Q&A with Asha Carroll, Founder of Phasey
Asha is a THREE-time natural foods entrepreneur, plant-based chef, holistic nutritionist, and overall powerhouse self-starter whose totally killin’ it! She is currently on a mission to normalize periods through education and improve the period process (or phases) by using functional foods (this includes chocolate, people). Enter: Phasey.
~Hi Asha, Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hey Ash! Brief life story: I was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. As a kid, I wanted to be a writer or a teacher. In middle school and high school, I became passionate about music, which led to my spending 10 years as a professional opera singer. The excess I experienced and partook in, in that industry led me to leave the industry to pursue a healthier lifestyle. I left my career to study holistic nutrition and work as a pastry chef, two things that had always been a draw for me. Eventually, I founded my first business, Cake in a Crate, a vegan baking kit company that functioned as an integrated marketing model between bloggers (this was before the age of influencers) and brands. I ran that business for 4 years prior to developing Phasey.
~What was the inspiration and big vision behind Phasey?
When I was growing up, we didn’t talk about periods. Err, my mom tried, but I wasn’t interested. I felt this tremendous shame about my period, and for years I wished it away, until one day, it actually stopped coming. What followed were a series of period disasters and reproductive adventures that ultimately led me into my gynecologist’s office and back to food as a healing practice alongside my doctor’s care. I quickly realized that, despite my work on whole body health and wellness via my nutrition training, my knowledge of my cycle didn’t extend much beyond what I learned in high school health class. I got to work learning everything that I could, bugging my friends on both the holistic and conventional sides of healthcare. Once I drew the link between nutrition and menstrual physiology, I couldn’t get enough. Then I guinea-pigged it on myself and my friends, and it worked. So I decided to lean into the very thing I was afraid of, and the seed was planted for what would eventually become Phasey.
~Tell us about the 4 phases…do you have a favorite?
Okay, I’ll give you the short version. Your cycle has 4 phases. Think of them as moods, think of them as seasons. Phase 1 is the Menstrual Phase, everybody knows that one. Maybe you’re a little antisocial, you’re in bed under the covers if you can. Phase 2 is Follicular -- the freshness and lightness that you feel when your period’s over. I’m usually super work-centric during mine. Phase 3 is Ovulatory, you’re feeling confident, lusty, social, that I-can-do-anything mindset. Phase 4 is the Luteal Phase, which people identify with PMS. During that phase, I’m eating every carb in sight, I’m angsty, I’m Netflixing. It’s kind of cliché, but that’s me.
My personal favorite is the follicular phase -- I like to ride those hormones all the way to some big work wins.
~As a 3x natural foods entrepreneur, what advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own brand?
Do your research! You’ve got to become a sponge about your brand niche and industry. Talk to others who’ve come before you, and tell them about your idea. You’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to help. It’s possible that your closest friends and family will have no idea about what you’re doing, and that’s okay. Seek out like-minded individuals through social, meetups, friends of friends, etc. One of my favorite questions to ask people is, “Is there anyone you think I should meet?” I make sure to pay it forward on that one, too. Make clear goals and break them down into actions. Create good systems early, or you’ll be wishing you had them once business picks up. Remind yourself daily about why you are doing this. Mood board. Schedule time regularly to evaluate your and your business’s weaknesses and strengths. Make sure you continue to make room to live life. (That last one’s the hardest for me, but I’m getting better.)
~What made you decide to become a holistic nutritionist, and how has that role supported your entrepreneurial endeavors?
The wellness world was quickly growing at the time that I made my personal lifestyle changes -- for me, that looked like cutting down on alcohol, greatly upping my consumption of plant-based whole foods, and moving my body as a priority. Much of my information was coming from blogs and Pinterest posts, a lot of pseudoscience, and that wasn’t okay with me. I wanted real answers, so I enrolled in holistic nutrition school. Aside from what I learned about nutrition, which has been invaluable in my work, it helped broaden my scope of just how individual wellness really is. I think that there’s a lot of virtue signaling going on in the industry, and that so much of our dietary intake has been reduced to labels: vegan, gluten-free, paleo, etc. (Though Phasey fits into all of those categories, it’s not what we’re about.) Most importantly, I want to help people make a conscious connection between what they eat and how they feel.
~Lastly, what is your go-to when you want some “me time”?
I’m all about a bubble bath, some Enya, and a juicy biography. Recently, though, I’ve been watching Sex and the City while doing strength training workouts on my lunch hour. Weird, maybe, but it’s a totally shameless act of self love, and I’m into it. Also chocolate.
Thank you for sharing with us, Asha!
Friends, you can shop Phasey products at Pop Up Grocer (208 Bowery, NYC) until 10/20 and online at www.phasey.co/*P.S. Make sure to check out our giveaway on IG 10/16-10/18 @phasey.co & @rootedlifefoods for some EPIC goods ;)