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Meet Jessica Luengo of Naturally Clean Eats

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Luengo.

Jessica, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As a longtime Pilates instructor, I was always looking for clean convenient foods to eat in between clients and to share with my family. Unfortunately, I found a lack of nutrition bars that carried ZERO processed or artificial ingredients! Most all had a ton of sugar, protein powders, flavors, preservatives, soy and/or sweeteners. If I ever did find a bar I somewhat liked, it required refrigeration to stay fresh. What’s convenient about that?!

I started making my own when I was pregnant with my first child 6 years ago when my doctor told me I should stay away from processed ingredients, added sugars and protein powders (I always did, but this meant business now that I had another life to worry about!). He basically said, “Don’t eat protein or energy bars. They’re all bad for you.” Isn’t that sad? I knew something had to change.

After making them for many years out of my kitchen for myself and my kids, clients started asking what I was eating and what I recommended for bars. I couldn’t recommend anything except my own because I knew what was in them! I started giving them a few a week until one day last year my extremely girl boss entrepreneur client said, “Why aren’t you selling these at stores?! They are the best thing going and this studio is not the only ones that should enjoy these! I want to buy them for my parents and my office!”

A business plan and a few mentor meetings later, I was off investigating the best bar manufacturers in the country. I ended up going with a local company out of Monterey Park that solely manufacturers bars only (and didn’t have crazy minimums to start). It was the best choice because I get to check in whenever I need to and see the productions being made if I so choose. So far we have quadrupled our production in just 11 months, so I would say it has been a successful first year.

About 4 months in I had to close my pilates studio and go full-time with Naturally Clean Eats, otherwise, I would’ve had to hire someone to run the company. That couldn’t happen – it was my baby! I am very proud of how far we’ve come and what’s in store over just the next 3 months. I couldn’t do it without the support of my husband, family, friends and the Instagram community.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
We have been very lucky with all the opportunities we’ve had. There are some stores I wish the meeting would have gone differently or we were in a different place in sales when we had that opportunity… but you can’t change it or keep thinking about it. You have to move forward and believe that if it’s right the opportunity will come again.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am the Founder & CEO of Naturally Clean Eats. I do the day-to-day office roles such as wholesale and distribution (finding the right ones to partner with), social media, marketing, recipe development, calendar scheduling and work travel. I do not have any employees, but I do have contractors that help me. I recently hired two sales brokers who have opened huge doors for me.

I have the most amazing graphic designer, Kristen Daniel, who does all my website design, marketing materials, packaging and boxes. I also hired my sister-in-law, Katie Billingsley, to do my QuickBooks, so all my invoicing and accounting information is now organized via online instead of a huge folder (hey, I’m old school)! My cousin and close friend help me do all the demos and expos, which is a DREAM because I love being around them and they treat the company as their own. They want the best for all of us.

Listen… I am definitely a control freak, so anything I can do by myself and for the longest time, I will! Ha! However, I am learning how to delegate and hire as I need, which has been a huge part of the company’s growth.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up I was definitely the one who was trying to bend the rules a little bit! My parents used to joke I should be a lawyer because I was adamant about getting my point across and used examples to prove my point or sway them. I also liked sports, competitiveness, but I didn’t like anyone means or trying to bully others. That always made me uncomfortable and I stayed away from them like the plague. I guess not much has changed! Ha

College my interest was always business. I went to Colorado State University to major in business but minor in Fashion Design because I had this creative bug too. I transferred to University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) for my last 2 years and graduated with a BA in Business Economics. I should have minored in nutrition because I took so many classes for it, but at the time I just knew I wanted to be a businesswoman and I would figure the rest out later.

Once I graduated, I went on to work as a Production Assistant in celebrity and high-end events in Los Angeles, but quickly realized that was not the right industry for me. I then got my real estate license and started working for an agent at Sotheby’s. That also was unfulfilling for me personally. Then we were at a film production for a friend and an extra was a pilates instructor. We got along great and afterwards, my husband (then boyfriend) encouraged me to go into health & fitness since I was so passionate about it.

I completed my hours with the Physical Mind Institute and studied under Maria Leone at Bodyline in Beverly Hills (one of the greatest, toughest instructors I’ve ever met). After working there for a year, I took a leap of faith and started training clients at my own home studio and opened my own a couple years later. That’s when health, fitness, wellness and clean eating became my whole life and focus for myself and my family. Hence (after getting married and two kids later), Naturally Clean Eats was born.

Pricing:

  • $3.99/bar

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Frances Iacuzzi Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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