Danielle DuBoise and Whitney Tingle are the founders and co-CEOs of Sakara Life, a wellness company providing the tools necessary to achieve optimal health and vitality. Sakara’s proprietary nutrition program is based on nine science-backed Pillars of Nutrition and inspired by DuBoise and Tingle’s own personal journeys from stressed-out, deprived and imbalanced to vibrant, nourished and thriving. Sakara has helped thousands of people across the country reap the life-changing benefits of food as medicine for improved microbiome health, anti-aging and beauty from the inside out. DuBoise and Tingle became best-selling authors with the launch of the first Sakara cookbook in 2019, EAT CLEAN PLAY DIRTY, and have been honored in Oprah’s SuperSoul 100, Forbes’ 30 under 30, and MindBodyGreen’s 100 Women in Wellness. Born and raised in Sedona, Whitney and Danielle stay true to their Arizona roots while living and working in NYC and Miami.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
Danielle DuBoise and Whitney Tingle: For us it’s always been about solving a real problem. It started as solving a problem for ourselves —skin, health and gut issues— and then grew into sharing that solution with others. We like to say it was turning our mess into our mission. Entrepreneurship to us means taking what we learned along our own journeys, and sharing it to be in service to others.
Tell us about your first experience with entrepreneurship.
DB & WT: We knew when we started Sakara that there were others out there facing a problem similar to ours: how can you eat well and prioritize your health in a world that doesn’t offer healthy food or the time to prepare it? Ten years ago, at the beginning, we were met with a lot of people who didn’t believe that anyone would want healthy food delivered—only pizza. But we knew that we had to stay true to our mission, help those who had the same frustrations, and share the meals and nutrition plans that truly made us feel our best. We hosted a dinner party to raise money— it was $700, which was a lot to ask of our circle at the time. We invested that $700 in order to make the next $700 and kept growing from there.
What is your company’s origin story? What is the biggest reason you started your business? What did those early days look like and teach you?
DB & WT: We created Sakara not as a business, but as a solution to our own personal health concerns, from eating and gut disorders to hormonal cystic acne. We had tried everything from acupuncture to Accutane and so many fad diets, but nothing actually helped. It was only when we discovered that putting nutrition first—not focusing on calorie counting or quick fixes, but actually seeking out foods that nourished our bodies—that we unlocked a way to heal for good. We developed our Pillars of Nutrition, which inform and inspire every meal we make to this day, and started to spread the word. At the beginning we were bicycling around NYC to deliver the meals ourselves, and now we have a fantastic team (our Kitchen Teams on both coasts and the Sakara HQ team) who work every day in service of our mission to transform lives. Those early days taught us to always focus on our mission, and to stay grounded in the “why” that powers our whole team.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
DB & WT: One of the most important things we’ve learned over the years is just how important it is to invest in and learn how to be great leaders. We are so grateful to have a team who believes in and works in service of our mission, and our goal each day is to inspire and lift them up. It’s been an incredible journey to co-create the business with everyone on our team, and to learn and grow together.
What does “success” look like for you? We’d love to hear your biggest, boldest dream? What do you think will help you achieve it?
DB & WT: Our mission is to transform lives, and to help as many people as possible be in the driver’s seat of their own health. For us “success” means creating a joyful and inspired community and a global movement toward optimal health, vitality, and well-being. It’s a big dream but one we all believe in.
What is your superpower as an entrepreneur?
DB & WT: Great question! If you asked our team and board, they would probably say it’s that we balance knowing how to dream and set a very clear mission that drives our innovation and culture, while also being able to remain humble and focused on profitability and a sustainable path to our long-term goals.
What are your personal driving principals, your top values?
DB & WT: Being in service to others is a core personal value for both of us. It goes back to how Sakara came to be—that we wanted to share with others the solution to our own challenges, so that they could overcome their own challenges and live happier and healthier lives. In a bigger sense, that’s about transformation: how can we empower others to transform their lives, based on the ways that we’ve transformed our own?
Another top value for us personally and Sakara as a whole is rooting everything we do in science. That applies to our business (making decisions based in our numbers to drive continuous growth) and to our meals and products. Our clients’ health and well-being is our top priority, so everything we do is informed by science and the product of our work with nutritionists, doctors, and the members of our Sakara Science Council.
How have your personal principles and values shaped your company’s values and principles? Give us some examples.
DB & WT: As founders, our personal principles became Sakara’s. We are in service to this mission and these values.
- SCIENCE + SPIRIT
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners?
DB & WT: We grew up together in Sedona, Arizona and have been friends for most of our lives, and then built the business together in our 20s in New York. While we’ve occasionally had to work alone (for instance if one of us was on maternity leave), we really value working with each other and feel that our best work happens together. We each bring a different perspective to decisions but are aligned on our mission.
Do you have a mentor? Tell us about what makes them valuable to you and your business?
DB & WT: Our board members are our mentors. We invited them on for that reason. They share our vision, serve as our inspiration, and support us and our team as we grow as a company.
What role does mentorship play in your world (as a mentor or mentee)?
DB & WT: As entrepreneurs, it’s very important to us to share support and lift up other mission-driven companies and individuals. We instill a spirit of entrepreneurship in our company, and encourage our team to take ownership of decisions and projects and to bring creativity to their work. Bringing that spirit to our team overall helps us tap into our own senses of creativity and ownership, so we can approach challenges in an innovative and inspired way.
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day?
DB: Right now I’m really into making my own latte with our Metabolism Powder. I make my own almond and coconut milk, use a frother and combine milk and Metabolism Powder so it’s frothy, then pour over a cup of coffee.
WT: I’m dedicated to taking my Sakara Complete Probiotic Formula, every day, first thing in the morning. 70% of the immune system is in the gut, so in the colder months it’s even more of a priority now to make sure I take it daily. With 11 different types of beneficial bacteria to balance the gut microbiome, it is critical for immune support, as well as skin support.
What are you reading or have read? Where do you go for inspiration?
DB: I’m currently deep in the scientific literature on functional medicine and human nutrition– understanding the impact of not just macronutrients but the quality of food in our biology. I’m also reading Mary Oliver’s Devotions and David Deida’s Dear Lover.
Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, or words of wisdom to get through the tough days?
DB & WT: At Sakara we practice “lightwork,” which is the ritual of putting our actions behind the things that help crack us open and shine our brightest lights. That can look like many things: sometimes it’s reaching out to someone who you might not ordinarily thank to tell them how much they mean to you. Other times it could mean showing yourself love even on a day when you really don’t feel like it. Coming back to lightwork and challenging ourselves in those ways, especially on tough days, is a really helpful tool for checking in with ourselves and trusting in our own lights.
What is a problem that keeps you up at night?
DB & WT: Something extremely close to our personal and professional missions is the state of chronic disease in this country. Chronic disease is currently responsible for seven in ten deaths each year—and most can be prevented by making health diet and lifestyle choices. Doctors and the larger society are just beginning to embrace preventative measures for chronic and lifestyle diseases, which we are so glad to see. Sakara has been on the forefront of this mission for over a decade, and we are actively empowering people with the tools and free educational resources they need to be able to make decisions that benefit their long-term health and vitality.
How do you think about helping others through your work?
DB & WT: We created Sakara to put people in the driver’s seat of their own health, and to empower them to make decisions that will transform their lives for the better. It comes back to turning our mess into our mission. We discovered that nourishing with a plant-rich diet was the tool that transformed our own health, and ever since then it’s been our mission to bring that life-changing nutrition to others.
What advice do you have for fellow (and aspiring) entrepreneurs building and leading teams?
DB & WT: It’s so important to be clear in your mission, stay focused on the problem you’re solving for your clients, and always be grounded in that purpose. No matter what happens (and especially as the world continues to change at an incredibly fast pace!) you’ll always be able to come back to your why, and find your path forward.
What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as – as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
DB & WT: At the beginning, we just wanted to transform one person’s life. Now, over a decade later, we’ve heard countless stories from our clients all over the country, who have told us about their personal transformations and how Sakara has helped them get there. We also see the impact of our partnership with Wellness in the Schools—a national nonprofit that empowers the next generation to experience the power of nutrition—which, most recently, we worked with to bring ten new plant-rich meals to select New York City public schools. It all comes back to transforming lives: We’re known today for transforming lives, and we want our legacy to be transforming millions more.
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