Whitney Tingle and Danielle DuBoise started out as childhood best friends from Sedona, Arizona and ended up co-CEOs of the New York City-based wellness empire, Sakara. As a fan of the brand for years (seriously, go order a box of their Charcoal Detox Bars now), I’ve watched the company evolve into the coolest, sexiest meal delivery service in the country — and yes, it turns out there is such a thing as a sexy meal delivery service.
When I got a chance to hop on the phone with the duo, I had a few major questions. One: How did they manage to make health food sexy? Two: How do they navigate that best friend/business partner relationship? And finally: How is their doubled up beauty-to-brains ratio humanly possible? (Hint: There’s something in the Sakara food.)
Whitney and Danielle grew up in a “hippie, spiritual town” (Danielle’s words) where they were aware of natural foods and their “power to heal” from a young age. When they started college — Whitney studied at the University of Arizona, double majoring in Spanish and Business and Danielle headed to New York to study Biochemistry and Human Anthropology at Hunter — that perspective slowly slipped away.
The stress of adulthood affected each woman differently: Whitney dealt with acne and weight gain and Danielle’s lifelong body image issues resurfaced. But it wasn’t until they graduated and found themselves in new careers — with a fresh set of stressors — that they decided to get back to their roots and heal themselves. As Danielle puts it, “It was time to renegotiate my relationship to my body and my relationship to my plate.”
“We put together this food and nutrition program,” Whitney explains. “It was our own food philosophy based on a whole food plant based diet, based on more spiritual understandings of food and nutrition and macrobiotics.”
The results were “too powerful and too much,” they thought, to ignore; they had to share it with the world. And that’s how Sakara was born.
Sakara is different from most meal delivery services. For one thing, it’s pretty goddamn glamorous. Click through to their website and you’ll see vibrant, colorful foods styled to Insta-worthy perfection, beautifully packaged snacks like Rosemary Kale Chips and Chia Tortillas that look too pretty to tear into, and even chic, minimalist Sakara tote bags. If you’re anything like me, you might be compelled to pull out your credit card to taste-test the $40 Beauty Water Concentrate.
The mainstay of Sakara is the meal delivery service, which brings fully-prepared food, snacks, and drinks right to your door. But since its beginnings in 2011, Sakara has evolved (after raising almost $4 million in funding) to include cleanses, detoxes, teas, supplements, and snacks — among them Danielle’s favorite, Watermelon Jerky. The evolution was impressive if not easy.
Whitney maintains that “[the biggest challenge] is growing — when you’re starting from scratch and growing quickly you need to be able to evolve all the time. The company dynamics change, the staff changes, you’re managing more people. You have to have one eye on what’s going on now and one eye on what’s going to happen in the future and to be able to adapt and grow.”
Expanding that quickly — going from two to 80 employees in a couple of years — made for stressful situations that even the ultimate wellness gurus couldn’t avoid, but luckily their key to de-stressing is baked into the business plan.
“Food is by far the most important piece in finding balance for me. It controls your mood, brain clarity, body weight, energy, everything,” says Whitney.
“And balance is not a static point,” Danielle adds. “If you at least know how to get back to feeling good, that’s half the battle. One of my mottos is, ‘Food should make you feel sexy.’”
Yup, I’ll have what she’s having.