Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”
BY THE WAY…
- Looking for THE BALANCE PROJECT, the novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.
- The Balance Project interview series recently celebrated its first birthday!
- Fortune ran a feature about The Balance Project.
- Want to be a part of The Balance Project? Complete the interview.
No. 75: Anita Shepherd, Founder of Anita’s Yogurt
Where I live: East Williamsburg, Brooklyn (and work 5 blocks away)
Job: Yogurt Maker and Founder of Anita’s Coconut Yogurt
Kids: A 3-month-old daughter
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
I started this business a year and a half ago. Ramona was born about a month after I moved into my own yogurt factory, and shortly after buildout was completed. I finished training my new employees on the day I went into labor. They are the most amazing people and basically had to hit the ground running to run the company while I was home with the baby. I came back to work after a month of being at home but they have basically been running production ever since.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I am currently juggling life with a newborn with my new business and it is insane. Maybe one day I will look back and laugh, having “figured it all out.” For now, this concept still escapes me.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
How to work in physical wellness along with work and family. That is the one piece I have yet to get back into place since starting a business and having a baby.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Not freaking out when I have to leave my baby at home with others and go to work.
Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance that you would recommend?
I put my phone in airplane mode at bedtime and leave it that way until breakfast.
If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
Beautiful women come a dime a dozen. If you really want to be noticed and appreciated, be successful in business or another endeavor.
What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
How to be successful in business.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
In this modern world, I am finding it increasingly difficult to live sustainably. In some other countries, they have scarcity issues. I feel like in my life I have an overabundance issue. Especially with a newborn at home, I find myself doing more online shopping. Every week we have so much to dispose of. Cardboard, plastic packaging, bubble wrap, shopping bags… the waste just creeps in and it seems there is no way to stop the flow. I would love to hire someone who could find a way for us to be a more sustainable household without all this waste.
Whose job do you wish you had?
I don’t want to do anything but run my yogurt business.
Biggest food vice?
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
Now that I have the baby I am generally in bed by 10pm every night and I love it.
What do you read every morning?
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
Last week we were trying to fit some shelving units into the walk-in, and it seemed like the last one would not fit. We squeezed it in place, and I told my coworkers, “They’re just atoms.” Any time something seems physically impossible I tell myself this and keep trying.
Anita Shepherd is a self-taught vegan chef and baker. Anita operated Electric Blue Baking Co. from 2007-2012. While she was most known for her desserts and baked spelt donuts, the savory food at her Smorgasburg food stand was raved about on numerous food blogs. Her passion for vegan cooking has made her a trusted source in the food world. She is a Hotline MVP on Food52.com, where she tackles vegan cooking-and-baking-related questions, and through her YouTube cooking show DIY Vegan, she shares recipes for basic kitchen staples like almond milk, cashew cheese, and coconut butter. Her advice on vegan baking has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, and her recipes have been featured in Bon Appetit Magazine. As a consultant, Anita has added vegan options to the menus of New York City restaurants and cafes. Anita’s Yogurt was founded in September 2013. It is made with organic coconut milk, organic coconut water and live cultures. Anita created the yogurt to use as an ingredient in dessert recipes. Once the word got out, people got just as excited about pure coconut yogurt as they did for vegan desserts, so she decided to turn Electric Blue Baking into a food manufacturing business and make Anita’s Yogurt her first product.