Today we’d like to introduce you to Maura (Mo, the Morselist) Knowles.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like.
Soon after I graduated college, I was hired to play Glinda the Good Witch in my first professional acting job in my favorite all time musical, The Wizard of Oz. During the run of the show, I went in for a simple routine procedure which should have taken a few minutes and turned into an emergency life or death abdominal surgery when the doctor accidentally cut my common iliac artery, a major one. Everything that could have gone wrong, did including nearly flat lining on the table followed by a month in the I.C.U. developing pancreatitis, staph infections, misdiagnoses, you name it. As a survivor of not one near death experience, but two, my fighting Irish spirit and the support of my family helped me pull through. On a side note, I’ve turned these dramas into a half-hour musical television comedy “Insult to Injury,” which I’m currently pitching to production companies.
But, I’m not the only strong survivor in my family. My dad, Mac, a Diabetic, survived a quadruple by-pass after two cardiac arrests and was put on an incredibly restrictive diet—low sugar, low salt, low cholesterol, plant-based, more fiber, no treats.
Knowing first hand how it feels to be handed so many dietary restrictions;
you finally get out of being in hell and feel a mini-victory until you are told to quote Howard Jones song from the 1980’s, “you can look at the menu, but you just can’t eat..” when Dad begged me to create something healthy and tasty he could enjoy, my mission was clear and MacnMo’s Morselicious Treats were born. Gluten-free, sugar-free, GMO-free, soy-free, preservative-free, salt-free and Morselicious.
Selfishly, since I have Celiac Disease, I made darn sure they were gluten and more recently grain-free so that I could also indulge. “If I’m going to all this trouble, Dad, I want to eat them, too!” Mom and I trekked to a number of natural food markets, searching for ANY and ALL tasty “legal” ingredients.
By the third store, Mom asked, “What in the world do you plan on making with all this?” Shrugging my shoulders, I replied, “I have no idea, but I’m going to do my best to create something magical (a.k.a. ‘MORSELICIOUS‘) for Dad.”
After mixing countless batches, the first few, Dad literally spit out, we finally found a winner. Mom, my sister, and I devoured them and most importantly, Dad relished each morsel, exclaiming, “These are magic!” Translation: MORSELICIOUS! We shared some with our friends, and soon I was taking order requests.
Once I returned to L.A., where I had been acting full time, I found myself juggling an acting career as a micro-bakery business owner. I started getting countless requests from customers who wanted to be able to create their own healthy treats at home, so I began selling my Morselicious Mix along with 2 e-cookbooks. Just this month, May 2018, I launched my brand new grain-free, Paleo-friendly, vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, low-sugar (no added sugar-naturally occurring from the organic unsweetened coconut) low-sodium (no added sodium-also naturally occurring from the unsweetened organic coconut) no gmo’s, no preservatives, blend of almonds, organic coconut flour, organic unsweetened coconut, organic chia seeds and organic spices.
As I became more passionate and interested in all things food and nutrition, I attended and graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and became a Board Certified International Health Coach (AADP). I’ve written two cookbooks and continue to create recipes for companies, magazines, collective cookbooks and private clients, inspiring people to live and eat MORSELICIOUSLY healthy!
It’s not about deprivation, it’s about having real, tasty, satisfying food. I advocate clean and green eating 85% of the time, allowing 15% wiggle room. My 21-day detox incorporates exercise, social activities, and the things you love, it’s about the WHOLE picture. You can eat all the kale in the world and be a workaholic and less healthy than the person who eats greens with every meal while indulging now and then, living a fun-balanced life. Who do you think is the overall healthier person?
Has it been a smooth road? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Ha.. Not at all. It’s been one heck of a roller coaster ride. Two steps forward, 4 steps back. Stumbles and falls along with exciting strides and wins. It seemed like I learned everything backwards. I had a business before I decided to start a business because people were already ordering and I kept saying, “I’m an actor, not a baker/Morselist.” Until my sister, finally asked, “if someone else does this and succeeds, will you be upset you didn’t try?” That day I registered Mac-n-Mo’s, Inc. Everyday I seemed to learn yet another 3 letter code; UPC, SOS, NDA, MnM, FDA, INC, SKU, COD, POS…LOL.
Most people have a business plan in place with a strategy team before launching or multiple degrees in that field. I was learning by the seat of my pants or apron. I must give tremendous credit to my first mentor, Chef Larry Bressler, who ran the Chef’s Center in Pasadena and walked me through step-by-step what I needed to do get started, legally and professionally. He was a true champion and angel and was tragically killed a few years ago, but he inspired and helped many of us get started.
Day to day struggles include the cost of healthy, raw ingredients and the drought has increased the cost of almonds exponentially. Not to mention, when you are a micro-business, you don’t get the discounted bulk costs Big Pharma does, so it’s nearly impossible to compete with those brands. I say NEARLY impossible because my hero, Audrey Hepburn coined my favorite quote and guiding philosophy, “Impossible-the word itself says it; I’m possible.”
Tell us about your business/company. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
After I started Mac-n-Mo’s, I attended and graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I learned over 100 dietary theories and studied under some of the most incredible experts in the nutrition field. I’ve been hired to develop recipes for various companies and clients and have found my niche. I love working with individual clients as we reach their specific goals. Teaching interactive group workshops for kids and adults has been an amazing part of my business journey. It’s fulfilling to inspire kids to get excited about tasting a rainbow of veggies by engaging, educating and encouraging them to ask questions. The most recent workshop I taught for Big Brothers Big Sisters was energized by a healthy competition, (pun intended) of the “Little’s” wanting be the rainbow of veggie’s taste testers. You’d think I was handing out Halloween candy.
In all of my Health Coaching services, I practice what I teach and remind everyone that there is NO such thing as perfect. Even Mary Poppins was “PRACTICALLY perfect.”
There is nothing like Mac-n-Mo’s or in the market place and I understand why. The raw ingredients are expensive and I don’t use any preservatives or fillers, not to mention I will not add anything to my products or create recipes I would not eat.
Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours? If someone was just starting out, would you recommend them starting out here? If not, what can our city do to improve?
Los Angeles is a great city for Mac-n-Mo’s and the Morselist because many people here crave cutting edge and tasty clean foods. However, I’ve discovered most people still crave and love sugar and gravitate towards the “health halo” foods, i.e. vegan junk food, gluten-free sugary snacks and treats, believing the front of the label, where the laws are less stringent and a marketer’s dream more than the back label, where the actual facts and nutritional panel is listed. The proof is is in the
Morselicious pudding. Pun intended. California is also one of the most expensive states to run a small business, which is incredibly challenging. And I’m not joking when I say, “Mac-n-Mo’s is a micro-business on a path towards small business status.”
- Six (6) 10 oz. bags of Morselicious Mix $66
- Three (3) 10 oz. bags of Morselicious Mix $42
- One (1) 10 oz. bag of Morselicious Mix $15
- Website: macnmos.com
- Phone: 310-497-4100
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/macnmosmorsels
- Facebook: facebook.com/macnmos
- Twitter: twitter.com/macnmomorsels
- Other: mauramknowles.com
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.
jane j park smith
May 22, 2018 at 17:27
You’re awesome MO~ 🙂 Loved reading this…
May 22, 2018 at 19:04
What a fun quirky & nutritionally informative article on a lovely person and much needed PRODUCT (s)!!!
I wish you continued successes and may you keep reaching even larger markets and audiences!!!
I love people who actually put their money where their mouth is and puns intended!!!! 🙂
May 23, 2018 at 04:12
Morselicious, thanks, Jane!
May 23, 2018 at 00:42
You, and Mac-n-Mo’s are the best! Loved the article! Congrats on all your success.
May 23, 2018 at 01:27
What a great feature Maura! I love your success story and also the story of the challenges because they make it real and inspiring. Congratulations!
May 23, 2018 at 02:14
So inspiring! Loved reading this! We need some Mac-n-Mo’s here so please come to Austin, TX! It’s a great place for small businesses too.:)
May 24, 2018 at 02:19
Wow! This is so inspiring! Xxxx
May 24, 2018 at 15:04
I discovered your product at Erewhon. Super excited to hear you’ve come out with a mix! I’d love to stock it in my shop at the new Fred Segal Sunset store.
May 24, 2018 at 23:36
Thank you everyone for your MORSELICIOUS support and love!