So Good Baby's Founder on The Simple Supermarket Hack for Shopping Healthier
Photos: So Good Baby
Not every health-conscious parent can carve out time for their local farmers market — and yet we'll somehow pull ourselves together for a five-minute drive to our neighborhood Target. That was the thinking behind the creation of So Good Baby and Juice So Good, two fresh food brands founded by entrepreneur Rita Katona.
"I realized that I could buy fresher, healthier dog food at basically any grocery store or mass merchant than I could find baby food," says Katona, a health & wellness enthusiast and former Target executive. Fueled by her childhood experiences in Southern Hungary — where produce was plucked straight from her grandmother's garden — and her belief that everyone should have access to good-for-you groceries, the savvy business woman teamed with her entrepreneur husband, Eric Hall, to launch a healthy food and beverage brand and café in their home city of Minneapolis.
Made from 100% organic, non-GMO verified whole foods, So Good offers cold-pressed juice, nut milk-based coffees, and baby food — all readily available on the shelves of Target, Whole Foods, and other specialty markets. On top of getting nutritious packaged foods in the hands of busy parents, So Good's mission also involves diverting over 94% of its waste away from landfills through recycling, repurposing, and composting anything and everything.
Sound good? We got to know Katona (who's also a certified yoga instructor!) to learn more about her career journey, her favorite comfort food from Hungary, her grocery shopping hack for eating healthier, and much more. Read on below, and shop So Good Baby and Juice So Good online here and here.
Tell me about your professional journey, and how did your career/life experiences lead to you creating So Good Baby?
I did what many ambitious 20-somethings do and climbed the corporate ladder, spending 12 years in corporate retail between HSN and Target. I had very cool positions at both companies and loved building businesses and working with companies who were creative, nimble and mission-driven. I have always been passionate about food and wellness, and often pondered business ideas that would allow me to make an impact on people through healthy food. When I met my husband Eric, a serial entrepreneur with a passion and background in health and fitness, he encouraged me to follow my dream and start my own company.
What's a typical day in your life look like?
I wish there was such a thing! Every single day is different and brings new opportunities and challenges and I love that — there’s definitely no getting bored of going to the same meetings week after week, month after month — the life of an entrepreneur in a growing start-up is an ever-changing exciting one. I’ve worked 20+ hour days doing back-to-back events involving travel on the heels of having to do physical labor in our production facility when we were short-staffed. My husband and I have jumped in to drive orders to both end-customers as well as retailers, and we’ve literally run from the airport to meet with Target buyers.
Three years in, I’m starting to find that elusive balance everyone talks about! I’m happy to say that on most days, I can now squeeze in some form of exercise or physical activity which is key to sanity — be it a yoga class, a run or swim, or a quick trip to the gym to lift weights, but at the very least, walking my dog and breathing some fresh air! I also love to cook, so at least one meal a day, my husband (who is our COO) and I try to make something at home and as we are big foodies, these meals tend to turn semi-gourmet. In between, it is conference calls and meetings and we love it.
We love that you have yoga certification! When work/family life gets overwhelming, what are your favorite ways to unwind and relax?
I find that getting into nature is key to put things into perspective. It also usually involves some physical activity, which helps ground and calm me. When weather doesn’t cooperate, or if I have the luxury of time, a treasured yoga class is always like medicine to get me back to “center” and equilibrium in body and spirit. When neither of these is an option, I practice my own yoga and self-care through breath work and spending some luxurious downtime soaking in a bath.
Favorite organizational tools or apps that keep you sane?
Dropbox, Genius Scan, and SleepBot.
What's your favorite dish to make that reminds you of your childhood in Hungary?
In Hungary we eat a lot of vegetable dishes called “fozelek” that are basically stewed vegetables that can range from kohlrabi and cabbage to beans/legumes or potatoes. I love to make a “fozelek” out of lentils slow-cooked with onions, garlic, and shredded carrots (sometimes i throw in some shredded kale for good measure) because it is super easy, tasty and a nutrition powerhouse of fiber and protein. It is comfort food at it’s best.
For people that want healthier food but don't always have the time to cook, what's your best advice for making better choices in the grocery aisles?
The easiest thing is to avoid the inner aisles of grocery stores as much as possible and stay on the perimeter, where the coolers are! Real food is usually perishable and found in refrigerators, not in cardboard boxes on shelves in the center of the store. Packing your cart with mostly produce items is a great start!
What's your best advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Build and fortify a support system of friends and family on the personal side, and business mentors/partners/key personnel on the business side to ensure you have the tools and space to create momentum for your idea. This Village of Cheerleaders can be critical to the success of your idea and to maintaining your quality of life.
Homepage photo: @wholelovelylife