I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Gabrielle Sholes of I’m Simply Nutty and learned so much about almond milk, her business and her drive to succeed.
Tell us about I'm Simply Nutty.
We are proud to say that we are Southwest Florida's first and only small local business (of one) who supplies the community with Fresh ~ All Natural ~ Raw Almond Milk, made with no preservatives, fillers, thickeners, or pasteurization. Our milk is made with organic ingredients, and lots of LOVE. Our products contain a short list of all natural, easily identifiable ingredients that you can pronounce, with a shelf life of about 5 days due to the lack of pasteurization or preservatives. We believe we are so much more than a pretty bottle. We are a small, locally owned business making good things happen in the heart of Southwest FL. What started out as an experiment, has transformed into a passion to serve our community with pure, natural, simple yumminess. Our mission is to provide our community with delicious, wholesome products which contain only natural ingredients, I'm Simply Nutty products are filled to the brim with a positive passion for healthy living. I still pinch myself that this amazing journey of spreading health and happiness has begun...to some this may sound crazy, to me I say it's "Simply Nutty!"
What made you change your path and go into the almond milk business?
"Life" happened and passion. So, back in April of 2016, I underwent a rare and experimental surgery: I had a total ankle fusion and limb lengthening surgery. It was a grueling recovery- over 9 months. In fact, I am still not fully recovered. I return to New York this coming April for another procedure. It was during my recovery that I realized just how precious time was, and how I was tired of living my life working your typical 9-5 without having a sense of fulfilling my passion, which is to share my love for clean, wholesome foods. To add, about a year ago, I became what I call an ingredient snob. I started watching documentaries on Netflix and reading about our food industry and what exactly goes into the foods we consume. I came across many findings connecting processed foods, artificial ingredients, fillers, etc and how they are linked to cancer and other health related issues. I quickly cleaned up my diet, and swore off anything fake, ingredients I couldn't pronounce, and anything with a shelf life of over 5 days. This included Almond Milk. I always thought because it was organic, it automatically meant it was healthy - WRONG! Organic almond base (filtered water, organic almonds), organic vanilla flavor, sea salt, sunflower lecithin, organic locust bean gum, gellan gum, vitamin a palmitate, ergocalciferol (vitamin d2), dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin e), riboflavin (vitamin b2), zinc gluconate, cyanocobalamin (vitamin b12). SAY WHAT?!?!?!??! NO THANK YOU!!! It was then I was on a quest to make my own homemade Almond Milk, so I You-Tubed the heck out of it, bought a few nut bags off Amazon, and I was ready to take on the challenge. To my surprise, it was delicious. I started playing around with a few different flavors, and knew I was hooked for life. I will be honest, there were days I just didn't feel like making it, so I set out in my area to see who carried it, to my surprise it was nowhere to be found. I brushed it off, and continued on with life. It wasn't until after my surgery when I was recovering that I realized that life was too short to be anything but happy. So, I started looking up details on how to start a business, made a website, obtained my license through the Department of Agriculture, became fully licensed and insured, and as of October 1st of 2016, I'm Simply Nutty was born.
Who inspires you?
Local women entrepreneurs whom I have found to be role models. They exhibit proof that it is possible to build careers based on their passion, and that to me is remarkable. They inspire me to believe that within each of us lies the potential to be bolder, to think bigger and to let go of security to create a life we are truly happy with.
What drives you to succeed?
Educating the community and sharing my passion for good, clean, whole food eating, and everything that encompasses that lifestyle.
What has been your biggest motivation?
My biggest motivation has been the lack of a local Almond Milk that is clean healthy alternative to the commercial products. I want to share and educate the community that commercial almond milks are not as healthy as they advertise, and let them know that there is an alternative.
We understand you are now Blue Zone Certified. How exciting, tell us more about this certification and what is involved.
This has been my greatest accomplishment to date, and I am SO excited. I learned about Blue Zone last year through my sister, next thing I knew I was sitting in the NCH Auditorium; not realizing the positive impact that attending an informational meeting about the Blue Zones project in Southwest Florida was going to have.
The Blue Zones Project is a community-wide well-being improvement initiative to help make healthy choices easier for everyone in Southwest Florida. The Blue Zones Project encourages changes within the community that lead to healthier options. When the entire community participates - from work sites and schools to restaurants and grocery stores - the small changes contribute to huge benefits for all of us: lowered healthcare costs, improved productivity, and ultimately, a higher quality of life. I continued to go to a few more sessions learning more about the health and longevity initiative and to continue educating myself on the importance of having balance between work and home, having a sense of purpose and how lifestyle choices influence one’s overall health. It was around the same time that I was trying to start "I'm Simply Nutty" and knew right away that it all tied in together. I became a Blue Zone Ambassador this past summer, and learned everything that Blue Zone entailed. To become recognized as Blue Zone, there is a checklist which you must complete. You must adhere to many points in which you are pledging to be a part of the movement that's transforming the well-being of our community.
What is one piece of advice you would share with someone looking to follow their passion and start a small business?
NEVER GIVE UP! I can't tell you how many times I wanted to throw in the towel and say I’M DONE! But you CAN’T! Giving up is easy, anyone can do it - but it is when you give it ALL you have, and then some, that you see the good that comes out of pursuing your dreams. Never stop believing in yourself and don't let self doubt and fear of rejection/failure stand in the way of your dream. I would rather have a lifetime of "oh wells" than "what ifs" because at the end of it all, at least you can say you tried.
How can people find you and purchase your yummy almond milk?
We are fully stocked at Body and Soul Cafe, in Naples, Neighborhood Organics, Mother Earth Estero and Fort Myers, Skinny Pantry, the Third Street South Farmers Market on Saturdays, and Coconut Point Farmers Market on Thursdays.
Please leave any questions or comments below!