Peta Shulman is the founder and director of GoodnessMe Box, Australia’s largest health food sampling service. She came up with the idea after her autoimmune disorder helped her to discover the healing power of wholefoods. Armed with her personal experience and professional background as a publicist, she’s on a mission to help people to take control of their health and get excited about eating clean. Nourishing wholefoods. Over the past 5 years, her team has worked with over 600 companies and sampled 2 million health products to fill their boxes with the best.
This is the inside story on Peta
What ignite the spark in you to start your business?
When I was 24, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. For years I had suffered with fatigue, headaches and body aches – and ended up on bed rest for three months at one point. My immune system was completely shot, and my energy was non-existent. I was told that I’d need to rely on antibody protein infusions for the rest of my life – but I wasn’t interested in visiting the hospital every month. I was only 24! I started researching other ways to manage my condition. I sought out an integrative doctor, and under her guidance, I began cleaning up my diet. I eliminated artificial, processed and inflammatory foods, and focused on eating real, nourishing wholefoods, including lots of veggies, fruits, healthy wholegrains, and lean protein. I started to feel better within months and began to notice my energy, mood, digestion and immunity improve.
While I was learning about health and nutrition, I became obsessed with finding new wholefood products. I discovered so many amazing ones, and knew I had to share them with others. If they helped me, they could help others.
The idea for a monthly subscription box blossomed in my mind. Between my personal experience and background as a publicist in the wellness space, I knew it had legs – so I went for it! I launched GoodnessMe Box a few months later, and haven’t looked back. It’s been a wild ride.
What is the vision for your business?
At the beginning, the goal was to spread the world about these incredible wholefood products and inspire people to get on board with healthy eating. Five years later, and the company has expanded to launch a kids and beauty box, our online shop, and host large-scale events such as the GoodnessMe Box Wholefoods Markets, all of which are geared towards that goal.
I have an even bigger mission for GoodnessMe Box, too. Ultimately, I’d love to see a world where the food we eat is free from artificial and processed ingredients, and the supermarket shelves are lined with REAL foods that fuel our bodies (our kids’ bodies) and make us feel well. I believe that as consumers, we have the right to demand change. It starts with education and a conversation, and GoodnessMe Box aims to teach people about wholefoods and build a community around healthy eating.
What did you want to be when you left school? Did you study?
I studied Communications, and after graduating, I worked as a publicist in the health and wellness sector. I didn’t know it at the time, but that role set me up perfectly for GoodnessMe Box. It was hard but incredibly rewarding. I learnt so much about wholefoods, the benefits of adding certain ingredients to your diet (like turmeric), and gut issues – which were all topics that media was hesitating to write about 8 years ago because they were ‘alternative’. It’s crazy to think how much attitudes have changed since then!
I always wanted to start my own business. I’m not sure where that desire came from, but I remember telling my would-be-bosses in my first interview that I planned to open my won agency one day! Over the next couple of years, as I was delving deeper into wholefoods and realsing that healthy eating was becoming more mainstream, that goal evolved to GoodnessMe Box. I had an acute understanding of the industry I was entering into, and my work as a publicist taught me about partnerships, marketing, client management and persistence – where were skills I carried into my start-up.
What was your initial marketing strategy, and how has it changed?
It was a two-tiered strategy. I was launching the first subscription box of its kind, so focus was sharing my story and communicating the soul behind the brand so that people could resonate with it. At the same time, I was working on creating hype and building a database of customers. In the early years, GoodnessMe Box relied heavily on word-of-mouth (and still does), and my marketing strategy was all about building brand recognition so that our customers could become our biggest advocates.
Now, GoodnessMe Box has a fully integrated marketing strategy across multiple channels. Marketing is dictated by customers as well as industry trends, so I think it’s important to have multiple touch points.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
It’s impossible to whittle the list down to three! But I can say that every entrepreneur needs grit. Without grit, you won’t survive the tough times.
How have you personally measured your success?
Success is so interesting to me. I shift my goalposts all the time, and once I reach a goal, I move onto the next! I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved with this business so far, but I’d say I’m most fulfilled when I see how my team has helped our community. That feels amazing. That’s my ‘why’. I spend my days encouraging people to make better food choices and trying to have a profound impact on their health. I never want anyone to go through what I did with my autoimmune condition if something as simple as eating can change it.
How do you make the most of your day?
My mornings are sacred. They’re my time, and I start each day with a walk or workout, a homemade breakfast, and an inspiring podcast on the way to work. From that point on, it’s all about to-do-lists! I’m a big believer in working smarter, so I take tackle tasks efficiently and delegate as needed.
Other than your business, what other hats do you wear?
I haven’t thought about that much! I suppose I’m a wife, daughter, sister and friend, and I take those roles very seriously, too. I surround myself with beautiful, supportive people, and I cherish those relationships.
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
It depends on the lifecycle of the business as well as your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re good at something, go ahead and sharpen your skills. If it’s not your strength, then outsource. There’s no shame in that.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Hands down – it’s the feedback I get from customers. I love discovering new products and helping brands to cut through the market, but there’s nothing better than hearing a customer say the box has helped them to combat health issues and intolerances, navigate nutritional labels, and cook healthily for their kids. Some customers even say the box has been ‘life-changing’ and that blows me away! It motivates me to be even better.
Best lessons you’ve learnt in business?
It’s been a learning curve! There have been so many lessons, but these are the ones that stand out:
- Find your niche. There’s a value in specializing in a product/service, and pouring your time and resources into pleasing the people who are going to promote your business (rather than the masses).
- Be transparent. In today’s landscape, your story is currency, so share it.
- Hire people who are the best at what they do. Surround yourself with experts in their field because they will propel you forward.
- Listen to your intuition. It’s almost always right.
- Check in on the business regularly. Make sure everything you’re doing is serving your short-and long-term goals.
What are your growth areas for the next 12 months?
There is significant opportunity to scale as the health industry grows. It can be easy to get distracted by shiny new ideas, but over the years I’ve learnt that “the main thing is to keep the main thing.” We want to continue to grow our health boxes and encourage as many people as possible to make batter food choices and take control of their health. With one in three Aussies cutting out gluten, dairy or meat from their diet and 59% making food choices for preventative health reasons, we’ve only just scratched the surface!
GoodnessMe Box is Australia’s largest health food sampling service. Each month, we deliver a box to your door that’s filled with health goodies that aren’t just tailored to your dietary requirements (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and so on), but meet our sky-high standards. Every product that makes it into the box has to be nutrient-rich, minimally processed and free from artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colours, food additives, synthetic trans fats, MSG, GMO and HFCS. Our motto is ‘food with integrity, and it’s our job to sift through a saturated market to bring our customers the absolute best products. Our purpose is to help people to make better food choices, and fuel their bodies with foods that make them feel good.