On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Lisa Odenweller opens up about her superfood nutrition company, Kroma Wellness, and the difficulties of breaking into the wellness industry.
Odenweller began her career in the wellness space in 2011 when she opened a chain of superfood cafes around Southern California called Beaming Wellness.
Healthy eating has always run in Odenweller's family, she said, but it wasn’t until she began feeling that she was losing hair and getting exhausted quickly that set her on a course to becoming an entrepreneur.
She remembers being outraged that her doctor dismissed her health concerns as “just getting older.” Around the same time, her daughter was diagnosed with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and put on several medications.
Odenweller felt that something wasn’t right.
“And that led me to really dive into food as medicine,” she said. ”And through that journey, I went to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I read every book that I could and I started just playing at home with food and kind of realized this is not as complicated as we make it.”
She started by taking inflammatory foods (sugar, wheat, processed foods, etc.) out of her diet. Then she made it a game to get her kids to do the same. Two weeks later, she said, her daughter no longer needed her ADHD meds.
Beaming Wellness evolved out of that effort, beginning as a culinary-forward food cleanse out of her own home. The success of the cleanse led her to open a cafe concept in Del Mar, California in December 2012.
“And it worked,” she said. “And so that really [where I thought], ‘This is working, I think people really want it.’ And at the time, San Diego only had Jamba Juice.”
Starting a business was hard. Odenweller said the path was very lonely and things never happened as planned. She said having a mentor to pick her up when she was down was crucial.
“Being able to have those people that just give you that push and nudge to believe and know no matter how successful you've ever been, it is so hard.”
Beaming eventually closed because of Odenweller’s struggles with the financial and legal side of owning a business — lessons she said she’s incorporated into her new company, Kroma Wellness.
“The partners that you bring together, they have to be with you through the good and the bad. Because the bad is inevitable,” she said.
Kroma Wellness sells nutrient-rich foods and herb-based products as preventative medicine directly to consumers online. They come in the forms of lattes, soups, tea, snacks and smoothies and are sold one-off or by subscription. The company is backed by heavyweight celebrity investors including Jessica Seinfeld, Amy Schumer and Gwyneth Paltrow
Odenweller said she had an investor lined up who was ready to go all in, before COVID hit. Then, she said, he ghosted her and disappeared. Odenweller looked at fundraising differently after that, but her luck hadn’t run out yet.
“I couldn't be the leader that I am today, if I hadn't gone through what I went through,” she said. “Instead of being a victim [...] understanding how, how can I use those experiences to just really evolve who I am in the world and how I can best contribute.”
dot.la Engagement and Production Intern Gitanjali Mahapatra contributed to this post.
This podcast is produced by Behind Her Empire. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.