Abigail is the co-founder of That Clean Life, a tech company offering meal plans and recipes for healthy eating.
What is your morning routine?
Meetings, customer support, sales calls and unexpected “fires” keep my mornings somewhat irregular. But on a perfect morning, I wake up without an alarm, usually around 7 a.m. and put on my gym clothes. I make myself a cup of coffee and answer emails. Once I’m well-caffeinated and have my inbox dwindled down, I hit the gym for an hour. I put on my wireless Beats headphones, turn up the rap jams and get pumped. This is the absolute best way to start my day.
After the gym I shower and get dressed. Then I pull up at my desk (conveniently located in my kitchen) to start crushing the top three items off my to-do list, which I always create and prioritize the night before so I know exactly what I’m working on.
Tell us about your career path.
My career path is long with many twists and turns. But I think it’s important to be real about it because you don’t necessarily end up where you thought you would, and that’s okay.
After highschool, I went to University of Guelph with the hope of becoming a veterinarian. When I realized I was super scared of large animals, I knew that path wasn’t going to pan out so I decided to set my sights on med school. Unfortunately, I was a terrible student and barely passed all my classes, so again I came to the realization that my future wasn’t in medicine.
All I knew for certain was I wanted to walk into work everyday and be able to help people and make a difference. I decided to transfer to Ryerson to do a bachelor of science in nursing. I graduated with honours – turns out I wasn’t a bad student, I was just studying the wrong thing for me – and started working at SickKids in infectious diseases.
Somewhere between Ryerson and entering the workforce full time, I ran myself into the ground. I was eating crap and partying every weekend. Body image issues I had carried around since my teenage years began to intensify. I was depressed and so unhappy with myself.
I remember the moment I woke up and said, “I’m not going to hate myself anymore.” I set out on a journey to clean up my mind, body and soul. I decided to start with the food I was eating and transitioned from a heavily processed diet to one focused on whole foods. I discovered a way of eating that worked for me and I started to feel really good about myself.
The weight started to fall off almost effortlessly, which was what I thought I wanted all along. But at the same time, other things started to change in my life. I was more energetic, creative and inspired. I was a better person not only to myself but to everybody around me. I couldn’t believe what a big role the food I ate was playing in every aspect of my life.
While still working full time as a nurse, I became really fired up about telling everyone how simple and fun healthy eating could be. I started a Tumblr to share my journey and recipes.
Near the end of 2013 I thought it would be fun to put together a free meal plan for the new year and share it with my friends, family and followers. I created a meal plan with a grocery list and recipes. My husband Christopher is a software engineer with a knack for design and he helped me turn it into a nice-looking e-book.
Much to our surprise, the e-book was downloaded hundreds of times within a few days. I started to get emails asking me when the next book would be released. So we put together another e-book, but this time we charged for it. And again, much to our surprise people actually took out their credit cards and paid for it!
Over the course of 2014, we released four e-books. But the trouble with e-books was the meal plans and recipes were confined. They weren’t customizable or scalable. Christopher started to talk about a meal planning platform. I was reluctant at first but then agreed we should build it.
So together, we launched That Clean Life in January 2015. It’s a platform that allows you to create meal plans, automate your grocery list and stay motivated to eat well.
As we started to pick up some momentum with That Clean Life, I had to choose between my career as a nurse and my career as a co-founder of a tech company. I tried to do both for a long time, but I was run down with a lack of focus and it just wasn’t serving me anymore. Today I’m completely focused on That Clean Life.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
Being an entrepreneur is really lonely. Connecting with other female co-founders of tech companies can be difficult. I feel like women in tech are fighting to be taken seriously. There’s a stereotype that the most successful co-founders of tech companies are male engineers, and that’s obviously not me. It’s challenging, but I’m confident in what I bring to the table.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
There is no such thing as an overnight success. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you’d better be prepared to invest years into what you believe in. Be patient, persistent, hard-working and steadfast. If you’re thinking about it, start now.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
I wish I could say I do. My work life is my personal life. I’m married to my co-founder and we eat, sleep and breathe That Clean Life. Maybe someday we’ll want to change things, but right now, we’re still pretty excited about all of it.
What inspires you?
Steve Jobs and stoicism.