“You must love what you do and be fully dedicated to the cause.”
Natalia is a qualified meditation teacher, and co-founder of plant-based nutrition brand, Form. Ahead of her talk on entrepreneurial wellbeing at the Plant Based Business Bootcamp, we caught up with Natalia and asked her a few questions about her exciting career journey so far.
What were you doing before starting Form?
I used to be a PR Director in the luxury industry and worked with brands such as Land Rover and Dior. On my last day working at a communications agency, I had the incredible privilege of meeting Usain Bolt.
Having the chance to interact with the people and companies for whom excellence is their primary motivation has developed my attention to detail and taught me that in order to excel in life, you must love what you do and be fully dedicated to the cause.
Can you give our readers a few quick tips for avoiding burnout?
1) Take Control of Your Time
Remind yourself of the things that inspire you about your job and how your contribution matters. Once you’ve ignited your motivation, write down a list with three micro-actions that will take you and the business to the next level. Then, make the time to get cracking with them before your attention wonders and the day is over.
2) Stabilise your mind and establish boundaries
Throughout the day, use the mini breaks you have in between meetings, going to the loo or getting a cup of tea to be aware of your internal landscape. You can do this with three deep breaths:
1st Breath: Bring your attention to the process of breathing: when you inhale, simply feel the air traveling down your nostrils, making your chest expand and your tummy rise. When you exhale, release any tension.
2nd Breath: Relax your body
3rd Breath: Ask yourself “How do I feel now?”
The answer you get will guide your next set of actions. If you are overwhelmed by deadlines, seek support and don’t be scared to say no to further demands; that is the only way to change an imbalanced work dynamic. If you are upset because of an office bully, move from existential mode (where you are heavily identified by your emotions) to an experiential mode (where you acknowledge that emotions come and go, so instead of saying to yourself “I am sad” simply say, “ I experience sadness”.
3) Check out and chill
Don’t be a slave to your phone. Switch it off when you leave work and schedule time to recharge your battery and reset your energy. Find an activity that feels relaxing for you – playing with the dog, cooking a meal, having a bath, booking a massage, trying restorative yoga or float tanks – anything that helps you decrease stress levels and bring your body and mind back in harmony.
“80% of our customers are not vegans.”
What makes Form stand out from other brands?
We do not compromise on taste. It took us over a year to develop our blends and branding. We have a minimal approach to design and very high standards when it comes to the quality of ingredients in our products.
Because of this, despite being a 100% plant-based brand, 80% of our customers are not vegans – an achievement we are really proud of. Instead of “preach to the converted” our challenge is to support people in reducing the amount of animal protein they consume.
Our aim is to elevate nutrition to be more than a protein shake after the gym, but how you nourish yourself. We want to encourage consumers to expand on their notion of wellbeing beyond themselves and consider others and the planet, too.
Your Instagram feed is beautiful. How important do you think social media is for a business like Form?
Instagram is a place for creativity and connection. Most of the recipe content on our page is generated by users. We love seeing what they create with our protein and how enthusiastic they are about our mission.
We have such dedicated community that I don’t call them followers, but supporters.
Everyone knows that social media is the new word of mouth and that is the most powerful marketing tool a brand can have - genuine customer advocacy. We don’t pay for posts, we rely on people who love what we do and want to be part of it.
“Show interest and appreciation, and don’t forget that on the other side of the screen it is another human-being just like you.”
Do you have any tips for startups that are wanting to focus more on their social media marketing?
If your strength is not in content creation, find someone who is. It’s better not to have an account at all than one that doesn’t fully represent what you are. Social media is a more engaging and interactive way for people to find your brand, and it takes about 3 seconds for them to decide if you are worthy of their attention. Poorly lit photography and copycat content will not make the cut.
These days there are highly skilled freelancers who can help you grow your business until you are in a position to hire someone to do it in house. There are also great apps like Canva, Unfold and Later that help with the content creation.
Another aspect is how you interact with your audience. Show interest and appreciation, and don’t forget that on the other side of the screen it is another human-being just like you.
What has been the best moment you’ve had during the Form journey thus far?
Our visit to Bansang Hospital in The Gambia, where the Form Feeding Fund is improving the lives of vulnerable people. Nothing can prepare you to the level of poverty experienced there. Over a third of its population of 1.7 million survive below the United Nations poverty line of $1.25 a day.
When Damian Soong (my Co-Founder), Anita Smith (who founded Bansang Hospital Appeal Charity 26 years ago) and I arrived at the hospital, we were greeted with a surprise party organised by the community. I could not believe that hundreds of people would stop what they were doing to show their deepest gratitude, hug us, sing for us, dance with us. It was a truly moving experience and one I revisit every time I feel tired or frustrated at work.
One of my favourite quotes is “To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. That was exactly what I felt that day.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future, or anything new you’d like to share with us?
We are expanding to the US. We are already available there via Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter, and hope soon to be able to announce another exciting stockists.
We are also launching a new flavour and new products, but you will have to wait until September for more on those…
“Wellbeing is not a luxury, but a necessity.”
Can you tell us a bit about your talk at the Plant Based Business Bootcamp?
The title of my talk is "Performance and Productivity Starts with a Present Mind” and my intention is to share practical tools to enhance clarity and creativity in individuals and collaboration amongst teams.
I am a meditation teacher and host guided sessions at companies such as Live Nation and Ticket Master. I am also a Search Inside Yourself (SIY) facilitator, a Leadership program born at Google and developed by the thought leaders in Emotional Intelligence, Neuroscience and Mindfulness. Most importantly, introspective practices have changed the way I live, therefore I am committed to share the lessons I’ve learned.
As a co-founder of a start up I understand the thrilling pressure of growing a business and how we heavily identify ourselves with our work. Which is not necessary a bad thing if you are mentally aware and have the tools to skilfully navigate your internal landscape.
It breaks my heart to see hard-working people neglecting to take care of themselves and failing to realise that we are our greatest assets. Wellbeing is not a luxury, but a necessity and all that it takes to build a sustainable business and sustain performance is a deep breath and an open mind!
Come + listen to Natalia talk about entrepreneurial wellbeing at the bootcamp
Self-care for entrepreneurs is one of our main focuses at the Plant Based Business Bootcamp. Other topics include insight, inspiration and growth. Come along to the bootcamp on the 13th of July, and network with lots of other like-minded entrepreneurs!