Margarita RestrepoFounder of Naked Food Magazine
Margarita Restrepo is the founder and editor-in-chief of Naked Food Magazine, and the CEO of Naked Republic, Inc. She also holds a certification in Plant-based Nutrition from Cornell University, as well as a degree in Graphic Arts and Marketing from Florida Atlantic University. She is also a music producer, songwriter and avid cook.
1. What was your motivation to start Naked Food Magazine? In January of 2012, my boyfriend passed away from an aggressive Stage IV brain cancer. He was an avid athlete, and a very peaceful and kind-hearted individual. After being diagnosed, he opted not to have any traditional therapies, as we were told that they wouldn’t work at that point. Instead, and as a last alternative, we both opted to switch to a plant-based diet. After 3 months on the diet, his tumor growth decreased 25%. Incredibly enough, his doctors were astounded by the results and were curious about what we were doing. His cancer was very advanced, so the therapy, although very positive, was applied too late. Witnessing how much a simple lifestyle change affected the reversal of his disease, as small as it was, changed my whole perspective on food.
It was extremely frustrating for me to see how much every bite is contributing to diminishing our health, and how little we know about nutrition. It turns out that the food industry has taught us the wrong things for years in order make a profit. The foods they keep promoting as healthy foods, are actually killing us, and they seem pretty ok with that. So I decided to create a practical source to educate, empower, inform, and encourage people regarding these food myths, and the massive misinformation we are experiencing. It is possible to reverse chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc.
Naked Food Magazine was created in honor of my boyfriend, and in honor of all those who have passed from these terrible diseases. It is also available free of cost at nakedfoodmagazine.com. I believe the path to optimal health should be accessible to everyone who wishes to learn.
2. How do you manage running both Naked Food Magazine and Big Brand Machine? Good question… I wonder that myself sometimes. I have a tremendous amount of work from Naked Republic, which is the parent company to Naked Food Magazine. Besides the work that entails publishing a magazine, I’m currently building other media initiatives in the field of nutrition. With Big Brand Machine I offer consultancy to various types of businesses that need branding, marketing, or design services. The workload is heavy sometimes, and there are lots of late nights. However, there is also time for nourishment. I’m adding meditation to my lifestyle; I love spending time with my dog, and inventing new dishes in my naked kitchen.
3. You owned Margarita Couture for 7 years. What made you decide to move on? I like challenges, especially big ones, and Margarita Couture was a great challenge and business experience. It was a fashion business, so it was enjoyable to see it flourish from nothing to an international manufacturer and distributor. I had the chance to sell to Target and QVC, among many other retailers. I decided to part ways because it wasn’t fulfilling a part of me. I had to pursue something that fulfilled the artistic side of me, so I decided to sell the business and move to Los Angeles to continue my music career. I haven’t mentioned that yet – I have been in the entertainment business my whole life. I currently have 3 professional records, a library of music tracks, a music studio and a few songwriting awards under my belt.
4. Would you describe yourself as a planner or do you figure out things as you go? I think there is a bit of both, but I prefer planning ahead. I don’t like surprises unless they are for a nice dinner or a birthday party. When you plan ahead you can leave the figuring out part for when things don’t go as planned. It actually happens often, because things rarely work exactly as planned. I believe that’s where a lot of the challenges happen, and when creativity and resourcefulness become powerful virtues.
5. What is your passion, and have you been able to integrate your passion into your career? Absolutely. I believe working without passion is just a job. My passion has always been to make a difference, no matter what I’m doing. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I like being methodical. I’m also a bit traditional in the way I do things, so I always appreciate good values and principles in life and in business. Passion is as necessary as oxygen to me. Without passion, life is bland.
6. What is a normal workday for you? A normal day has a consistent amount of work, healthy food, some exercise, and writing when possible. My day starts at 8 am, with social media updates. I follow that with scheduling the day’s priorities. I have a few to-do lists with different term objectives, and I check on those often to insure I follow those goals. My workday usually ends by 7 pm.
7. What challenges have you experienced in your career? How did you overcome those challenges? I came to the US in the pursuit of my undergraduate degree barely speaking English, so from the start, my goal was to develop strong communication skills and business acumen in order to succeed in everything I chose to do. There have been plenty of challenges as a female artist in the music industry as well, because some people do not always appreciate brains and talent in one package. After having the experience of owning a business, I find that I am very aware of the struggles that may or may not arise in everything that I do before undertaking anything. As a result, I think that anyone who is successful in business develops an amazing ability over time to improvise and make things work against all odds. Starting a business is the easy part. It takes a certain skill to keep a business going and do it successfully. In my opinion, that is the real challenge.
8. If you had to choose one, what was your most critical learning lesson? Patience. Things work on their own timing sometimes. I have learned in life, just as in business, there are things I can control, and some that I just don’t. I work hard to control as much as possible around me. I make myself an information sponge; I research, learn, and study as much as possible to make educated decisions based on facts and not opinions. An important part in business leadership is to know every part of the business itself, from the creative process to customer care, to accounting and the end product. Knowing this, I am able to understand, and therefore control, what happens within my business.
9. What advice would you give to someone looking to follow his or her passion? A very wise man once told me that, in business, you must attempt to be the “dumbest person in the room”, so I try to always surround myself with people that I can learn from and that can guide my passion to a promising reality.
10. What’s next on your professional agenda? I am creating Naked Food TV as a sister media company for Naked Food Magazine. I am also developing the interactive version of the magazine, which will be sold on the iTunes Newsstand soon. The printed version of the magazine is also in the pipeline for 2014. I’m also developing the Naked Cookbooks, the Naked Online Store, and I’m writing my first book for release next year. My purpose is to develop Naked Republic into a sustainable business with plenty of initiatives to help raise awareness and change our current health paradigm. I’m hoping to focus on Naked Republic one hundred percent in the coming year.