Business Magazine

Interview with Health Strategist and Culinary Entrepreneur, Marni Wasserman

Posted on the 19 May 2016 by Andreaantal @andreaeantal

My life is rooted in healthy eating. I'm a Culinary Nutritionist, Health Strategist, Co-Host of The Ultimate Health Podcast and founder of Marni Wasserman's Food Studio & Lifestyle Shop located in midtown Toronto, where I teach my signature cooking classes, and offer collaborative workshops and urban retreats. I am also the author of Fermenting for Dummies and Plant-Based Diet For Dummies . I have made several media appearances on Breakfast Television, Global News, CBC, CHCH and Newstalk 1010 and has articles in the National Post, Toronto Star, Huffington Post and Chatelaine Magazine. I use my passion and experience to educate individuals on how to adopt a realistic plant-based diet that is both simple and delicious.

WHAT MOTIVATED & INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?

I have always had a passion for healthy eating and healthy living. I realized that I wanted to share this with others after working in the health field as a personal trainer for several years. It wasn't enough just to tell people what to eat; I wanted to show them what to eat. I feel that was the missing link for people. I wanted to inspire people through hands-on cooking classes. I had taken so many classes myself over the years and loved my experiences. When that became clear to me, I went to study holistic nutrition, followed by Culinary School in New York, and then I made the decision to start teaching my own cooking classes. My first classes were held in my parents' home, which was the perfect place to start my business in a low-key and low-budget way. It started very simply and grew organically until I was able to open up my Food Studio and Lifestyle Shop three years ago. At this point, I have been in business for almost 10 years.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS.

My business focuses on teaching whole foods cooking classes to get people inspired and motivated to make healthy eating accessible, delicious and fun. Through hands-on classes, workshops, and day retreats I am able to facilitate and show people just how easy it is to eat well. I have a food studio that runs public classes and private events. I also do writing, food demonstrations, seminars, along with online and TV appearances to share my message about eating clean, plant-based and whole foods. I love that I get the chance to connect with people on a day-to-day basis to make a difference in their health and lifestyle. It is so gratifying to show people that simply through food and other modifications in their life, they can reach ultimate health.

WHAT WERE THE FIRST FEW STEPS YOU TOOK TO GET YOUR BUSINESS UP AND RUNNING?

When I first started my business, I really didn't have a formal business plan. I just started doing what I knew how to do - teach a cooking class. That was the early stages. My means of marketing and connection was through my blog and word of mouth. I slowly and organically started to build momentum with my reach. I participated in lots of trade shows and live events, and did lots of speaking gigs for little or no pay just to get my message out there. It was an evolution, and it has taken several years. When I opened my own "brick and mortar" location - my Food Studio - this really helped to spread the message of my business, even after building a six-year following. It has been a journey and an evolution, and I am still growing with it every day.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY OF RAISING AWARENESS OF YOUR BUSINESS AND GETTING NEW CUSTOMERS?

I think word of mouth has been the best. When people come to a class, workshop, talk or event at the studio and share their experience, there is no greater value. I have also exposed myself through so many mediums from social media, writing books, blogs and articles, in addition to live appearances around the North America. This has helped to build my brand and my following. I am also really good at connecting with people. Whether it's just individuals in the community looking to make a difference with their health, or other like-minded businesses. This has been a very helpful strategy that I have used to raise awareness. I think networking and connecting with others that are like-minded has helped to make my name and my brand a household name.

WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES SO FAR WITH RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?

Some of the biggest challenges have come from learning how to make the "right" decisions, even at the wrong times. When you are managing everything from the front-end to the back-end, there is so much coming at you, and sometimes, you just have to decide. This could be in relation to the cost of products being sold, how to deal with customers, which companies to collaborate with - there is really so much. This is something that doesn't really get easier over time as there is always going to be curve balls thrown at you, as the business owner. You just need to roll with them and do the best you can!

HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE CHALLENGES?

I am not sure that I have overcome the challenges I outlined above. However, I have learned how to deal with them better. Now it's just about making the best decisions, doing my research, and making sure that my staff and my customers are happy, and that my business online and offline is running fluidly. Often, people don't even see what goes on behind the scenes, and that's okay. As long as they get the value of what they are looking for and I am doing the best I can with full integrity.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

What I love about running my own business is the flexibility. I get to do what I want, when I want, and I don't have someone overseeing me, which is likely why most people become an entrepreneur. This does come with its setbacks, as you are never really off duty. Your business becomes your life and vice-versa. What I also love is that I get the chance to interact and work with all kinds of different people. Whether it's other business owners or amazing consumers that I get to meet. Lastly, it is quite rewarding to be able to say that I've created this from scratch. This is my baby, and nobody else can play the part of me!

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER ENTREPRENEURS?

I would definitely say that it's important to try and find other people that are like-minded to connect with early on. This can help with business development, personal development and just creating a community. What you can learn from friends and colleagues on the same path is amazing. There is no course or book that will teach you business in more "real time" then other people who are going through what you are.

HOW DO YOU KEEP MOTIVATED THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES?

I do my best to stay positive. However, at times it does get tough to stay motivated, especially during slow months. But, this just means I have to be more creative with other revenue streams or other ideas for business development. Then, in my personal time, I try to make sure that sleep, exercise, nutrition, meditation and stress management are all part of my health routine. Without these in place, it's hard to be motivated in anything.

DO YOU HAVE A BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY?

My philosophy is to find your true passion and go after it. I also believe that you can't follow a strict business plan. You have to let your business evolve and roll out as things take shape. Be open minded and flexible. It may take months or years to grow to your full potential, but be patient - it will come!


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