If you haven't been over to Melanie Morton's blog, Get Real with Mel, then you're truly missing out! Mel is a former trainer turned lifestyle blogger focusing on the real issues that young girls and women deal with, but nobody talks about. She talks about body image issues, eating disorders, postpartum depression and not only how to cope with it, but how to heal yourself by becoming more mindful, listening to your body, and nourishing it with the right foods. And guys, she talks from experience. Just read her 'Meet Mel' section and mission, and you'll see what she has lived through personally and why it's her mission to lift up other women and help them find a self-loving mindset.
I first met Mel about two years ago when she reached out to me via Facebook because she had found Paleo Scavenger and wanted to help spread my mission. I was so humbled by this, and for the first time, I really began to understand how my product was making a difference in people's lives. Fast forward two years, and Mel has become a good friend and a badass boss lady that I turn to for advice. So when she asked me to be her first #fangirlfriday post, (a weekly feature on someone that Mel finds inspiring and motivating) I was honored and obviously said yes. You can read the full blog post here or read just the interview below.
You have come such a long way since your corporate days, tell us about your road to success with Paleo Scavenger (how it started, where it is now, what you hope for the future, etc):
It has definitely been quite the journey so far! My idea for Paleo Scavenger started about 2.5 years ago when I was in my second year of business school. I was part of an incredible program at UIC that sparked my passion for entrepreneurship and left me with an itch to do something BIG. After I graduated, I couldn’t stop thinking about my idea for a paleo snack company, and the thought of staying in the daily grind of the corporate world was disheartening. So, about a month later, and after countless sleepless nights, I decided to quit my job to start a snack business. The way I looked at it was this – now is my time to be selfish. I didn’t have anyone to worry about other than myself, so now is a better time than any. And hey, if it doesn’t work out, the experience I’ll gain from starting a business will get me a job anywhere. (Or at least that’s what I told myself to help me sleep at night, ha!) Getting the business off the ground was a hell of a rollercoaster. The highs were so high, but the lows were so low. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that I was creating something bigger than myself. I started PS with the mission to make clean eating easy and accessible, and I would remind myself of that whenever I felt like giving up. Now, two years later, Paleo Scavenger has become a successful line of granola snacks that is sold in approximately 90 grocery stores throughout Chicagoland. My vision for PS is to create a full line of paleo snacks (I never wanted to just do granola, but I learned early to focus on one thing and do it right before you launch anything else). So once the granola has national distribution, I will get back into the kitchen to work on the next product line. Maybe cookies?? My ultimate goal is to create a national brand that makes clean eating easier, but still tasty!
When was your “AHA!” moment when you knew that this was what you really wanted to be doing with your life?
My “aha” moment happened in April 2015. I signed up for my very first trade show called Paleo f(x), a trade show for all things paleo, and during setup, I was looking around at all of the big companies near me thinking what the hell am I doing here?! It’s like that moment when you walk into a meeting and realize that you’re totally underdressed and completely self-conscious about it the ENTRIE time. Yup, that was me. I was sandwiched between The New Primal and Fatco Skincare (awesome companies, btw!) and I kept thinking why the heck did I sign up for this. I’m not ready!! As they assembled their awesome booth displays that they had shipped there, I pulled granola samples out of my suitcase that I carried on the plane and set them on the table. I had terrible anxiety about the two days to follow. People are going to think I’m a joke! But the next day when the show opened, everything changed. I could not believe all of the amazing compliments I was getting about the granola and how excited people were to find it. At one point, a young girl came up to my booth, grabbed a sample and walked away. About 10 minutes later she came back and asked me if there were oats in the granola. I said, well if there were oats in it I wouldn’t be able to walk in this door. (We’re at Paleo f(x)…c’mon!) We kept talking and I learned that she was celiac and that the one thing she missed the most since being diagnosed was granola. She said my granola tasted so good that she was worried it had oats in it. She was so happy when she read the ingredient list and thanked me for creating such a great product. That moment was THE moment when I realized that what I’m doing is worth it. I created something that fills a need in people’s lives. Winning the 2015 Top 15 Products of Paleo f(x) was the cherry on top.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
In five years, I hope to be on an endless vacation! Ha, no but really…my dream is to build Paleo Scavenger to a national brand and truly help change people’s lifestyles and eating habits. Once it gets to that point, I want to sell PS to someone that can take it even further. Then…who knows. Maybe take a break, travel the world, and find my next inspiration. I always say I wish I had a magic 8 ball to know what the future holds, but then where is the fun in that?!
You run Paleo Scavenger and have built it from the ground up, what advice can you give young entrepreneurs about starting up their own biz?
Two things. First, have a partner. I cannot preach enough about that. My biggest wish if I could go back and start all over again would be to start the company with a partner that I trust and that lives and breathes the brand like I do. Having that support is so important. Someone to share the success with and someone to help you through the difficult times. Luckily I have an incredible support system in my mom and boyfriend. They have been there through the ups and downs and the 2am nights in the kitchen baking granola by my side. If it wasn’t for them, I probably would have given up a long time ago. Second, ASK FOR HELP! I’m the absolute worst when it comes to asking for help. I hate the feeling that I’m a burden on someone else. But you know what, whenever I get an email or a phone call from a young entrepreneur, I am always 100% willing and able to help them out. So why the heck don’t I take advantage of that when it comes to my own business?? I’m slowly but surely getting over that, and I haven’t heard a “no” yet. So…again…ask for help!
What’s your favorite recipe?
My absolute favorite recipe is roasted brussels sprouts. Yessss. So simple, but so good. I literally make a batch every week. It’s my go-to veggie for any meal. Morning eggs with brussels. lunchtime chicken with brussels, you get the idea. All I do is cut the brussels in half, top with ghee or coconut oil, add some salt, pepper and Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, etc.) and roast for 40 minutes. Sometimes I add bacon and raisins and it rocks my world. So yes, brussels sprouts.
You’re a busy business woman—how do you manage your time so well?? Tips would be helpful!
I am the WORST at time management. I’m typically 15 minutes late to just about everything in my life. My friends and family call me out on it and literally lie about the meeting time so that I show up early. Let’s say I have to be at a dinner event at 7pm, they lie and tell me it starts at 6:30 knowing that I’ll be late. It’s terrible. However, I have to say that when it comes to business, I’m much more put together. If I have an early morning meeting, I have to force myself to stay away from my phone (I live in my inbox) and focus on getting ready and out the door. I wish I had more tips in this department, but it’s still a work in progress for me.
You live such an active, healthy lifestyle! What’s your go-to workout that you LOVE?
I’ve been a runner since I was 14, so I’d have to say my favorite go-to workout is a long run. It is the one ritual I have that allows me to focus on myself. Running is my “me time.” It’s that one hour of the day where I can destress and be alone with my thoughts. It’s probably my favorite part of the day.
Any other comments, quotes, advice that you would like to share with our readers and tell us where we can snag that yummy Paleo Scavenger granola!
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, I always tell people to focus on you and do your thing. My personal motto the last two years has been ‘do you.’ Do YOUR thing, YOUR way, with no regret, remorse or fear. Don’t compare your journey to those around you. Focus on you and your goals and work at it everyday. You’ll probably find that the more you do that, you’ll rid the negativity out of your life and become surrounded by people that believe in the same things as you and help build you up to achieve your goals. So, do you!