I remember my mom asking when I was a kid, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ and me saying ‘I want to be the CEO of my own company’. Well, I had no clue what that even meant, but I thought it would be cool. Why not? After all, my dad was an entrepreneur himself with big ideas and big dreams - and if he did it why couldn’t I. Right? So, as I turned 15 I decided I’d start my first business. Around that time I had turned vegan and changed my diet to eating unrefined and wholesome foods. I felt compelled to bring a healthy lifestyle and healthier snack alternatives to my high school friends who were snacking on sugary, fatty, and salty stuff. I thought if I couldn’t change their habits completely, then at least I’d offer them a healthy snack. Just like that, a business was born. For three years, my best friend and I ran a successful operation of vegan snacks at my school. We’d buy wholesale at my vegan store, repackage and sell at school. We had a captive and hungry audience who slowly but surely swapped their sodas and donuts for healthy wholegrain buns, cookies and garlic sticks. My greatest pleasure was to see real food be cool with kids. Literally, every morning we’d have a line of folks asking for product. We’d each haul our backpacks every morning, one with books and one with our healthy food, and we’d do our business hush-hush so that school administrators wouldn’t find out. The business dissolved when we graduated and then I was off to engineering school.
Half way through my studies I resumed what I had started at a very young age: yoga. This journey started as a young child in my native Colombia. At 8 years old, my mom introduced me to yoga. She’d bring me to the ashram where we’d do breathing techniques and some basic asanas. This opened my eyes to something that seemed so mysterious, peaceful and traditional. This was anything to a yoga studio today. Our swami would be fully clothed in the traditional white linen Indian clothes, and we’d practice on the hard surface floor – ‘breath through one nostril, out the other. Repeat’, she’d say. After class, she’d let us eat star fruit from the tree in her patio and I thought the whole experience was delightful. Ten years later there I was once again on a new hard surface floor immersed in a yoga-centered dance practice where the connection between movement, music and finding my center became transformative. Through yoga and dance I found a deep connection with my true-self and the world around me. I knew I needed a new path, my true path, I knew something had to go. I went on a transformative journey of abandoning my engineering studies to pursue a degree in entrepreneurship and eventually two master degrees. My vision was once again, to build a company, provide jobs, make a difference. Now, if I just had an idea! Not any idea. A BIG idea.
But, the idea didn’t come and so, life went on: I married a wonderful man, moved to the U.S, and started to work in Corporate America as a marketing manager of national branded processed foods. Yep, processed foods. That’s when the awakening began. For the first time in my life I began eating food-in-a-box, got too busy and left my yoga practice behind, didn’t care where my food was coming from, who was making it or why, and became part of the machine – ‘here’s another marketing claim. It will help us sell more’. I was successful and happy in my own mind. But, when the kids arrived everything changed. I felt I had become my own mother – ‘eat real food, you are what you eat, food is medicine, eat with your mind and not with your eyes’. Everything came to a halt. The more I saw at work, the more I changed. It was clear I needed to get back on my true path: I went back to scratch cooking, built a big vegetable garden, went back to yoga and meditation. Personally, I was happy. Professionally, I was not. I felt cynical and inauthentic: I would market foods I wouldn’t bring home, I would say one thing and do another. I didn’t have the guts to leave my company, but in 2014 after almost 15 years my company did have the guts to let go of me. Massive cuts left me without a job and just like that, a vision unfolded. The next day, Ommie was revealed to me almost like a spiritual gift. My new path was clear: ‘do what you love most & be authentic’. My passion for real food and a holistic approach to health & wellness have been my engine.
20 years later it ended where it began: I (sort of) became the long dreamt CEO (Chief Entrepreneur of Ommie), selling healthy vegan foods to those around me, and hoping to inspire people to make mindful food choices that drive positive change in themselves and the planet we live in.
I hope you become part of our journey,