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Meet Serena Poon of Spoon Events, Serena Loves, and Just Add Water

Today we’d like to introduce you to Serena Poon.

Serena, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My journey began with my heart and soul, my parents. During my senior year of college, my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer… it was a hereditary disease, the same thing his grandfather had passed of years before. At the time, I didn’t even understand the reality of what that prognosis meant. He fought but lost a very painful battle after a year and three months. He was 48 years old.

Two months later, my mother was diagnosed with a rare and extremely aggressive form of ovarian cancer. She was 45 years old at the time. So before we even had a chance to grieve my father, we were in another battle to save my mother, who could hardly process the death of her soulmate, let alone her own mortality. With experimental treatment and (I believe), my father in heaven watching over her, my mother is still with us today.

As you can imagine, this completely changed my perspective on life. All that mattered was the health and happiness of my loved ones. During my father’s battle, I began looking into holistic, herbal and natural remedies for everything from his cancer symptoms to alleviating the side effects of his treatments. I had studied Nutrition while at college but this drove my passion further.

Instead of continuing on the path to law school that I was on before all this happened, I decided to go to Le Cordon Bleu. I wanted to study culinary arts to understand food and nutrition and creating ways to heal and comfort people through the power of food. There is nothing good about my father’s suffering and his early departure from this life, but I had to make sure that something good came from it.

My parents’ story became my inspiration and the driving force behind all that I do. As passionate as I was about healing, providing comfort and nutritional education to others, I did not realize the damage that the entire experience took on my heart, my mind, my body. What I didn’t yet understand at the time, was that full health and true wellness is about the whole mind, body, and soul.

I suffered painful post-traumatic stress, anxiety, survivor’s guilt, shame and depression following my parents’ battles with cancer and it took me years to understand the toll and the stress that it took on my own health. My drive for healing others put me in a place where I was sacrificing my own health for the sake of helping others. I was trying to save everyone around me.

After suffering my own health issues as a result of that kind of stress, multiple surgeries, two which I nearly died from and years of self-development, I’ve learned to balance my energy, to take care of myself first so that I can take care of everyone else around me. During this time, my business evolved to include more than just practicing Culinary Alchemy™ as a private chef and caterer.

I became a nutritionist, wellness expert, coach, counselor and spiritual healer to my clients. As I became aware of my influence within my own community, I realized that I could effectively teach and help so many more people by expanding my platform. By sharing my stories through the power of social media, I’ve been able to reach countless others who gained insight from my knowledge, who have learned from my experiences.

My philosophy for living an optimal healthy lifestyle is based on integrating nutritional and physical therapy, focused mindfulness and balancing the body’s support system. As my reach/following grew, I realized that it was time to take the leap of faith, put my fears and excuses aside, and start a product line so that I could share with this online community, that same goodness which I have been sharing with my personal community for many years.

So, last year, I decided to start Just Add Water™, which is a powerful, powdered blend of super nutrients and superfoods that you mix with a little bit of water and can enjoy every day, especially when you’re on the go or traveling. It may sound like thousands of other products in the health food space, but it’s different simply because of the profound love and energy that is behind the recipe and its purpose, it’s creation.

Has it been a smooth road?
No journey through life is without its highs and lows, and I’ve definitely experienced a fair share of bumps. As I’ve shared, my journey began with the loss of my father’s painful battle with cancer, while at the same time supporting my mother’s own battle with cancer that began when my father’s ended.

For me, the biggest struggles have been health and heart-related, as I’ve lost many loved ones to cancer and disease, which resulted in my own stress-related health issues that come with being a caretaker. And of course, I had several serious surgeries to rid my body of MRSA, which I got immediately after a surgery.

Every surgery required time off from working and creating, which left me feeling lost and struggling to come back after recovering. I was unable to use my left arm for nearly six months after my 5th surgery that resulted in a massive hemorrhage, and I nearly died. As a chef, I struggled as I had to take the emphasis off my cooking (my primary source of income at the time), but I shifted more focus into my nutritional consulting and coaching.

I became the caretaker for my family and went into debt when I started Just Add Water™ as it has been completely self-funded and I had ZERO experience in the process of developing and manufacturing a product. But struggles have shaped my passion, my purpose, my identity, and my belief system. Every single one has been an invaluable lesson and becomes part of the fabric of my story, my experience, my knowledge and most importantly, the wisdom I have learned from and shared with someone else.

The process of healing myself and healing others has built the foundation for effective programs for Culinary Alchemy™ and products I’ve developed for the Just Add Water™ line. It’s all been part of my self-development journey that has allowed me to be the healer and teacher that I am today.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Spoon Events, Serena Loves, and Just Add Water story. Tell us more about the business.
I offer a wide variety of services to my clients. As a private chef, I design menus and produce events across the spectrum, from small formal dinners to large events/parties that require a full staff to execute. I also provide meal planning and prepared meals for some clients. For nearly all of my clients, I serve as their nutritionist, and I curate very specific nutritional and wellness programs designed for optimal health within their lifestyle choices and scheduling demands.

These programs are designed using my specialized method of Culinary Alchemy™, which is essentially the intersection of guidance and education on food nutrition and how it affects our bodies on a physiological level, as well as how it affects the emotional body; how to properly receive food to maximize nutrient absorption and benefits; along with creating the appropriate recipes and menus to support the nutritional, emotional and energetic/spiritual needs of the client.

There is a magic in all of us that not only individualizes us but also ties us all together, universally, energetically. This universal energy is something that I have learned to understand, to harness and redirect into how we use food to heal and nourish our bodies. We have emotional connections with food, they can evoke past memories, create new ones. We have a physical relationship with food, in that it can nourish, heal and give us comfort and pleasure.

As a chef and a nutritionist, I’m trained with the knowledge of the physical attributes of ingredients and how to combine them to create recipes that can help support or resolve a person’s dietary needs. As a healer, I am able to marry all of these aspects together to produce programs and plans that are nurturing, sustainable and that resonates with a client’s physical, mental and spiritual needs.

The other part of my business is our wellness line Just Add Water™, which is a vegan proprietary blend of yellow peas and sprouted grain protein, superfood fruit antioxidants, powerful super greens, prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and plant adaptogens.

The recipe has been carefully crafted with organic and natural products to be free of major food allergens, including dairy, gluten, wheat, rice, tree nuts, and soy, and contains no genetically modified ingredients. It’s actually something that I’ve been making for years for my private clients, particularly for when they traveled because I wanted to help them maintain their daily nutrient intake, their energy levels, and their weight.

Our adrenals and our microbiome are the core of our immunity, vitality, and mental agility. All too often with clients, I witnessed the effects of frequent traveling, over-booked schedules and the lack of proper daily nutritional self-care that led to exhaustion, over-stressed adrenals, immune decline, and unnecessary weight fluctuations.

I wanted to create a conveniently packaged superfood supplement that not only gave the body energy with the proper combination of protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals but also the right prebiotic, probiotic and digestive enzymes to effectively absorb it all. And it needed to taste great so that people would actually drink it!

After some of my clients’ friends discovered their little secret to their healthy glow and endless energy during the Cannes Film Festival the year before last, I finally decided it was time to put my dreams into action and share the benefits of my recipe with the rest of the world. Our slogan is “Simplify your self-care” because that’s basically what Just Add Water™ does. It’s a one-step process to taking care of you and your body first, every day.

In the same year that we began Just Add Water, launched Serena Loves TV and rebranded Serena Loves, there were health challenges for both myself, as I recovered from two surgeries in just the last year, as well as my Grandmother, whom we cared for and sadly lost just six months ago. But despite all the really tough struggles and the fact that Just Add Water is completely self-funded, we have made our first steps and made a small but fierce name for ourselves in a largely saturated space.

It hasn’t happened overnight, a few things do, but we have been mindful about putting out a high-quality product – nutritionally, effectively and visually with our packaging – and we have not had a single request for refund. Although we are currently direct to consumer and primarily an e-commerce line, we continue to expand our accessibility to consumers through small retail locations, and we will increase our production this spring with new products.

With Serena Loves, we’ve carefully curated our products to offer the most healing, mindful items that our customers feel connected to immediately upon receipt. We are a small team, but we’ve continued to move forward and expand, even though there are times when we’ve had to bootstrap. We have never had a complaint, and my private chef and nutrition business continues to be referral based. We pace our growth, but we grow strong. I’m incredibly proud of that.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
When I attended the most recent Global Wellness Summit in Italy last fall, I found myself in several discussions with other international wellness leaders about implementing wellness in the workplace. Although it may already exist in some start-ups and younger companies, focused education on overall well-being and available resources for employee health support is becoming a priority for large corporations.

People are understanding the impact of employee health and wellness (from the workplace to the home) on the ultimate productivity of the company as a whole. Along with these shifts is the convergence of technology and biohacking as we find ways to maximize health efforts with consumer data and artificial intelligence.

Ideally, our healthcare system will continue to shift towards preventative care through wellness and nutrition, with a more functional and integrative approach.

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Image Credit:
Mirza Hasanefendic

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