Have some intention behind your days. Make a schedule and to-do list to stay on track, but be sure not to over-schedule. Otherwise, you’ll end up burnt-out and feeling like a failure. Pick 5 little tasks, such as laundry, grocery shopping or writing a card to someone you love, and one big task to make your business life better. Maybe it’s studying and reaching out to a key account or scheduling and planning a podcast.
Amy Lacey, owner and founder of Cali’flour Foods, is a resilient leader in her many roles as entrepreneur, best-selling author, and autoimmune advocate. In 2010, Amy was diagnosed with Lupus, becoming one of 50 million+ people suffering from an autoimmune disease in the United States. No longer able to enjoy pizza night with her family, she set out to reimagine her favorite foods and created a no mess, no stress, cauliflower pizza crust to satisfy her cravings without sacrificing her health. Out of a mess, her message was born: healthy eating should taste as good as it makes you feel. Since then, Amy’s Cali’flour pizza crusts were selected as Clean Eating Magazine’s “Coolest New Find of 2017 & 2018” and named one of “Whoopi’s Favorite Things” on The View, along with being featured in major publications like Delish, Popsugar, CNBC, and Entrepreneur. Amy kicked off the new year by launching the National Best Selling Cookbook titled Cali’flour Kitchen: 125 cauliflower-based recipes for the carbs you crave. This is the first of many more amazing things to come in 2019!
Thank you so much for doing this with us Amy! What is your “backstory”?
After developing a blood clot in my lungs only to discover my body was attacking itself, I was diagnosed with Lupus and Sjogren’s. Throughout the next year of sickness, I was put on horrible medications like steroids, Warfarin and Plaquenil, all of which had terrible side effects. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to find a way to heal and change my life without them. This is when I looked to make adjustments to my diet, which wasn’t always easy or enjoyable.
Prior to being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, my family held ‘Friday Fun Night’, which always included pizza and games. However, I was unable to participate once I got sick. Determined to bring normalcy back into my routine, I began looking for a pizza recipe that was grain free and gluten free. Ultimately, I ended up creating a cauliflower pizza recipe that my entire family enjoyed and did not make me sick. After serving the cauliflower pizza to friends, family and clients, with a little encouragement, I decided to take it to the farmers market. From there, Cali’flour Foods was launched and has continued to grow ever since, becoming the number one pizza sold on Amazon.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
- Make time for yourself and incorporate the activities that bring you peace, joy, health etc. Maybe that’s in the form of meditation or simply a little quiet time (this was a life-changer for me). Turn these activities into habits if you can. For example, establish a routine of waking up at 6am to meditate, followed by exercise and a nutritious breakfast before beginning to tackle the day.
- Have some intention behind your days. Make a schedule and to-do list to stay on track, but be sure not to over-schedule. Otherwise, you’ll end up burnt-out and feeling like a failure. Pick 5 little tasks, such as laundry, grocery shopping or writing a card to someone you love, and one big task to make your business life better. Maybe it’s studying and reaching out to a key account or scheduling and planning a podcast.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people. Eliminate those who are toxic in your life. Even though it’s often painful, this is so necessary. Who you surround yourself with is who will ultimately influence you, so make them count. Think about who inspires you, who lifts you up, who is always there for you, etc.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Oh, there are so many interesting stories. Once I started to practice meditation I found myself implementing my thoughts and seeing them actually come to fruition. Some were pretty crazy, but I always felt guided to act. For example, when our business was really hurting and we weren’t bringing in money, I got down on my hands and knees (never have I done that) and I prayed for God to tell me what to do to make it work. During that prayer, I had a thought about sharing one of our client success stories. So, I did, and within three days that story went viral and the company went from negative 269 thousand to 5.3 million that year.
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?
While I was writing my latest cookbook and launching two new products, we had to update our labels, and I was the last person to sign off on it. I was so busy that I missed some errors on the nutrition profiles. We printed over $200,000 worth of packaging with the mistakes! Our customers quickly pointed out the error to us, and sales tanked and the harsh online reviews rolled in. Part of my team wanted to make an excuse for the error, but in the end, we decided to be transparent and own up to it through an apology email to our community. What I learned from this was that people appreciate honesty, and they do forgive. All you can do is move forward together.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Oh, this is an easy one. We only use fresh ingredients and our products are low-carb, gluten-free and grain-free, with no added sugars. Therefore, they’re diabetic-friendly, low-glycemic, anti-inflammatory and promote weight loss and overall health.
None of us are able to 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?
Yes! I have advisors and attorneys that have worked tirelessly alongside me in the middle of the night and on weekends. I am so grateful to them. I also have a team that is full of passion, the desire to pay it forward and love for me, the products and their teammates. Having a like-minded team like this has been an amazing blessing and the company would not be as successful as it is without them. With that said, the most important person who has been by my side since the beginning is Jimi, my Vice President of Retail Operations. Jimi is the one that prays with me, cries with me and has sacrificed family time, vacations and her own dreams to make this company successful. She is the first one I call at 6am every day with the exception of Sunday. She has traveled the world with me to continuously make this product better. She has lifted me up and literally been my angel for the last 3 years. Don’t get me wrong, we butt heads, and I don’t think it would be a true, authentic relationship if we didn’t, but some of our greatest success has come from doing so. She is my true partner in this company and I’m forever grateful to her!
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Cali’flour Foods is starting a ‘READ what you EAT’ campaign. People are so impressionable; especially these days living in such a digital world. I want consumers to read labels, make more informed decisions and, ultimately, eat cleaner products with fewer ingredients.
What is your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
I actually have 5 things I wish I had known the importance of before starting- our 5 P’s of success that we now use at Cali’flour Foods.
- Paying it forward: It’s important to have a humble and giving heart; being other-centered, rather than self-centered. I truly believe that the more you give the more you receive, and I’ve built my business around that mantra.
- Product: I’ve said it many times before that you have to be passionate about your product in order to find the grit it takes to be successful. Building a business isn’t easy, and it’s not always fun. But if you have the determination you’ll keep pushing through to the end. At Cali’flour Foods, we are so proud of the product we have made that we truly want it to be on every dinner table in America. It’s not for the money, but rather because it’s just plain good for you and we want to positively make an impact on lives!
- People: I believe that people and relationships are some of the most precious gifts we have in this life. Surround yourself with those that are like-minded to you and build one another up! Always surround yourself with people that know more than you do. I have done this in my business and it’s one of my favorite things about the group of people I have hired both internally and through external partnerships.
- Perseverance: When describing what it’s like to persevere as an entrepreneur and leader, I like to use the phrase, “there are a lot of highs and lows and not a lot in between”. It’s the best reminder to me to push through the lows because I know they are only temporary! And you must lean on the highs to carry you through the difficult times.
- Passion: If you are not 100% passionate about what you are doing, then move on. We are only here for a finite amount of time so there is no reason to waste your time and energy on something you don’t love. You have to believe in yourself and be willing to chase your dreams. I chose to make a message out of my mess and look where it has gotten me!
Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be?
Sarah Blakely from Spanx! She’s a mother of 4, industry innovator and inspiring leader.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
The topics of mental health and the environment are both dear to me. I do believe that you can alter your emotional state and cure things like depression and anxiety by changing your diet. So many foods, like sugar, for example, contribute to overall well being, and eating simple, clean ingredients can really make a huge difference. I want more people to know this.
I also believe that there’s significant room for improvement in regards to the foods we eat and the impact they have on the environment. There’s so much waste. I saw this firsthand starting out when I went to the manufacturing plant and saw HUGE garbage dumpsters filled with unused stems and leaves just being tossed ( I had always assumed we feed those to cows or chicken, but this wasn’t allowed). So, I decided to reformulate the product and use the entire head of cauliflower- stems, leaves, roots and all!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
They can follow along with Cali’flour Foods on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter at @califlourfoods! They can also follow my journey at @heyamylacey on Instagram.