Women in Business Q&A: Ginny Simon, Founder and CEO, ginnybakes

A certified holistic nutritionist, health coach and entrepreneur, Ginny Simon founded ginnybakes in 2010 creating outrageously delicious fresh baked cookies, brownies, bars and do-it-yourself bake mixes that are gluten-free, organic, non-GMO and kosher. With a passion for nutrition, active living and baking, Simon is dedicated to helping people everywhere indulge mindfully and lead healthy, balanced lives filled with passion and authenticity.

After graduating from the School of Integrative Nutrition in New York City where she became a certified holistic nutritionist, Simon began to cultivate a community of clients seeking holistic healing for ailments including digestive health issues and celiac disease. She encouraged clients to eat organic foods and high-quality ingredients, and began testing with baking clean, organic, gluten-free treats so her clients wouldn't have to forego the luxury of sweets. Thus began ginnybakes.

Simon is also founder and CEO of Mindful Organics, a social platform dedicated to educating those aspiring to natural wellness.

ginnybakes is a family-owned company, operating under the belief that healthy living starts at home. With four sons, Simon knows the importance of keeping an active family and uses her business as a platform to educate and raise awareness for healthy living. Also among the company ranks are Simon's husband, Steve, and son, Michael, who joined the family business shortly following its launch. The Simon family currently resides in Miami, Florida.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
It's always been a dream of mine to have a house full of kids gathered around something freshly baked on the kitchen table. As a self-proclaimed health nut, I loved baking my four sons delicious, health-conscious meals and desserts. Founding ginnybakes was a fusion of my passions: family, holistic nutrition, and baking.

My family is my inspiration in all aspects of my business. ginnybakes is a family-owned company, and we operate under the belief that happy, healthy living starts at home. When I first began tinkering with recipes, I thought "What would I want to serve to my kids?" I searched for high-quality, organic, whole food ingredients in order to develop delicious, gourmet desserts that are also a mindful indulgence.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at ginnybakes?
Prior to founding ginnybakes, I was a full-time mom to my four sons. As my children got older I felt an itch, a yearning to go beyond my roles of wife and mom and do something that was exclusively my own.

I chose to continue my education at the School of Integrative Nutrition in NYC, and became a certified holistic nutritionist. I thought that would be where I would achieve what I was seeking to feel fulfilled, and was so grateful to have beautiful, inspiring people walk through my door that I could help. My clients wanted help living healthy lives without processed foods, and for some, gluten-free food was a necessity due to celiac disease and gluten intolerances. ginnybakes began as my way of trying to help people who felt overwhelmed by the prospect of gluten-free baking from scratch, but wanted the sweet smells of love and deliciousness in their homes. Transitioning from a traditional full-time mom of four sons to becoming an entrepreneur took endless hours of tireless work, but I still feel so passionately about giving people baked goods that have an incredible taste profile that are also a mindful indulgence.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at ginnybakes?
When I first began ginnybakes, it was a lonely, yet exciting period. Lonely because I had a dream and passion I believed in, but it was my own struggle and I was going to make it happen. The biggest hurdle for me was learning the ins and outs of the food business, which was completely new for me and my family. I'm so proud my family has been living this dream with me since day one!

ginnybakes is my fifth child; my girl after four sons. She gives me the deepest sense of fulfillment as to who I am, and where I could make a difference in my own life and those that I touch through our products. I am a sincere believer that home baked goods and delicious food are what bring people together to gather, talk, love and connect. That, along with my passion for helping others lead healthy lives filled with mindful indulgences, is why I created ginnybakes.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking start their own business?
The most valuable thing I learned early on was to surround myself with people who knew more than me about the industry I was in. I had to find the right experts, reach out and identify the people who would help make me better. I'm still learning every day and still have my struggles as this "baby girl" keeps growing up, but the hard days make the sweet ones so much sweeter.

Having a family business is the greatest gift and yet very stressful at times. I've learned to make sure everyone clearly knows what areas of the business they own and be very open with each other when the path becomes unclear. We had many heated moments before we grew into our business relationships with each other, which are very different from family life at home. You must talk to each other with respect, listen well, and then proceed.

Do everything with heart, passion and drive. Realize it's not always going to be easy and fun, but be grateful that every day you're living your dream.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I wake up early, meditate, and go to yoga. I exercise six days a week without fail. It gives me clarity and understanding of my place in the world. Then I'm ready to be back in action! I'm learning to set boundaries, such as not checking my email after 7 p.m.

Balancing not only our physical health but our emotional health is so important to a happy healthy life. Overall wellness is a continuous process of becoming aware, taking responsibility, and making choices that contribute to not only your well-being, but to that of the common good.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Women oftentimes feel as though they must be doing a million things at once. When I first transitioned from a full-time mom to founding ginnybakes, I felt guilty that I wasn't around for my kids as much as I was in the past. I felt like everywhere I was, I should be somewhere else. It's important to remember that we aren't perfect, and we can't please everyone. It's okay to ask for help.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Though I did not have a true mentor, I've had people come in to my life as if they were put there for me at that very moment. My friend Jayne Littman was a new yogi acquaintance at the start of ginnybakes, when I was stressed, sleep deprived, and feeling like my life was in chaos. She reminded me that this was my time to focus and build my business, but learn to forgive myself and understand that this too shall pass.

As I was building Mindful Organics, ginnybakes' parent company, I worked closely with designer Annhy Shim to translate my ideas and concepts into concrete form. Her belief in me was unwavering, and her dedication helped shape Mindful Organics, which eventually led to ginnybakes.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I love Michelle Obama's straightforwardness, belief in the power of the family unit, and dedication to the healthy living movement.

My other favorite is Alice Waters for her commitment to the slow foods movement. Without her voice, this country would not be where it is today with our move towards organic, local, whole food living.

What do you want ginnybakes to accomplish in the next year?
ginnybakes is continuing to grow nationwide. I want to continue to spread my mission of helping people lead healthy, balanced lives. The future of ginnybakes is bright!