Q: What background can you share about yourself and your business, nutty life?
A: It all started when terrible stomach aches from froyo made me think I was lactose intolerant, but after switching to store-bought almond milk, the terrible stomach aches came back. After doing some research, I realized my body was having a bad reaction to gums and carrageenan, commonly found in both froyo and alternative milks. That’s when I started making almond milk myself and creating smoothies that everyone loved.
After seven years of making my own almond milk, I launched a Kickstarter in 2015 for nutty life while working a full-time desk job at Merrill Lynch. From there, I worked part-time until I figured out the rules and regulations of the food industry, then launched the business in September of that year. It started out with direct sales to friends and families, then grew into sales to farmers markets in the Boston area. A year later, we launched in stores.
We’re now in 50 stores throughout New England, with 7 in Vermont specifically. Shipping reaches 24 states and the plan is to launch more in more states soon. We’re in the process of moving production up here, which has grown to include vegan cookie dough, make-your-own cashew milk kits, lip balm, deodorant, soaps, and body butter that just got picked up by the Woodstock Inn & Resort.
Our cashew milks contain between 8% and 35% cashews– while store bought nut milks only have around 2% and contain carrageenan and gums known to cause bowel issues. All our products from deodorant to cashew milk are made with real ingredients & completely additive free – and my husband and I make every batch ourselves! Our philosophy: everything you put on your body should be as good as what you put in your body.
We love everything about Vermont. I feel like I’m going to live a longer, happier life here.
Q: What spurred the decision to move from Boston to Woodstock?
A: About two years ago, my husband, Craig, and I bought a weekend place in Woodstock and we found ourselves visiting whenever we could. We love everything about Vermont. I feel like I’m going to live a longer, happier life here.
Q: What were the biggest risks/fears you encountered when deciding to move?
A: I was most concerned about not having a smooth transition with the business. Things did go wrong at the production facility in the beginning, and I had to go down to Boston more frequently, but everything’s good now. When we bring more of the production process to Vermont, it’ll be five minutes away instead of 2.5 hours.
On the personal side, we didn’t really know anyone before we decided to move here. At first, since my husband commuted to Cape Cod for work, I was by myself during the week so there was a risk of not having enough personal interaction. But we’ve met so many great couples already.
Q: As a newly minted Woodstock resident, what favorite local shops can you share with us?
A: I love coming to the South Woodstock Country store. It’s a space for locals that hasn’t been discovered by tourists yet, so it’s more of a hidden gem. The Woodstock Farmers’ Market is my favorite spot to get a sandwich and eat by the river in the summer. I love the Woodstock Inn; Richardson’s Tavern is wonderful… I could go there all day every day. Worthy Kitchen is another favorite, so is Clover Gift Shop, which has a lot of nifty finds. I still have a pair of moose slippers that I bought there years ago! Watching glass blowing at Simon Pearce is awesome – and the ambience with the waterfall is incredible. Feast and Field is also amazing!
Q: Continuing the theme of local – and you’ve alluded to this already – what can you share with us about the shared kitchen/production facility you’re opening in Woodstock in 2019?
A: We just purchased a space in town for a shared kitchen. Our goal is to support the community of people who are looking for guidance on starting a business or who need space to continue growing their business. We’re community minded. We want to help with everything from making introductions to providing insights about sourcing – so that people don’t feel like they’re going at this large endeavor by themselves. So it’ll be kitchen space, but it’ll be way more than that. We hope to handle a variety of needs there – and we’re leaning toward making it a gluten-free kitchen. Gluten actually stays in the air for three days, so cross contamination can happen easily. This space will also serve as the production facility for nutty life!
Q: You’ve tackled food kitchens before in Mass. What’s different this time around?
A: There are slightly different regulations in Vermont, but it’s pretty similar state-to-state. We invited a state inspector to go through the space with us to learn what needed to be done to get the permit in hand. One of the things that Vermont is more cognizant of is waste: specifically waste water and composting. It’s cool because they’re more environmentally friendly here, which is nutty life’s aim as a business. We have 0% food waste in our production.
Before, we were visiting as tourists, but now we feel like a part of the community. We feel at home.
Q: So ORIGINALLY, nutty life WAS balanced between Boston and Woodstock. How DID that affected the nature of the business and its mission?
A: It was tricky, which is why we took the leap to bring production to Woodstock. Every Monday, I drove 5 hours total there and back to our production facility in Massachusetts. Those are long days and now that I’m pregnant, I know I can’t keep doing that. Now, more than ever, I’m more focused on self-care, like getting more sleep, exercising, and de-stressing.
Q: Congratulations, by the way! Now that you’re putting down roots, has your perception of Woodstock changed since becoming a resident?
A: Before, we were visiting as tourists, but now we feel like a part of the community. We feel at home. The things that drew us here like the natural beauty and outdoor spaces are the things we still love best about it.
Q: From your social media accounts, you seem to have a dedicated, loving customer base in Boston and beyond. For other entrepreneurs considering a move to Woodstock, what – in your opinion – does it take to maintain this part of a business from afar?
A: I’m big on customer service. The second an order comes in, we reach out via email to start that interaction. We’ve gotten to know a lot of customers personally, and that’s one of the parts of the business that I enjoy the most. A loyal customer moved to a town that didn’t carry nutty life products locally – so we reached out to her personally as soon as that changed. We like a mix of personal and social media interactions. Instagram has been our biggest way to reach people, which is a necessary evil; it’s important to have that contact but we really value a more human interaction. We aim embody the picture portraying on social media.
We also love and support the creativity of our customers. We repost a lot of the content from our customers who share food shots on Instagram, which further encourages them to post delicious nutty life content.
Q: Speaking of Instagram-worthy food, what are your top tips for eating healthy, especially considering the upcoming holiday season?
A: Life is all about balance. I used to be super strict with what I ate – to the point where I would feel anxious or stressed out if I was going out to dinner or going over to someone’s house for dinner. It was a health obsession that turned out to not be so healthy. Nowadays, I focus on the 90/10 rule. I eat healthy 90% of the time & indulge 10% of the time. My body feels better when I eat healthy, so I usually tend to eat super healthy after a day of super indulgence. My best piece of advice is to eat healthy most of the time & to not feel bad if you do indulge. Also, move your body at least 30 minutes a day!
Q: What would you recommend to anyone considering moving their family and/or business to Vermont?
A: DO IT!!! It’s the best thing I have ever done for my personal well-being. My philosophy in life: you can make anything work if you set your heart and mind on it. You have to be in a place that makes you happy to flourish :)
To learn more about Nutty life and where to find its products, as well as awesome, wholesome recipes, visit the website here.
To uncover details about their Woodstock-based shared kitchen space, vermont kitchen, click here.