It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
Today I’d like to give my own introduction for our success story. She’s a former Mark’s Daily Apple success story (you can read her original story here). But she’s also a successful entrepreneur within the natural food and paleo space. I’m happy she’s shared an update to her personal journey and her business venture, and I’m excited that she’s also offering a giveaway for our community. Thanks for stopping by today, everybody. Enjoy!
My conscious-food lifestyle continues to be the backbone of my life (see my original post for more details about my journey to get here). After being in an ill-state of health until I was 21, I became passionate about healing my body, mind and spirit through food. What started off as a commitment to being gluten-free eventually evolved into me adopting the primal, paleo-inspired lifestyle around the age of 23. I experienced such a dramatic transformation in my health as a result of my dietary changes that everything in my life shifted. I was pursuing teaching yoga professionally, and as a result of my health transformation, my career ambitions pivoted and led me to open my own business, Picnik, in 2013.
Picnik was (and continues to be) a passion project for me to bring real food to the masses. I opened my first location in a reclaimed shipping container in Austin, TX. The original name, Pressed & Squeezed, transformed into Picnik when I’d show friends the location I found for our trailer. We were perched on the top of a giant, grassy hill in the middle of a bustling street called South Lamar. Every time I’d show friends and family the location, they would declare “this is the perfect place for a picnic.” To me, I considered that a divine sign and took the initiative to change the name. Hallelujah for that, because it has shaped our vibe and our culture tremendously over the years.
Building Picnik was no easy feat. In 2013, when we opened our doors, the consciousness around the paleo and high-fat movement was minimal. We had grab and go lunch items, breakfast pastries and a delicious coffee menu, but we made every item on our menu with a unique, health-promoting flare. Our coffee menu was incredibly innovative. We used coffee as the backbone for a specialty drinks menu that had a base of high-quality fats, conscious proteins and superfood add-in’s that amplified the nutrition. We wanted these drinks to taste just like what you would expect from a traditional coffee shop, just made with better ingredients. We had a very unique position in the marketplace for many reasons, but our drinks became a standout, as they functioned like a protein shake, an energy drink and a latte in one.
Convincing customers to try our coffee was challenging in the beginning. For the first year of business, I’d stand behind the cash register every day giving away free drinks and begging customers to ‘just give it a try.’ Although it wasn’t easy, I was able to get many people to approach our menu with an open mind, and many of the customers I helped transition to Picnik’s coffee during that time remain our regulars to this day. Once people would try what we had to offer, we’d often see them every morning. It was inspiring to see how people related to our products and how we were making a palpable difference in the way our customers felt every day.
At the start of 2014, things started to really heat up for Picnik. The awareness and acceptance around high-quality fats shifted (Hello! Butter was on the cover of Time Magazine). As a result, customers began coming to Picnik with enthusiasm and an open mind. Our traffic was so heavy that we eventually opened a new, larger infrastructure on South Lamar in 2016 and, shortly thereafter, a full-service, all-day concept in our first brick and mortar location on Burnet Road in August 2016. All the while, we had been working on how to package our coffee since 2014 because it had become so high in demand. We knew how great it made our customers feel, and we wanted to reach the hands (and mouths) of our customers outside of Austin. Although it took three years of development work, in 2017 we launched our first three ready-to-drink coffees for grocery. Our first production run of our Cappuccino, Dirty Chai and Mocha was in February of 2017. By May, three months later, we were being sold in all Whole Foods Market’s nationwide. Talk about 0-100!
Fast forward to this point, June 2018, we now have four locations. We have two food trucks and one restaurant in Austin, TX, as well as our first coffee and beverage kiosk in Whole Foods Market 365 in Upland, CA. In addition, we have four products being sold nationwide in independent retailers and grocery, with many more products on the way. It’s been an incredible ride, and I know it is just getting started.
As I’ve settled into a conscious-food lifestyle, I’ve continued to refine and identify what works for me. My GI problems have dramatically improved as a result of a relatively consistent healthy lifestyle combined with high doses of Magnesium and Probiotics. I did, however, continue to experience histamine reactions and skin problems, even on a paleo-inspired diet. As a result, I explored several adjustments to my lifestyle over the last few years. When I was in the thick of my healing, I was committed to the GAPS diet, essentially a healing protocol that aligns with the primal lifestyle, but it omits all starches, sugars (besides honey), legumes and some forms of dairy. It is a strict elimination protocol that focuses on bone broth and really transformed my health. As an ex-vegan, however, I sometimes became overwhelmed on GAPS with the quantity of meat I was consuming, so I pivoted and explored a more plant-based healing protocol that focused on high-quantities of fruit as well as eliminated certain inflammatory foods.
After pursuing GAPS and my plant-based, fruit-heavy diet, I ended up feeling strong and stable with my health and I began reacting less and less to food. This stability allowed me some more food-freedom and gave me the opportunity to re-experience eating foods that I had 100% eliminated in the past. As someone who had been gluten-free for over 10 years, I was able to final enjoy croissants, my favorite food, without reaction, as long as I consumed them in moderation. Moderation, however, is the key word. I definitely went off the handle a bit during this time, loving my new food-freedom, and ended up on a glorious grain and gluten-bender, regularly re-exploring a food group that had been abolished for me for so long. Although I am very happy with my progress, I still have to remain diligent and careful. If I eat grains and other starches regularly, I end up with histamine problems, brain fog, weight gain and inflammation.
In the end, I’ve re-settled back into a GAPS and primal inspired diet that focuses on meats, fish, fruits, low starch vegetables, nuts, seeds and full-fat dairy. This is my default ‘zero’ and allows me to stay in a stable place physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m happy in life, work and business, and I love knowing that healing food, for me, is always the answer to a stable and fulfilling life.
A one-month supply of butter coffee, which would include the following for three winners:
(1) 6-pack of Cappuccino Butter Coffee
(1) 6-pack of Mocha Butter Coffee
(1) 6-pack of Dirty Chai Butter Coffee
(1) 32 fl oz Butter Coffee Creamer