We had the good fortune of connecting with Katy Turner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katy, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Before becoming a licensed nutritionist, a wellness coach, or even starting my premium pressed juice line, The Fake Vegan was born of necessity. After battling years of allergies, chronic eczema and being diagnosed with cancer in my early 20s, I was determined to heal myself. As a young black woman, I understood the challenges I was going to face in the medical industry as I began my journey to healing. I understood the racial and gender biases that existed in Westernized medical industry but never would I have thought that I not only would have to strongly advocate for myself so hard while battling for my life but my awareness was deepened when I discovered the lack of information, access and resources to my community would severely impact my healing. I turned to alternative healing methods, like juicing, to heal my vessel. I want to provide the same access to sustainable holistic healing practices to marginalized communities all over the world.
Now as a plant based nutritionist, I offer one on one wellness/nutrition coaching, I work with corporate clients to incorporate wellness in the workplace and now sell cold pressed premium juices.
The Fake Vegan juices cater to communities of color and marginalized communities to ensure equal access to quality healthy products is achieved for all. The purpose of these juices are to ensure proper vessel care.
True holistic health and vessel care is about spiritual depth, endless mental possibilities and the physical exploration of no limits.
Why The Fake Vegan?
Let Me Start By Saying, I Am Not Vegan. So Why The Fake Vegan? The Fake Vegan started as a blog in 2017 around the time everyone decided they were going to go vegan after watching a certain documentary (Hint Hint). I saw so many of my peers, friends, and colleagues make the drastic change to give up all junk food and claim a vegan lifestyle. While this was admirable and their intentions were good, I quickly noticed it was not sustainable. There were just a bunch of fake vegans running around.
At the time I had been plant based for over 4 years and for health reasons. I had to give up meat, steer clear of dairy, gluten as well as grains. In my own healing journey I quickly realized “being healthy” was more than what you eat. As a Christian, I grew up knowing the importance of spiritual health but as I navigated through my own health challenges as an adult I learned the importance of maintaining a healthy “eco-system” (the mind, body and spirit connection).
A healthy lifestyle and wellness practices are only successful when it has a holistic approach. My own journey, like the journey of so many others, has been long and sometimes frustrating but through it all, I have been blessed with wisdom and growth.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Prior to starting my own business, I worked in corporate retail for 8+ years. It was a taxing time in my life because I was going through my own health challenges while simultaneously climbing the proverbial corporate ladder. I already knew going into the corporate world I was just visiting. Ever since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to work for myself. Call it being severely independent, I just knew I wanted to work for myself and help others.
I knew I was going to leave, I just needed an exit strategy. While working in corporate retail in New York City, I told myself to utilize each opportunity to my advantage. “Be a sponge and when the time is right you can quit” is what I would say to myself every single day. I would go into work and work 12 hour days some days, leave work late, go home and start mapping out my exit strategy. Then wake up early to do it all again the next day.
On top of working a busy corporate job and taking on my own health journey, I started the nutrition coaching side of The Fake Vegan. The goal here was to garner a clientele (and income) prior to leaving corporate retail. Those late nights eventually paid off when I took the leap of faith to work for myself full time Spring 2020 (literally a week before the pandemic shut down New York City).
My biggest advice to others who are looking to leave their steady paying job and become an entrepreneur full time is HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY. It’s nice to say you don’t want to work for “the man” anymore but if you aren’t patient, don’t plan for your exit, and can’t quickly pivot when outside factors (like COVID) are thrown your way, you will be behind the 8 ball on building a successful brand.
My second biggest advice to new business owners is be patient, unshakable and adaptable. I am a firm believer that God doesn’t give you visions without an execution plan. Tap into your inner self and take the time to really flesh out what your ultimate goal is. 2020 came at us fast but thankfully I had the tools and foundation to turn it around for my profit.
Being patient, I watched my plans for 2020 disappear and I had to allow for God to use me to help others heal through what felt like an impossible year. Being adaptable, I was able to pivot when the demand for reliable healthy resources were limited to my community. I responded by creating a juice line that has now in just 4 short months profited 2 times as much as I earned in 1 month prior to the pandemic. Being unshakable, I stood firm in my pricing for my corporate clients who were just now seeing the value of investing in their employees wellness and well being in 2020.
Throughout this journey, I learned that when you are not living out your purpose you will not show up as your best self. We only get to live this life once, so take that step to live out your dreams! Remembering that together, we can heal.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As a native Washingtonian, I love to show off my favorite black owned places. We would first start off at my house for breakfast where we would have a nutritious meal along with my cold pressed premium juices. One juice called An Entanglement, which is a fan favorite, is the best entanglement of pineapple and passion fruit juice and would definitely be at breakfast. We would definitely utilize the Liberation app, one of my go to meditation apps run by people of color, to do a guided meditation and some breath work before we head out to the city for the tour!
We would definitely make time to visit the National Mall to see various historic memorials including the MLK memorial along with visiting museums like African American history museum, The Portrait Gallery or the Air and Space museum. We would then be sure to head to “The Mecca”, the illustrious Howard University, my alma mater. For lunch, we would take a trip to Sankofa Cafe, a black owned cafe that has delicious wraps and paninis.
If there was time, I would go out to Baltimore to the National Aquarium and then to Saturday Mornings restaurant, a black owned restaurant with the BEST seafood benedict I’ve ever had. You can’t come to the DMV area without getting a little Maryland blue crab in of course.
Then, because I am the biggest kid on earth, we would end the day by renting scooters back in DC and either head to H street to pick up some food at Kitchen Kray, a black owned restaurant with amazing lobster mac and cheese. Or we could head back to Georgia Ave to NuVegan, a black owned vegan restaurant. Clearly, this tour is all about eating.
We would end the day with a short hike through Rock Creek Park where you can see some of the best views of the city.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
You will always hear me say the phrase “together, we can heal” and it’s because when I went through my hardest days of my wellness journey, it was my tribe that got me through. It was my family, friends, doctors, holistic healers and honestly my clients that helped me get through. While I was the one who had to endure the diagnosis, the real work came after I accepted my diagnosis and chose to thrive despite it.
It was communities around me, such as my Howard University family and Columbia University friends, that really became great resources for me to tap into.
But I would not be here today without my family. It was my family’s prayers, support and encouragement that really facilitated my healing journey. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Facebook: The Fake Vegan
Other: Need a spring cleanse before summer hits? Wanna lose some of those quarantine pounds? The spring juice drop #3 is available 4.5.21 and will be available until 5.29.21. All juices are made by yours truly and are sustainably sources. Get your orders in while you can!
Products shot by Oscar Merrida IV Photography (IG: @oscarmerridaphotogrpahy) and lifestyle shot Nikayla Scott Photography (IG: @nikayalascottphotogrpahy)