Founder Katy: What International Women’s Day Means to Me
Today is International Women’s Day! It’s a time to celebrate women and what keeps us moving forward. As a woman business owner, I think about this a lot. Back in the early days of Healthy Living, over 30 years ago, times were different. You might be surprised to hear that if we had six guests a day, I was happy! So what convinced me to keep going? The answer I always come back to is community connection.
I had zero business experience when I opened our first store, a 1200-square-foot space in South Burlington’s Blue Mall. My parents thought I was nuts! At first, vendors didn’t take me seriously because I was a woman with a business that, at the time, had no industry to back it up. It took years for the supermarket industry to recognize that “natural” was a real thing! But seeing guests come together in the store filled me with so much joy, I KNEW I made the right decision.
It’s the same joy that reminds me of my childhood when my mother, grandmother, and auntie cooked for us. And the same smile on the faces of our truck drivers when I took the extra time to get to know them. Our love of food connects us, as a family, and a community.
The strongest woman I know is my daughter, Nina, who I am SO happy to collaborate with every day (Eli, I love you too!). She didn’t think she’d ever work at Healthy Living, but after going to culinary school, something brought her back to join the team. “I was drawn here,” she says. “How this place makes people feel—the warmth—it all started with my mom.”
She’s talking about this community connection, too! What we’ve ALL built together, a local, inviting place where people can meet up: this is what motivated us in the early days and what inspires us today. So much has changed: we’re now three stores with a staff of 300. But I’m also struck by how much of our core has stayed the same. Time is funny that way—it doesn’t change us as much as it lets us grow into ourselves. Who we are, deep down … that never changes.
“She’s a ‘badass’ because she grew this business as a woman in a male-dominated industry in a time when this wasn’t an industry at all.” Nina Lesser-Goldsmith on her mom.
Healthy Living has been and always will be about bringing people together. Staying true to this simple but powerful value is why we’ve stuck around and why I’m still buzzing through our aisles filled with so much love. This feeling of connection is what keeps me going on this International Women’s Day: as a female business owner, as a mom, and as a proud member of our very special community.
Still loving what I do,
P.S. Speaking of the early days, below is one of my favorite cookie recipes from way back when!
Secret Oatmeal Cookies
Yield: 2 Dozen
- 3 whole eggs, beaten
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 ½ cup all-purpose flour (Never bleached or bromated ideally!)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 cup oats
- ¾ cup walnuts, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Combine eggs, raisins, and vanilla. Let stand for 1 hour.
- Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.
- Gently mix in the egg mixture until combined.
- Fold the dry mix into the butter/egg mix until combined.
- Gently mix in the oats and nuts.
- Dough will be stiff. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough on ungreased cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes.
NOTE: The dough can be refrigerated for several days! The secret is soaking the raisins.