Inspirational Woman: Kristel de Groot | Co-Founder, Your Super

Kristel de GrootI am Kristel de Groot, 31, Dutch, living mostly in LA nowadays, co-founder of Your Super.

I started the company 8 years ago when I was 23, before that I did some consulting internships and finished my Masters at CASS Business School in London. I travelled through Asia twice in 3 months and finished my Bachelors at VSU in the US with a tennis scholarship. My current role is Co-CEO with a stronger focus on the marketing and innovation side of the business. I probably had 20 different roles over the last 8 years from filling cans by hand, selling on farmers markets, sending packages, answering cx tickets, writing blogs, learning how to run CRM and Facebook ads – I have done a lot of different things in our business over the years.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did have one session with a career planner when I was at university during my Masters… it was interesting though because coming out of my business Masters I thought going into consulting or banking were my only 2 options. Turns out there are so many different jobs and so many different businesses out there – sometimes now I think I would have loved to work for a couple of years at a start-up to learn from someone. The fun thing about a start-up is that you often get to wear many different heads right away – on the negative side it’s lots of work and more chaos.

Start-ups are glorified these days; I think they are fun but I also have learned they are not for everyone. If you like more structure, predictability and want to work more 9-5, then a bigger company might be a better fit – you need to think about what fits to your personality. To get back to the question, in the end I never really had a proper plan. I applied for big consultancies and didn’t get the job in the last rounds all within one week, which I saw as a sign. Since 14 years old I had been telling my parents about business ideas – why does this not exist or we should start a business doing this. So, at 23 I was just like, I have nothing to lose, I don’t have kids, no house, I am not used to a salary, I am just going to give this a try. I was so naive and had no idea what was all waiting for me, but over the years my goals and expectations changed and continued to grow along.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Yes, every day and still do every day, but otherwise life would be boring right? Challenges which can feel uncomfortable – are what make you grow. It’s the times when things don’t go well – I have noticed I grow the most. From hiring the wrong people, to running out of money, to production not finishing on time, running out of stock, having too much stock, to investors who are not happy, to paying $100k for ad production that absolutely flopped, having a to-do list so long not knowing where to start first… the list can go on and on.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Somehow this is a hard question to answer for me and it’s probably not one big thing. It’s creating products that people use every day and actually makes them feel better and healthier – and have had over 1 million customers at this point in over 50 countries. I have very strong values, live a healthy whole food plant-based diet myself, and I see just so many people suffering… and I believe being healthy doesn’t have to be that complicated or hard – and whether it’s through the products, or me sharing easy recipes on social. I hope to show people how good you can feel every day by nourishing your body the right way. Other things that come to mind that happened along the journey have been raising money from investors, growing our revenues, growing the team to over 50 people, having an LA and Berlin office, being on the Doctors TV show, being on the Forbes 30 under 30 list – I think it’s those small achievements that bring lots of joy throughout the journey. 

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

That I believe in myself. I have this belief system that I can figure out anything I put my head to if I want to. And so often it’s having the confidence to just go do something, to simply get started, and you will make mistakes but you’ll learn to then get where you want to be. Also knowing your what is so much more important than how you will get there. 

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I once read that finding a mentor is like a short cut – so instead of trying to figure everything out by yourself and making every mistake, instead find someone who has walked a similar path already and who can help you identify the right opportunities and avoid some of these mistakes. So, in short, yes having mentors is great. Over the years, me as well as my co-founder, have had different mentors who we have been able to call up to ask questions to and I think having a wider network to get different perspectives is always most helpful. I feel like over the years I have mentored more people within our organisation, helping younger women progress in their career… I love supporting and helping others, so if you are reading this and have a specific question you can always shoot me a dm on Instagram @blissbykris or LinkedIn.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

There are so many things that need changing but one of the things we have done in our business is implementing Moon Days… Moon Days are for female identifying employees who can take one day per month (a Moon Day) when they have their period. It’s a day where ‘you do what you can’. For one person this means cancelling all their meetings because they don’t want to talk to anyone, for some it means taking half or a full day off, or when you have that super important meeting, like a board meeting, being able to share how you feel with the people at work so they can support you.

Introducing Moon Days is a way as a company to build trust. To be an employer of the future, not the past. I came to the realisation that the workplace has been designed by man for man – many many years ago. We women entered that pre-existing workplace. In order to make a workplace truly inclusive, periods are a topic we have to start talking about. The Moon Day policy is a framework for women and men, to make it easier to talk about periods at work.

Another piece that I think will be really important as well is more female investors, more funding going to female founders (still less than 5%!) and more women in leadership positions across the whole org structure of an organisation (from board, to c level, leadership, etc). We currently have 70% female employees and our leadership team is also 60% women – this year we will be adding new board members and want to ensure we also have over 50% female members on the board.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Travel longer and have more fun before you enter the work place if you can. Don’t worry about your resume, worry about trying different things to really figure out what kind of work you will love, figure out what you’re passionate about, what makes your heart beat a little faster – because if you love it, (a) it won’t feel like work (b) you will naturally spend more time doing and become really good at it.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future? 

I am pregnant, so it will figure out what my professional career will look like being a mom. Also, having started and now worked for the past 8 years for Your Super, I have had many different roles in the company, and I slowly understand more and more the kind of work that gives me more energy and that I really love doing – can I do more of that in my life!

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