VOYAGE PHOENIX: Daily Inspiration: Meet Jennifer Meyers
This article was originally published by Voyage Phoenix on February 3, 2O22. To read the full article, please visit: http://voyagephoenix.com/interview/daily-inspiration-meet-jennifer-meyers/
Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Meyers.
Hi Jennifer, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I grew up in a small town called Harrington Park in Bergen County, NJ. As a kid, I was always happy, goofy, adventurous and extremely talkative. My journey with food started in a small little butcher shop called the Harrington Park Meat Market. My grandparents, Oma and Opa, owned the store and everyday after school, I’d take my crew of friends there to eat a smorgasbord of Sour Patch Watermelons, Funyons and hot dogs. The market was precious and the entire town would rave about my grandfather’s butchery and the delicious tomatoes he grew in his garden. The aisles were stocked with pantry items, German Candies, fresh rolls, homegrown produce and only the best Schaller & Weber mustard. My grandparents created an experience and they were small town celebrities for it.
Thanks to the abundant access of snacks, I grew up eating anything I wanted. My diet consisted of: hotdogs, bratwurst, cold cuts, hamburgers, chips, gummies, and Tostitos with melted cheddar on top. My mom couldn’t try to feed me vegetable if she tried. I was quite literally too hopped up on Mountain Dew to think of eating anything “healthy.”
Around the age of 12, my stomach took a turn. I went from being a little garbage disposal to having an extremely sensitive belly. I saw my first nutritionist at this time and they sent me down the rabbit hole of being “gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and cutting down on meat products.” This was before “gluten-free” items were widely available and I struggled horribly as a kid with this restrictive diet. It took away so much of my innocent joy and fun.
Seemingly out of nowhere, my small IBS became a dilapidating issue. I was in and out of the hospitals 5-10 times per year with chronic stomach pain, food intolerances, severe acid reflux, joint pain, cramps, gas, vomiting, pelvic floor disfunction, amenorrhea, and extremely painful experiences of constipation that have lasted up to 35 days. I developed severe food phobias and was constantly in fear of eating or drinking something that would hurt me. When I was 21, a Holistic professional diagnosed me with SIBO, Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth and encouraged me to do a 3O day Elemental Diet which consisted of drinking a pre-digested vitamin shake without any solid foods. At the end of the diet, I weighed 103 pounds. I was so tired, weak, exhausted, confused, angry, and thin that I decided from that point on… I would become the strongest person I knew, physically and mentally.
I decided to learn absolutely everything about health foods and nutrition. I thought maybe if I learned more about how food was grown and changed my connection to food, that it would alleviate these stressors.
I would spent 5-6 hours on the weekends scanning different grocery stores and farmer’s market with a clip board. I picked up every single product, wrote down each ingredient and started insane amounts of research. I became an Encyclopedia of fruits, nuts, seeds, flours, powder, herbs, adaptogens, natural fats and everything in between. I studied different cultures, diets and engulfed myself with the world of holistic eating and healing. I fell so deeply in love with creating clean label foods for myself, my friends and family that it became all I dreamed of.
I didn’t have the name for ‘Earth Sugar’ yet, but I’ve been building the concept and brands for years. In my journal, I wrote about a place where “hemp seeds were sprinkles and fruit was candy.” A place where happy and healthy can exist in one. I had a mission to turn my problems into my purpose and always felt that I went through hell with my stomach because I was supposed to change the world in some way.
Now, Earth Sugar is a first-of-its-kind Superfood Confectionary that specializes in raw organic desserts, energetic snacks, clean label confections, and adaptogenic pantry items. We handcraft each product with fruits, plants, and purpose, and never use natural flavors, additives, preservatives, chemicals or any of the other man- made products that inflame gut issues, IBS, joint pain and blood sugar problems. All of our products are suitable for a vegan, gluten-free, and paleo diet, and we never use peanut, soy, dairy, gluten, animal products or sesame.
Beyond our products, I always encourage our customers to reach out to me with any nutritional or IBS problems they experience. IBS affects 25-45 million people in the United States and about 2 in 3 suffers are female. It’s no secret that the Ultra High Processed Foods big companies use in our snack foods are hurting our humans. Here at Earth Sugar, we want to bring you health, happiness and joy through food that’s handcrafted for your wellbeing.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I’d say my life has been a rocky off-roading adventure for sure. The biggest challenge I always faced outside of my chronic stomach issues was self-confidence. This is because creativity has no rules. There is no structure, no beginning, no end, no teams, no guidance, no scores. Earth Sugar was a figment of my imagination and a major pipe dream depending on who I spoke to. But those dreams and those thoughts can only exist in your head for so long until they start burning a hole through your skull. I had to find confidence in speaking my truth and then everything aligned.
Once you believe in yourself, you are unstoppable. Every word you speak has purpose, every thought becomes action, and every failure becomes a lesson. Confidence is a practice and we all have the ability to thrive if we decide to restructure our thoughts. As I always say, to make magic, you have to shuffle the cards.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a storyteller. When I was a little girl, my paternal grandmother lived in with my family in a duplex house. She was a retired English Teacher from the Bronx, NY and spent 3 + years as an activist, journalist, teacher and overall badass. She taught me how to write, but more importantly, she fueled my imagination and curiosity about the world.
Together, we wrote dozens of children stories, plays, articles and I became a TALKER. Naturally, I fell into a journalism/public relations career, and prior to launching my own company I was Editor in Chief of Penn State’s life and style magazine, Valley, and was published in multiple magazines such as Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, Seventeen, The Centre Daily Times, Redbook, and a handful of local newspapers. I’ve won 3 National Journalism Awards for reporting on mental health, suicide prevention, and drug abuse and I was the winner of Penn State Documentary Film Festival my senior year. I worked briefly in Public Relations at a company called ID Public Relations where I was the assistant to the Vice President of Music representing clients such as Alicia Keys, Hans Zimmer, Sam Hunt, and James Taylor to name a few.
Earth Sugar isn’t just a food company, it’s a brand. We are storytellers. We have a bright imagination, yummy recipes, and a mission to change the world. When we aren’t slinging cakes, we are designing stickers, fun packaging, building recipes, shooting videos, interviewing customers, making TikToks. Creativity is everything!
Who else deserves credit in your story?
My boyfriend, my best friend, and my partner in crime, Joey Rizzo. In the beginning of January 2021, I booked a one-way ticket to Phoenix, AZ. I just quit my job, I was living alone in Brooklyn during COVID, and I knew I needed to escape. I was meant to go and find somewhere new. To be honest with you, I do not know why I chose Arizona as my first stop. This is why I believe my Guardian Angels were whispering in my ear during my sleep. I literally woke up one morning and was like, “Arizona, here I come!” I booked my ticket, packed my bags, and got on the plane the next day.
Joey went to the same high school as me, Northern Valley Old Tappan Regional High School. He was a few grades older and we never crossed paths. We never met, we never spoke… and we even lived down the street from each other! When I decided to fly to Phoenix, I instant messaged Joey on Instagram. Now mind you, we had a couple of social media exchanges, but I had no idea who this person was. I just felt like he was going to be a really cool guy to hang out with for a night or two and show me Arizona. Joey picked me up from the airport on January 4th, and from that day on, I’ve been with him literally every day since. He is my person.
When I told Joey that I wanted to start my own company, he told me to do it and that he was excited to do it all with me. I can’t even put into words how incredible he is. He loads my head and heart with so much confidence, happiness, and love that I feel so freaking unstoppable. We have the same kind of crazy dreams: run up mountains, make delicious snacks, meet new people. travel to new places, do handstands on cliffs. We are the same crazy and I am crazy about him.
Joey works every single farmers’ market with me, he folds boxes, he packs bars, he drives EVERYWHERE, he carries all the heavy things. I couldn’t do anything without him. He is incredible. And he is a hit with the ladies at the farmers market!!