Inspired by their Sedona upbringings, Sakara Co-founders Whitney Tingle and Danielle Duboise have created a lifestyle brand that has and always will be the bridge between hippie, spiritual living and fashion-forward city life. We chat turning mess into mission, using food as medicine, and the 'joy factor' of life.
Whitney and Danielle transformed their lives through the power of plant-based eating after making the decision to take their health and happiness into their own hands in 2011. They had each individually been struggling with a multitude of health issues, and decided there had to be a better way to heal. The duo launched their organic meal delivery service, Sakara Life, and have transformed thousands of lives through the power of food ever since.
Tell us a bit about how Sakara came to be.
D: Sakara did not start out as a business. We were both at our lowest points in the city— Whitney was on Wall Street, working unsustainable hours, eating poorly, and battling chronic cystic acne. I was struggling with my body image to the point where I landed in the hospital after a 21-day water and raw food fast. We both recognized we were so far from honoring and loving our bodies, and were consumed with not feeling well and out of sync. It was then that Whitney and I decided to turn our mess into our mission. We set out to not only heal our own health concerns, but to spread Sakara’s message of “food as medicine” to as many people as possible.
W: During that time, we voraciously read and spoke to healers, functional medicine doctors, herbalists, rabbis, gastroenterologists — and created the Sakara nutrition protocol. We didn't want to just hand people a manual; we wanted to provide them the tools to transform their lives through food as medicine. We began to make meals that encapsulated our pillars of nutrition, delivering to friends on bicycles. As we've grown exponentially, we've created a nutritionally-designed program to heal clients' microbiomes, adrenals, hormones, their relationship to food and their bodies, and hold space for a more fulfilling life. By gifting yourself the best nutrition on the planet, every other building block of your life gets better. We're examples of that.
Danielle, you just had your first baby—congrats! How are you finding the balance between running Sakara and motherhood?
D: There’s really no such thing as balance these days! I just do my best every day. Some days that means I do it all, some days I can’t, and that’s okay. But having an office culture that understands the challenges unique to working parents and offers flexibility and support in each individual’s attempt to create work-life balance has been invaluable.
I’d also say that becoming a mother has made me value time in a whole new way. So when I’m in the office, I’m working really hard and when I’m home I’m focused on my family. It’s made me much more efficient!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to improve their eating habits, but doesn't know where to begin?
D: Don’t focus on what you feel you need to eliminate, but instead pivot your attention towards adding in more of the good stuff. Start by adding a side salad at dinner for gut-balancing fiber, fresh fruit with breakfast for a dose of antioxidants, and Sakara Water Concentrates for added mineralization and deeper hydration. Overtime, these small additions will begin to crowd out less-than-ideal habits and create sustainable change.
W: I always suggest people start with our 10-Day Reset. It provides you with the foundational knowledge, guidance, and recipes needed to start eating and living this way, along with a collection of Sakara supplements and products to jumpstart your journey.
We absolutely love the branding behind Sakara. Did you have a clear vision from the get-go, or has it evolved with you through the years?
W: Like any brand, we’ve definitely evolved over the years, but our original vision for Sakara has remained the same. Danielle and I are both so influenced and inspired by our Sedona upbringings and have been careful to keep that energy woven into the branding, but we’re also city women. Our brand has and always will be the bridge between hippie, spiritual living and fashion-forward city life.
What trends are you into in the wellness space right now? Any you're calling B.S. on?
D: It feels like everyone is talking about the importance of gut health and the microbiome right now, and we love it! This is has been a foundational principle of Sakara since the very beginning, and it’s amazing to see so much recent research and buzz surrounding the topic. It’s the future of medicine.
W: It’s always a red flag to me if a particular trend or diet promotes imbalance, such as eliminating an entire food group or focusing on a single macronutrient. Having tried so many of those trendy diets in the past (without success) is exactly why Danielle and I started Sakara. We believe the only way to create long-lasting, sustainable change is through balance.
When you're not on the program, what are your guilty indulgences?
D: We don’t believe in guilt or indulgences! It’s just life and it should be lived with joy. We call doing what you love the ‘joy factor’. One thing that brings me joy is chocolate. I never say no!
W: I’m a sucker for a great slice of New York pizza.
What's next for Sakara?
D: Sakara is constantly growing and evolving, and we have an incredible team of innovators who continue to push past boundaries. We have some really exciting new product releases in the pipeline that we cannot wait to share with our community. Our mission has and always will be to spread the Sakara message as far and wide as we can.