After graduating with degrees in theater performance and telecommunications from Butler University, Sara Snow worked toward her dream career as a morning show anchor. Little did she know, her passion and roots in healthy living would open up bigger worlds.
The mom of two wears several hats as a green-living expert and host of popular TV shows "Living Fresh" and "Get Fresh." She is also a spokesperson for several large brands (including Reynolds, Clorox and Johnson & Johnson), co-founder of Hide & Cheek (a line of intimates that uses smart fibers), author of "Fresh Living," and a board member and supporter of Vitamin Angels—a nonprofit that fights hidden hunger by helping pregnant women, new moms and children gain access to life-saving vitamins.
Sara chats with mom.me about her career, family and how we can all make our side of the grass a little greener.
your passion for healthy living and at what point did you decide to use that
passion to fuel your career choices?
My parents are definitely the ones who sparked my
passion for healthy living. My dad
was instrumental in pioneering the industry of organic and natural foods; he
co-founded Eden Foods and American Soy Products, he developed EdenSoy and Vruit,
and he did a lot of other super-cool stuff. At the same time a good handful of people were starting
other similarly cool businesses around the country (Whole Foods, Traditional
Medicinals, Horizon, Spectrum, Avalon Organics, etc.) and these founders, as
friends of my parents, became instrumental in shaping the things that would be
important to me as well.
But I can't neglect to mention my mom as an
individual, separate being. She
was hugely influential, along with her naturalist parents, my grandma and
grandpa, who lived just across the pond. My mom stayed at home with us four kids as we played and learned and ate
and grew in our eco, natural home out in the sticks of Michigan. She grew our food and baked our
bread. She made paper dolls and
rafts for the pond made out of old milk cartons. She was a creative, imaginative, naturally focused, vibrant mother.
After working as a documentary producer then
news anchor for a number of years, I decided to use the passion that my parents
instilled in me to put a hairpin curve in my career. I left my dream job as a
morning show anchor and created the concept for a TV show that was all about
the simple steps you could take to live a healthier, more natural life. The show was picked up almost
immediately by the Discovery Networks, and the grass continued to get greener
and greener the further I went along this path.
Was there a moment in your career when you
wanted to give up but pushed on through anyway?
As my career was building and really taking off, my husband and I were
really struggling with the fact that we were unable to get pregnant. For seven years I was told that I had "unexplained infertility,"
which is an incredibly frustrating thing for any woman to go through. There were many times during that when
I wanted to just crawl in bed and cry. I was confused and frustrated, dismayed and broken. But I didn't quit. I got stronger and calmer (I started
eating more fortifying foods and meditating each morning) and it helped me grow
in the work that I was doing and the way I would approach individuals and their
struggles. It became another
experience from which I could draw inspiration and emotion.
Image: Sara Snow riding the ferris wheel with her daughter Isla
As a board
member and supporter of Vitamin Angels, do you have any advice for moms hoping
to start or be actively involved in a nonprofit?
Undernutrition, or hidden hunger, is the underlying cause of almost half of deaths in children under age 5 (over 3 million children every year).
The most important consideration when looking to become
actively involved in a nonprofit is to make sure it's something you're truly
passionate about. My passion for promoting healthy living started at an early
age. My parents were considered
pioneering visionaries in the natural health movement. I grew up in an environment where
optimal health was of paramount importance and the focus of every day. When I
learned about Vitamin Angels' mission to help at-risk
populations, such as pregnant women, new mothers and children under 5, gain
access to life-saving and life-changing vitamins and minerals, I knew this was
an organization that I wanted to be a part of.
As a mother, I'm so fortunate to have been able
to give my children the essential vitamins and nutrients they needed during
those important early stages of life to ensure they could reach their full
physical and intellectual potential. I know that not all mothers are able to do
the same. But what I did not know is that undernutrition, or hidden hunger, is the
underlying cause of almost half of deaths in children under age 5 (over 3 million
children every year); this shocked and saddened me, but it also motivated me to
The crazy thing to me is that something as simple
as vitamin A supplementation can reduce
childhood mortality among children 6 months to 59 months by nearly 25 percent, for just 25 cents per child per year. And that an estimated 30 percent of vitamin A deficient (VAD) children are
not being reached by governments or large aid organizations. But (the big "but" for me) these are the
children that Vitamin Angels reaches. And by working with Vitamin Angels, I can help them reach more mommies
and more babies. It gives me goose
bumps even as I sit here typing this.
So my advice is: Follow your passion and remember
that your contribution, no matter how large or small, has the power to make a
launched Hide & Cheek with your sister, how much money should someone have
saved before starting their own business?
I always thought it would take a savings of
$50,000–$100,000 to start a business, followed pretty quickly by a fundraising
round of another $500,000 or more. But it's just not necessary. We are really proud of the fact that we're growing slowly, not
over-ordering on inventory so that our money isn't being held up in items that
haven't sold yet, and really listening to our customers' feedback to help us
determine which avenues to explore next rather than blindly throwing money at
something that may or may not work.
Because of that we've been able to start with a
pretty lean budget, which means that we can continue to grow without owing
anything to anyone so far. At the very
least, anyone starting a new business will need a few thousand dollars to cover
incorporation fees, a simple website with domain hosting, and a few other small
essentials. But if you're willing
to put in the work, social media can be your PR strong arm and online can
replace a brick and mortar location so you can be in business before you know
Image: One of our favorite hide & cheek panties!
As someone who values a green lifestyle and
inspires families and businesses to do the same, do you have any tips or
effective ways for new business owners to go green?
For the majority of businesses, the most important thing to focus on
is reducing your amount of waste. Cut back on single-use items, recycle everything you can, minimize your
packaging down to only the barest essentials and work from home to avoid
commuter polluter waste.
At what point in your career path did you (or
will you) consider yourself successful?
I'm happy with where I am every single day, with the big achievements that I've had and little triumphs that I have everyday.
There's no reason at all to wait to declare yourself a success. Life is busy and hard and stressful for
so many reasons. You're a success
every day you walk out the door for a meeting or shower and sit at your computer
for an hour (especially if you're a work-from-home mom like me). You're a success every day that you're
at least a somewhat good friend/partner/wife and mom to your kids.
I gave myself a huge standing O the day I took home my first Emmy
award (as producer on the ESPN "SportsCentury"
series) and when my first national TV series was picked up, and I inked my
first book deal. I suppose I could
put some other big goal up there on my wall and wait to declare myself a
success until I reach it, but I don't see any point in that. I'm happy with
where I am every single day, with the big achievements that I've had and little
triumphs that I have everyday. And
that's the mark of real success in my opinion: the ability to experience daily
How do you balance your work/home life, or is
there even such a thing?
I was just having this discussion with my sister and business partner
& Cheek. The balance and how we achieve it is
shifting. Today's workers are able
to take more personal time throughout any given day (you can justify things
like family lunches on a Tuesday and making it to your son's 3:30 game on a Friday)
but it's at the expense of being available 24/7 to respond to clients or
customers or colleagues. I think a
decade or two ago people were really turned off at the prospect of always being
available or "on." But today it's just a part of who we are
and how we work.
biggest changes I've seen as a result of this shift lie in more than just
answering a few emails late at night. It means we are wearing our work persona all of the time now. We used to be able to compartmentalize
ourselves more: Here's who I am when I'm at work and here's who I am at
home. Now, because each hour of
the day is so much more blended, we are, by nature, the same person at home and
at work. But I don't think it's a
bad thing. It forces us to be
genuine in both arenas and disallows the practice of embodying a
dual-persona. It's easier to just
be yourself, isn't it, rather than this cut-throat business woman one segment
and this loving mama the other? Our new work/life balance means we get to be a blended version of that
(hopefully our true self and best self) all the time.
You juggle multiple hats as mom, author,
educator, board member and even business owner. It must take a huge village. Who are your go-to
Sometimes doing it all means it gets done and gets done well.
It does take a village but honestly, this will be a shock to some
people, I've found that less help is easier. I used to stress about managing all of the people who were
helping me—assistant, agents, nanny, housekeeper, etc. (I know it sounds
spoiled but those were the people who were deeply involved in my daily life). In recent years I've cut way back,
which consequently means I do way more, but it's somehow way easier. It's more streamlined. It's fewer people to manage and
everything is doable because, in short, I'm doing it. Maybe that sounds crazy
but I've talked to other women who have let their nannies or other help go and
feel this same way. And I think
it's really encouraging to mothers who can't afford nannies or feel trapped in some
life where they feel like they're doing it all. Sometimes doing it all means it gets done and gets done
All of that said, I couldn't do my life without my husband (and
partner in everything), my elliptical (workouts at home!), and my iPhone. Aside from the obvious ones like
delivering me my master schedule, emails and messages, my iPhone allows me to manage
multiple social media channels for my personal stuff, Hide & Cheek and any spokesperson projects I'm working on at
any moment in time, communicate with schools and sitters, order my groceries to
be delivered while I'm waiting on a meeting to start or sitting in the carpool
lane, and even check my baby's video monitor to see when she's awake so I can quickly
wrap up a conference call.
What do you do to unwind and recharge?
I get outside—take the girls to the beach or the park, go for a run,
hit a yoga class or browse the great LA boutiques that are around me no matter
where I am. These are my favorite
things to do during an off hour or two. And at the end of the day, my favorite moment is when Ryan I sit back
with a big glass of red wine or an ice-cold dirty martini and talk about our
days or cue up one of our favorite shows. Sometimes just sitting, not talking, is such a luxury it's all I need.
Image: The wooden heart Sara's daughter sent her that she takes pictures with everywhere
take me through a day in your life.
I love that my girls get to see me as their mommy and as daddy's wife, but also as a business woman making an impact.
I get up early (5:30 a.m. usually), so that I can
accomplish one of two things before the rest of the house is awake—either I get
in an early workout or get in an hour or so of work on my computer. By 7 a.m. I'm in mom mode, making
breakfast, wiping up spills and setting everyone up for their day. After Silvia has gone off to school
I've got a few hours with Isla, my almost-2-year-old, when we pop down to the
library or the park or just stay at home so I can simultaneously be at my
computer and on the floor playing with her. It' a juggle, but it works and it means that I'm engaging
with her and getting some work
done. By about noon she's down for
a nap and I've got a few quiet, uninterrupted hours to work for real. This is when I schedule all of my calls
and often when I schedule meetings out of the house so I can do them while
Isla's asleep and Silvia's at school. After 3, Isla's awake, Silvia's home and I'm back in mom mode until
they're in bed at 7. After that I
generally wrap up the day with a few more emails and chill out with Ryan over
the aforementioned glass of wine and show.
That's an average day. There are two absolutes worth mentioning: I'm a morning person, not a night person, so I get all of my heavy lifting done by about 3 p.m. After that, my brain doesn't work as well. When I was writing my book, I got up
every day at 4 a.m. and did all of my writing before 10 a.m. When I'm doing a shoot, we get as many
scenes in before lunch even if it means starting super early. Mornings are when my brain is the
sharpest; I know this about myself and I adjust my schedule around it. Also, no two days look the same for me. I may be in Burbank or NYC for a TV
meeting one day, in Iowa to give a talk on healthy living another day, Santa
Barbara for a Vitamin Angels meeting another day, and with my sister and our
seamstress in downtown LA another day, but, to me, that's how life should
be. It's exciting and keeps my
whole family on our toes. I love
that my girls get to see me as their mommy and as daddy's wife, but also as a
business woman making an impact. If they see me stressed out on occasion, that's OK. Because they also see me jumping around
the kitchen celebrating little successes. And that balance is what life is all about.