Ariel Pasternak and Atara Bernstein — founders of pineapple collaborative — in convo.
Over NYC bagels, obviously.
Recently we went to New York to help pineapple collaborative throw a very cool event celebrating the badass women moving and shaking the NYC food community. We mixed/ mingled. We ate som tum and sticky rice from Uncle Boons Sister (and, um, went back for fourths on their mataba), alternated between cookies and paletas from La Newyorkina, and drank lots of natural wine from Jenny + Francois. Plus, we didn’t stay out too late. It was our kind of party.
The next morning we regrouped with pineapple founders Ariel and Atara at Sadelle’s to, sure, rehash the night’s events and talk about everything from the future of their business to how they found each other in the first place. But, also, to eat bagels. Our convo:
So, you met at a farmer’s market. Please describe this (too perfect) meeting.
Atara: It was perfect. I think everyone should meet their friends/significant others/business partners at a farmer’s market. I was with a friend of mine and working for Sweetgreen at the time, and ran into Ariel who knew my friend. It was very organic, we kept in touch thereafter. It was around the time Ariel was launching pineapple DC, and I kind of followed along. The rest is history.
What made you decide to partner up?
Ariel: Early 2017 I was running pineapple, knowing there was a business to be had. I reached out to Atara and we started working together in a creative capacity. It came to be that summer, and we were like, “Hey, we’re really passionate about this, and see the potential. Let’s create a business together. Let’s create this multifaceted brand that really captures the substance and style of food that we live by.”
Atara: As far as our working relationship, we like to say that we’re peanut butter and jelly. We spearhead different areas of the business and collaborate on everything. I’m very resourceful and efficient. And Ariel is very thoughtful and deliberate. It makes for a very balanced approach for how we do business.
How big is the team at pineapple?
Atara: We are 11 women strong across the country. We have city leads across the country who run our events and create local content for us. And we have a finance person, special projects manager, and an operations manager. We’re lucky to have such a fantastic group of women.
Ariel: We’re open to hiring not-women, too (!). 10% of our audience is male, and we always have a handful of men at our events. We need men celebrating women, too.
Tell us about a how-is-this-our-lives-pinch-me moment you guys have had.
Ariel: Besides last night — where we had so many incredible leaders across the food world in one place — I have two specifically: Amy Chaplin is my favorite cookbook author and I got to go to her house in upstate New York for a Pine for Pantry post. Also, Jessica Koslow: I interviewed her for a DC event, and I was like, what is my life?
Atara: It’s the opportunity to have very intimate moments with women who we’ve pined for for a long time. Once we hosted Samin Nosrat. Having an opportunity to sit with her before and after and get to know her was a super-special moment.
You were 26 and 27 when you teamed up on pineapple (nbd). Can you think of ways that your age may have helped you, or made things harder?
Ariel: I think we’ve always taken the approach that we’re your best friend who loves food, and not an authority figure in the world of food. Having curiosity and approaching it like we’re here to learn and meet people rather than “let’s tell you what’s up,” I think is a reflection of where we are in our lives and our careers. That’s helped us carve out a specific brand voice and identity.
Atara: It gives us an approachability that’s unique in this world. The challenge we’ve faced is one that doesn’t come with age, but rather our experience of being green in starting a company. Learning every day. Building the plane as we fly, as far as how we’re running our business. Mostly our age has given us an edge that’s really interesting and resonates with our community.
We’ve read that you want to use pineapple’s platform to tackle issues women face in the food industry, from sexism to the wage gap. How are you navigating this?
Atara: Really, the mission is to hone our collective passion for food and really celebrate each other, and all that that means. We don’t purport to be actively solving those specific problems, but there are so many women in our network that are doing that. So many organizations — Across Our Kitchen Tables, Women in Hospitality United, and the James Beard Foundation — that are dedicated to tackling those issues. We support them by highlighting them in our content, sharing their work, and promoting them.
Ariel: Another big thing we’ve focused a lot on is just representation across our team and events, who we feature, and our content. It’s definitely a work in progress. We both recognize as leaders of the business that being white women of a lot of privilege, we have a lot of learning to do and action to take. It’s something we’re thinking a lot about, and working hard towards.
What’s the coolest piece of press you’ve gotten (so we can link it for you)?
Ariel: It was an honor to be featured on NPR’s The Salt and see our growing community of women who love food recognized. Also, when the article was first released, it was on the NPR home page right next to an article about Beyoncé and, seriously, we couldn’t believe our eyes.
In your Pine for Pantry series, all of the photographers are women (!). How have you built this network/how do you find them?
Atara: We have to shout out our NYC photography team Heidi’s Bridge. Here in NYC there’s a network of alumni from my class who live and work in the food world, and I tap them regularly for photo gigs. Outside of that, it’s networking with women we feature and asking them if they have any recs. We feel lucky that the food and creative spaces are so closely connected, and it’s easy to find women who are excited to work with us.
And speaking of Pine for Pantry, you recently profiled Antoni Porowski, your first-ever male identifying feature. How did you both think about adding a guy to the mix?
Atara: We’re not in the business of excluding men, but the focus is really on women from different backgrounds and representing that. The decision to feature Antoni was one we made because we recognize so many women in our community love him and #pinefor him and respect him and admire him. And he, in turn, respects the work that we — and so many women across the food world — do every day.
K, this one’s for each of you to answer. If you could only have five foods, what would they be?
Little gem lettuce from the farmer’s market
Extra virgin olive oil, obviously
Layer cake (specifically yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles)
Lot’s of Maldon salt
White cheddar salty popcorn
Anything exciting on the horizon for pineapple?
Ariel: We have so much in store! Definitely look out for more awesome events and Pine for Pantry content with Caviar, and we’ve got a HUGE new something we’re launching in December. Can’t wait to share it with our community.
Thanks Ariel + Atara ❤
(K, we might have taken some of these cookies home in our purses.)