Superfoods have been a major buzzword in the beauty and wellness field for a few years now, but how beneficial can they really be? Well, take it from Your Super founders Michael Kuech and Kristel DeGroot: superfoods are a game changer.
While Michael is from Germany and Kristel is from the Netherlands, they actually met on the tennis courts in America. They were both in business school and training to be pro tennis players and instantly hit it off.
Then the unexpected happened: Michael was diagnosed with cancer at just 24 years old. Kristel was by his side the whole time, staying positive, cracking jokes, and perhaps most importantly, mixing up superfoods. During Michael’s recovery he did a detox, took the mixes, and began incorporating them in his daily life. He instantly felt happier, healthier, and more alive. And because they made him feel so much better, he and Kristel became eager to share superfoods with the world.
Together they made superfood mixes in their parents’ kitchens for friends and family. They set up at farmers’ markets, college campuses, backyard barbecues, and anywhere else they could share their superfood mixes.
Now, Your Super is bringing superfoods to the world one mix at a time. The mixes are easy to add to your water, morning shake, oatmeal, eggs, and so many other foods—I personally love adding the antioxidant-heavy “Forever Beautiful” mix to my water in the morning.
I took some time to chat with Michael and Kristel about their entrepreneurial story and what they’ve learned as they’ve grown their business.
SARAH BOYD: Tell me about how you started Your Super.
MICHAEL KUECH: It’s very personal, I had cancer at 24. In the recovery I was inspired by Kristel to do a detox, and start eating healthier. I felt instantly better. On top of it, I discovered how many people are affected by cancer, by eating the wrong way, how big of an impact diet can have on your health. I started using superfoods to supplement and get enough vitamins and minerals.
I didn’t know that these natural superfoods, like wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina…these things have been used for thousands of years, and there are a lot of studies showing the effects of using them on your health. That was really mind blowing to me. How could I not know, when everybody else knows?
KRISTEL DEGROOT: My mom had cancer when I was 12, and Michael had cancer when I was 22, so I was kind of reliving it. At 12 my mom was the closest to me, and at 22 Michael was the closest to me. During his chemo we watched the movie Forks Over Knives, [talking about] animal protein and cancer, and I thought, Well I can change this tomorrow, that’s not a big deal, and the next day I went totally vegan.
During [Michael’s] illness I thought, Well it happened to my mom, it happened to him, it can probably also happen to me. I should probably just do whatever I can to not get it.
During that time for me, I wanted to stay positive and to inspire him, which was not always easy. I didn’t want to tell what him, “Oh you have to do this, you have to do this,” but, “Hey I eat this and I feel better, maybe just try it out.”
SB: So once you started making these superfood mixes for your friends and family, what inspired you to turn that into a business?
KD: Well, we were living in different places, had graduated from school, and were really passionate about the effects, so thought, If we start a business together that solves a lot of things at once, haha!
MK: The health came first. Many have the same sickness I had, or are getting that sickness. I wanted to inspire people to not go through what I went through. Once you realize how a healthy diet can impact your health, you realize what an impact all of your choices have. I wanted to share what I had learned with the world!
SB: What were some of the first business steps you took when starting the company?
KD: When we started to learn more about the supply chain, it was like, “Okay, how does it work? Where does it come from? Do you test every batch?” And then we suddenly found out, no, not every batch is tested. Then you ask where something is from, they say in Brazil. Okay, cool but where in Brazil? Do we just say wheatgrass is wheatgrass? NO! If I don’t feel comfortable eating my own products, what’s the point in even creating them?
So we made a very conscious decision to be a more premium brand, even though it’s more expensive, and to source only the best ingredients. We have accurate third party tests on every batch. We ensure the people who are growing the ingredients or processing them are treated well and paid fairly.
MK: Being mission-based is the core value of our company. We traveled a lot to source and find the right supply chain, and I’ve come to understand that if we’re living in this world, in this way, we need to build a company that is socially responsible and give back at the source. We’re inspired by Tom’s, Warby Parker, Patagonia, This Bar Saves Lives, and others with a social mission.
SB: How are you serving that social mission with your brand?
MK: We partnered with Action Against Hunger. They designed a bar that is specially developed for malnourished children that has all the macro- and micro-nutrients that a kid in that situation needs. The great thing is they don’t need to be sanitized in hot water or cooked. This bar can be everywhere right away.
The crazy fact is that with three of those bars a day, that someone with malnourishment survives! Over the course of three weeks they are back to normal. With a purchase of 1 Your Super product, we donate 1 bar. We can help someone here who can afford our product to get healthy, and then help someone else in the rest of the world get healthy too!