Pursue your dream with no plan of retreat. Building in a ‘back door’ or ‘what if’ plan is just giving yourself permission to quit. Taking actions that ultimately don’t work out quite the way you wanted them to may be seen as failure by others, but getting back up and tweaking your approach will one day get you there.
As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Margie Traxler.
Margie Traxler is the Founder and President of Grain Free Mama’s, a food manufacturing company dedicated to the production of Gluten Free, Grain Free and Grasses-Genus Free baking mixes and baked goods. The passion that she has to help people to improve and maintain great health through healthy eating is enormous. As she says, “All foods can either help us or hurt us. So eat well, and live life to the fullest.”
She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Portland State University in 1987. Additionally, she has 22 years of ownership experience in the Restaurant/Lounge Industry. She currently lives and operates her business in Henderson, Nevada.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?
In 2004, my then 6 year old daughter bent over one evening screaming and clutching her stomach. I rushed her to the Emergency Room at the nearest hospital, convinced that her appendix had burst. Hours later, after all the tests came back negative, the doctor’s offered to ‘remove’ her appendix anyway. I absolutely refused, and we went home with no answers.
My sister, who was studying to become a Natural Nutritionist, told me she thought it could be food. I had no idea where to start with that, so I searched for the best Natural and Conventional doctor in the United States…and we headed off to Florida (we live in Las Vegas, Nevada) for a visit.
Sitting in the doctor’s office with my daughter, we received the following news … “When Anna Mae eats wheat and sugar, it makes a toxic little punch in her that is burning little holes in her intestines.” THAT certainly explained the screaming!
That single sentence birthed a passion in me that changed my life. We went to the local health food store after our appointment to get something to eat, and as we walked down the aisles and looked at foods, all I could think was ‘Can’t eat that, can’t eat that.’ The grocery store had suddenly changed from a fun, warm environment to a potentially dangerous place. Wow!
After purchasing our gluten free items, we headed outside to give them a taste. One bite and the food literally exploded like sawdust in our mouths! I looked over at Anna Mae and I could see her eyes watering and her little chin quivering…it woke up something really big in me and I said, “Mommy is a scientist, Anna Mae. I can fix this. Pinky promise — one day we will offer the products and resources that we wish would have been available for us today.”
I got online and discovered that doctor’s just accept that people who have digestive problems will develop 2–5 autoimmune disorders during the course of their lifetimes. This was totally unacceptable to me and so I made two very important decisions;
- I refused to accept that we had to just get sicker until we died. (We had found out that we carry both the genes for celiac and gluten sensitivity in our family, so myself and all of my children carry at least one, if not both, of these genes.)
- I refused to accept that my children, and myself, had to go through life envying everyone else’s food. Peer pressure works both ways — I decided that everyone else was going to envy our food!
Educated as a Biologist, with a specialization in microbiology, I began the process of training myself to become what I now call a Natural Food Scientist, to be able to not only create foods with innovative natural ingredients, but also create the formulas for these foods. My kitchen became my laboratory. I began to study different foods, cultures from around the world, and incidence of diseases in those cultures. I began cooking with many different flours and ingredients.
Within a relatively short period of time, Anna Mae began asking for more and more food in her school lunch. One day I asked if she was really that hungry and her response made my day; “No Mommy. My friends all want to eat my food because it makes them feel better.”
I knew I was on to something. We started out just gluten free, and that helped but we were just better than before, not totally healthy. My middle son started to get really bad acne, and I challenged him to try gluten free (no wheat, no rye and no barley) for 3 weeks after the school year ended. Within a week, the acne disappeared, and he became a believer as well. Then my oldest son thought he had developed an ulcer, so off we went again to the doctor in Florida. The conclusion; the combination of corn and sugar was causing his biggest problems.
Next step, we decided to go grain free. This means eating none of the following: wheat, rye, barley, oat, spelt, millet, sorghum, teff, corn and rice. We were a bit better than before, but, again, not totally healthy. The last, and most important shift we made was to become grain and sugarcane free. Bingo! All the bloating, etc. stopped. Our mind fog cleared and we naturally began to shed the puffiness associated with the inflammation! Our seasonal allergies decreased exponentially…so I started to think about that.
My ‘aha’ moment came when I realized that the grasses-genus includes all the grains, and sugarcane. We originally moved to Las Vegas because of our allergies to mold, weeds, trees and grasses. If we couldn’t breathe them, we couldn’t eat them either! Today we are healthy, happy and have not developed any autoimmune disease. Having the genetic disposition does not mean you are destined to develop that particular disease.
What began as this mama’s fight for my children’s life and health has grown into the founding of Grain Free Mama’s in 2018. It was time. I was becoming inundated with people who desperately needed help, just like we did all those years ago. Our company vision statement is ‘Inspiring health and quality of life by connecting real people with real foods that are easily digested by the human body.’
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, this year we are expecting our baking mix products (Crepe Mixes, Pizza Crust Mix, Cookie Mixes and Muffin Mixes) to hit the shelves in retail stores. The Crepe and Pizza Crust Mixes are currently available through our website, Amazon and Walmart e-commerce. We are so excited about this as they are naturally low carb, low calorie, tree nut free, dairy free and soy free as well. They are safe for people who are diabetic, as well as consumers who are struggling with weight or autoimmune disease.
We are also going to be launching our Food Breakthrough (Book and Cookbook) Education resources this year. The slogan is ‘Change Your Diet…Change Your Life.’ These resources are consumer-friendly materials designed to educate people so that they can confidently take back control of their diets and their health. I believe in the saying ‘Feed a person and they are good for a day, but teach a person how to feed themself and they are good for a lifetime.’
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?
We are a people-first company. We believe in providing excellent, quick and easy to make products because the customer’s time is valuable. We believe that easy to understand and implement educational resources should be available for everyone. But most importantly, we believe that life is a gift to be lived to the fullest…for everyone. Our mission to connect people with the resources to make this possible is what separates us from the crowd.
Our products are Certified Gluten Free, OK Kosher, and all but the Muffin Mixes are 100% USDA Organic. (The Muffin Mixes will be 100% Organic as soon as we are able to source a quality Organic Plantain Flour Grower or Supplier. Contact me if you know of one please.). There are simply not enough clean-label, excellent tasting and textured grain free and sugar free baking products available on the market. Organic matters, because the standards for farming are much higher and clean. When you read our ingredients list, you will see no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. Just real food ingredients for real people.
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Yes. One particular story from my youth stands out the clearest to me right now, as it did a lot to shape the person I am today.
What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
I told my dad, and others, that I wanted to grow up and get a full-ride scholarship to college to play basketball. His response was to tell me that they didn’t give scholarships to play basketball to girls. (It was 1967 and I was 4 years old.). My response …. “Well then I’ll get the first one!” My dad nodded and gave me a pat on the head.
I remembered snickers, and someone saying how ‘cute’ that was, and it only made me more determined as I grew older. Time and time again, people would tell me I couldn’t do it, but I listened to only one voice…mine.
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂
I signed my letter of intent spring of my senior year, after being courted by quite a few Division 1 Universities. I wasn’t the first girl to receive a scholarship by a long shot, but I did achieve what I set out to achieve long, long before when I was just a young child.
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?
So many people, for sure. My high school basketball coach, Brad Smith, absolutely stands out in my mind. He became the coach the year I went to high school. The two years previous the team has won a mere one game. Brad changed all that. We worked so hard, year round, to create a winning atmosphere and winning mindset. I greatly benefitted from being a part of that.
Additionally, he would play me one-on-one, any time I wanted to. He didn’t take it easy on me, beating me continually, and it took me three years to beat him. The day I won was the last time we ever played one-on-one, but I will never forget knowing that I was finally good enough to get a full-ride scholarship in that moment. And I did.
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?
Growing up is tough, because there will always be naysayers for those who dare to be different or who dare to do what others deem impossible. Another very impactful experience for me, also a sports related story, occurred at the summer basketball camp that I attended and then worked at for 15 years, Northwest Basketball Camps. The camp was set up with 4 Master Teachers who led the various ‘leagues’ of campers, who were separated by age and ability. The year I graduated from High School, Fred Crowell, the owner and leader of the camp made me one of the Master Teachers. Well, this didn’t sit well with the other coaches, or with the boys who were almost my age (I didn’t say my age to anyone.).
One of the best and most outspoken high school boy players the first week said to me, ‘I don’t have to do what you say.” I then challenged him to a game of one-on-one in front of the other campers. If he won, he didn’t have to listen to me. If I won, he not only had to respect and listen to me, but to work hard to do all that I instructed him to do. Well, I won that game, 7–5. It instilled in me the resiliency to believe in myself in the face of challenges.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
- Check yourself. Make sure that you truly believe that your impossible dream is achievable. You cannot out-perform your subconscious belief system. Before I could take the steps to form my company and develop the products from the baked goods I made at home to monetizable formulas, I had to be able to see and believe it as a profitable company that I was going to create. The beginning of tenacity is your absolute passion and determination to seeing your dream become reality that everyone can see.
- Write it down. A dream not written down is merely a wish for a better life. You have to plan it in writing to get your dream out of your mind and into reality. Writing it down is a way to speak it into existence and hold yourself accountable. I have personally had quite a few great ideas that came to nothing because I wasn’t actually passionate enough to speak them out and write a plan to succeed. It wasn’t ever that way with Grain Free Mama’s, instead I have had a burning passion to share these great products and resources with all the people who will benefit from them just like I have from the very beginning.
- Pursue your dream with no plan of retreat. Building in a ‘back door’ or ‘what if’ plan is just giving yourself permission to quit. Taking actions that ultimately don’t work out quite the way you wanted them to may be seen as failure by others, but getting back up and tweaking your approach will one day get you there. When we were just getting started in 2018 we thought we would be starting as a Farmer’s Market Stand. We bought our trailer, got a trailer hitch put on my car, purchased our tables, portable sink, branded pop-up tent, our health license, etc., etc. — basically we put a lot of time and money into getting ready. Well, what we soon realized was that people in Las Vegas want already prepared products to buy at the Farmer’s Market, and the heat is ferocious. Consumers want to buy baking mixes in the store or online. Separately from the Farmer’s Markets, we were also contacted by two very large Retail Grocery Stores who were interested in our products and we were not ready to produce the amount they would need. Fail? Maybe, if you see fail as standing for First Attempt In Learning. We chose to adjust the plan and keep progressing.
- When opportunity knocks, open the door. I have had a plan all along. During the course of building and growing our company (which we are still very much doing) I have put a lot of effort out there and then kept my eyes open for the opportunities that open up. Sometimes they have come in totally different ways than I planned for, like the example in #3, but as I have remained flexible I am able to use what others may call impossible or failure as opportunities to move closer to my dream.
- Lastly, and most importantly, human nature is to root for the underdog. When I was first beginning to build my company, I had many cheerleaders applauding my ‘cute little idea’. As we have made progress, the naysaying has begun more in earnest. This is music to my ears! Do you know why? Because human nature is to root for the underdog…hence, when you are moving from underdog to achiever, you will experience the cheering turn to criticism. More than anything else, THESE STATEMENTS STOKE MY FIRES OF PASSION. Use the naysayers as evidence that you are making it, because you are!
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
“Only he(she) who sees the invisible can do the impossible.” (Frank L Gaines)
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.
I would love to revolutionize the way we look at baked goods and baking products. I absolutely know and believe that our health in this world and the way we think is firstly affected by our eating choices. Toxic guts produce toxic minds. Healthy guts produce quality of life. In order to speak life, we have to be full of life. My Revolution: Change Your Diet…Change Your Life! And in so doing make a healthy contribution to this fabulous world we live in.
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Yes, absolutely. Here they are…
Facebook — @gfmamas1
Twitter — @gfmamas
Instagram — gfmamas
LinkedIn — gfmamas
YouTube — gfmama’s
Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!
Margie Traxler of Grain Free Mama’s: They Told Me It Was Impossible But I Did It Anyway was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.