Last Fall I introduced a series of interviews called #LETSCHAT with the amazing women that inspire me. This weekly series is based on incredible, strong and empowering individuals that inspire me through health and wellness. They are people that have made an impact on my life, big and small, that motivates me to be a better version of me, and I hope they can inspire you as well.
This week I'm introducing you to someone that absolutely inspires me in all ways. Meet Erica Liu Williams, the Founder, and creator of gr8nola! If you've been following me on the 'gram for a while, you know how much I LOVE gr8nola. It's a delicious, wholesome, granola that fits into a healthy, fit lifestyle.
I first connected with Erica last year over gr8nola and discovered that we were both from the Bay Area and also shared a lot of mutual friends. Her story on how she went from the tech world in Silicon Valley to creating gr8nola is motivating. If you've ever met Erica IRL (in real life) or have had the pleasure to interact with her, you know she's the sweetest and one of the most genuine individuals you'll meet. So, getting a chance to chat more with Erica, was a real treat. She truly is an inspiring #GirlBoss!
So, let’s get started!
VF: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: WHAT DO YOU DO, LOCATION, HOBBIES...
EL: I’m Erica Liu Williams, owner/founder of a clean granola company, gr8nola, based out of the Bay Area in California. I have a love for healthy living and eating delicious food, so I feel incredibly fulfilled by my creating and sharing a product that satisfies both these requirements. When I’m not working on my business, you can find me in the gym, meeting new people in the food space, planning my next trip or “strategically” slacking (yes, for real: to recharge, seek inspiration, and re-engage with my intentions).
VF: WHAT GOT YOU TO START A BUSINESS?
EL: I actually wrote a whole blog about this! I come from the tech world / Silicon Valley where people are very entrepreneurial. Seeing others launch their own businesses and working for startups really opened up my eyes that “it” can be done. I was already making delicious granola with an ingredient profile you couldn’t find in stores, so I thought, “Why not turn this into a business? Why not me?”, and the rest is history :). Here’s the longer blog post on why and how I started gr8nola.
VF: WHAT IS YOUR FITNESS SECRET?
EL: There’s no right or wrong way of pursuing fitness: I’ve done everything from marathon training to bodybuilding to CrossFit. While I like to mix it up and try new things, I’ve found that I’m most motivated and consistent in a “normal” gym setting, focusing on lifting and integrating “some” cardio (whether HIIT or low-intensity cardio like walking). Again, it’s all about what fits YOUR lifestyle—find something you enjoy that you can do consistently, and just do it!
VF: WHAT IS YOUR MANTRA/WORDS TO LIVE BY?
EL: Always be #HungryForGr8ness. Gr8nola’s mission is to inspire others to be their “greatest” selves – whatever that means to them...it could be your health, your career, as a family member, or to the environment. Find what matters to you—YOUR hunger for greatness—and live life with that purpose.
VF: I'M INSPIRED BY YOU AND YOUR JOURNEY WITH GR8NOLA. IT’S AN AMAZING PRODUCT WITH A GREAT STORY BEHIND IT ALL. AND, BEING ABLE TO FOLLOW ALONG WITH YOUR GROWTH HAS BEEN AMAZING! WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES YOU?
EL: Aw thank YOU! There’s no one person who inspires me: it’s the collection of all the other entrepreneurs I’ve met along the way (like yourself!) who inspire me every day. Everyone has a unique story and superpower, and I love seeing others pursue their dreams and create freedom for themselves. When I see other business owners pursue their passions and make a living from it, it shows me it can be done.
VF: BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR, DO YOU FIND IT HARD TO FIND BALANCE AND TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER LADY-BOSSES?
EL: Yes and no. From the outside in, most people don’t know how I do it (managing a full-time job AND a business). But the fact that I’m overloaded means that I’m getting closer to taking the “leap” to do gr8nola full time, which is my goal by end of year. Knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel keeps me mentally balanced. I feel like I’m on a journey with a specific destination in mind, versus being on a hamster wheel. This mindset keeps me motivated and driven with a purpose — versus feeling crazy or busy for no reason.
As far as stay balanced health-wise, I always make sure I prioritize sleep, clean eating, and consistent workouts. You’re not always going to be 100% on point, and I think it’s important to accept that and be ok when it does happen. But it’s important to make sure you “balance” it out later. For example, I often compromise sleep mid-week, but then I try to make up for it and sleep in more on weekends. If I have a bad eating day (or weekend), I try to get back on the clean eating bandwagon right away. Just don’t let yourself get into any downward spirals or turn bad habits into permanent behaviors, and you’ll be OK.
VF: TELL US YOUR MOST PERFECT DAY. HOW WOULD YOU SPEND IT? WHAT WOULD YOU YOU DO?
EL: Sleep in and wake up naturally. Go to the gym. Have close friends or family over, go on a hike or walk on a warm, sunny day, then cook/host a potluck meal with lots of yummy options by the pool. Hang out all evening over a favorite TV show.
VF: OK, NOW, WHAT IS YOUR DAY REALLY LIKE?
EL: Wake up by the alarm. Get ready for work (current day job) and commute 1.5 hours into the city. Work all day, try to manage some gr8nola-related emails in between breaks. Drive home, workout out, and work on the business until bed time (usually it’s catching up emails, shipping gr8nola out, or planning for big projects or campaigns for the business).
VF: WHAT IS YOUR RECIPE FOR A HAPPY, HEALTHY LIFE?
- Surround yourself with great people and relationships
- Live with a purpose & pursue your passions
- Eat clean (lots of veggies, clean grains & protein), but don’t deprive yourself
- Sleep deeply
- Be active & get outside
- Appreciate the process: you can gain or learn something from every experience (even the bad ones!) in life
VF: FINISH THESE STATEMENTS:
"EVERYTHING TASTES BETTER WITH A LITTLE…"
EL: gr8nola (is that too predictable?). If not that, then, honey. Life is always better a little more sweet :)
“THE ONE THING THAT I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IS…"
EL: SOLID SLEEP! (I know I am doomed when I have a baby). I don’t know how some people can operate off 6 hours of sleep; I ideally need 8-9 hours a night.
“MY GUILTY PLEASURE IS…"
EL: Desserts and sweets (like donuts, chocolate, cookies, cakes… YUM!!). And crunchy, savory or sweet snacks in general :).
VF: “MY FAVORITE GO-TO FOOD IS…”
EL: gr8nola + almond milk, nuts, coconut chips, fruit, and popcorn.
VF: WHERE CAN WE FOLLOW YOU?
EL: @gr8nola on Instagram!! See you there! :)
Valerie is a San Francisco native who loves overall health and wellness. She content creator and recipe developer, helping brands in the Fitness, Health & Wellness space tell their stories through gluten-free, mostly plant-based food, life + travel.