Back when creator of Stylish Spoon, Ilana Eck, was still a working lawyer, she used to attend my Brooklyn Heights Equinox yoga classes. Her practice was strong, committed, and she always brought good vibes to the classroom. Then, the way yoga students sometimes do, she disappeared.
Where had she gone? Well, I was lucky enough to taste the reason why a couple of years later. Ilana quit her law job to step into doing what she feels truly called to do — make delicious, nutritious baked goods here in New York City that can be delivered right to your front door.
Inspired by her own mother’s whole grain, naturally sweetened snacks, Ilana’s line of healthy baked goods will fortify your body and brighten your day. Trust me, I took a box of them to a recent gathering of lady friends and the mmms and ahhhs didn’t stop… all the way til morning when I got a text from a friend saying they are also delicious with coffee!
After getting to taste the reason I don’t get to see Ilana in yoga anymore (who now lives on the Upper West Side with her family), I just had to find out more about her story. Plus let you know about her wonderful company. Read on to find out how an overworked, hyper-stressed corporate/mother got off the anxiety meds and on the happy-train one OatMEAL Cup at a time ☺
Can you tell me a little about Stylish Spoon? What are you cooking up and how did you design your recipes?
I started Stylish Spoon as a blog to share my real foods recipes with friends and family, but it turned into so much more. Other people started following along, and I began developing recipes for other publications, like Vegetarian Times.
I loved helping other people eat healthier, and the creative process was a great creative outlet from my daytime legal job. But a lot changed when I became a new mom, especially after I had my second daughter and couldn’t eat gluten, dairy or soy while nursing. I felt so limited in what I could eat. I needed an easy way to fill up on nutrient-dense foods to fuel me through my exhausting days, and still savor the experience of eating.
So I created my Chocolate + Chia OatMEAL Cups, which are baked oatmeal in the muffin form, packed with superfoods and full of chocolaty goodness. I baked huge batches and stocked my freezer.
Every morning I took two OatMEAL Cups out, popped them in the microwave and breakfast was ready in 60 seconds. I specifically designed the recipe to boost my milk supply and promote weight loss (I had 45 lbs. of baby weight to lose!), with great ingredients. I used whole-grain gluten-free oats (filling fiber), unrefined coconut oil (helps speed metabolism and great for brain functioning and development), chia seeds (packed with omega-3s), and cinnamon (to regulate blood sugar and curb cravings).
These OatMeal Cups were a game-changer for my mornings and I wanted to share them with other busy people, so I listed them on a few mom boards and within 2 weeks I had orders for over 250 and requests for weekly subscriptions. I’ve since added more flavors and other healthy baked goods, including grain-free (Paleo-friendly) cookies. I think our cookies are pretty magical. They’re soft, chewy and decadent, but made with super simple ingredients that are plant-based and naturally gluten-free and vegan.
What was it like transitioning from your past career into owning your own business?
It has been a huge change but I am loving it! For almost a year I was working as an attorney all day and then running up to my incubator kitchen in Harlem after work to bake until 1am. Then I would come home, sleep for a few hours before getting up with my girls, getting them to school and heading to work, while I had messengers delivering all my orders around the city.
It was physically and mentally exhausting, and I knew I had to choose one or the other. So I chose to follow my passion instead of what I always felt obligated to do.
It took a while to come around to the idea that I was not throwing away all those years of law school and my career. Instead, I was following what I truly believe is my higher purpose, which is to make it easier for other people to feed themselves and their families delicious and healthy foods.
Within a month after leaving my law job I felt, for the first time since before law school, that I could go off the anxiety meds I had been taking for over a decade. It’s amazing how once I decided to start living a life that was more congruous with who I was, my anxiety totally eased up. I still have stress, of course, and I often feel like I am working more hours as a business owner, but it’s doing what I love so I am so much happier.
Who do you most hope to share your baked goods with and how do you hope they make them feel?
I hope to share Stylish Spoon’s baked goods with anyone who has felt like they had to give up taste in order to eat healthy, vegan or gluten-free. Everything I make must first be delicious and satisfying. That’s the number one thing.
Next, everything must be made with nutrient-dense foods. No weird ingredients you can’t pronounce, no crappy fillers, no preservatives, no GMOs. I like to think of it as what you’d bake for yourself if you had the time.
I hope that Stylish Spoon’s baked goods make people feel taken care of. Like your mom dropped off some healthy treats to get you through your busy day. I get that feeling when I eat them, because they remind me of the healthy baked goods my mom used to make for me when I was kid. She was way ahead of her time, preferring whole grains and using dates and honey to sweeten many of her desserts.
My mom died when I was nine, but I used to stand under her feet in the kitchen while she baked, and it’s such a great memory for me. Maybe that’s why I get all those loving feelings when I bite into a warm, gooey bite of one of my OatMEAL cups. I hope other people get a little bit of the same joy when they eat them too.