In the image-driven patriarchal world we live in, most women have battled with body issues at some point in their lives. With intense societal pressure to look like the gamine girls in the glossy fashion magazines, for many women, eating can become more of a pain than a pleasure. It was no different for Danielle DuBoise, co-founder and co-CEO of the wildly popular organic meal delivery company Sakara. “I used to battle with food. I was a constant yo-yo dieter, always looking and searching for the one diet I thought I had to try to get the body I thought I didn't have,” DuBoise says. Looking at her today, you might never guess that the vibrant blonde had battled with body image issues so intensely in her youth that she was once hospitalized as a result.
“That was my 'aha' moment, when I realized that I had to heal my relationship to food and get back to food as nourishment rather than food being about calories, and teach myself that less food wasn’t always better.” Around the same time, DuBoise’ childhood friend Whitney Tingle was going through her own health struggles, with the long hours of a stressful Wall Street job causing her to gain weight and develop cystic acne. DuBoise, who had been a pre-med student, switched her focus to nutrition, and the two friends dedicated a year of their lives studying both Eastern and Western approaches to health. They launched Sakara in 2011.
“Eating this way is what completely changed my mindset around food and finally gave me the body I wanted, and I wanted to share this way of life with as many people as possible,” DuBoise says of her decision to get into the organic food delivery game. Though the hugely successful company now employs 80 people and has been covered in the press by the likes of Forbes, Business Insider, Vogue, and more, in the beginning it was just the two best friends from Sedona, Arizona working tirelessly out of their own NYC kitchen. “We started by bootstrapping the company with $700, so Whitney and I did everything. We cooked, we handled finances, tech, customer service, PR, all of it.” Their hard work clearly paid off, but before they became the secret weapon of Victoria’s Secret Angels and were minted in the "Forbes 30-Under-30" canon, they had their fair share of panic-inducing challenges. “We got a huge piece of press from Gwyneth Paltrow and the next week none of our delivery drivers showed up so Whitney and I had to take hundreds of dollars worth of taxis to deliver everything ourselves at 4am after being in the kitchen all night,” DuBoise recalls. These days, Sakara delivers its healthy meals to thousands who swear by the nourishing, delicious, plant-based fare, including Paltrow, Lena Dunham, and Kate Hudson, and the company recently launched S-Life Mag, an editorial extension of their wellness brand which features recipes, beauty tips, and interviews with women like Mary Helen Bowers of Ballet Beautiful and supermodel and Sakara devotee Lily Aldridge, amongst others.
DuBoise says she and Tingle plan to expand Sakara even more in the next few years, bringing their unique approach to creating safe and effective wellness-based products to beauty, supplements, and homecare. On a personal level, DuBoise says she wants to start a non-profit venture in the near future, and she recently started a band with her husband. “We never have enough time to really work on it, but it's still so fun when we do,” she says. Though she’s incredibly busy and the pressure of running a business can be intense, since deciding to shift from medical school to entrepreneurship six years ago, Danielle DuBoise has never looked back. What keeps her going? “Knowing we're helping thousands of people transform their lives through the power of food as medicine,” she says. “When I took the time to prioritize my health, that's when I found my purpose.”