As seen on page 30 of our Summer 2017 issue, Registered Dietitian, Karlene Karst describes herself as a busy, multi-tasking mamma, who feels grateful for each day she gets to live with energized health. “I love to share my passion for nutrition and healthy living with other women and mom’s to help them feel like the best version of themselves.” In the issue, Karlene shares with us her top Energy Foods and some advice to navigate our busy, stressful lifestyles with optimal nutrition.
Beautiful on the inside and out – Karlene is a wealth of information and inspiration. We wanted to share more about the woman behind the power-packed article. Please read on for our Q&A with Karlene!
How and why did you begin your career?
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at the age of 20. Exhausted, weak, in pain, and taking 8 Advil a day, I knew I needed to make a change in my health. At the same time I was studying nutrition to become a registered dietitian, and was being taught that fat was bad, and eating a low-fat diet was the best. Autoimmune + low-fat = poor health. Coincidentally, a job opportunity opened up in the natural health industry. I jumped at the chance and it was the best decision that I ever made. I was introduced to healthy fats, specifically omega-3s, and within 3 months of supplementing with Omega-3 fish oils, I started to feel a remarkable change in my health. Fats were a game changer for me. When you have a personal experience with something that truly changes your life, you become a poster child for it. I started to make changes in all areas of my nutrition and health. I spent the next 10 years writing books (I’ve published 4 thus far), speaking at various education events around North America, travelling, appearing on radio and TV (Access Hollywood was definitely a career high) and doing product development for various nutrition and vitamin companies. Throughout these times, I knew I wanted to have my own brand.
Describe your business – what makes it unique?
In 2012, that dream became a reality when – with 2 kids under 4 (and eventually a 3rd baby to come) – I took the scary and daunting leap into mompreneurship. (Which I have called my 4th baby!) Sea-licious is based on my love and belief in good fats in the diet, and my desire to bring the best quality, and tasting omega-3 to Canadians. The product line is diverse with omega-3 options for pregnant women, kids, adults, those with heart disease, inflammation, and fitness enthusiasts. I’m extremely proud of what Sea-licious has become and so grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference in peoples lives.
Where did your business start out and what did you do to get it to where you are today?
The first 2 years of the business were very difficult, yet one of the most exciting things I have ever worked on. I had many many sleepless nights worrying if we were going to get distribution into the health food stores, and then gulp, if anyone would buy the product off the shelf. There are so many things to consider from cash flow (of which there is little in the beginning), to inventory control (the product has a 2 year shelf-life, so you can’t over order, yet there are minimums that need to be purchased), to sales, and marketing, promotions etc. I would lay awake at night thinking about what I needed to do to make this work. I had minimal budget and a very small and junior staff, but we ALL wanted this to succeed. My team was extremely supportive and passionate and we all worked together to make Sea-licious what it is today.
Where do you see this business in 5 years?
In October of 2016, my ultimate goal with Sea-licious was reached when I sold the business to the largest natural health and wellness company in the industry. It was a HUGE personal and professional goal accomplished and I can’t tell you how proud I am of what I was able to do in such a short time. Sea-licious will continue to grow and evolve over the next 5 years, although I’m not solely responsible for the brand, I am still involved with the overall vision, direction, science, education and image.. We plan to add more products to the line, and expand into more health food stores and online e-tailers, with a possible expansion internationally.
What do you love most about what you do?
I have loved my career. It is something that was carved by design — it is most definitely an out of the box “job”, but I’m so grateful for it. My career and work have evolved tremendously, but all based on what I love. Today, I am less hands-on with the day to day running of the business, which allows me to spend more of my time speaking at events, doing TV interviews, recipe development etc. This also gives me the time to be with my 3 kids and be a full-time mom. Flexibility in my work has allowed me to have my cake and eat it to, and I’m so grateful for this journey.
What is a passion project you are working on?
My passion projects are dreaming about my next business ventures: a new blog site called Renewal by Nutrition – launching Sept 2017, my next book, nurturing my family, and taking care of ME.
Tell us about some of the most exciting projects that you’ve been part of…
Exciting projects have included launching a product on QVC in the US. I was the spokesperson for the product, and if you’ve ever watched the movie Joy with Jennifer Lawrence, I felt like her! But honestly, it was one of the most unique projects I have ever been part of. I travelled back and forth to Philadelphia almost weekly, to get on live TV, and talk about the product. It was all about numbers, call in’s, sales, etc. If the product “sold out” during my time on air, it was considered a huge success. But, the pressure was high and at the end, with my young kids (I had a 10 month old and 3 year old), I just couldn’t keep up. Honestly, I find the entire natural health and vitamin industry very exciting. The science, knowledge, people, products, popularity and growth of the industry make it extremely interesting.
What are a few of your must-haves?
A few of my must-haves include – faith (for without my faith I would be lost), my family (who are my everything and who truly help me be the best version of me), good nutritious food daily, my fitness routine, vitamins and supplements that changed my life and keep my health running at its best, essential oils, my iPhone lol, morning green smoothie, my girlfriends, and of course my love and excitement for shoe and purse shopping! (wink wink). 🙂
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by women around me who are all working at being their best – whether it’s as a mom, wife, daughter, friend, career woman, foodie, blogger etc. Women inspire me. We are amazing souls, given gifts, talents, strength, and graciousness beyond anything imaginable. The power of the female is just remarkable and I thank my lucky stars that I am surrounded by such strong and loving examples that have become my sisterhood.
What’s the number one value that you take with you through your personal life that extends into your business?
I never give up. Ever. I never quit, and I live by the words “persistence beats resistance”. My father passed away at the age of 42 from a courageous, and lengthy battle with cancer. He never complained and he never gave up. He inspired me to be the greatest version of me, and to fight the fight, no matter what the battle. Along with my faith, this philosophy has carried me through many many challenges. Life is a journey, filled with many ups and downs. Even when the issues feel insurmountable, I try to see the glass as half-full rather than empty.
What adversity have you faced in business?
There will always be adversity in business, and if it was easy everyone would do it. In the beginning the biggest challenge I faced was having a consumer-product that required marketing, with very little marketing budget. The other issue was launching a brand into an already crowded and competitive category. There were lots of omega-3 products, but none like Sea-licious. I needed to focus on telling my story to show the stores and Consumer what made us different.
What would you like to say to young women with similar career goals?
Follow your dreams and goals. No goal is to big, no dream impossible. I believe everyone in life and especially business needs a mentor. Find someone, who is older and more experienced who can be a sounding board and mentor you through various stages of your business. I have had the same mentor for over 20 years now. She is someone who I call in the good and the bad times, and who is always there to listen and give her advice.
I am now giving back and mentoring a few young and aspiring women to reach their dreams. I absolutely love this and am so excited to see these girls setting goals and making it happen.
What is your best promotional tool?
My best promotional tool — is me. Lol. I am my brand. My experience, personal health story, knowledge and voice have been the driving forces behind my brand. When I am “out there” sharing my passion for health, my brand grows and thrives. I feel blessed to share my love for health, and how natural health and food changed my life.
Why is the Lower Mainland a great place to live and work?
Being a SK expat, I couldn’t be more grateful to call the lower mainland “home”. It lives and breathes health. I believe in surrounding myself with like-minded individuals, and this part of Canada provides that. The nature, fresh air, healthy restaurants, and foodies that live here inspire me to be my best. When I see people running outside in the pouring rain in January, that inspires me.