Our CEO and co-founder, Ratana Stephens, was recently a featured guest on Skimm’d from the Couch, a podcast hosted by Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg. Zakin and Weisberg are CEOs and founders of the Skimm, a media company that delivers news stories and personality profiles to over seven million millennial women in the US through a daily newsletter, two podcasts, social media channels, and the Skimm app for iOS.
In this Skimm’d from the Couch episode, Ratana opens up to Zakin and Weisberg about her life as a young girl in India, as a young entrepreneur trying to raise a family, and as a leader in North America’s largest organic breakfast food company. Revealing the vital moments and people that helped shape the course of her life, Ratana’s interview is poignant, openhearted, and enlightening.
On Getting an Education in India
Scholarships and bursaries were there for me. And I took full advantage of them. I wanted to finish my degree, I wanted to go to college. My grandmother, who adopted me, she was my support. When some male members of the family objected my going to university and getting a degree, she was like a tigress. She said, “Leave her alone. She is going to be what she wants to be.” My grandmother could not even read or write. Ink thumbprint was her signature. And she did her best.
On Starting Nature’s Path
In 1985, Arran and I started Nature’s Path at the back of our vegetarian restaurant that I was running. In 1990, I joined him as a working partner. It was more so: “You look after Nature’s Path, and I will look after Woodlands restaurant,” because the kids were young. And as a mother, you see a tug of war going on in your heart and in your mind. In 1992, I joined him at Nature’s Path. Since then, we have been together in running an enterprise.
On What Sustainability Means
We started with organic foods. By using organic ingredients, I must say that we have saved our plants hundreds of millions of pounds of chemical fertilizer, chemicals that could have gone in the water system and in the land.
Sustainability means total sustainability. It includes social responsibility and environmental sustainability. Sustainability to me also means to look after our people. Give them a purpose. Help them learn or guide them towards what is best for the planet and for the society that we live in. Make sure they’re well paid. Make sure they’re looked after. Make sure they’re part of the family. Yes, there’s a Stephens family. But Nature’s Path is a family, too.
On Being Called the Heart and Soul of Nature’s Path
When you go through difficulties, when you see other people going through difficulty, you have empathy. You feel for them because you yourself have gone through the same things. My grandmother was very empathetic. And since I was brought up by her, she was always there when people needed her, in happiness and in sorrow. I learned a lot from her. And I owe it to her.
Listen to Ratana’s Skimm’d from the Couch podcast here.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.