When you meet this mama-to-be it’s virtually impossible not to get swept up in her enthusiasm for food and the positive impact it can make on your life. Danielle Duboise and her childhood best friend Whitney Tingle both struggled with health issues and it wasn’t until they started to experiment with their diet did they see dramatic results and the idea for Sakara Life was born. Now, the two are on a mission to inspire people to use food as medicine and say goodbye to fad diets and hello to living your best life. The brand has exploded since they first started delivering their clean, organic meals via bicycle in 2011 and have now delivered millions of meals to all 48 Continental United States. They count Gwyneth (yes, Paltrow) as a fan, have been featured in every major publication from Oprah to the New York Times and have been named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List (no biggie). We caught up with Danielle to find out more about her companies insane growth, what it’s like to work with her best friend and her thoughts on becoming a mama, read on…
We love that Sakara Life was a product of your own personal journey with food. Tell us more about your background and how Sakara Life got started.
Whitney and I are from the spiritual mecca of Sedona, Arizona and grew up understanding the power of food as medicine. We both moved to NYC for different reasons— Whitney worked on Wall Street and I was pre-med— and had hit our rock bottoms. We were dealing with illness, cystic acne, damaging body image and an overall disconnect between ourselves and our potential to feel amazing. We began by trying to heal each other, through high- quality and organic plants, leafy greens, healthy fats and powerful nutrition. Once we felt the transformation of eating this way and how it affected every facet of our lives, we realized we needed to help impact and change others’ lives, and Sakara was birthed. I changed my track from pre-med to nutrition, and we would make our meals and deliver meals to friends on bikes. Now, we have thousands of clients in 48 continental states, work with incredible farms and Michelin-starred chefs, and create the most nutritious meals on the planet. We help to educate clients on the power of food as medicine, and through the Sakara nutrition protocol, are able to change lives in a delicious, dreamy way. We don’t make it tough and boring and “diet”-like; we seduce people into eating their vegetables.
You’ve seduced us! Your meals are delicious! What was your first hire when you were starting out? What advice do you have for mamas with companies that need to scale quickly?
The first hire is always scary but I push some of the women I mentor to hire before they’re ready. It will force you to start looking at your start up as a “real” business and treat it accordingly. We hired someone before we could even pay ourselves. It helped set the pace and made us all accountable to one another. Every business is different, but many that are in very early stages need people that can wear many hats and juggle a huge variety of tasks. Find someone that’s young, hungry and attracted to your mission.
That’s great advice. You and your co-founder Whitney are best friends from childhood. Do you have any words of wisdom for starting a business with a friend?
It’s been such a blessing to be on this journey with someone I love and trust so deeply. Trust is key. Make sure you’re aligned on what you both want from the business before you start, never take anything personally and always have your friend’s happiness in mind, not just the success of the business.
How does each of your roles differ within the company?
The truth is, it depends on the day. You have to be fluid, flexible and willing to take on new things or give away projects you may have loved working on. Things move too quickly to get too attached to one role or the other.
Take us back to you delivering your food on a bicycle. What was the moment where you thought, “This could be huge.”?
We knew from day one that there was a need because we were our clients. We struggled to eat well and maintain any sense of balance and living the Sakara Life was the only thing that helped us transform our bodies and our lives. That transformation put us on this huge mission. There was never one moment, rather a series of reminders, that we were on the right path.
Did you and Whitney experience any push back or roadblocks in the early days because you were women?
Absolutely. We still do. It comes with the territory but we don’t let it get us down or hold us back. We’re on a mission that feels too important to let fade because of politics.
We’re all about our tribe. What has been the biggest lesson learned in working with other women?
Women are the most amazing jugglers in the universe. I’ve learned so much from having mothers on our team. I’ve watched women become mothers while working here and it’s been such a blessing to witness. They work harder and smarter than anyone else while still having time to be amazing mothers and it’s so motivating.
Your branding is incredible. Have there been many iterations of your brand identity or did you know from the beginning how you wanted to market it?
Thank you! We knew we wanted wellness to be able to speak to the modern woman. At the time, eating well was still associated with Birkenstocks and tie dye. We wanted it to be sexy and fashion forward so it would seduce the world into this lifestyle.
You are currently 7 months pregnant – congrats! What are you most excited about becoming a mama? What is making you most nervous?
I’m most excited to witness her journey and learn from her. I can feel how wise she is already. I’m not really nervous about anything, just a little anxious about all the unknowns, but I’ve learned that motherhood is full of them. I’m just trying to remember to surrender and find my grace and gratitude.
How has your routine changed since becoming pregnant?
It hasn’t really. I dye my hair less often and don’t do as many manicures, but overall I didn’t really have to change much. I love clean beauty, and feel more grateful than ever to have Sakara supporting me and my baby-to-be; nutrition has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Oh, and morning stretches are now a must!
What 3 things would you recommend women consume when pregnant?
Eat 8 cups of leafy greens every single day, take fermented cod liver oil and drink high quality, clean water.
Do you see any healers, fitness gurus or guides? If so, who do you see and how often do you go?
Yes! I’m grateful to have found the healers I love and trust. I see an acupuncturist, an herbalist and a rolfer. I also see fellow HEYMAMA, Erika Bloom for Pilates every week. She’s changed the way I think about my body and I’m so grateful to her for helping me navigate fitness and pregnancy.
If there was one thing that you could encourage women to do to take better care of themselves, what would it be?
If I had one wish for women, especially mothers to be, it would be to find and prioritize the things that help you feel tapped into your intuition. All the knowledge we need, we already have. We know it all., but it gets clouded and muted by outside forces and stress. Finding our inner voice and guide is the most powerful and nourishing thing we can do for ourselves.
What’s next for Sakara?
This has been one of the most exciting years of growth not just for myself, but for Sakara. We recently launched our all-in-one nutrition powder, Life Source, that I’m personally thrilled to have in my regimen. This powder heals your gut with digestive enzymes, provides you with focus and energy thanks to nootropics like B12 and L-theanine, and loves on your skin with phytoceramides, which help support collagen production. Plus, there’s 12g of protein and alkalizing greens so you’re sneaking in those critical phytonutrients as well. It’s divine with simply a banana and nut milk, and some healthy fat like avocado or coconut oil. The powder will be a part of one of our most exciting launches ever, the 10 day Reset. It’s a kit filled with 7 wellness essentials and 20 exclusive recipes so that you can live your Sakara Life, in your own rhythm. It’s a kit with all of Sakara’s greatest hits, and each component will transform your health, heal your gut, balance your hormones, improve your skin, beat bloat, and nourish you in a healing, delicious way. When we created Sakara we set out to change people’s lives and help them feel their best and brightest, and it’s been a blessing to expand our offering so that our message of healing and empowering others can reach as many as possible.