If you’re a person who doesn’t always eat healthy, chances are you’ve sought out a vitamin or two in your day to supplement your missing nutrition. On the flip side, if you’re a super health-conscious person who watches every vitamin, mineral and calorie you eat, you’ve probably still looked into boosting your daily intake of certain vitamins. So aside from all of us looking for a vitamin that fits our bill, what do we almost always have in common? We don’t like to swallow ginormous, alfalfa-tasting pills!
Enter Hallie Rich, CEO of alternaVites. This bubbly entrepreneur came up with a vitamin mix that dissolves and tastes great, so anyone, even kids, could enjoy them. Rich took it a step further by creating a special blend of vitamins and minerals just for kids, and alternaVites found a special niche.
The daughter of a vitamin mogul, Rich has reached her own stride in the family business, and sees work as a labor of love every day. We took some time to find out what makes Hallie tick, how she balances her own family life as she teaches parents how to get their kids involved in healthy behavior, and why giving back through charity is high on her priority list.
The business of vitamins is unique! I read that you were inspired to create your vitamin line based upon the fact that people have a hard time swallowing pills. Tell us a little about the other inspiration and motivation behind creating this business.
Hallie Rich: I am one of 100 million Americans who have trouble swallowing pills, but my whole life I felt like the only one. Especially having worked in my family business for many years in which we manufactured pills, I was the only one I knew with this problem.
However, it was after my father passed away and we closed his company, that I went to a vitamin store as a true customer and was unhappy with my choices. As a consumer, I wanted a delicious, convenient and easy way to take vitamins that didn’t require swallowing a pill. As an industry expert though, none of the options were up to my standards and what I knew was possible.
That was when I decided to develop my own brand – one that combined what I knew I could formulate based on my experience, with what I was looking for as a consumer to fill that void, and that’s how alternaVites was born.
What is the difference between your line of vitamins which is flavorful but melts in your mouth, and a gummy vitamin that is flavorful but can be chewed?
HR: I definitely was inspired by gummy vitamins, in that they normally taste delicious and are really fun to take. What adult or child wouldn’t want that? Where I decided it was important to deviate from most gummy vitamin products was to make sure alternaVites had lots of vitamins, also included minerals – many do not include them or don’t include them in optimal amounts – and that we didn’t have the sugar and gelatin so common in this form.
Additionally, gummy vitamins tend to stick to teeth which can cause dental havoc. This is why alternaVites has been so embraced by the dental community.
What are some special vitamin needs that children have that adults may not have to worry about? How did you go about formulating the right blend for kids?
HR: While parents do their best to get children to eat healthy as often as they can, we all know that is hardly possible or probable. Kids like what they like, and making sure their diet includes all of the nutrients their growing bodies need can be hard. Add to that their still-developing taste buds, and it’s even harder to get some of the more nutritious foods to be to their liking.
So, a vitamin is the best insurance policy for children to make sure that for any gaps they are experiencing in their diets, they are getting a great back-up plan to supplement what they aren’t able to get through their meals. Also, with children, it’s so important to make it taste good, be fun to take, but still offer nutrients at levels that parents feel good about and that isn’t a waste of money.
alternaVites can be taken in so many ways – it melts in your mouth like a pixie stick, or can be mixed into or onto drinks or foods – so it really can be tailor-made to what each child wants on that particular day. It also tastes delicious, and the flavors aren’t something that anyone would get sick of taking every day, which I think is also important. You want a vitamin, especially for kids, that reminds them of feeling good and unconsciously being proactive about their health. If a vitamin can deliver on that, which I think we do, while still tasting delicious and being nutritious, well, what kid or parent isn’t going to want to get involved!?
Some kids can be difficult when it comes to convincing them to eat healthy or take vitamins. What are some tips you can offer for parents to get their kids involved in caring about their their health?
HR: It’s hard to convince most people to be healthy at any age! We all know what we should do, but finding the time, the money, and the desire to be good all of the time is hard to do. With children, unless you teach them, or they learn from a friend, they don’t know that broccoli is healthy and cookies aren’t. They are taught that. They don’t know that exercising and staying fit can feel like a chore, and that it isn’t just fun and a time to let off steam.
So, if at an early age, we try to incorporate healthy choices not as healthy, but just as normal and no fuss, it will help create good habits that they can draw on as adults and then pass on to their family. Our parents’ generation grew up on Jane Fonda workouts, and our generation is running 5Ks, doing yoga, and taking spinning classes. It’s that healthy mentality that’s morphing already, and I think it’s something we can do with our children as well.
How do you personally balance home and family life day to day?
HR: It’s not easy… especially because most days don’t feel like work. I really am one of the lucky ones who not only loves what I do, but do something I so passionately believe in. So, while work is extremely demanding as I continue to build the business, I look forward to it. Well… most days!
I am also so lucky to have the best husband, family and friends who never make me feel guilty about working hard. I want to find that balance so I get to spend time with them and, more importantly, enjoy that time.
Lately though, I think the biggest part of balancing is managing the iPhone. I really try to turn it off whenever possible so I can be present. Not only am I more tolerable to be around, it’s also incredibly time-efficient, as we’re not all spending double the time together, because half the time we’re repeating what we just said because one person is fading in and out of conversations while the other person checks their emails or texts.
In building your business, what has been the biggest challenge for you thus far? How did or do you work to overcome that challenge?
HR: So many people think all vitamins are created equal so we had the task or responsibility of letting consumers know that we had developed something new and innovative, and that was where the real challenge lied. We not only had to explain to people that there are important differences between brands besides price, but that our new delivery form would offer them so many other unique benefits as well. The vitamin aisles are crowded and confusing, and people need to feel comfortable when they’re choosing a vitamin that they are either going to take themselves or give to their children.
That’s why, as the saying goes, an educated consumer really is our best consumer. That’s why we teach people about vitamins in general and how alternaVites stands apart, specifically our delivery form, what nutrients make up our formulas, and that we have more of what they want in a vitamin product and less of what they don’t. Overcoming this was easier than we anticipated, because our fans are the best, and they have taken to the web and their blogs and even their practices – especially pediatric dentists – to let their friends, colleagues, contemporaries and even patients know why they should start buying and taking alternaVites.
If someone wanted to get into your line of work, what is the number one piece of advice you would give them?
HR: I think it’s the same as starting any new business. You have to really want it and believe in it. Starting and growing a business can take over a lot of your life, so you can’t get sick of it and you can’t waiver. There will be so many nay-sayers, and it’s important to distinguish between those just being negative and those offering constructive criticism.
At the end of the day though, surround yourself with people you trust, including your own voice! Don’t drown out your own voice, and remember why you got into the game in the first place.
Where do you aspire to take your business in the next couple of years? What is your long term goal?
HR: I want alternaVites to be a life-cycle brand. To be the go-to vitamin brand for kids, adults and seniors and to be a line that continues to represent innovation, quality, healthy lifestyle, and of course fun! I’m having the time of my life, and I hope that those taking alternaVites can literally taste the care and excitement we have as we continue to create and develop our products.
What do you want people to know most about you at this stage of your life and career?
HR: That it’s the most amazing feeling to be making a difference. To hear from so many about how they are now incorporating vitamins back into their and their family’s daily routine is so amazing. I also benefit from this personally, since I also can now take vitamins each and every day and I feel the same happiness that so many of our customers do, who are so thrilled to be able to add a multi back into their mission of making healthy choices in their life.
Additionally, I want people to know that alternaVites vitamins have so much personal meaning to me. I’m carrying on a very important and meaningful family legacy. Not just that I’m following in my father’s and grandfather’s footsteps as I continue to work in the vitamin industry and create new and unique, but still nutritionally-sound products, but that I also use that foundation to give back.
Being charitable is very important to me and to my company, which is why a portion of each sale is donated to Vitamin Angels, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and other notable charities. We believe in helping people to lead healthier lives, both on a day to day basis and those who have a much tougher road ahead of them.
Find out more about Hallie Rich and alternaVites at alternaVites.com