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Interview with Robyn Smith from Faithful-to-Nature
Every couple of months (when I get all my wayward ducks in a row!) I manage to get an interview in with a strong, inspiring woman entrepreneur who is making our world a better place. Robyn Smith, founder of SA’s largest online organic shop is definitely one of those. She’s the kind of person you feel proud to have met within a few minutes of knowing her – she has a grace and strength that is rare, and a deep set integrity and sense of responsibility to nature that is felt throughout her rapidly growing company. Read on for the why behind Faithful to Nature, Robyn’s tips for female entrepreneurs and even her favourite go-to recipe. (And thanks Robyn for answering all our questions with so much care and detail!)
What was the “uh ha” moment that inspired you to get into health and wellbeing?
For as long as I can remember I have been inspired by Nature and it has always made intrinsic sense to me that the natural way was better. After years of being in the industry I now understand the details of why consuming nutrients in their complete and natural form allows for better health but it was something I’ve always “felt” was right. If I had to pick an “uh ha” moment though, I would say it was the day I realised that the thing that makes one produced product better than another, are the ingredients that are used to create the product. In 2005, I was standing in a chemist in London trying to choose a night cream that was genuinely going to work better than the rest and that was the first time I chose a product based on its ingredient listing rather than its marketing copy or packaging. It was a start of a very passionate journey into issues around ingredient integrity for me and it was here that the first seed of Faithful to Nature was sown.
Your advice on ‘where to start’ for people who know they want to eat more healthily but are totally overwhelmed?
Choosing to live a healthier lifestyle is no longer about sacrifice, additional cost or having less fun. In fact, more than ever people are inspired to feel as good as they can in their daily lives. Start simple, be it with one meal a day that you choose healthier food, the use of whole food supplements over synthetic versions or even by filtering your water. Once you start to feel healthier from a few small changes it is going to be so much easier to make the bigger changes.
Talk us through a typical day in your life, including what you eat.
The day starts with a cup of rooibos and my whole family in bed. Breakfast is a home-made muesli of sorts with ground nuts (in my nutribullet), seeds, a variety of superfoods sprinkled in like hemp seeds and baobab powders and lots of fresh fruit. Once I leave the house it is go, go go so I’m determined to always have a nutritious start. During the day at work I have learned to arm myself with foods that can be eaten on the go as I very seldom have time for an actual lunch break. I keep a variety of the healthy snack bars we sell in my desk, in my bag and in my cubby hole, as well as other nutritious snacks like activated seed packs, carrots, nut butters and rice cakes and fruit within arms reach. I do the school drop off on the way to work and my husband who is also an entrepreneur, does the school collection. I try to be home by 4:30 at which time my phone needs to be off until dinner is finished – not always possible but I do try. The last few hours of sunlight are usually spent outside on the beach walking my dogs, and giving my son some 1:1 time building lego, making puzzles or drawing pictures. Both my husband and I take turns with dinner – we eat a mostly plant-based diet, but are not strictly vegetarian and on occasion will eat venison. We eat a lot of pulse based pasta, curries, wraps and grain salads. If I still have work to do that happens after my son is in bed at 7:30, otherwise its time for my husband and I to chill and connect. By this stage putting my feet up and watching an episode of our favourite series feels well deserved!
Tea or coffee?
Herbal Tea – I am very sensitive to caffeine and have become obsessed with the amazing array of herbal teas available today. We even have a big draw in our home to house all of our teas!
What is your indulgence of choice?
Right now its blueberries – cannot get enough of them and the perfect solution for mid-day or post meal sweet cravings!
Your favourite quick-fix recipe?
Roasted Veg salad filled to the brim with natures best!
INGREDIENTS AND METHOD
1. Drizzle with olive oil and roast together at 180C
Half a butternut
250g Shiitake mushrooms
1 sliced onion
1 cup rosa or cherry tomatoes
2. Meanwhile, in a small pan, lightly toast some organic pumpkin and sesame seeds
3. Once all veggies are roasted mix with fresh rocket and baby spinach leaves, Feta, Avo
4. Drizzle with extra olive oil and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and then sprinkle the roasted seeds over your salad and enjoy!
Advice for keeping a good work-life balance?
I think it is so important to stay as grounded as one can. When I feel myself getting consumed by work and not being very present with my family, I can feel that I need to get out and do something that will ground me like a walk on the beach. I believe it’s really helpful to know what those things are for you that will help you connect again.
And then of course, there’s the phone. I think it is crucial that really good discipline is maintained with when you read emails etc on your phone. I know I’m getting out of balance when I am talking to my son and working on the phone at the same time.
I have found however that when I get this work-life balance right, that it make me both a better leader at work and a better mother at home, because I get such different things from both roles that I can be completely present in each.
3 tips for women entrepreneurs?
- Woman tend to be especially hard on themselves, so watch how you talk to yourself.
- Keep checking in with your belief systems and remember that our generation are ‘systems busters’ so to speak. When I find myself thinking that it is not possible, I always stop and ask why? Just because it has not been done before, does not mean I cannot do it now. We are multi-dimensional beings and can do such more than we believe we can.
- My experience has been that it has been immensely powerful to lead from the heart with a strong feminine touch, rather than trying to profile the predominantly male role models that benchmark our industries.
3 foods you cannot live without?
I have a Mediterranean palette – rosa tomatoes, basil and garlic
What’s your go-to snack for those days on the run?
What makes you the happiest?
Being barefoot, outside, with those I love.
Current new products in your Faithful to Nature line up that you are most excited about?
- Superlatte hot beverage alternatives – I just love the innovation happening on some many fronts in the natural foods industry and this is a great example. Superlatte fills the space left by coffee, tea and hot chocolate with a range of outrageously healthy hot beverage blends loaded with natural flavour and street cred. Playing into the functional foods, vegan, vegetable and rainbow latte trends, Superlatte brings it all together with 3 scrumptious small batch flavours
- The Cultured Whey naturally fermented foods and supplements – fermented foods are all the rage right now for the right reasons. Fermented foods and drinks are truly “alive”, rich in vitamins, enzymes and beneficial bacteria. These foods are potent probiotics that work to protect the health of your gut, by keeping your intestinal flora levels in balance.
- The Green Dream CBD oil supplements – we have seen the market for CBD oil supplements explode and are very excited to bring on yet another range that facilitates natural healing.
- Hairprint, 100% natural hair dye – The first of its kind in the world, Faithful to Nature is a proud first stockist of this revolutionary hair restoration treatment. Before Hairprint there was no such thing as a completely natural permanent hair dye. Rather than “painting” the hair with pigment, like other natural dye brands, Hairprint actually helps greying hairs to revert to their original colour, using the body’s own inherent biochemistry. Their products are hypoallergenic, suitable for those with chemical sensitivities, and the only hair colour treatment in the world to be granted Madesafe certification
The ‘next big thing’ in the FTN world?
The thing that sets Faithful to Nature apart is our strict ingredient policy and our specialised procurement whereby we check every single product ingredient for potential toxicity before we will stock it. We believe that more and more consumers are hungry for businesses that have core values of transparency and integrity and we expect to keep pioneering this. As a result, the next big thing is to further empower our customers with more and more authentic information on the products that they buy. We are busy classifying and sorting our products to be listed by whether they contain palm oil (even if it is sustainably sourced) and whether the product packaging has any plastic in it. Procurement is big on our agenda and our selection of new products grows daily. We want our ethical shopping platform to extend to as many categories as possible – if there is genuinely a greener, healthier, more ethical or less toxic alternative out there, we want to provide it.
I’m going to be collaborating with the team at Faithful to Nature over the next few months to bring some of their favourite ingredients to life through a some of my favourite healthy brecipes, so look out for more goodness soon!