wellness

Q&A with RDN and Entrepreneur Monica Auslander Moreno

Monica Auslander Moreno

Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RDN is the founder of Essence Nutrition, a concierge group nutrition practice in Miami. She sees private clients [both kids and adults], corporate clients, and consults for various local restaurants and businesses with her signature programs she and her team perform both in office and virtually. She is the dietitian for the Miami Marlins, Soho Beach House, and Ocean Reef Resort and Club. http://www.essencenutritionmiami.com

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I’m a registered dietitian who started a private practice when I was 25 that in two years has been, thankfully, rather successful, and is now becoming a group practice and expanding to more digital/corporate pursuits. I’m born and bred in Miami – went to the  University of Florida for undergrad and FIU for my Master’s in Dietetics and Nutrition.  

What inspired you to start your business?

I felt very confined in a clinical job – I was working in a hospital as an inpatient dietitian. At that point, many of my patients were near the end or suffering from diseases that nutrition could have prevented, so I wanted to inspire folks to prioritize their health BEFORE it landed them on a ventilator with a feeding tube. Being a clinical dietitian is BOSS – you have to be razor sharp, extremely well-trained, medically, and be meticulous in your formula calculations. But I wanted to be more creative, social, and entrepreneurial.

Where is your business based?

Miami (Midtown) – but a lot of our clients do ‘virtual visits’ from all over the state. We also do speaking engagements nationwide. We now have a Spanish-speaking dietitian who can nestle in that niche!

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

Very first step was forming an LLC! (Things you don’t learn how to do in a Master’s of Science..). Then – setting up a bank account, recruiting talent to build our logo, branding, and website, finding a physical space, etc.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Social media and word of mouth from friends/family and then clients who bring other clients. Both avenues bring in very different types of clientele, but we appreciate our diversity in our client pool!

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Not overworking myself. I’m extremely task-oriented and feel the need to do things immediately. The first year, I was working nights, weekends, holidays – no days off! It was a major struggle to find a work-life balance. The financial costs of starting a business were also perilous – you feel like you’re hemorrhaging money. That chipped away day by day on my nerves as well. I had to remind myself that this was a process, a journey and that my only job was to do my best and take care of myself… oh, and make time to see my then boyfriend/ family/friends / feed my dog!

How do you stay focused?

I always remind myself of the end goal – create a dietitian empire! And honestly, it’s harder for me to NOT focus; I can wire in and work for hours straight and realize I haven’t blinked. It’s bizarre.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

We are a team of dietitians, which is pretty unique, we’re young, contemporary, fast, modern (we’re in a shared workspace with dozens of other innovators!) diligent, and don’t provide any ‘gimmicks’ – we rely on evidence-based science and a humanistic/psychosocial approach to food when we counsel. There’s no “Essence Diet”!

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Essentially, keeping it honest and delivering what people NEED – a SUSTAINABLE, relatable plan and human being (dietitian) to transfer the knowledge and thought paradigms they need to do it. So many of our clients are on their 80th diet / cleanse / pill regimen and we are here to put a stop to the food crazy madness! So we market that – that we create honest, workable plans, and not thousand dollar “detoxes” that ultimately fail.  

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Get a mentor! Sadly, I never really had a private practice mentor so I kind of had to navigate the big bad business world on my own. It would have been so reassuring to have the support of an elder in my niche field. Oh – and try not to work 16 hours every single day because you will become PHYSICALLY ILL (oops!)

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

App – my Healthie app where my clients can log and take pictures of their meals in real time and I can instantly provide feedback. It keeps them accountable and provides me with real data we can then use to discuss in session!

Blog – My adorable dad has kept a blog about his life since 2006. It’s called ‘Dave’s Funny Crap.’ He muses about random topics and his theories on life.

Book – The Harry Potter series. Do you need an explanation?!

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

Virtual visits. We realize that fairly few people these days want to brave Miami traffic/parking to physically come into an office – especially when they have just a 30-minute follow-up. So we rely on a ‘virtual visit’ with HIPAA secure software for over 60% of our client base; you can do a video or phone consult with us from anywhere in the world, essentially! It’s much more convenient, practical, and then we can let our dogs make a cameo.

Who is your business role model? Why?

My dad. He started a law practice with his partner when he was a young attorney. They were hungry for business, fiercely diligent, passionate, and above all – worked with integrity in a field that is certainly not known for ‘playing nice.’ He still managed to make time to be the best dad who has ever lived to my sister and me, provided us with a beautiful life, and inspired an entrepreneurial spirit in me.

What do you have planned for the next six months?  

We’ll be launching a branded app for 24/7 contact with clients ‘on demand’ who have questions/need support but don’t want to bother with formal consults. I’ll be working more with Del Monte Fresh as their official dietitian, continue with the Marlins for the 2018 season, and will hopefully cultivate a growing clientele base for my associate dietitians.

How can our readers connect with you?

Instagram - @eatlikemonica. Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/essencenutritionmiami/

Twitter - @feedyouressence

Email: monica@essencenutritionmiami.com

Q&A with Health Expert & Entrepreneur, Melissa Eboli

Melissa Eboli

Melissa owns a healthy cooking and wellness company called Via Melissa. She is a certified nutritional chef and graduate of The Academy of Culinary Nutrition (2016). She is also a certified nutrition and wellness counselor from AFPA (2009) and a certified personal trainer through Hofstra University's continuing education program and AAPTE (2009).

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I am a New York native that grew up in the suburbs of the Bronx, in a coastal area called Throgs Neck. I also have a BS in advertising and marketing from Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

I worked in advertising/marketing for 14 years for some amazing companies including Penthouse Magazine, Virgin Mobile, and Fisher & Paykel Appliances to name a few.

When I was 29, I developed adult asthma along with food sensitivities and multiple chemical sensitivities. The silver lining here was that I was forced to do a complete 180 in my life to live a clean lifestyle and manage these new illnesses. This is when my lifelong hobby of cooking was taken to the next level and my allergen-friendly style of cooking really began.

What inspired you to start your business?

I continued to suffer from allergies coupled with chronic fatigue that was all brought on by the chronic stress I had from my job, until one day I hit a brick wall, so to say. That wall was in summer of 2016 when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. That is when I had my "aha" moment and awakening which was “ life is short and you never know when curve balls will be thrown at you”.

I realized I wanted to be a health advocate to teach people how to eat clean, allergen friendly and disease preventing dishes. Weeks after her diagnosis, I gave in my resignation from selling appliances and enrolled myself into The Academy of Culinary Nutrition to begin the process of launching what is my business today. I feel I have been given a gift of being a natural recipe developer and this gift needs to be shared with as many people as possible.

Where is your business based?

My business is based out of New York. However, I travel to clients and service the metro area anywhere in a 60-90 mile distance in any direction.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

I worked with an amazing business coach who gave me the tools and confidence needed to leap from being a 9-5’er into being my own boss. I attended a culinary program to hone in on my skills, wrote up a business plan to follow and completely re-vamped, then re-launched viaMelissa.com. In the last few months, I launched a new website called ViasKitchen.com truly portray my cooking business.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Social media has been instrumental. I use Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn as my go to apps. I also pitch the media on a regular basis and have been fortunate to have many write ups and features this year alone. I also partner with CPG companies to increase my awareness.

One brand I work closely with is Simply Beyond Spray on Herbs and Spices. I use its products in many of my dishes and develop recipes for them which are featured on its website.                

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Though I've had a lot of media exposure, obtaining new clients is always a challenge. I’ve been fortunate with websites like Thumbtack.com where I get numerous leads on a daily basis. I also have a few B2B partners I work with. I’ve learned to be creative and resourceful.

 How do you stay focused?

I’ve always been a self-starter and most jobs I’ve had were remote positions. I know that if I’m not out there promoting myself and making new contacts the business isn’t just going to come to me. My focus is knowing the more I put into it, the more I get out of it.  As much as I work, I love what I do and most times it seldom feels like “work.”

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I offer cooking lessons, personal chef services, and catering. I am different because I am conscious of food allergies and special diets. I cater to the vegan community and clean eating overall. I also use organic ingredients as much as possible down to the spices.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Online tools have been the most effective for my particular business. Being listed on websites like Thumbtack, IfOnly, and CozyMeal has truly been instrumental.  Building partnerships and relationships with companies that send me to their clients are also a large part of my business. This includes corporate wellness companies that have clients looking for healthy catering or corporate retreat companies that want a chef in their arsenal looking for cooking classes.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Don’t give up! Being your own boss is not easy, and you may not get it the first time around. Additionally, be flexible and open to ideas from others. If your initial plan isn’t working, go a different route. Being an entrepreneur is no easy feat, but if you are talented and passionate about your work, the sky is the limit!

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

I don’t really have a favorite app. The one I tend to use the most is Instagram for my social media marketing but I wouldn’t necessarily call it my favorite.

A great book I read last year was called Knockout my Suzanne Summers. She explains how many people have cured cancer naturally without big pharma and the blog I love reading it HearPreneur. I get to learn success stories of fellow entrepreneurs as well as tools, tips, and tricks of the trade from them.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

I love using Wix.com! I’ve developed both of my websites with the easy-to-use platforms and I even run my blog and contact management through the site. All of their products and services are very user-friendly no matter what your skill level is.

Who is your business role model? Why?

One of my role models is Racheal Ray. I aspire to have an empire like hers one day. Books, TV, merchandise and all things culinary! I would love to be the modern day, healthy version of her.

With so many other chefs who have been on the scene, she has had and continues to have a long running career. She started off small/local and made it big!

What do you have planned for the next six months?

I am eager to carve out some time to shoot some professional quality food videos as well as work on a healthy cookbook; just figuring out the angle is the hardest part. I have a library of original recipes that I would love to share. I will also be focusing on my catering business and seeing how I can grow and staff up to start to take on larger scale events.

 How can our readers connect with you?

www.viaMelissa.com

www.viasKitchen.com

Facebook & Instagram: Organic Cooking Via Melissa