How Sakara Life Changed Everything You Thought About Food
In Collaboration with Bobbi Brown.
noun / Trail·blaz·er / |‘trālˌblāzər/|
a person who makes a new track through wild country, a pioneer; an innovator.
They (whoever ‘they’ are) say that mornings are important, because they set the tone for the rest of your day. For that reason, we’ve become obsessed with discovering the nitty gritty of successful women’s morning routines—do they start by hitting the gym? Hitting the snooze button? Meditation? A copy of The New York Times? What lipstick do they reach for when they need to feel like they can take on the world? In collaboration with Bobbi Brown, we’re spotlighting a few of our favorite women (& very familiar faces) who’ve actually earned the title trailblazer, and taking a closer look at how they start with their days.
Danielle DuBoise is a trailblazer. Like Emily Oberg, DuBoise has a 9-5 that would seem completely alien to our grandparents. Through this, she’s up and and changed the entire food industry and how some New Yorkers consume food on a daily basis. DuBoise and her business partner Whitney Tingle are the co-founders behind ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ organic food delivery service, Sakara Life. Which basically takes the guesswork out of healthy eating out by delivering good-for-you vegetarian meals straight to your door—so there’s no debating about where your food came from or what’s in it and you know that it’s doing your body good. As Danielle and Whitney say, it's food that makes you look and feel sexy.
What’s even more, and what really sets Sakara Life apart, is the story of how two girls from Arizona turned their own personal struggles into a multi-million dollar business (yes, you read that right). Danielle struggled with body image issues since a young age and yo-yo dieted to the point of hospitalization. Whitney had similar struggles working 24/7 on Wall Street where stress, cystic acne and poor food ran high. Instead of giving up, they took it as a sign to learn everything they could about nutrition to create cleaner lifestyles, and thus Sakara Life was born. We think it’s pretty awesome, and as friend of the brand, we were happy to hang out with Danielle at their Soho offices for an afternoon, talking about how they found their place in the wellness market (minus the Birkenstocks and peace signs), her daily makeup look, and why sometimes you should just have the chocolate cake and martini.
How hitting rock bottom isn’t always the worst:
“My business partner, Whitney [Tingle] and I grew up together in Sedona, Arizona. It’s a super hippie, new-age spiritual town, people go there from all over the world for its healing powers, there’s tons of raw foodists—it’s just a crazy place to grow up. We parted ways for college—I studied pre-med, Whitney came to New York City after college. We each sort of had our own journeys around food, she was working on Wall Street with crazy hours, bad food, too much drinking which made her gain a bunch of weight and also made her cystic acne really bad. She went to all these dermatologists and they were prescribing, pills, antibiotics and Accutane. None of it worked, and she needed another solution. For me, it was body image issues I had been dealing with since high school. I started dieting at a really young age, you have really high highs, and really low lows because diets are so restrictive that you usually get some form of a result, but then you can’t maintain them. Then come the low lows. I literally tried every diet you could think of: I’ve been a vegan, raw foodist, I’ve counted points and calories and done the master cleanse for 20 days. I got really really sick from my last yoyo diet and I ended up in the hospital. It was no surprise, it was a water fast at a retreat, seven days of just water. I was really sick and it scared me into realizing that I had a real issue and food had become an enemy, it was no longer about nourishment, it was all about calories.”
“It was the only thing that cleared her skin and that really helped me understand that food is medicine.”
“My ‘aha’ moment’ happened in the hospital. I had to change my relationship with myself and food. I wanted to look at food as nourishment again, as a tool to feel like my best self instead of as an enemy. Instead of going to med school, I finished biochem and studied nutrition. This was the perfect storm because Whitney was peaking at her job. too. So we dedicated at least a year of our lives to studying everything from Eastern to Western modalities of health, to the microbiome and epigenetics and what exactly makes a healthy lifestyle. We came up with twelve pillars of nutrition, it wasn’t a business, it was just for our own sake. Then we created a meal plan for each other based on those pillars. Eating that way completely changed our lives. It was the only thing that cleared her skin and for me, that really helped me understand that food is medicine.
“Your relationship with food reflects your relationship with yourself and how worthy you feel of nourishment, so it wasn’t too hard from there to understand that that was our entire mission. To help other people understand that power of food as medicine. Our food system in the US is really messed up, political, and run by people who aren’t looking out for our health. We had an opinion and a solution, we could have done a cookbook or a blog, but we’d read all the cookbooks and blogs and they didn’t help us, we knew that we needed to deliver the solution right to people's doors. So that’s what we did, we put all our money together and started with $700. Whitney would come over in the morning, we’d cook, then we’d get on our bicycles and deliver it all ourselves. And that’s how Sakara Life started in 2012. We now we have 80 employees and deliver hundreds of thousands of meals.”
What empowers her to keep going:
“When we started, we didn’t have our business minds on, we had our intuitive brains on. Our mission was so much bigger than building a business, being successful or making a living. Our mission is what drove us to make the decisions to keep going. There were plenty of times it was hard, we didn’t know if we could turn this into a business but then we’d get an email from someone saying we they were dealing with lupus, cancer, or infertility and our food saved their life. When you get emails like that you think, how could I do anything else? It’s not about us or our success, it’s about making sure we’re staying true to our mission that’s so much bigger than us.
“The Sakara Life clients empower me. I never feel like I’m selling anything, I almost feel as though I’m gifting this thing that helped changed my life and I just want to help people change their life, too. Being mission driven and being a business woman empowers me every single day.”
Embracing her femininity in a male dominated world:
“Until we raised our first round of financing, I don’t think I understood that I was a woman in business. You forget but then you go out into the business world and it’s full of men who would ask us who would manage our money, and we’d remind them that we just turned $700 into a multi-million dollar business. There still isn’t equality.
“Understanding the feminine aspect of being a businesswoman, that there are superpowers that you have that a man just doesn’t. Understanding where those are, where you can lean in is important, because I also don’t want to be a woman trying to be a man in a man’s world. I want to stay true to my female power in a man’s world. You have to be cognisant of that because it’s really easy to say, ‘I need to act more masculine and I’ll get more things done,’ I think there is a feminine way to do it.”
How she practices what she preaches every day:
“I’m all about balance, I’ll have martinis and chocolate cake when I want it. I eat Sakara every single day but if there’s a barbeque on a Friday, then that’s what I’m going to eat. It’s important that we didn’t make this a diet, we made it a lifestyle choice. You are what you do the majority of the time so when I’m eating clean the majority of the time, I feel like the best version of myself. Food should make you feel sexy, for the longest time it didn’t for me, it made me feel lethargic or angry, or guilty. If you eat something that makes you feel sexy then you know you’re on the right path, sometimes that might be the chocolate cake or martini, and that’s great.”
Her go-to makeup look:
“I definitely play up my eyebrows and I love highlighting with Bobbi Brown’s Pink Quartz Shimmer Brick. When you put on some sort of shimmer, you sort of glisten and you don’t really need a lot of makeup. Eyebrows and shimmer, some kind of lip stain in a dark berry or rose, and I’m good.”
How she keeps her mornings zen:
“I don’t look at my email or phone in the morning. If there’s a million calls and texts then there’s probably an emergency, but I don’t look at my email. I try and let my mornings be about some kind of moment in time where I pretend like the world isn’t crazy. I put on some music and take my time, I’m not a morning person so it’s really something that I’ve had to work towards.
"We get Sakara delivered to the house so I always drink my morning water. I don’t have a specific ritual, I just mosey about and take time because I know that every moment after I leave the house is going to be the exact opposite of that.”
Where she finds inspiration:
“Sakara is a hybrid between health and fashion so I definitely look at fashion for inspiration. We’re big fans of Moschino and Jeremy Scott. Whatever’s flashy, edgy and interesting, then we try and match that in the wellness world. People had this misconception for so long that you had to be a hippie in Birkenstocks in order to live a healthy life. So making sure that people understand that you can be a city girl and also live the well life is important.”
Tips for getting through the 3PM slump (without a handful of candy):
“That crash usually happens because either you’ve had a huge high-glycemic meal or you’re dehydrated. One thing we always say is that you shouldn’t drink your water, you should eat your water, so making sure that I’ve eaten enough hydration is how I prevent it. That’s what actually helps keep your cells hydrated for long. Making sure you’re getting enough greens and produce is key. If I really need it, I’ll have a cup of coffee, though.”
The best advice she's received:
“Learning that there are no rules. Reminding yourself that rules were made up by someone else so you can just make up your own rules. I think people try to keep you in a box of what’s possible because it’s what they’ve experienced, and you only know what you’ve experienced and that’s all you can ever share. Push yourself to be free of those chains and remember that anything is possible, especially when you’re mission driven. It’s so important to make your work not about you but about giving back in whatever way inspires you. To get to a place where you really get to share it on a big platform, you have to make up your own rules along the way.”