“I believe that knowledge is power, and people need to be equipped to understand how to look at the nutrition fact panel and ingredient list to make better eating choices.”
I believe that people are here in order to make a bigger impact in the world — and with my book, ‘Make an Impact’, I had the chance to prove that hundreds of people are using their influence to improve other people’s lives.
As the founder of the Health Bloggers Community, my mission is to support people with growing their passion into a business — and so many women are building businesses empires all over the world.
This series is a chance to spotlight some of these women.
Erica and Stephanie are both moms on the go. When they couldn’t shake the feeling that the snacks they were eating were either healthy or tasty — never both, Erica and Stephanie set out to create a bar that put taste first while also featuring real ingredients.
They also have taken a stance to “pay it forward” to other female entrepreneurs by focusing on hiring women with equal pay, working with vendors that are female-founded, female owned or where women have equal representation in those companies.
Hello Erica and Stephanie, thank you for joining us! Could you please share with us when it all began?
EG — In a time where the protein aisle is crowded with products full of lengthy and questionable ingredients, one of my big goals for TRUWOMEN was to make it easier for shoppers to feel proud choosing our products and sharing them with others.
Throughout all our R&D, we committed ourselves to remain 100% vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and free of sugar alcohols. Although it would’ve been much easier to use ingredients that are not Plant Based, I am so pleased that we stayed disciplined in perfecting our indulgences to take on the flavor profiles of the most iconic desserts, using only clean ingredients.
SP — Before founding TRUWOMEN, I would often eat a chalky protein bar only to have my stomach in knots from the conglomeration of low-quality ingredients like whey and sugar alcohols. Inspired by how underserved women are in the protein space, I wanted to create a snack that women feel proud to eat and share.
Although TRUWOMEN products have this female-focused origin story, they don’t have any gender-specific ingredients making them the perfect snack to share with men and kids. It is truly an honor to lead a company that meets the needs and wants of women through tangible products, and that creates a platform to empower women in pursuing their passions.
I’ve learned that my “nos” allow me to say “yes” to other things.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
EG — Of course, everyone’s wellness journey is unique, but for me, there are a few key things that really make a difference in my wellbeing. Wellness to me is a connection of mind, body, and soul, and I think each part plays an integral role in staying healthy. To nurture a healthy mind, one of my lifestyle tweaks is taking time to meditate daily. People are often very intimidated by meditation, but it doesn’t have to take long to be effective. Some days, I only have time to get in five minutes, and that alone really helps me to stay centered throughout my day.
To take care of my body, I make sure that to take time for physical activity daily. Not only does it feel amazing to get moving, but a good sweat also releases any stress build up. To take care of my soul, I make sure that I am intentionally investing in my relationships. Whether that be family or friendships, I feel best when I spend quality time with those who mean the most to me.
SP — When talking about my wellness journey, I think it’s so important to acknowledge that what works for me may not work for everyone else. I should also mention that I’ve had to adapt my routine throughout various seasons of life. However, there are a few consistent lifestyle tweaks that I’ve incorporated throughout the years. The first is that I always drink copious amounts of water! Our bodies are comprised of between 50–60% water, and the unique properties in water play vital roles in the function of our organs. Beyond that, I feel much more energized and experience less brain fog when I am hydrated.
A second lifestyle tweak I make a priority is to carve out an hour a day for myself. Some days, this means I wake up an hour early to go to the gym, and others it means that while my children are at school take an hour to check things off my to-do list so that they don’t pile up.
I am a firm believer that you must first take care of yourself before you can take care of others! The last thing I really stand behind is not being afraid to say no! This one took me a while to learn because there are always so many different events both personally and professionally that I used to feel obligated to show up to.
However, I’ve learned that my “nos” allow me to say “yes” to other things. For instance, I may have to say no to attending a friend of a friend’s get together, but it means I get to say yes to ordering in food and watching movies with my family. I think we forget that we have choices and that it is okay to opt out!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
EG — One time I was on an airplane, and as I usually do, I packed myself a cookie dough TRUWOMEN bar to snack on. Mid-flight, I went to unwrap my bar only to have a girl two seats down from me, lean over and say “omg, those bars are my favorite!”. It was the first time that someone completely random in an unusual setting had expressed a love for the brand, and it was one of the most special encounters.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting?
EG — When TRUWOMEN was first shaping up, I let a lot of high-level executives make fundamental decisions for the company, even when it overrode what I believed to be best for the brand. It didn’t take long for me to realize that despite not having traditional experience in the industry, my lens on the protein space and my passion for the brand lends great value.
SP — During the ground stages of TRUWOMEN, a mistake I made was taking everyone’s opinion to heart. Although I am a huge advocate of feedback, I remember multiple times where we were given pushback, and I immediately started to re-engineer our strategy. This reactionary response took me away from putting my energy towards the momentum that we created and was often extremely inefficient.
Over time I’ve learned how to process critique, and for times where it seems fitting, I will explore alternative approaches further without making any immediate decisions.
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
EG — As soon as I began to let my point of view be a guiding force, I began to have confidence in my decision making. I genuinely believe that if you have passion, perseverance will follow, and with those two ingredients, you are capable of anything.
SP — Not holding everyone’s opinion as universal truth freed me up from feeling like there is one way to go about running a business. It has shown me that while opinions are helpful and evolving is necessary to remain relevant; you cannot uproot a strategy based on one negative piece of feedback. There are so many routes to achieve success, and there is truly no right way!
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
It was really my mission to make it so that more people could enjoy delicious foods, while also getting the nutritious value that their bodies crave.
EG — Prior to starting TRUWOMEN, I have always been deeply involved in the health and wellness community. I’m a maven when it comes to spotting health trends, workout concepts and consumable goods. However, with more knowledge comes more responsibility, and I began having great difficulty ignoring the gaps I spotted specifically in the food market.
We’ve seen such a great increase in alternatives that allow persons with food restrictions to enjoy more, but such a lack of quality and transparency in ingredients. It was really my mission to make it so that more people could enjoy delicious foods, while also getting the nutritious value that their bodies crave.
SP — Like I previously stated, health and wellness are subjective, and everyone has their own unique needs. However, I am proud that TRUWOMEN provides healthier choices to those around the world. For many individuals who do not live in a major metropolitan city, they don’t have access to the same quality of produce and packaged goods as those who do. I am passionate about leveling out this disparity by giving more options via e-commerce channels that champion delicious taste and real, simple ingredients.
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?
EG — I think I speak for both Stephanie and me when I say that our husbands have played critical roles in our professional development. As businessmen, who have both worked hard for their success, they gave us the confidence to build TRUWOMEN despite not knowing all the pieces to start the brand. Throughout our journey, they have continually supported each step giving us resources, insight, and belief in our capabilities.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
EG — If I could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, it would be a push to increase education unpacking ingredient labels. The deeper I’ve dived into the health and wellness industry, the more I’ve realized that the general population doesn’t know how to evaluate packaged foods properly.
I believe that knowledge is power, and people need to be equipped to understand how to look at the nutrition fact panel and ingredient list to make better eating choices.
SP — If I could start a movement to bring about the most amount of wellness, it would be to encourage an influx of more plant-based options across the nation.
I live in Denver, which is considered a major city, and yet we still are underserved in the amount of healthy options. I can quickly list off five spots to get artisanal pizza, but only one or two that offer a healthy salad or vegan burger. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good pizza, and I am by no means exclusively plant-based, but I think having access to healthier choices is where we need to start when approaching achieving wellness for the masses.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
EG — Although TRUWOMEN is a new venture, I’ve already seen its reach go far beyond just our products. It’s given me a platform to connect with other women and to use our influence to elevate their businesses.
SP — It’s been my goal since the first talk of what the mission behind TRUWOMEN would be that we use our influence to do good. And with each step, we’ve kept that goal close to heart.
We are continually using our social platforms to connect with people across the world and introduce them to our healthier alternatives that they can get shipped to them with ease.
Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be?
EG — UGH. It’s so hard to narrow down the amazing women in the health and wellness industry. I really admire Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop, her female female-focused health and wellness company. I think it’s so important that women have access to tools to live healthier lives, and I respect her for her dedication to offering resources that help readers make better choices. I also really look up to Jessica Alba, founder of the Honest Company. I think it’s so respectable that she has used her personal empire and passions to create a business that focuses on giving mother’s ethical and safe products to make better choices for their families.
SP — A huge girl-crush of mine in the wellness industry is Cameron Diaz. Despite all her fame and pressure to present herself as seemingly perfect, she has remained authentic and relatable. Beyond that, she emphasizes the beauty that exudes from a person who is comfortable in their skin. The Body Book, her #1 New York Times bestseller, is something that I think every woman should read and really internalize.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
EG — Environmental change is a hot topic that I stand behind. Especially living in Miami, I see firsthand the effects of environmental carelessness and believe that we really need to take strides to be better keepers of the earth. This cause has been so heavy on my heart, that the next product line we roll out at TRUWOMEN will have 100% plant-based packaging so that recycling is possible!
SP — I second Erica that environmental change is the biggest topic at the moment, or at least it should be. Just like how our bodies react to what we put in them, the earth responds to how we treat it. And, it’s clearly unhappy with our behavior! I am a big believer that we need to take responsibility for environmental distress and act before it’s too late because we truly have the future of our planet in our hands.
What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started”?
SP — For so long, I believed that I couldn’t have both a thriving personal and professional life. When it came time to have kids, I began to sense polarity between work and family, ultimately leading me to dedicate myself to raising kids fully. Once the seed to found TRUWOMEN was planted, I began to clearly see the opportunity and the reward in putting my mind to both. It was at this time that I committed myself to rid the notion that I had to choose between career, or family and the combination of striving for excellence in both categories became my secret superpower.
EG — It’s so easy to fall into the trap that you must have all your ducks in a row before starting, and that is just not true. I soon learned that I just need to begin and focus on putting one foot in front of another. I now see that no matter the grand plan I craft, because of culture, logistics, and so many other moving elements, it creates less tension to just start and let ideas naturally evolve.
Are you looking to connect with Erica and Stephanie? Make sure to follow @TRUWOMEN on Instagram
Fab Giovanetti is a business mentor, published author, influencer-specialist, best known as the founder of the Health Bloggers Community and co-founder of the Register of Health and Wellness Influencers. Serial start-up founder and professional troublemaker, she is obsessed with avocados and helping people making an impact in health and wellness. Sounds like you? Get daily tips on how to grow your influence via the HBC magazine.