As some of you who follow me on Instagram know, I keep my diet gluten-free 95% of the time. Sometimes I will go out to eat and cave-in and eat gluten, which is okay, I’m not intolerant - I just find that my body feels better when I don’t eat it. Most of the time though, my diet avoids gluten - I never bring gluten into my home anymore! This does raise some challenges, like when I’m craving something that is usually made with gluten doughs - like pizza or pot stickers! Thankfully, there is a new brand on the market offering delicious gluten free snacks and party foods - Feel Good Foods. This Brooklyn based company, founded by gluten-free enthusiast, Vanessa Philips and fine dining chef Tryg Siverson, has created several gluten-free products that can be found in your frozen foods aisle - just heat and serve! Items include egg rolls, pot stickers, taquitos, empanadas and snack bites filled with cheese, pepperoni or chicken sausage. This really opens up a whole new area of food options for gluten free dieters!
In the world of gluten free eating, another important factor is taste - how to make gluten free things taste just as good as their original model? Obviously having a gourmet chef come up with the recipes was a smart move. When you taste a Feel Good Foods product, you can tell the ingredients are fresh and the recipes were perfected until they were just right. Co-founder and CEO, Vanessa Philips says, “The brand offers options for those seeking a natural, yet accessible meal that doesn’t sacrifice on flavor.” After tasting them, I couldn’t agree with her more! My personal favorites are the veggie egg rolls and the chicken pot stickers. Siverson put serious thought and flavor into the products.
As of now, Feel Good Foods products can be found nationwide - primarily at Whole Foods grocery stores but also smaller grocery retailers like Sprouts. These items are so great if you need something easy to heat up and eat, either for yourself, or for guests coming over.
To learn more about Vanessa Philips - A total #BossBabe check out the Q & A below!
What is it about the position of CEO the most attracted you to it?
I’ve never been married or tied to my title. I’m attracted to what I am connected to, which is my company. Executing on my company’s mission and delivering the foods that I love to as many people as possible is what’s important to me.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
My partner Tryg and I had a meeting with investors. I was 38 weeks pregnant, low blood sugar and having early contractions. You could say I was feeling quite vulnerable and out of my comfort zone that day but I presented to the group. We stepped outside after the presentation and they spoke for 15 minutes. When we came back in, their only feedback was that Tryg should speak and not me-- because they thought he was more energetic. I was horrified and felt disappointed in myself. Looking back at that story today I can laugh but I also realize that in business sometimes we have to wear many masks. It’s a lot of pressure to represent your business...in that moment many years ago, I was not my business, I was 100% Vanessa. But finding that balance and giving myself permission to be me while also representing Feel Good Foods takes some time.
Specifically, what is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
I never thought of my business as being a job. I never thought of it beyond feeding consumers our food. Today, my job is all encompassing and more. There is so much more that I do besides seeing customers eat our product and be satisfied. Managing our team, dealing with HR, shipping logistics, etc...it’s so incredibly dynamic and I never thought that through. I just thought I’d see happy customers. There’s definitely a transition between executing on a product and building a company.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Everything is going to take 10 times longer than you think it’s going to. Everything takes longer in business than you anticipate. A big thing for me is to surround yourself with people that you trust and that are strong in the areas where you don’t feel is your top expertise. You will be a better leader if you have a really strong team. Lean on your team as if they are your closest confidants.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Be open to listening and learning from your team. Never go into a room thinking you have all of the answers. Running a business is one of the most collaborative things one will ever do and you all need to work in tandem.