Tara Gilad is an entrepreneur with a background in business ownership, retail and finance. She and her husband, Roy Gilad, launched Vitality Bowls in 2011 after learning of their daughter’s severe food allergies, wanting to offer the world’s healthiest ingredients in an allergy-friendly environment. Tara has her hands in all aspects of the business but specializes in franchisee relations. Today, the brand has more than 145 locations open or in development.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up?
I grew up in Sonoma County, California in the beautiful countryside. I had a great childhood and grew up playing outdoors. I have two siblings and two incredible parents. I grew up loving school, the outdoors, soccer, basketball, and spending time with friends.
Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?
Definitely my parents. We grew up with a huge garden and fruit trees all over our property. Most of what we ate came from our garden and our meals were always home-cooked. My parents both live their life with nutrition and health at the forefront and inspired all three of us kids to live a wellness-focused lifestyle. We didn’t eat processed food growing up or anything with corn syrup, white sugar, or white flour. Everything we ate was organic and we were vegetarian most of my life growing up at home. My parents are a wealth of information when it comes to health and nutrition.
Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?
My favorite activity by far is hiking and soccer. I love being outdoors and experiencing the beauty that our country provides. My beverage of choice is water, while kale and açai are pretty much a daily food intake. I love vegetables and fruits and am focused on teaching my kids a healthy lifestyle.
To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?
It started when my daughter was born with severe food allergies and we realized we couldn’t buy baby food for her or take her to restaurants as she got older. I started by blending fruits and vegetables and making all of her own baby food. As she got older, I started making her smoothies and tried to get as many superfoods in her body as I could. In my research, I learned that açai the number one superfood our planet has to offer and so I started ordering açai and making her mini bowls and smoothies. I felt like everyone in our community should be able to eat healthy superfoods in an allergy-friendly environment so my husband and I set out on the journey to create Vitality Bowls. We opened our first Vitality Bowls when she was 19 months old, and she has been hooked on açai bowls and smoothies ever since!
Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
When we opened our first Vitality Bowls, I was five months pregnant with my son and my daughter was 19 months old. A week before we opened our first store, I got put on bed rest due to pregnancy complications. This was incredibly stressful because I couldn’t be as involved as I wanted or needed to be. Fortunately, I was able to hire a good manager who helped successfully open our first location and manage all day-to-day responsibilities. We opened our second location five months later. My son was born a preemie, so he was about two months old at this time. It was a very challenging time but fortunately, I was able to call on my brother to help us. He stepped into the second location and helped to launch that store to success. I’ve been blessed to have an incredibly supportive family and to meet great team members and managers who helped us in this journey. Success is about the people you’re able to surround yourself with and I couldn’t have done this without them.
Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
Our mission has and always will be to bring healthy food to all communities in an allergy-conscious environment. So many people suffer from allergies, intolerances, or even just have preferences, and we can cater to them and provide a healthy eating environment which I am so proud of. It’s my goal to make healthy eating approachable everywhere.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
The most exciting project we’ve been working on is completely redoing our savory menu and launching our proprietary juices and shots. It’s been a project over the last year +, and now we’re rolling it out region by region across the United States. It’s been a huge success so far and we’re looking forward to all communities embracing our healthy new savory menu, juices and shots. The bottled juices and shots make it more accessible for all customers as they’re able to bring multiple bottles home and have one each day of the week. They’re all cold-pressed and HPP so the health benefits are incredible.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Passion, personality, and drive. To be an entrepreneur, you must have those traits and to be a successful leader you must have the personality to motivate, train, guide, inspire, and uplift others. I have successfully experienced a decade of growing Vitality Bowls and hope to continue to inspire and help others.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?
Wellness is a way of life. It’s being in a state of good, healthy lifestyle. When you live in a healthy state, I believe you are mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy and strong.
As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?
I think it should be a priority for everyone at all times. Focusing on your wellness enhances your life in so many ways and helps you I believe helps you live a happier life. It’s something we should teach to our children and something everyone should strive for.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?
It’s been a priority to ensure our team can work in a healthy and safe environment. We’ve also communicated their value as I believe upward communication and praise will always lead to a happy team excited to come to work every day. And, fortunately everyone who works at Vitality Bowls has the ability to eat our food ensuring access to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each. Passion, personality, drive, educated, and niche.
- PASSION: Whatever you decide to do, it’s critical to be passionate about it. You have to believe in your product/company 100%. You must live and breathe it.
- PERSONALITY: You’ve got to have the personality to have a highly successful career in health and wellness or whatever career choice you’re choosing. Whether it’s being a good leader, communicator, salesperson, manager, or being able to talk to strangers, you must have the personality that best suits your career choice. If you need to sell a product, you’ve got to be the best salesperson out there who believes in your product and can sell it to anybody.
- DRIVE: To have a highly successful career, you must be incredibly driven to push through the highs and the lows and the trials and tribulations. You’ve got to have the hustle and drive along with a “do whatever it takes” mentality to launch your career and achieve the level of success you want. If it was easy, everyone would have a highly successful career.
- EDUCATED: To succeed in the health and wellness industry you’ve got to be educated on health and wellness. Whatever product you choose, know it inside and out, do your research, and really understand the health benefits. It takes dedication to research, read, and understand health and living it firsthand is of upmost importance.
- NICHE: Finding your niche in the health and wellness industry helps you separate from your competition. Ideally you want to find an area that there is a need for. Understand your market and how much you can capture to be successful. Do your due diligence.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe I’ve already found it with Vitality Bowls. By the end of next year we will have over 100 locations open and I hope to bring our healthy food to all communities. If everyone had access to healthy superfoods, it could change their lives for the better.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I was fortunate years ago to read two books which helped my mindset as a young business professional who always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My first inspiration was Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE and the second was Robert Kiyosaki who wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad. They both inspired me to be a great leader and to run a business that I’m passionate about. I would love to pick their brain over breakfast or lunch!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Follow us on Instagram @vitalitybowls.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!