The term "frozen food" usually conjures up images of microwavable dinners that, while convenient, are sorely lacking in nutritional value. Realizing that this is all too often the case, Rachel Drori set out to disrupt the frozen-food aisle by founding Daily Harvest, a subscription-based service that delivers superfood-packed smoothies, overnight oats, and chia seed puddings directly to customers' freezers.
In 2014, Drori, who was a marketing coordinator at the time, started working on Daily Harvest to solve her own modern eating dilemma. "I always felt like I was choosing between quick convenient nutrition and good nutrition," she told MyDomaine. "I decided to reimagine frozen food as the way for uncompromising healthy food to meet convenience." Since its launch, Daily Harvest has quickly garnered a cult following among the wellness-minded community, including Serena Williams and Gwyneth Paltrow, who are also investors in the rapidly growing company.
In this installment of Second Life, a series in which we spotlight successful women who've made major career changes, we ask Drori, founder and CEO of Daily Harvest, all about making the transition from marketing to redefining the frozen-food aisle, including how her previous roles prepared her entrepreneurship, how she moved past fear to pursue her passion, and how she's learned from the biggest mistake she's made.
Tell us about your first career path.
Early in my career, I started as a marketing coordinator at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. When I entered the working world, I knew wanted to go into marketing and learn from the best, and Four Seasons is a customer-centric brand like no other. I spent three years there before heading to Columbia Business School. After earning my MBA, I spent two years at Amex and then two at Gilt Groupe, all the while focusing on building and marketing brands that solve consumer needs. All of my past experience with customer-centric brands really built the foundation on which I started Daily Harvest.
How did you make the transition from marketing to redefining the frozen-food aisle?
Daily Harvest, as is the case for many startups, was born from personal need. I always felt that the way I aspired to eat and the way I had time to eat were in conflict. I had been in the habit of making smoothies every morning for my husband and me, which was time-consuming, and I was frustrated that we ended up drinking the same basic flavors every day, and even still, ingredients would often go bad. I realized that if only there were something like Daily Harvest, it would make my life so much easier. I would save tons of time from not having to shop and prep, and I'd never have ingredients go bad again. Plus, I could get way more interesting ingredients than those available at my corner market.
What have been the biggest challenges in your many careers, and why?
When Daily Harvest first started, I was producing and delivering smoothies by hand. I was eight months pregnant with my first child, standing on my feet for 10 hours per day, and driving around the city every week to deliver smoothies. This was an exhausting process, but the reception we got from consumers was overwhelmingly positive, which gave me the energy I needed to keep going.
What triggered your need to change your career path?
I've always had the bug to be an entrepreneur and to build something. The trigger was a concept with a proven product-market fit. Once I had that, I knew I had to go after it.
Why is your current path suitable for your personality?
I've always been a creator and a tinkerer. Whether soldering together a piece of jewelry or reverse engineering a cookie, I've always gotten such a rush from the act of creation. My current career path allows me to create, think critically, and learn every day.
What's the most important thing you have learned in making a big change in your career life?
Don't look for reasons not to do things. Life is full of uncertainty, but if your instinct is telling you to take a chance, you're not being true to yourself if you don't follow that impulse.
How did you move past the fear of change to pursue your passion?
Once I made the decision to start Daily Harvest, I dove in headfirst. I got so engrossed in building the company that I didn't have time to think about whether or not I should be fearful.
What are some mistakes you made along the way that ended up helping your success?
The first employee I hired had an impressive résumé and had worked at a few successful startups before. I didn't know what I didn't know so was impressed with his background and experience. After working with him for a few months, I realized that he and I had very different styles and visions for the company. We parted ways after only a few months and that experience forced me to really think about the type of company I wanted to build and compelled me to think about culture and the way I was going about building DH. Putting this on my priority list early on helped me build out an incredible team that not only shared my vision but was as passionate about the mission as I am.
What do you love most about your current role, and why?
Making a product that consumers genuinely love is so energizing. But beyond that, working with my team is the best part of my job. I absolutely love the people with whom I've been able to build Daily Harvest. I started the business as a team of one with a big vision. I was packing up ingredients in a commercial kitchen with my own two hands and delivering smoothies in my car. As the business scaled, I surrounded myself with people who were equally passionate but had the skills and know-how I lacked. I have learned so much from my incredible team and owe our growth to each and every one of them.
When you look back and reflect on your previous career, do you have any regrets? Or are you still really happy with your decision?
No regrets! Without those experiences, I never would have had the perspective and confidence to dive in and build something from scratch.
For more inspiring stories from successful women who've made major career changes, tune into MyDomaine's Second Life podcast.