One of the fastest ways to learn how to achieve extraordinary goals is to learn from those who have already achieved to understand how they did it, so you can do the same.
That’s why I am SO excited to introduce you to the incredibly inspiring Neka Pasquale, who went from being an acupuncturist who made healthy food for her clients to building a $45 million dollar company that is featured in 300+ Whole Foods locations across the country!
I’m not only excited for you to learn from her and her story, but I’m beyond excited about today’s episode because her company Urban Remedy makes the food that I eat EVERY single day and is literally my FAVORITE part of my day!
I’m not exaggerating. On the Miracle Morning monthly team call today, our COO asked me what my favorite part of my day is. And without hesitation, I said, “This may sound weird, but it’s eating Urban Remedy salads on my lunch break!” 😁
In today’s episode, Neka shares how she started her company and her strategies and philosophy for breaking free from unhealthy eating patterns. I share my daily eating rituals and how I went from eating un-healthy to uber-healthy. I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did!
- Curious if your go-to restaurant uses organic oils? Look out for these easy tells.
- The foods that heal vs the foods that steal.
- The wonders of following a balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients.
- Why you don’t want to know how the animal products you’re eating are made.
- How to adopt principles of Eastern medicine into your lifestyle and cuisine.
- How to use food as medicine for indigestion, bloating, muscle pain, and allergies.
THIS EPISODE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
Organifi makes the highest quality nutritional products, which are made from whole food ingredients (not synthetic vitamins) that I enjoy nearly every day, and have for many years. Visit Organifi.com/Hal, and use the code HAL at checkout to get 20% off of your entire order. I hope you find something there that you love! :^)
Rise by CURED Nutrition is a natural supplement made from CBD, Lions Mane and Ginseng (among others) that helps boost energy, performance and cognitive function. There’s no caffeine, no jitters and most importantly, no crash. Visit CuredNutrition.com/Hal and receive 20% off of your entire order. They have tons of other products as well, hopefully you’ll find something that works for you. :^)
- Urban Remedy
- Neka Pasquale on Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter
- Nick Conedera
- The Miracle Morning Movie
- Gabriel Cousens
- Cafe Gratitude
- The Well
- Suja Organic
- Cindy Crawford
- Brianna Greenspan
- Whole Foods Market
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Hal Elrod: Hello, my friends, welcome to Achieve Your Goals podcast where you get to listen to conversations with people who have achieved extraordinary goals to understand who they are and learn how they did it, so that you can do the same in your life with your goals. I’m your host, Hal Elrod, and my guest today, Neka Pasquale, is the founder of Urban Remedy, a company that is on a mission to reimagine our food system and teach the world that food is healing. Neka wasn’t looking to start a company. She was a Marin-based acupuncturist trained in healing modalities like Reiki, and she had a steady roster of clients. But as somebody who studied a lot about the healing power of food, she started offering dietary advice to her clients. And while she knew at the time, she was setting the foundation for her company, and she eventually founded Urban Remedy, grew it to 150 employees and over $30 million in annual revenue.
And today, she shares how she did that. So that again, you can learn from her and apply her story to achieving your goals. Now, I want to be really, really clear about something, today is not a paid advertisement. And the reason I say that is because I am an Urban Remedy customer, I am a huge fan, and you’re going to hear me kind of fanboy today as I talk about how much I love their salads. I get them delivered to my house every single week.
And the way this came about was very organic. And here’s what I mean. My friend and the director of the Miracle Morning movie, Nick Conedera, was at my house, staying here for a week or so a few months ago, and he saw me eating my Urban Remedy salads every day. He’s like, “Oh, you do Urban Remedy.” I’m like, “I love it. They’re my favorite part of my day.” And he said, I know the founder. I know the founder of the company. Would you like an intro?” I’m like, “I would love to meet her. I would just love to thank her.”
So, Neka and I got on a phone call a few weeks ago, and I said I’d love– she was telling me her story about how she went from this idea, like every entrepreneur does to now being a $30 million company featured in, I think, 300 Whole Foods across the country. It’s just fascinating. And so, today, you’re going to get to hear her story, and again, apply it to creating your story.
Before we dive into the podcast, I want to take just a minute to thank our sponsors Organifi and CURED Nutrition that bring you this episode and this show every single week. Organifi makes the highest quality organic whole foods supplements in powder form. I’m feeling a little under the weather the last couple of days. So, I’ve been taking their Immunity powder every single day, twice a day to help me not get sick, and so far, so good. I kind of feel like I’m keeping it at bay.
And then I do their Protein powder in my smoothies every single day. I usually do vanilla. This morning, my son was getting ready for school. I said, “Buddy, you want smoothies?” Can I do a chocolate peanut butter? So, I’ve got Organifi chocolate protein powder and I want a little bit of a– mix it up a little. Head over to Organifi.com/Hal to check out their Immunity product, their Protein powder, their Red Juice, which actually I just have red juice five minutes ago. I always do that in the afternoon. And they make just a bunch of great products to boost your health, your energy, etc. Again, Organifi.com/Hal and then use the discount code H-A-L, my name, Hal, at checkout for 20% off your entire order.
And then, last but not least, I call them Organifi’s cousin, CURED Nutrition, also making organic plant-based supplements. They use CBD in almost all of their products, though, which is kind of their differentiator, and I take their Rise nootropic in the morning, I take their Aura for a gut health and immunity after my smoothie. And then I take my favorite product of theirs, there’s two of them and they’re the same product, just one is in a capsule form and one is in a dropper, and that is their nighttime oil or what are called their Night Caps if you’d like the capsules. And those have CBN and CBD oil, which have both a sedative effect and then an impact to keep you asleep. And so, I’ve been sleeping better than ever since I started taking these products. Head over to CuredNutrition.com/Hal to check out their product line and then use the discount code HAL for 20% off your entire order as a listener of the Achieve Your Goals podcast.
All right. So, Organifi and CURED Nutrition, two very health-boosting companies. And speaking of health-boosting, let’s talk to Neka Pasquale about her journey to take her belief that food is healing to the masses nationwide. Here we go with Neka Pasquale.
Hal Elrod: Neka Pasquale, it is a pleasure to see you.
Neka Pasquale: It is a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
Hal Elrod: We’ve spoken on the phone once, but this is the first time we’ve actually looked each other in the eye. I’m just going to start by gushing a little bit. And I told you this when we talked, I order Urban Remedy, your product, your salads and your bars and your– every single week. My wife will tell you, it is literally, I’m not exaggerating, eating lunch, eating, specifically Urban Remedy. It’s one of my favorite parts of my day. I created the Miracle Morning, I would argue, like what do I derive more satisfaction from my Miracle Morning or eating Urban Remedy at lunch, like it’s neck and neck, it is a close tie. So, thank you for what you’ve created because it adds so much value to my life. I can’t even tell you.
Neka Pasquale: Thank you. That just means the world to me. Thank you so much. I love hearing that. That’s incredible.
Hal Elrod: You’re welcome. I’m not exaggerating. I’m not pandering, like I am so enthusiastic about your salads. Yeah, I love it. I love it so much.
Neka Pasquale: Thank you.
Hal Elrod: So, let’s talk about that. First, before we get into Urban Remedy and what you’ve created, what did you do before Urban Remedy? Let’s start with work for a living, yeah.
Neka Pasquale: Yes, I am and still a licensed acupuncturist. I studied Chinese medicine. I have my master’s in traditional Chinese medicine. So, I have been an acupuncturist and herbalist for about 20 years. So, I had a private practice before I started Urban Remedy, where I just did one-on-one sessions for about 11 years. And that’s where I really delve into food as medicine.
And I think it’s really interesting, like we can read about diet and the importance of diet. But when you have a practice and you’re treating chronically ill people and you see what’s working for most people and how changing your diet is so critical, the people in my practice that were willing to change their diet and eat a low inflammatory diet and stop eating inflammatory foods would get better so much faster than people who were unwilling to change their diet. And so, that’s really the premise that I started Urban Remedy and are really just using food as healing and also just really delving into the way that we farm and the toxins that we’re exposed to in the food system, and really, just kind of connecting the dots with those very important subjects.
And so, I found that I would teach people how to eat like this. I would do retreats, and people would come and feel great. I would do all the food and juicing and all of that. And then, over time, people would be like, I just can’t do it, it doesn’t taste as good, I can’t do it. It’s so expensive to go shopping, and then chop everything and make everything. And so, I just kind of started doing it on the side. And I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to juice and make food for people on the side.”
So, I had a full acupuncture practice. And then I had a commercial kitchen, and I was making all this food. And then I finally got to the point when I got pregnant with my son in 2011 where I was six months pregnant and trying to do all this stuff. And I was like, “You know what? I think it’s really time to take a break from the one on one,” which is a really difficult decision and just kind of really focused on the food part because I felt that it was so important.
Hal Elrod: Wow. You talked about food is healing. And it says on your website, like more than a tagline, right? It’s really what you believe. Have you ever heard of or seen the documentary Raw for 30 Days?
Neka Pasquale: I think I saw– was that a while ago?
Hal Elrod: A long time ago, probably more than a decade ago. They took a couple of dozen, roughly, or 16 or something like that type II diabetics and they took them out into a cabin where they could not access any other food other than what they were given, a raw vegan, and 100% of them were off of their insulin within 30 days.
Neka Pasquale: Yes. Well, was that a guy from Australia?
Hal Elrod: I do not remember.
Neka Pasquale: I believe I met him one time. But actually, when I had my practice, probably a little bit before that came out, I was lucky enough to take some courses with Dr. Gabriel Cousens who wrote a book about using plant-based foods to cure diabetes, and he would bring people and do the same thing. He has a place in Arizona. And that was very, very inspiring to me.
And so, I incorporated some of those principles into my practice at that time. And at that time, I was doing mostly live raw food and juicing. And a lot of people asked, as acupuncturist in Chinese medicine, they say, you don’t want to eat a lot of raw cold food because it’s really difficult for the spleen and stomach for digestion. But I kind of use those principles where I would use warming ingredients. And I still do to things that are cooked, like, obviously lettuce, not obviously, but lettuce is cooling, for example, very simple. And so, when you add things like ginger in your dressings or red peppers or things that are warming, you can offset the very cold properties of things that are cooling, which in Chinese medicine might be a little bit hard on the digestion.
Hal Elrod: So, Urban Remedy is organic vegan, right?
Neka Pasquale: Certified organic, yes.
Hal Elrod: Now, it’s not completely raw, right? It’s mostly raw.
Neka Pasquale: We have a lot of– I would say in the last five years, I’ve incorporated more cooked components, but things that are cooked or really in their whole state, meaning, something like we use regenerative certified, obviously, organic rice in our burrito bowl. We use organic quinoa in our macro bowl. So, I have incorporated some cooked ingredients because people, I think there really has to be a balance. And so, I’ve tried to do that. So, people that are raw, there’s options for people that just want raw, and then there’s options that are more hearty and filling for people that would like to incorporate those.
Hal Elrod: I appreciate that. One of my favorite restaurants in the world is Cafe Gratitude. And it used to be they were raw vegan for many, many years and then they incorporated cooked food. And it’s nice to go there for dinner and have something warm.
Neka Pasquale: Yes, I agree. I love how they have transformed the same way but different, and I love– yeah, they have the best nachos I’ve ever had in my life. I love their food. It’s so good.
Hal Elrod: I love their food. When I go, I used to live near their San Diego location. My 30th birthday, I went to San Francisco. My life revolves around Cafe Gratitude, and it’s nearby. I want to ask you too, so now, what’s your diet like? Are you completely vegan? Or what’s your diet like?
Neka Pasquale: I am not completely vegan, but I do not eat dairy. And I don’t really like to put myself in a category of vegan or not vegan. I like to say that my theory or my belief around food is really more around regenerative agriculture and farming. So, everything that I choose will be organic or pasture-raised on that level. I’ve done it all, like I’ve been raw for many years. I was vegan, I was vegetarian. I’ve done a lot of diets. So, I just really try to do intuitive eating and eat what I feel is right for myself at the time. And I don’t like to put myself in a box because I like to be able to be flexible with my…
Hal Elrod: So, for me, the way I usually define my diet if people ask, because I get asked sometimes, I say I’m raw vegan by day and paleo by night.
Neka Pasquale: I love that. That’s great.
Hal Elrod: Literally, I’m organic raw vegan for breakfast with my smoothie with Urban Remedy for lunch. And then whatever my wife makes for dinner, which is often pasture-raised chicken or grass-fed steak or wild-caught salmon or whatever.
Neka Pasquale: I think, for me, it’s really I try not to have judgment in anybody’s choice of what they’re eating, except when it comes to factory farming or conventional farming. Those for me are always a no, but…
Hal Elrod: And let’s not gloss over but dive in a little bit. Why no to factory farming? And why are you so passionate about regenerative agriculture?
Neka Pasquale: I mean, I just think, when we say, like, for example, Urban Remedy, our food is healing to people on the planet is because when you look at the bigger picture of let’s just say the United States right now and how many monocrops we have that are conventional and how much the pesticide use on those crops is affecting the soil and affecting our air that we breathe and our water, that piece right there, I just don’t want to contribute to that. And I don’t want to put those chemicals and pesticides in my body. So, I choose to eat only organic because I want to support organic farming, regenerative farming, which support soil health, which is one of the things that’s going to really help heal the environment and our planet and help to support our ecosystem. It’s like when you hear about the bees and the butterflies and all of these really important species in the environment that are going extinct and are being killed off by all of these pesticides, for me, that’s a hard no.
In organic farming and regenerative farming, those things are part of the farming process and thought about. And so, I believe very strongly in that whole system and I think it’s better for me personally. I love, like in Chinese medicine, there’s a saying what’s better for me is better for you, what’s better for the environment is better for everybody. So, it’s kind of that thought that we’re all interconnected.
When I make a choice like that, it’s good for me, but it’s good for the bees and the butterflies and everybody in our society. And then when you look at something like factory farming, I mean, that is just always a hard no for me, because, I mean, that kind of farming is so incredibly inhumane to the animals and the environment, I mean, the waste that it creates, it goes into the water systems, and the insane cruelty and suffering that these animals endure is– I mean, I think it’s just criminal. I think if anybody were to visit one of these factory farms, or even watch a documentary on how these animals are treated, and that’s dairy, so it includes milk and cheese, and obviously, any kind of meat or eggs.
I don’t think anybody would ever choose it, but I think a lot of people have their blinders on. And I don’t like to say, complicit, but I think anytime I do feel that if you are buying factory farm meat, there is a complicity that happens because then you’re really supporting something that is very inhumane and would just hurt anybody’s heart to see. And I’m not staunch vegan and I’m not coming from that place. I’m just coming from a place, again, if we’re interconnected, and why do we have to have these beings suffer so that we can…
Hal Elrod: And the thing is, because of the way that they’re raised and the hormones that they’re pumped for with and the GMO grains they’re fed, we suffer too.
Neka Pasquale: Exactly.
Hal Elrod: They suffer on the front end and then we feel for on the back end. It’s interesting, one thing, I will not eat out at 99% of restaurants. And it’s because my favorite restaurant used to be Yard House. You’re familiar?
Neka Pasquale: No.
Hal Elrod: It’s a chain and they’ve got 200 beers and they’ve got just amazing food taste-wise. And my COO, she was a waitress there. That’s actually where I met her. She was the most amazing waitress ever. I hired her as my intern and then my assistant, now my COO, Tiffany. But when I hired her and I was like, “Yeah, I love Yard House. It’s my favorite restaurant.” And at that time, I thought I was pretty healthy. I would splurge and go there. And she just told me, she goes, “Hal, you have to realize that at 99% of restaurants, if not 99.9%, they’re buying the lowest quality ingredients to maximize their profit.” She goes, “and all they’re doing is using a lot of salt to make it taste really good.”
And then she told me horror stories of what happens in the kitchen of stuff getting dropped on the ground and they wipe it off. And so, it’s like, I never ate at Yard House again, my favorite restaurant. But the thing is most restaurants use seed oils, for example, for inflammatory which cause disease, cancer, on and on and on. Literally, it’s less than 1% of restaurants that don’t cook with seed oils. Here, in Austin, Texas, I found a restaurant called The Well and they literally, on their menu that we only use coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil, right? I’m like, “I will eat there.” Our beef is grass-fed and our chickens are pasture raised and our produce is organic, right? But I’ve literally called every restaurant I want to go to in Austin and I just always call with some high-end, I’m like, “Hey, is any of your produce organic? Is any of your beef grass fed?” And it’s usually, it’s somebody, “Let me ask.”
Neka Pasquale: Yeah, they have no idea. And you don’t know.
Hal Elrod: Because otherwise, if you have values in terms of the food that you serve, like you do, you know. And everyone on your team, there’s not a person that works at Urban Remedy, you might call, I’m like, “Is your food organic?” They’re like, “Let me ask my supervisor.”
Neka Pasquale: Well, you know what? I think one of the biggest red flags is if you say, oh, do you serve? Because if you and I went to eat, we would totally be on the same page and asking the same questions. But it’s like, are you using organic produce? And really, people say, “We try to use it when we can,” which really means you’re not using it. And I’m totally on the same page with you. I try to eat. I’m lucky because I eat them right and there are a couple of restaurants that serve organic, but usually, they still are using seed oils.
But I think, with the movement, there’s such a big push around seed oils right now. I feel like more people are going to be jumping on the bandwagon getting off seed oils. But I’m like the person, I’ll go to a restaurant. I did this with my son the other day, and I didn’t even tell him. He wanted to go eat at this really cool place out in Point Reyes. And I made my own dressing and I put it in a container. And I didn’t want to embarrass him, but I was like, “Okay, I’m going to have the salad.” And I don’t even think it was organic, but I didn’t want to ask and embarrass him. And then when he wasn’t looking, I poured my own salad dressing. Or I’ll bring my own organic ketchup, or things like that because, you know, but…
Hal Elrod: So, what I do now with Urban Remedy, and this was such a hack, and I don’t know why I never thought of it. So, traveling, I traveled, I’m a speaker. So, I traveled quite a bit. And it’s so hard. I mean, usually what I do is when I land somewhere, I find the nearest Whole Foods. And if it’s in a decent sized city, I can do it. So, I load up on organic avocados and other things we’re missing at. That’s where I discovered Urban Remedy is in your cooler at Whole Foods. I want to ask you about that, by the way, how did you get in Whole Foods, but hang on that thought. So, what I do now is I make my Urban Remedy salad ahead of, before I get on the plane, I divided it into two Tupperware containers. And then I get a cooler with ice, like a little carry-on, and that’s one of my carry-ons now. And then, listen, I have to share the stuff.
Neka Pasquale: You just send me a picture because I actually want to see what that looks like.
Hal Elrod: Okay, I will. I’m going next week. I usually have my Urban Remedy. But listen to this hack, this is amazing. And I’ve never shared this on the podcast. I’ve been thinking I need to share this on social media. So, I also get organic and Urban Remedy makes organic juices. I actually support this local place that makes these organic juices. But they’re like 12 ounces, 60 now. They’re too big for the plane, right?
So, what I do is I buy these little Suja vitamin B12 glass jar shots that are like two ounces. And then, after I drink, I wash them out and save them. And then when I fly, I just fill eight of them with my organic juice. And then I put them in the cooler next to the Urban Remedy. So, I feel like I am eating like a king on the plane.
Neka Pasquale: So, you’re just doing like little two ounces. That’s so great.
Hal Elrod: I’m eating your Urban remedy, I’m drinking organic juice, it’s amazing.
Neka Pasquale: It’s so funny. I love that.
Hal Elrod: And I’ll even bring enough now. I’ll even double up and I’ll bring four of them so I have enough to eat on a two-day trip. I’ll just eat Urban Remedy the whole time, so yeah.
Neka Pasquale: And people do that. We have people that are like, “I’m flying to Chicago or New York. Can you ship it to my hotel?” And we’ll just get it shipped to their hotel. I do. When I went to Disneyland recently, I filled my whole Disneyland fridge with Urban Remedy. I just brought a big box and I just had it in there because they don’t have great food. So, yeah…
Hal Elrod: I forgot where I went. I went and visited– it was either my dad or my sister. And that’s what I did. I changed the shipping on my order that week. I just had it delivered there and I was like, ah, I’m home.
Neka Pasquale: That’s so great.
Hal Elrod: I literally might be your biggest fan.
Neka Pasquale: Oh my god. What’s your favorite Urban– like what is the salad that you eat the most?
Hal Elrod: I’ll tell you so. It used to be the Vegan Caesar. And I ate it so much that I got a little bit too much. But it’s the burrito bowl and the– what’s the one with the crunchy, the eggplant?
Neka Pasquale: The chop, the eggplant chop.
Hal Elrod: Eggplant chop salad. So, my two favorites are eggplant chop. It’s probably tied with the burrito bowl. And then the– nice, there you go.
Neka Pasquale: The chop.
Hal Elrod: I had a chop today. That’s what I have for lunch, yeah. And it’s funny, for everyone listening, I’m not selling Urban Remedy, they’re not my sponsor.
Neka Pasquale: We don’t pay him, I swear.
Hal Elrod: No, actually, it’s funny. And this is my personality. My friend John, he tells the story. He goes, I think Hal sells everything because when he starts talking about something, I’m like, oh, he goes, oh, I didn’t know you were selling that now. And I’m like, “Oh, no, I’m not.” He’s like, “Oh, I totally thought you were the way you were talking about it.”
Neka Pasquale: I am the same way. There’s a lady that I see for bodywork and I saw her yesterday. She’s a somatic therapist. And she goes, “Neka,” she goes, “I just have to tell you,” and I had done a podcast with her, but I love her so much that I talk about her all the time and she goes, “You have literally quadrupled, if not more, my business.” She’s like “because you keep telling everybody,” and she’s like, “Oh, my God.” And I go, “I don’t even realize it.” I just like, If there’s something that works for me, I love sharing that with other people. I’m the same way. I think it’s so great.
Hal Elrod: We are very similar. We have a similar diet. We both love Urban Remedy. We both are huge promoters of anything that we love. I want to ask you, for anybody listening, like you started this business. Urban Remedy is now in Whole Foods all over– which by the way, oh, now that I have you in front of me, it is not in any of the Austin Whole Foods. Can you somehow fix that?
Neka Pasquale: Yes.
Hal Elrod: The other day, my order, UPS was late delivering my order. This is how much I called every– there are three Whole Foods in Austin, I called every single one. I’m like, “Do you carry Urban Remedy?” And none of them did. And I was so sad.
Neka Pasquale: I know. We are working on that. We are trying to get into the Austin Whole Foods. I think that is happening relatively soon. But definitely ask the manager, like we’d love to have Urban Remedy. And it’s so funny because that is where Whole Foods home base is. And so, yes, we are working on being there. Hopefully, we’ll be there soon.
Hal Elrod: So, I want to ask you two questions is how did you start Urban Remedy? And then, how did you get into Whole Foods? Because to me, you started this incredible company, this incredible brand and you are now in one of the biggest chain headquarters in the world. So, those to me are both two huge accomplishments. And there are different kinds, one is starting something from scratch. The other is the ultimate dream of any founder, which is like imagine starting, you’re just hoping that it gets off the ground, but then like, what if we got in Whole Foods one day? You’re like, oh, come on. That’s crazy. So, those two.
Neka Pasquale: Yeah, and I was just having a memory of when you and I spoke, and I think it’s important to weave that through. So, when I started Urban Remedy, I honestly was not trying to start some big company, I really thought I was going to be opening one location with a kitchen for people that were like you and I in Marin County, where people are very open to this kind of eating. And so, I opened that store, I built out a kitchen there. And within six months…
Hal Elrod: Urban Remedy started as a storefront?
Neka Pasquale: Yes. So, I had my acupuncture practice, and then I started doing juice and food on the side for my patients. And then they started telling people, I was doing more retreats, and then it just kind of created a life of its own. And then, I developed a really small website for people in San Francisco and Marin that wanted to have this kind of food. And people just loved it. And we were delivering. And I didn’t know what I was doing. Like I said, my background was in Chinese medicine and healing and herbs and all of that. But I was like, I’m just going to go with this. The universe is opening this up to me. People want it. And so, I just kept going with that. And then I kept getting paid…
Hal Elrod: That was what year? What year was that?
Neka Pasquale: So, that was like, I started doing the retreats in 2014, around there. And then, I don’t know, 2014, what am I talking about? Like 2004, 2006, I started retreats. And then, in 2011 is when I stopped my acupuncture practice after 11 years, which is really difficult. And that’s when I was like, “I’m just going to see where this goes.” I need it where I was treating a lot of very ill, chronically ill people and I was pregnant. And I was like, I need a break from that intensity after 11 years.
And anyways, and so, I just started doing this, and people really wanted it and everybody was telling somebody else. And I remember the first big thing that happened was I got this call and somebody was like, “We love your products. We live in San Francisco.” They were part of what’s it called? They do specials on– not Groupon, but they do a special online and you could sign up. And it was something like– it was Gilt. It was called Gilt, I just remembered.
And I was like, “Sure, I’ve never heard of it, but let’s just try it.” And she’s like, “It will be just on there for two days. And you could sell 200 juice cleanses or something.” And this is before there was Pressed juicery or any kind of juice things going on. And so, I gave them my phone number. I didn’t even know what I was doing.
Then, a month later, my phone is ringing off the hook because I gave them my cell phone. And I was answering the phone and I was like– and people were wanting these juice cleanses and they were like, “Your cleanses sold out in two minutes. Do you want to do more?” And that’s what really, all of a sudden, it just got huge.
Hal Elrod: Wow.
Neka Pasquale: And then I was at a point where I had just had my son and I was married. And I was like, that just was not working out. And I was really at this juncture where I was like, I have to get out of this situation. But I hadn’t really been working, I was just doing Urban Remedy. And I get this random call from these guys in LA that were like, “We love what you’re doing. We heard about it here down in LA. We want to partner with you and give you some funding.”
And I’m just sharing that because it was another, the universe opening up the doors for me. And they were like, “We’ll give you a million dollars.” And at that point, I was like, a million dollars, I can build out the best kitchen. I’ll never need more money again. And so, I took the money. I built out my kitchen. And then, like I said, six months later, that kitchen, we totally outgrew it.
And then it was like a sh*t show because then, I had to rent an extra, all these huge coolers and storage units to put things, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was the CEO, I was procurement, I was HR. I had a baby that I was breastfeeding. And I was just going for it, though. I’m a really good multitasker. So, I was like, I’m just going to keep seeing this thing through.
And then, anyways, a little time went by and it was really cool because also, during that point, I am just sharing because it’s an interesting part of my journey, I got introduced to Cindy Crawford. And she was like, “I love what you’re doing. I want to partner with you. I want to support your vision of what is happening.” And I was like, “Oh, my– here I am, like a new mom, and I’m doing this. How is this even happening in my life?
And I wasn’t feeling really great about myself because I just had a child and I had sort of weight to lose. And I was just so overwhelmed. And I remember a point where the universe kind of asked me, like, do you want to go down this path? Are you sure? Are you ready for this? Because it was going to challenge everything I felt about myself like, am I willing to use my voice and to be out there with kind of the message that I have? And I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to go for it.” Because when I had to start showing up in a different way and working with somebody like her, I couldn’t half ask it because I was like, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
And I remember, in that moment, being with her when we first did a photoshoot and being like, holy sh*t, how am I doing a photoshoot? And I remember being so embarrassed and shy. And I felt like I was on the set of Saturday Night Live, just like what am I doing here? And then I remember like, I better step my game up and just go forward. I’m going to ruin this opportunity. And so, those kinds of things and hurdles have really helped me grow and have more kind of faith in myself and belief in the process.
And so, anyways, over time, I hired a CEO. And he was amazing and with the company for nine years. And he is the one that I credit to us getting these Whole Foods kiosks. So, we have Whole Foods as an investor in Urban Remedy, which was a really amazing partnership. We got into Whole Foods, and they were supporting us when we were really small in the Bay Area. And it was just kind of like a brainstorm he had with one of the owners, he was like, “What if we had these branded Urban Remedy? Because they were not offering as much fresh at that time and they were having some issues around that offer. And we were like, here, we can give you this certified organic, Urban Remedy fridge, and they loved the idea. And I remember thinking, how the hell are we going to do this? This is so exciting but so overwhelming because we had 20 stores in that time period. And so, having…
Hal Elrod: Were your stores, like when I order Urban Remedy and I get it right there, it’s pre-packaged? Is that how it was sold at those stores? Or was it like, actually, it would be prepackaged?
Neka Pasquale: Yes, they’re still like that. Yeah, everything is ready to eat. And so, we started in the Bay Area, not did really well. And then we went to SoCal and that did even better. And then from there, we have about 300 kiosks or presence in Whole Foods Market, which is so exciting. And I can’t even believe, like, I was at my Whole Foods this morning. And I walk by, and I’m like, “I can’t even believe.” I know it’s a dream to have your own branded kiosk at a Whole Foods. So, I feel very grateful. But there’s still a lot of challenges, keeping it stocked and managing the inventory. I mean, we still are really. I get calls and texts all the time. I went by, from people in New York, you never have your matcha bars, or why are you on this? Or why are you out of that? So, that’s a challenge that we’re really trying to overcome, yeah.
Hal Elrod: That’s incredible. And so, how many years ago did you get into Whole Foods?
Neka Pasquale: Oh, I’m terrible with time. So, we’ve been in Whole Foods for a few years before COVID, so probably 2019, maybe or 2018, we started, yeah, somewhere around there.
Hal Elrod: Three, four, or five years, right?
Neka Pasquale: Yeah.
Hal Elrod: And so, what’s new for you and what’s next?
Neka Pasquale: What’s new? So, what’s new from a product perspective is I just developed three new flavors of cookies. Two of them are grain-free. Everything we do is gluten-free. So, I don’t usually mention that because it’s always everything we do is a food-safe zone. We never do dairy, seed oils, gluten, white sugar, artificial colorings or flavorings, iodized salt, like any of that kind of stuff. We use really clean ingredients. So, these cookies are all of those things, plus they’re grain-free, except the oatmeal. So, I have a double chocolate. Did we send you cookies?
Hal Elrod: No.
Neka Pasquale: I’m going to send you some cookies. Double chocolate, oatmeal, walnut, raisin, and then the chocolate chip cookies, and they’re in a little bite size or a single cookie and they’re super good for traveling and whatnot. They have low net carbs. And they’re so good, and they’re dehydrated. And they’re incredible. So, those, and then we just launched some new Sunsquares, so those couple of new flavors, our coffee and lion’s mane.
Hal Elrod: I love those. I’ve been having the coffee ones every day.
Neka Pasquale: Oh, good. Yeah, I love those too. And then we have a crispy rice. So, kind of like really delving a little bit more into fresh snacking. And those products have a little bit longer shelf life. And the salads are my passion and all of the fresh food. Those are a little more difficult to scale because of purge and the short shelf life that they have. So, trying to balance out those two things. I would say that’s probably our biggest challenge is how do you scale fresh?
Hal Elrod: Got it. I’ll tell you, Brianna Greenspan is one of my best friends and she’s the Director of Education for the Miracle Morning. She brings the Miracle Morning to schools. And I texted her earlier, she’s like, “What are you up to? Can you talk?” I said, “I’m not available. I’m about to interview the founder of Urban Remedy.” And she texts me, “Best bars ever.”
Neka Pasquale: Oh, that’s so sweet.
Hal Elrod: So, you got a bunch of fans over here at Miracle Morning. And then what’s next for you in terms of– I mean, you personally, you professionally, like whatever is on the horizon that you’re excited about?
Neka Pasquale: That’s a good question. I am very focused on fixing any issues that we have right now. So, really, getting those kiosks optimized, and really, like, how do we do that? Constantly working on product innovation. I have a new ingredient that I’m really excited about, working with that. It’s a very clean ingredient and it’s been studied. They’ve done clinical trials on humans, because I’m sure you know a lot of things, like even turmeric, you can’t make a health claim on the label, like I couldn’t put lower the inflammation.
But with this new ingredient, that’s not new, it’s something you would know. They’ve done human clinical trials so that we can make the health claims. And so, it’s really exciting to be able to use something that has such functional benefits and be able to talk about it in the product. So, I’m working on that. So, you’ll be the first to know when I can let that out, whatever. And then, also, personally, I feel like I would love to share more information on Chinese medicine, living in harmony with nature, just like a lot of those things that we were just talking about because I’m always so busy with Urban Remedy stuff that I don’t share a lot of the information, especially about our mission and all of that as much as I would like to. So, I’m going to really try to make more space for doing that.
Hal Elrod: I’ll have to have you back on just to dive deep into the Chinese medicine piece and into healing. There’s so much more I could talk to you. I have to pick up my son from school in about a minute. But today, I just almost, I guess, fanboyed over Urban Remedy and I’m such a fan. What else? What’s other thing that I was going to ask you? Oh, where can people get Urban Remedy? I order it. Just so everyone knows, I order it, I order a box of it every week. And it’s funny, my mother-in-law fell in love with it. So, I have to split part of the order with her. She gets part of it. I get most of it because I order it every week on UrbanRemedy.com. But like Whole Foods, where do people go to get Urban Remedy?
Neka Pasquale: Yeah, and it’s one of our challenges, but it’s great that we have all these channels. So, we send direct to you if you order on UrbanRemedy.com. We can ship at anywhere in the country. And you could order all the products. And then, obviously, we’re at Whole Foods kiosks and we’re also in other Natural Grocers. We have juices and shots at Kroger, which is a new thing which is super exciting for us. We’re at places like Jimbo’s and the Good Earth and a bunch of local Natural Grocers. And then we have storefronts. We have five stores now in California and the Bay Area. So, we have three channels.
Hal Elrod: Well, you need more representation in Austin if there’s anything that I can…
Neka Pasquale: I’m going to find out. We’ve been talking about it. So, I’m going to find out and I’ll let you know the date that that’s going to happen.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, I’ll be your biggest supporter here. So, cool.
Neka Pasquale: Thank you.
Hal Elrod: We will have to do this again.
Neka Pasquale: Yes, yes, yes.
Hal Elrod: There’s so much more we could talk about. But thank you so much for the time. Again, thank you for listening to the intuitive calling in your heart and in your soul to create food that actually heals other people and do it at scale. I think it’s a remarkable mission that you’re on and I’m grateful that I get to be the beneficiary of it, one of many.
Neka Pasquale: Oh, thank you so much. That means so much. Thank you so much for having me on and I look forward to talking to you more.
Hal Elrod: You are so welcome.
Hal Elrod: Everybody, go check out UrbanRemedy.com. I’m telling you, it’s the best thing ever. And I love you so much. I will talk to you next week.