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Female Founders: Valerie Ribon Of QuartzMind On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Stay over organized. Your calendar, your to-do list, and your files! Have a system for each one. When we first started everything was a mess, getting organized has saved me countless hours & made sure that we’re able to grow and take on employees.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Valerie Ribon.

After experiencing a decline in productivity and motivation over the course of the pandemic, Integrative Nutrition expert and QuartzMind founder, Valerie Ribon restored her focus and sense of wellbeing by adjusting her diet with whole foods, herbs and vitamins. Valerie was determined to develop a solution that would make a true difference in how people feel as they adjusted to a new lifestyle. Thus, QuartzMind was born with their debut product, Work From Home™, a blend of proven vitamins, nootropics, and adaptogens that aid in productivity, focus, stress reduction, circulation and help relieve eye strain.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My older sister was prescribed Adderall for ADD when she was 7 and then when she was in high school, she decided to work with a nutritionist to heal. Witnessing this transformation made me think about how we can change the way we feel with the help of lifestyle changes, herbs, and nutrition.

Before becoming a nutrition coach, I was a professional model. I encountered many who took health and wellness seriously, yet still fell prey to misinformation. I’ve been advised of every nutrition cliché in the book. “Only eat 6 almonds a day!” Or, “eat a pickle and then sip Diet Coke to suppress your appetite.” I studied integrative nutrition because I wanted to discover how to look and feel my best with information that is based on proven science.

Even though I ate extremely healthy, when I started working from home, I had no option but to sit for the majority of the day and stare at screens. I couldn’t help but notice how my lifestyle impacted how I felt almost as much as the food on my plate did, but the supplements available usually only take your age and gender into account.

When designing QuartzMind’s Work From Home™, the goal was to develop a supplement that would make a real difference in how people feel. You can always earn more money, but you can’t earn more time. We’re so careful with how we spend our money, yet we’ll throw our time away frivolously (social media, unhealthy friendships, the wrong job, etc.). Instead, we should be asking how we can maximize how we feel each day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I didn’t think that starting a business would change me, it’s interesting how much it has. I’ve had to streamline my days and reanalyze my priorities. It has helped me get rid of so many distractions in my life. It’s made me start valuing a home cooked meal and getting to bed early way more than a night out. Now, in order for me to allow something into my life, I need to see if it moves the needle in terms of where I see QuartzMind going, or the type of person I want to be!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I love this question- because it’s so easy to take yourself too seriously! Always shop around for manufacturers. Our first manufacturer quoted us 3 times as much as we pay now per bottle. Large manufacturers wouldn’t talk to us because we didn’t have the volume to work with them yet. I then remembered a tip from Tim Ferriss’ 4-hour work week, “Call an hour after the office closes. Normally the people who pick up are the ones in charge. Sometimes they’ll do you a favor.” Finally, after 100s of calls (during normal office hours), we called our current manufacturer who told us they could make our product for a third of what we were paying while still maintaining the same high level of quality.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Besides my co-founder, Mercury, I’d like to thank QuartzMind’s scientific advisor, Dr. David Spiegel. Besides helping to bring credibility to QuartzMind, he gives amazing business advice and really goes above and beyond.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I think from a young age as women, we are taught to never ask for more, not stand up for ourselves, and to please everyone else. To start a company is to do the opposite!

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

A lot of the time, as a woman, I’m weary that people have other motives than just believing in you. I’m so happy to see all these platforms for women to find support at all stages, and I think we are headed in a very promising direction! I still have a hard time talking about my own company, so I’ll do an exercise where I pretend that I’m talking about a friend’s company and it’s crazy how much easier that is.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

We’re naturally intuitive and connected with our hearts and emotions. Being naturally intuitive helps us identify where people are hurting, we can tap into what people really need help!

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

There is no blueprint. Before you ever ask anyone for their opinion, make sure you have your own first. It can be so easy to be so overwhelmed by everyone else’s opinion that you can’t even figure out what your own is. “Opinion shopping” is a rabbit hole that’s so easy to fall into if you don’t first trust your intuition.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

I think regular jobs are great! You can erase a lot of the weight off your shoulders of being a founder. However, if you crave that feeling of creating something, and going all in on an idea excites you more than it scares you, it’s totally worth it. In recent years with the advent of Shopify and the abundance of manufacturers both here and overseas who you can easily connect with, the barrier to entry to starting your own business has shrunk significantly. I can’t imagine the hurdles you’d have to jump through even 20 years ago to create your own brand. — that being said, it’s a total rollercoaster so be prepared for the ride before you get on it.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Stay over organized. Your calendar, your to-do list, and your files! Have a system for each one. When we first started everything was a mess, getting organized has saved me countless hours & made sure that we’re able to grow and take on employees.
  2. Get bored. Have one day a week where you allow yourself to do nothing, no screens, no distractions just sit with your thoughts. You’ll come up with some of your best ideas and have the space to solve complicated issues.
  3. You’ll spend more time with your co-founder than most people will with who they’re married to! Choose accordingly. When we first started, we were considering taking on another co-founder who brought a lot of value to the table but at the end of the day, we could not work with him. Looking back, bringing on another co-founder who we didn’t have chemistry with very well could have been the end of QuartzMind.
  4. Stop being busy just for the sake of being busy. At least half of the things I was doing when I was starting Quartz Mind were unnecessary. It’s better to spend more time on the things that matter. Being able to differentiate isn’t as easy as it might seem.
  5. The company energy is almost as important as the product and shows in everything you do. Choose people you enjoy working with, and let people know when they are killing it!

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

It’s often overlooked how amazing working from home is for the environment. By helping people to flourish in this new normal, we’re doing a small part to offset the environmental impact of long daily commutes and the waste built into people’s lives. Besides the positive environmental impact that working from home has, I hope that our products help people have a more positive outlook and most importantly feel good- Because when people feel good, they do good.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Eliminating canola oils and inflammatory seed oils from your diet. Canola oil has been shown to cause major health issues yet it’s disguised in nearly everything we eat, from store bought oat milk to bread it’s everywhere and consuming it regularly can cause terrible health consequences obesity, Alzheimer’s disease & heart dysfunction to name a few.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Adam and Rebekah Neumann. They’ve been out of the game for the biggest transition of how people work in our lifetime, and I’m curious how they see the recent evolution of working. I don’t see QuartzMind stopping with supplements and would have loved to see what WeWork would have accomplished had it been able to grow in the way that they had envisioned.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Follow us on Instagram: @QuartzMind

Female Founders: Valerie Ribon Of QuartzMind On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.