Founder & CEO, Peeled Snacks
Posted on: February 15, 2012 | Go to profile
If you’ve ever visited a Starbucks or Whole Foods, you’ve probably debated whether or not to add a Peeled Snack fruit mix to your purchase: meet the woman behind the apple slices. After gaining corporate experience at Unilever promoting food products, Noha founded a brand centered on her desire to create healthy, organic products for mass markets, while maintaining a connection to the farmer producers. Perfect for women who are on-the-go, Noha’s creations are yummy treats without the guilt. Peeled Snacks have been featured in Oprah’s O List, Self Magazine, and received the “Best of Food” award from Healthy Magazine.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: I worked at Unilever and learned that large food companies are good at processing foods and adding “vitamins” to it. But I believe that real, unprocessed food that’s naturally nutritious is much better for you. I grew up in Israel, where they eat a lot of dried fruit that’s high quality, without added sugar or preservatives. I thought there was a big opportunity in the United States to provide healthy snacks for people on the go, starting with dried fruit.
Q: Who is a leader that you have great respect for and why?
A: Madonna. She’s the most impressive businesswoman I know, who continually manages to reinvent her products in order to stay current. She’s also an amazing dancer.
Q: If a business has several, viable ways to grow and innovate, how do you pick the best road to take?
A: If they’re all equally good directions, be practical. Focus on the ones that give you the most synergy with your supply chain and/or distribution channels.
Q: What’s your best advice for an entrepreneur in an early/bootstrapping phase? Or in a growth/need to ‘now scale’ phase?
A: Write down your business plan, then quadruple the amount of time and money that you think it will take. Set your sights on the long-term and make sure you’re comfortable with the idea of sticking it out for that long. You can always be pleasantly surprised if it happens more quickly.
Q: I love the quote “the bigger the vision, the smaller the first step”. Right now, what is the big vision you have for your career?
A: To be a catalyst for change in the American food industry. I’ve learned so much about our food and nutrition through Peeled Snacks, and I want to help people eat better, healthier, real food.
Q: It’s hard to focus on the “big picture” sometimes because we can get caught in the weeds of work and life. When does visioning come clearest or easiest for you? Or what inspires your vision?
A: When talking to people about food and hearing the misconceptions that have been created through advertising by large food companies [it inspires my vision]. I get so upset when someone tells me they’re eating low fat foods, but drinking lots of soda.
Q: A great negotiation can be game changing for one’s business or life. Studies have shown that men are much more comfortable negotiating and asking for what they want compared to women. What’s your advice to women who are uncomfortable negotiating?
A: Negotiations are most successful when everyone is upfront about their needs. Keep in mind that people like to help. You’re doing them a favor by giving them the opportunity to help you, and thereby, feel good about what they can offer. And of course, make sure that you try to be helpful, too. It’s good karma and it will come back to you.
ON Career Transitions
Q: I don’t feel like this topic is talked about enough in business news. Professionals get laid off, fired, resign or change careers all the time–which can obviously be a difficult transition at first. What was the hardest career transition in your life and how did you grow from it?
A: I was working at a marketing communications agency. I loved the agency and the people I worked with, but I didn’t get along with my boss. He often over-extended the team and I pushed back and told him. So, one day he had enough, and to my dismay, fired me. I had been debating applying for business school for some time, but couldn’t commit the time. So when I was fired, I had three weeks before the applications were due. I took the GMAT and applied on the last possible day, and got into Columbia Business School. It ended up being one of the best things to happen to me. It was also a very important lesson about getting along with your boss.
ON Giving Back
Q: What cause(s) have you chosen to support and why does it resonate with you?
A: The American Farmland Trust because they support sustainable farms in the US — an issue that deeply concerns me and my company. We need more American farms, both for our food in general, and to source fruit for Peeled Snacks. Also, the National Alliance for Mental Illness because my family has been affected by mental illness and one in four adults—approximately 57.7 million Americans—experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
Q: What are the top 3 things that you do to stay healthy?
A: Drink water, rarely drink soda, seldom drink juice and always water it down, and live in a city so I can walk a lot.
Q: How do you respond to the question “How has having a child changed your life?”
A: It gave me a new appreciation for how precious and miraculous life is. And forced me to deal with a lack of control and planning.
ON Cooking & Food
Q: If you were stranded on an island and could have an unlimited source of 3 foods (and calories were not a concern), what would they be?
A: Yogurt, leafy green vegetables, and of course, fruit.