untry” to be present. Try walking meditations!
*Its amazing when you leave space between your thoughts what thoughts come!
How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?
Its creating space for ourselves, to see, feel, to think, to react, to be.
Its always there, always available to us,
I like to think of mindfulness as being “proactive” rather than “reactive”.
Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?
This is the most difficult part of mindfulness! Many know, including myself they would be better off doing it, but its another thing to hold yourself to it. I recommend starting small, anything we do no matter how small we can bring mindfulness to it — washing the dishing, brushing our teeth, playing with our dog. I carve out 5–10 mins a day for a mindfulness activity — even just getting out of the house for a walk. I was told once that every time we realize we are not being mindful is an opportunity to become mindful J
Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?
I like to scheduled reminders on my daily calendar to take a minute to breath, to bring focus back to my breathe, to be mindful even for a minute! There are numerous breathing activities one can do with very little effort. Sometimes I will do a headstand especially if I am feeling drained and I have a mantra I always do a few minutes before a phone call or a big decision. This brings awareness — allows me to move forward with space, calmness and clarity.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices
Adyashanti is my favorite teacher, resource, has a podcast, longtime teacher https://www.adyashanti.org/
Eckhart Tolle — A New Earth Book
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would inspire people to be kinder to themselves and to take care of others. To be mindful of our thoughts we have towards ourselves and towards others. To be mindful of the harm our thoughts, words and actions can inflict onto ourselves and others. We can be the most harmful to ourselves through our own internal dialogue.
I do believe in simple kindness. I feel the answers are not complicated but they are hard. I try to remember that we are all trying to do the best we can.
Thank you for these great insights!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.