In Conversation with Sara Cullen of GEM

Sara Cullen_Blog Header

Describe your business in a few words?

GEM is a scientifically backed, food-first solution to the outdated and unregulated multivitamin and supplement industry. We use plant-based holistic science to deliver better-for-you nutritional solutions at the cellular level, focusing on using food as medicine. Our Daily Essentials for Women is redesigning the daily vitamin with synergistic superfood ingredients to improve everyday health outcomes from energy and brain function to gut health and inflammation. Be on the lookout for new launches in 2021 too!

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

My personal frustrations with our broken healthcare and food system – and the vital need to revolutionize our nutritional solutions with cleaner, whole food alternatives.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I’m a 2x entrepreneur in the food and beverage world. My personal studies, research, and prior work has been in agricultural development, food policy, and sustainability. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Yes! I always knew I wanted to build awesome things with incredible people and make a big impact.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

My strategy was to build a lean prototype and get it into the hands of people as quickly as possible so we could iterate with customers at the heart and center of the brand and work to build a quality product that helped people feel their best. We started by forming a private beta community on Facebook to share our initial prototypes and collect as much feedback as possible. This community ended up becoming our early adopters and evangelists.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

A lot of our challenges were being impatient in the early days and wanting to push growth really quickly. Making sure the management and structure of your business is set up to support growth is so critical to ensure sustainability in scalability – and also to ensure you don’t burn your team out too fast.  

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Building an awesome team of humans and a product that has positively impacted people’s health. 

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

“What does success look like for you?” 

Hiring requires a thoughtful, structured, and proactive process that eliminates unconscious biases. Create a scorecard first and foremost, not necessarily a job description. This scorecard should describe exactly what you want a person to accomplish in great detail – a set of outcomes or deliverables and competencies that indicate whether they are meeting and exceeding expectations in that role. This scorecard helps clarify the type of candidate you seek to be able to meet and exceed the role’s requirements. From there, run a proactive, structured, and consistent interview process and make sure to ask for the right kinds of references! 

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

We’ve been really fortunate to build a product that helps your immunity and health – something that people are investing in now more than ever. 

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

We’re launching some exciting new products – all rooted in the premise that food is medicine. We’re also launching a new look & feel that speaks to our larger mission in translating the confusing science and health information and making it more accessible and exciting to learn about your bodies. As we continue to grow, we’ll continue to build out natural, food-first alternatives to the supplement and medicine aisle. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

To listen. 

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

The importance of putting more time into the “why” and “who” and not the “what”.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Yes in the sense that they should coexist effortlessly. My work is my passion – a tip is to find something where you feel like you’re getting paid to play. 

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I lived out of a single small backpack for 6 months. 

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Drink water.
  • Be cognizant of nourishing yourself with the right nutrients and whole, minimally-processed, foods.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Being a woman who helps other women. Trusting your instincts, taking big risks, and all the while celebrating other women to lead us into a brighter future.

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





Michele Henry of FACE FOUNDRIÉ on why she leans into her fears, and the importance of dreaming big

Describe FACE FOUNDRIÉ in a few words? Efficient and effective focused facial bar specializing in all things face, facials, lashes, brows, and skincare. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I worked in my parents’ small inground pool business from age 13 all the way through college. Being an entrepreneur is…

Ashley Spriggs of Pivot Media on the power of genuine relationships

Describe your business in a few words? We are a media firm that gets your message the attention it deserves. We offer services in Public Relations and Podcast Management. What made you take the leap to start your own business? It was the right time! I was growing my client list as an independent contractor…

Mary Allard of The Third Place podcast on inviting listeners to explore uncomfortable conversations in a safe space

Describe your business in a few words? The Third Place podcast is a weekly podcast that invites listeners into the hard conversations that we have a tendency to avoid. It is a podcast that “goes there,” within a safe place where curiosity is encouraged, differences are welcomed, and empathy is embraced through healthy dialogue. What…

Kelsea Olivia of East Olivia Creative on creating experiences that spark curiosity, joy, and connection

Describe your business in a few words? East Olivia is a boutique creative agency that specializes in large-scale floral installations. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been starting businesses since I was a child, selling my crafts and babysitting. As an adult, I had an innate desire to…

Tiffany Roman of Small Biz Highlight on creating a platform to help small businesses thrive

Describe your business in a few words? Small Biz Highlight is a web show, created to help introduce the people behind a small/local business, their products and services, and discuss how COVID affected them. What made you take the leap to start your own business? Back in April 2020, COVID shutdowns were in full effect…

11 Mamaprenistas share their best productivity tips to manage a business and a family

1) Tierney Larkin, Founder at Larkin Living Spaces: “Be sure to have a designated space to work that is just for you and your business. It can be a makeshift office in the corner of a room, or even a traveling cart that you can take around with you to store all of your supplies…

How Two Entreprenistas Launched & Scaled Their Business on Shopify in 30 Days

Within 9 years, Stephanie Cartin and Courtney Spritzer have bolstered the presence of over 300 women-owned companies — all through social media strategy, platform management, influencer marketing, paid media and creative service. Given their success with Socialfly, Steph and Courtney recently decided to create a podcast called Entreprenistas, which provides a community to celebrate and…

Sarah Kallile of Lunnie on building the first community-led brand for modern mothers

Describe Lunnie in a few words? Community-led brand for modern mothers. We’re reinventing the nursing bra. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I’m a mom of two young girls. While breastfeeding my second daughter, I was frustrated with my clunky nursing bra and how it made me feel frumpy. I…

Ramy Sharp on launching Ramy Brook to fill a void in the marketplace, and what inspired her to take the leap

Describe Ramy Brook in a few words? Happy, Sexy and Strong! Ramy Brook is female owned and operated, stemming from one woman’s dream to uplift, empower and celebrate women. The apparel, accessories and swimwear collections transcend generational dressing, offering something for anyone looking for a vibrant and celebrational style. My vision is for women who…

Charlotte Michailidis of Parenthood Ventures on fueling the next wave of innovation for early stage ParentTech

Describe your business in a few words? Parenthood Ventures is the founder ecosystem for early stage ParentTech – i.e., startups serving parents, from fertility to teens.  Companies in our community span sub-sectors like caregiving, employee benefits, food, physical goods, digital health, retail, clothing, education, media/entertainment and fintech.  The objective is to fuel the next wave…

Vanessa Coppes of BELLA Media + Co on how determining who her customer was changed her business

Describe BELLA Media + Co in a few words? Lifestyle media company sharing content and resources for living a beautiful life. What made you take the leap to start your own business? My mental health. Launching my business literally saved my life. I was suffering from postpartum depression and needed a creative outlet. I launched…

Ingrid He of the Sjogren’s Tracker app on using her creativity to help people with autoimmune disorders manage their symptoms

Describe your business in a few words? Sjogren’s (SHOW-grins) Tracker is an app that helps people with autoimmune disorders manage their symptoms and flares. We aim to help our users better understand their conditions and identify triggers to their flares. Our mission is to create innovative solutions to improve the lives of users and facilitate…

Bari Koral of Yogapalooza on pioneering kids yoga with Yogapalooza!

Describe your business in a few words? Bari Koral is a Kids Yoga Pioneer and recording artist. Bari inspires thousands of parents, teachers and young children every day with her kids yoga, music and mindfulness activities and popular YouTube channel. What made you take the leap to start your own business? After burning out on…

Angelica Hanley of ACouplePuns on growing her business while staying 100% true to herself, and the biggest lessons she has learned over the years

Describe your business in a few words? ACouplePuns specializes in sparking joy through laughter and delivers the punniest content and high-quality paper goodies for every special occasion and moment in-between. Whether your bestie loves her house plants, binge-watching Friends, or drinking coffee, ACouplePuns has a punny card for that!   What made you take the leap…

Kelly DuFord Williams of Slate Law Group on disrupting the traditional law firm space and building a business where employees can thrive

Describe your business in a few words? Slate Law Group is a forward-thinking, accessible San Diego-based boutique law firm that provides legal, tax and HR services for small to medium sized businesses and corporations. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was inspired to start my own business because I…