“I think it’s very hard for female entrepreneurs to accept help. We feel like we’re supposed to know it all, do it all — and also keep the house clean while we’re at it! I wish I had accepted help sooner. I wish I had opened myself up to trusting and empowering women earlier on in my business, because it is our main focus now and I cannot picture it any other way.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Tara Mackey, the founder and CEO of The Organic Life, a successful holistic and sustainable living platform. She is a widely recognized social media personality with over 500,000 followers and millions of blog hits. She founded the organic beauty company Genetix Skincare and is the #1 best-selling author of Cured by Nature and WILD Habits (May 2018). Mackey, who has a background in psychology and genetics, left a coveted position at Weill Cornell Medical College in 2011 to travel to California to explore natural healing, yoga and meditation. That same year she began utilizing holistic techniques to heal her chronic illnesses, going cold turkey off of fourteen daily medications, and healing herself naturally. She’s an expert on building better habits and is on a conscious quest to move humanity in a more sustainable, healthy, and holistic direction.Recognized with numerous awards and nominations for her entrepreneurship, Mackey was named “a powerful voice in the smart, sexy, sustainable movement” by Coco Eco Magazine.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I was diagnosed with my first medical label and put on my first drug at the age of 13. By 24, I was on 14 different Rx drugs. In 2011, after a series of tragic events lead me to the conclusion that I needed to “start over”, I came off the Rx drugs I had been prescribed for my skin, mood, anxiety and pain and started to treat myself naturally using herbs, supplements, food, exercise, meditation and mind-strengthening techniques.
Once I found that these strategies actually worked to treat the ailments I had been medicating for so long, I started sharing them on my blog, The Organic Life. One engaged blog reader turned into a hundred, which turned into a thousand… and we now have over a million eyes on us. This turned into the inspiration for my first book, Cured by Nature, which became a number one bestseller. My second book, WILD Habits, also touches on the subjects of personal growth, self-improvement and natural healing. My blog became a company in 2015, The Organic Life, LLC.
As a bestselling author and founder of my award-winning little company and blog, The Organic Life, I’ve has been researching, testing and writing about organic living and green skincare for nearly seven years. My own journey started in my mid-twenties, when I began facing painful, cystic acne. I realized that not only did none of my dermatologist recommended products work to treat it, but I also realized that they contained high levels of toxins and fillers that further irritated my skin.
As a biologist, I knew that were better, natural way to treat my skin issues. After experimenting in my kitchen at home, I found incredible natural remedies that worked not just to treat — but they worked to cure my skin problems — completely!
I moved across the country to California and started meditating daily, educating myself on health, eating whole foods, treating myself naturally, composting, taking supplements and herbs, reading empowering books and gardening. Within mere weeks, I was looking at a completely different person and I was living a completely different life.
I am the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been and my work makes me super excited to get up in the morning. I am living in my dream home in my dream city with my dream job, after just a few years — mere months — of listening to my heart and soul. I’m very passionate about sharing what’s truly possible for others, no matter what they’re going through!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
My Dad passed away in 2014 and I decided to take a break from my blog to focus on healing. About six months later I went back home to New York for the very first time since the funeral. Because of the break I had taken from my blog to heal, I wasn’t blogging daily at the time, like I used to be.
It was a scary situation for me to be there without him for the first time, and I was a ball of emotions.
The day after I landed back in New York, I opened up my laptop in my hotel room in the morning to check my emails. There, I saw one with a subject line that I couldn’t ignore: Tara, Have You Ever Thought About Writing a Book?
I opened it. It turned out to be an inquiry email from my first publisher Skyhorse, truly asking if we could get on the phone so that I could share my story. I did, of course! That conversation turned into my first book deal, and my first bestselling book, Cured by Nature.
It turns out they had found me through my blog! So, even though I had taken a “break” at the time, all of the hard work and years I had put in blogging before then actually paid off in that one triumphant moment. I feel like it was the reward I received for honoring myself and what I needed personally at the time, as well as a confirmation that hard work eventually truly does pay off!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Right now, I am committed to hiring women and specifically minorities and women of color. I think it’s important to remember that women face discrimination in the workplace not just for being women, but they’re also not getting hired simply based on their first or last name or the color of their skin. I also think creating an all-women work environment significantly cuts down on any forms of work place sexual harassment or a hostile work environment. We try to keep things fun, we work outside as much as possible, we go on hikes and beach walks and I provide everyone with healthy food and kombucha to boot! We strive to be a new, consciously sustainable standard in business.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I would not be here today without my grandparents, who adopted me when I was seven. I grew up with a single mother who struggled with drug and alcohol issues, and my grandparents swooping in and getting custody of me was definitely a blessing I cherish every single day. They’re living angels.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes! My next book, WILD Habits: Unlock Your Mind, Improve Your Health, and Release Your True Power is out on May 8th! If you feel dissatisfied with your life or struggle with bad habits you can’t seem to quit, this book is 100% for you! The basis of the book includes transformational healing techniques, showing you how to achieve complete body and mind restoration, by using my highly developed four-step WILD Method. The story of how I overcame my harmful habits, coupled with the success stories of others who’ve used the method to overcome theirs, make up the bulk of this new book and I think people are truly going to love it!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m a huge philanthropist and environmental activist. I spent this year saving endangered Torrey Pines from being clear cut in my neighborhood, we partnered with One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every order purchased from my company Genetix and we donate to causes spanning from women’s suffrage to animal rights to the environment. My favorite part about success so far is how much it allows me to give back to others, which is true personal wealth.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I am not exaggerating when I say that Autobiography of a Yogi is the BEST book I have ever read.
You know that one book that you have copies of just laying around to give to your friends? This is that book for me.
When Autobiography came into my life in 2011, the timing could NOT have been better. I was lost, confused, and about to embark on one of the most arduous, heart breaking, life-affirming, crazy journeys I’d ever been on! Autobiography was handed to me and it truly, truly changed the course of my life. There is something in there for everyone. My one critique is that the beginning is a bit slow, and I’ve seen people put it down because of that. Don’t! You owe it to yourself to experience the magic in this amazing book.
There is roughly 1 miracle per page, all told from the perspective of Yogananda, who is now regarded as one of the great spiritual figures of our time. Born in northern India, he came to the United States in 1920, where for more than 30 years he taught the ancient science of meditation and the art of balanced spiritual living. Yogananda writes with humility, love and eloquence about his entire life — from his early memories in the womb until his death (one that he predicted to his students.) I have discovered no other body of work that so completely embraces the concept that yoga science (the whole science, not just the athletic postures) will offer you ”undreamed-of possibilities” as Yogananda’s autobiography. This book brought it home for me.
A bonus? Any time someone sees that you are reading this book, you’ll make an instant new friend. Today, I live and wrote my books at The Self Realization Temple and Self Realization Fellowships, which Yogananda founded. Talk about a life changer!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I think it’s very hard for female entrepreneurs to accept help. We feel like we’re supposed to know it all, do it all — and also keep the house clean while we’re at it! I wish I had accepted help sooner. I wish I had opened myself up to trusting and empowering women earlier on in my business, because it is our main focus now and I cannot picture it any other way.
I wish someone had told me to abandon my thoughts about aligning with other women in business. I grew up thinking that other women were my competition, but the second I started to embrace and then create a culture where women were no longer competition, but powerful, badass, professional allies, everything changed. Everyone, including myself, opened up and success has just flooded in.
I wish someone had told me to find my tribe. I keep a tribe of women around me now as my mentors, my best friends, my employees, my interns — almost all of the help I’ve accepted has been from other women. As a CEO, this has not only allowed me to help and encourage other badass boss babes to make their dreams come true, it’s propelled my business in a beautiful and booming direction.
I wish someone had told me to start an email list from the start. I started one maybe a year or two years into my business, but I definitely missed getting some early readers engaged when I truly could have. Email lists are so valuable and can’t really be understated. Right now we get incredible feedback from so many people every time we send out one of our emails, which is just jam packed with inspiration on healthy habits, health advice, inspiring stories, funny quotes and more.
Finally, I wish someone had told me to create a work/life balance. This is something I admittedly still struggle with. I have a hard time parting with time, money or resources that are not going back into my business, but I’m really trying to enjoy my personal time, have more experiences and work smarter, not harder.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would absolutely love to have a private meal with Oprah. Honestly, my childhood was chaotic at best due to my mother’s drug and alcohol addictions. Oprah’s show started the year that I was born, and was a staple after school for me to turn on and tune into. The trauma that I went through often paled in comparison to the people that Oprah was able to help. I saw the light come back into folks eyes and I watched people get their life back. Without that affirmation — that I am not broken, that my life is not irreparable, and that I can be successful and make something of myself no matter what I’ve been through — I don’t know who I would be today. And I would love to thank her for that.