Name: Lea Loveland & Danielle Magnus
Family info: We are sisters! Twins even…born 8 years apart :)
Lea is married to Ben and has 3 children: Chloe (6) Violet (4) and Wyatt (2)
Danielle has 3 children: Joseph (19), Eva (17) and Johnny (16)
I've loved learning about your business! What is it all about?
Our brand name is Plant-ish. We’re a healthy, frozen foods brand with products designed by us (registered dietitians) that make eating nutritious meals both enjoyable and beyond easy. We use only nutrient dense ingredients that are whole foods, never anything weird or engineered - think veggies, legumes, whole grains and organic chicken bone broth. We are available at Jerry’s, June and Ho and Cherry Lawn and also offer home delivery locally in Westchester and Greenwich. You can come find us in person at the Rye or Larchmont Farmers’ Markets on select weekends.
Before working on this, what was your career?
Prior to starting Plant-ish, Lea was doing nutrition counseling for pediatric and adult patients at Montefiore Medical Center and also an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College.
Danielle is a diabetes educator and trains patients living with diabetes on how to use insulin pumps.
How would you describe your work?
Challenging, creative (in both idea/product origination and problem solving), evolving (tastes and trends change often and sometimes quickly)
How did you get involved with your current work?
While trying to manage our combined 6 children, careers, and busy schedules, we were struggling to prepare meals for ourselves and our families that were not time consuming and also met our high standards for nutrition. If we, as nutrition experts, were finding this difficult, we knew our patients would likewise find this challenging. While nutrition is not one-size-fits-all, the common denominator will almost always be that we are not getting enough plants each day. They are filling, loaded with nutrients, help with digestion and have myriad health benefits – so why don’t we get enough? Many times it comes down to 3 things: time restraints (to procure and prepare), knowledge deficits (which to choose, how to prepare them) and desirability (let’s make them taste good!).
All of this is to say that we started Plant-ish because we wanted to remove these barriers for everyone to enjoy the short (eg. feeling energized, stable blood sugar, enjoyment) and long-term benefits (eg. anti-inflammatory/anti-aging/anti-cancer, achieving a healthy weight, lower blood pressure) associated with eating more plants.
What did you have to do to start?
We did lots of recipe testing and nutrient analysis to come up with great flavors and the right balance of protein, carbs and heart healthy fats. We shared products with friends and family to get their feedback.
We needed a name and logo! We cycled through many of each. Again we used friends and family as our focus group.
We knocked on many doors to find environmentally friendly packaging - the bowls and lids are compostable and the sleeve is curbside recyclable.
Once we had the finished product in its packaging we were able to give samples to local retailers (such as Jerry’s and June & Ho), the Farmers’ market and other taste makers.
Get the word out! The Rye Record ran a story about us getting our start and our wonderful community was right there ready to give us a try.
We feel really strongly that there is a need for healthy, ready to eat meals and that the current market place doesn’t offer anything that meets our criteria. We have tried almost all of the popular meal services and products available at stores and feel confident that we’re differentiated in a number of ways (eg. protein content, lower sodium, environmentally friendly packaging). We’re in it too, so that busy individuals can fuel themselves properly without sacrificing what little free time they have on shopping and chopping.
What have you learned in this process?
It is certain that you will run into obstacles and you have to be willing to go around, over or through them to press forward.
What do you love most about what you do?
Overcoming those challenges - when you engineer a solution to something and it works out, or even if it doesn’t but you learn something really valuable. We also love connecting with people - Hearing about improved health and/or lifestyle outcomes as a result of our products is tremendously rewarding. When someone tells us how this fits into their effort to live more healthfully it motivates us to get our products into more hands.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
Currently a lot of our hurdles have been supply chain related. Like many other businesses, we have to project out for delays and be ready to pivot quickly.
What is the thing that has surprised you?
How much other entrepreneurs in the same industry are willing to share their knowledge and resources. I thought there would be more of an air of competition and it’s really more like comradery which we’re very excited to be a part of and pay it forward.
What is your best tip for others looking to give back to the community?
Giving back to the community does not have to be some huge gesture to be meaningful. Start with whatever you can do and it’s likely it will evolve into more. We got started by donating meals to health care workers because they were the heroes of the pandemic (and well before then too). Danielle and I both counseled providers in Greenwich Hospital and Montefiore respectively and we know first hand that they have many barriers to fueling themselves properly. We offer an option on our website for customers to gift a meal to healthcare workers at half price and we will deliver them. It started with donations coming from us and now we offer an incentive for others to give meals as well.
What are some alternative careers you would have liked to have?
Lea: I would lean deeper into healthcare and become a naturopathic doctor. There is a lot of crossover with nutrition and a totally different philosophy on treating symptoms/disease than what we currently see in western medicine.
Dani: What I love about this field is that dietitians typically wear many hats. I started in a clinical outpatient role and launching a food brand is the alternative career that I always aspired to, but was just a dream in the beginning.
Do you have advice regarding reinventing yourself?
The beauty about changing careers is that you bring skills with you from other arenas. I always view those as an asset, a way to differentiate yourself and bring a different perspective. And, it’s never too late! When we graduated our program together in 2015, Danielle was 39. It took her 6 years non-matriculated and I finished in 2. There is a path for everyone.
Other fun details about you: favorite books or Netflix?
Lea: A Year in Provence, The Paris Wife, The Kitchen House; Peaky Blinders, White Lotus, Fixer Upper/Dream Home Makeover
Dani: Birth of Venus, Brilliant Friend Trilogy, White Lotus
Visit Lea and Danielle at plant-ish.com!