Wellness Warriors is a series where we interview leaders in the health + wellness space, and ask them about the endeavors that promote mindful living. This month , we chat with Gunnar Lovelace, Founder of Thrive Market – a membership community that uses the power of direct buying to deliver the world’s best healthy food and natural products to our members at wholesale prices, and to sponsor free memberships for low-income American families.
Q&A by The Mother Loving Future
What inspired you to fight for wellness?
I grew up on an organic farm and saw firsthand the power of group buying as a way to make food more affordable and build community. I always felt like there was an opportunity and responsibility to disrupt access to healthy food with technology. Together with my co-founders, our investors, employees and members, we have brought this vision to life at Thrive Market.
Since launching the business in 2014, we have grown from one employee working out of my house, to more than 600 employees nationally working out of to multiple locations in 3 states. We have raised over $160 million in investment capital from over 350 value-aligned investors and intend to use our platform to create a more just, equitable world for future generations.
How does your work contribute to a healthier future for all?
Our mission at Thrive Market is to democratize access to healthy food, and part of the way we make good on our mission is for each membership we sell, we donate one to a low-income family, teacher, veteran or student through a program we call Thrive Gives. Our Thrive Gives members, many of whom are SNAP recipients, expressed their desire to use their benefits online, to create a pathway of health and wellness for their children to follow. In response, we launched a national campaign in support of the USDA bringing SNAP online, aimed to increase access to healthy food in vulnerable communities. We assembled a broad coalition of influencers, brands, media partners, NGOs, celebrities, bloggers and elected officials (Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Tim Ryan, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Ted Lieu) to drive a synchronized conversation nationally around this issue. As a result of our campaign we gathered 325,000 signatures in support, generated 400 million media impressions, and received a promise from the USDA to roll out a pilot program a year ahead of schedule in 2017.
What are some health and wellness rules you live by?
What has been your greatest learning curve throughout your passion pursuit?
Do what you love and don’t be afraid too make mistakes. Find great team members to collaborate with, and get out of their way so everyone could succeed together.
What is the biggest contributing factor to your success?
My mother Adriana has always been a shining example of persistence, creativity, and generosity. When we lived here as poor immigrants, as a single mother, she worked incredibly long days to provide for us. Regardless of her financial challenges, she has always supported herself and me through her creativity and jewelry. I attribute my work ethic to her indomitable spirit and I am constantly blown away by the generosity she shows to others even when she herself lives a humble life.
What have you learned on your path that everybody can benefit from?
Don’t accept no, or a lot of no’s. Some of the greatest feats in our collective history were achieved by people who constantly heard no, but were able to break through and realize their vision.
In building Thrive Market we were initially turned down by 50 of the leading venture firms. After 3 months of no’s we pivoted and instead chose to create a stakeholder driven business, raising our first $10mm from a large coalition of nearly 300 value aligned partners who understood the problem we were trying to solve at Thrive Market. This experience was the best thing that could have happened to us and had we not persevered beyond those initial no’s, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Which superfood gives you superhuman powers?
Fungi Perfecti Host Defense, My Community Comprehensive Immune Support to boost immune function and maca for adrenal support.
What are you letting go of?
There’s a lot of residual survival trauma from my childhood that stirs fear and generates pangs of insecurity daily. It’s truly humbling to realize how persistent these feelings are and a constant reminder to bring more love and compassion into my life to manage past trauma and my ever present shadow.
What are you calling in?
We’re an incredibly powerful species, capable of anything we set our minds and hearts to accomplish. But so often we’re motivated subconsciously or consciously by values bestowed upon us by parents, society and media that may not match those values held by our true selves. We’re in the midst of the sixth great extinction and must realize that profit for profit’s sake is an obsolete idea – it’s essential we shift our values to something greater than advancing our own self interests by putting planet ahead of profits. For me that means spreading as much beauty, love and goodness in the world.
What are you grateful for?
Grateful for gratitude. I remember the first time I saw the word “gratitude” replaced with fear; it made a huge impression on me that stayed with me. Whenever I feel afraid or insecure, I count my blessings and embrace gratitude.
Learn more about Thrive Market over on their website, or follow them on Instagram.