10 Questions with Vanessa Dew, Co-Founder of Health-Ade
Today we are so excited to share our interview with Vanessa Dew, Co-Founder and Chief Sales Officer of Health-Ade. Read on to find out how your favorite kombucha company came to be, what Vanessa’s day to day looks like, and the greatest lessons she has learned along the way!
Q: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and Health-Ade?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles and now I find myself living in Pasadena with my 6-month-old baby Oliver, my dog Dubu, husband, Kevin, and loving every minute of this new chapter of life! I have always had the entrepreneurial bug of sorts, even when I studied Biochemistry at UC San Diego in my college years. After college, I started working at a global pharmaceutical company but I had visions of owning my own business and wanted to attend USC Marshall School of Business to help hone these feelings. Eventually, my best friends, Daina and Justin, and I discovered we shared these inklings of entrepreneurship so we started an entrepreneur club where Health-Ade was ultimately born out of.
At Health-Ade, we make delicious bubbly beverages that support a happy and healthy gut! The why behind everything though is to inspire you to discover the power of your gut and become YOUR happiest and healthiest self.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
It’s a mixed bag honestly! With a newborn in the mix, things often don’t go to plan. My morning often starts early like 5am. I’m naturally an early riser but between baby and things roaming in my head, I’m up at the crack of dawn. With work from home life, things are a bit different. But from 6am-8am, I am getting baby and myself ready for the day. When my nanny arrives at 8am, I hand baby over and from then on, it is all cylinders with Health-Ade. The work could range from board meetings, to customer meetings, to reviewing different projects with the team. The reality is everyday looks different so being able to pivot and make the most of the day is really important! I try to reserve 4pm-5pm for emails and catching up. 5-7pm, I am spending time with my family and putting our baby down. Then 7pm is dinner and some husband/wife time but I usually needing to pass out by 10pm as I’m up so early.
Q: What do you think are the most important factors for running a successful business?
A few things come to mind. First, this irrational optimism/confidence to think about the what if and dreaming about what could be. Second, to balance the former, surrounding yourself with the right team members to not just get the job done, but offer the right points of view to balance the conversation and ultimately have the spirit to win. Lastly, having this element of vision for the business strategy and elements of grit/hustle to ultimately get the job done.
Q: How do you maintain your work-life balance?
It’s tough and sometimes one may suffer over the other. I’ve put a couple things in place to help my sanity. I have to take ‘mental health’ days that are days for me to decompress, regroup with goals personally and professionally to make sure what I’m actually doing lines up to them. Self-care is always last priority but putting this into the schedule whatever self-care means to you is so important. Additionally, I turned off email notifications because that was just driving me crazy, not to mention the signals I started to send to my family and friends every time I looked at my phone when something came in. I believe in a blend of work and life, and it’s all about how all sides support and complement each other as best as possible.
Q: What are the biggest lessons that you have learned and how have they impacted you?
Follow Your Gut! There have been countless times when I felt something was off because I may have been listening to someone else or thought that my intuition wasn’t as valuable as the data in front of me. More than anything, I try to incorporate that gut feel alongside the right data inputs to make decisions.
People are everything. Our team is how we’ve been able to grow so fast and ultimately allow Health-Ade to flourish. People need to be tended to from a developmental standpoint and offered resources, time, attention, and the right incentives that inspire them to go out and kill it. I love our team and we would be nowhere without them!
Lastly, time is the most important and valuable thing we have. What you choose to do with it is your decision, but it’s something you can never take back. I try to be present in what it is at hand. If I’m with my family, I am with my family. If I am dedicated myself to our business in whatever it may be, I need to be there full mind, body and spirit. And I have to choose the things that are either meaningful to me or things that move the needle for the business.
Q: What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the business we have built, on our own terms, and that my cofounders and I have been able to remain best friends through it all. I’m equally proud of the family and friends I have around me because maintaining relationships is hard to do with the obligations of life.
Q: Where do you find inspiration and motivation?
My mom has always been a source of motivation and inspiration for me. Though she passed away a few years ago, so much of her spirit is still with me. I also love looking at what other women are doing out there—I am hopeful and encouraged with other women doing amazing things, it gives me hope for the future and the part I can play in it.
Q: What are some of the challenges you have faced as a female entrepreneur?
Self-doubt is a big one. Coming into an industry with no formal knowledge, I had to learn a lot and take risks with sometimes no data or sounding board to make those decisions and it’s easy to hear the voices in the back of your head saying you might be wrong. You might be, but at the same time, you will never know until you try it. So, I really had to be ok with risk and the idea of fear of failure. Additionally, I had to deal with the idea of imposter syndrome. Did my investors think I was right for this role? Does the team have confidence in my ability to lead us to the next phase? I had to grapple with all of these ideas and where I landed was…yes, I am good enough. Not just good, I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Q: If you could give any advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. In a way, I find that I am where I am because of my innate drive/achiever type mentality. But that also caused a cascade of anxiety and stress that just isn’t healthy. I would tell my younger stuff that some of this small stuff just doesn’t matter in the long run and what you should be concerned with is your health, your loved ones, and to continue dreaming big!
Q: Lastly, what advice do you have for Gen Z females?
You have such a unique opportunity to see the world for all of its good and bad and actually change things with a dreamer mentality. Things don’t have to be transformative to move the needle, your impact makes the world incrementally better and if we had more of that playing out, all of those small incremental changes add up to a lot. Your part is definitely meaningful and necessary for everyone’s future.
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