Photos by Boston photographer Cara Soulia.
A Mother’s Work: Stacy Madison | Founder of Stacy’s Pita Chips, Stacy’s Juice Bar and BeBold Foods
One of my very pasttimes is to listen to business podcasts while I’m editing photos. One of my very favorite podcast is How I Built This podcast with Guy Raz on NPR. I was so thrilled when I realized Guy interviewed Needham’s very own Stacy Madison last May. I always knew the founder of Stacy’s Juice Bar was also the founder of Stacy’s Pita Chips, but I never knew all that transpired in between those two business ventures. And now she’s adding in #3: BeBold Foods.
I was so inspired by Stacy’s story: her candor about divorce, raising twin girls as a single mom, her battle with breast cancer, and the struggles of being a working mom. I knew she was a perfect candidate for my A Mother’s Work portrait series and was thrilled that she agreed to participate.
I met up with Stacy at the juice bar in October and she was just as down to earth as I expected. Read on to learn more.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
I grew up in Upstate New York but moved to Sharon, Massachusetts when I was 13 years old. Growing up we didn’t have cell phones or the internet so we made our own fun. We played outside, rode bikes, pulled wagons with the lawnmower and played with fire in the woods. All the things you do as a kid when you don’t have a phone! I moved to Sharon in my freshman year of high school, so that was difficult. I didn’t know anybody and everyone had their friends from junior high.
Was there something that influenced your path to becoming an entrepreneur? When did that turning point happen?
I think two people influenced my path to becoming an entrepreneur. One my father who a psychologist but he always had entrepreneurial ventures on the side. I think he wanted to be an entrepreneur but he was a psychologist with a family to support so entrepreneurial ventures were too risky. Second my sister, I saw her running other businesses and starting her own so I saw firsthand that it was achievable. The turning point for me was when I was living in Hawaii and working for a startup operation. I learned how to run a business and the amount of work that went into it. Unfortunately, I was called into a meeting where I thought I was getting a promotion and I unexpectedly got fired. So at that point, I took what I learned from that company both what to do and what not to do, and began my journey.
You’re literally a brand in many homes, but you’re more than famous pita chips. You’re a mom, a friend, boss, community member. If you could give yourself an attribute as a brand, what would you want it to be?
If I could give my brand an attribute I would want it to be inclusion, humanist, realist but ultimately BOLD. BOLD to me is something that inspires you and others to be the best versions of yourselves you can be. I teach my kids to take a second before anything they do and reflect if they are being a leader or a follower. I’ve taken that parenting motto and turned it into a brand.
What was it like raising two babies/ young children while running your business? What were the hardest things? What was the gift?
And, what’s it like with teenagers?
I would describe raising two babies while running my business as a run-away train. There is no slowing down. The hardest thing was that I had to make a lot of scarifies to have the future we have today. I missed out on the first few years of their lives but I had to do what I needed to do. On the bright side, I was able to be flexible and make my own schedule, and if I needed to I would just bring the girls to work with me. Now that they are teenagers it is much easier. I still worry but I worry about them differently. It is so rewarding to watch them grow and become women. I’ve watched them become leaders and stand up for others who may not feel like they have a voice. All the things that make you proud as a parent because you are no longer only meeting their needs but seeing them grow into the people you wanted them to become.
How would you describe each of your children? What are some of your children’s favorite foods/juices?
I would describe one as an overachiever and the other as a free spirit. Their favorite foods are steak and pasta. They love acai bowls from the juice bar because they first had them in Brazil when they were younger and they still love them today.
Why Needham for the Juice Bar?
I chose Needham for the Juice Bar because I live the Westwood but Needham had a better town center. With it only being 5 minutes away it’s been a great place to run my passion project.
Do you have a favorite item at the Juice Bar?
I eat at the Juice Bar every day so I rotate what I get, but my current favorite is the toasted salmon avocado sandwich with a cashew spread. My favorite juice is the detox lemonade and my favorite smoothie is the acai bowl or grasshopper smoothie.
Community clearly matters to you — why?
The Juice Bar has made an unexpected difference in the community. Being there for people if they want to make a healthy choice has changed lives.
What is one of the best pieces of business advice (or life advice?) that someone has given you?
Listen more than you speak. I have not only used this with my kids but also with employees and people who are upset. When I listen I avoid sticking my foot in my mouth. I also like to look at each day as a new page in a book. We have the opportunity to write it ourselves and control what our future looks like.
What advice would you give someone asking: I’d love to start my own small business but don’t know where to start.
You’re lucky because you have more resources than I had back when I started my company. Immerse yourself into the industry. If it happens to be the food industry read books, attend trade shows, walk around grocery stores, start living and breathing it first. Then turn to local organizations. For food, there is a specialty food association that will have great advice for new ventures and entrepreneurs.
Is there a promotion I can share with my local audience for Stacy’s Juice Bar? Or for the BeBold Bars?Between 2/5 – 2/14 anyone who mentions “Cara” (That’s Me!) or this blog post gets a free BeBOLD bar with a $10 purchase.
Cara Soulia is a Boston Photographer who specializes in creating beautiful, natural images in a unique and artistic way. See more of Cara’s work here or get in touch to find out more about scheduling a photo session.