Megan Wallace on creating NutMeg Mylk & living life on her own terms
I met with Megan Wallace, founder of dairy-free, plant-based milk alternative 'NutMeg Mylk' on a rainy Tuesday in Vancouver at an Italian-inspired spot on the corner of Chinatown - Dalina Cafe. Moderately busy for 2 pm on a weekday, it’s easy to suss out the appeal of the space. It's brightly lit, has clean, polished white interiors which give it a modern look (with a sprinkle of glitz), and of course, coffee and freshly cooked meals.
Cafes have quickly become sanctuaries for creative freelancers of all sorts to come and crank out work at their own leisure. Megan explains how there’s a freedom in being able to work and spend your day however you choose, whether that be through owning your own business or doing remote work etc. This is very evident with more and more millennials eager to adopt the 'freelance' and 'digital nomad' lifestyles. However, it's easier said than done. Achieving success in this career path presents its own unique set of roadblocks, mostly because it is considered to go against the grain of what was initially viewed as the safe, corporate 9-5 job that pays well.
Megan was already deep into her work when I arrived. Naturally, one of the first questions I have for her is how she was able to build this type of life for herself - living on her own terms, creating her own day-to-day schedule, and being a successful business owner who's passion for her product is very clear. Her story is both, relatable and inspiring.
Megan graduated from Simon Fraser University with a degree in Communications, specializing in digital marketing and publishing while also being involved with the co-op program, completing three internships by the time she finished her education. She felt school was a mandatory life step rather than a genuine pursuit for her, emphasizing how a typical university education focuses on theory and writing papers, as opposed to tangible, grounded skills.
Post-graduation, she found herself working in sports marketing and then later transitioned into real estate marketing, working her way up to a Marketing Manager role focused on branding, marketing, and sales. After three and a half years, she decided it was time for a change as she began to crave a different daily routine.
"The corporate world wasn’t for me. I didn’t work well in that environment and disliked being tied to my desk from Monday to Friday 9-5, where its rewarded to stay late and not leave early. I wanted to be more flexible with my time, and I saw people working out of coffee shops and doing things during the day and I thought 'who are these people and what are they doing?' because I can’t do that. There's no freedom or flexibility in the corporate world - but it's changing now with some companies."
Megan's lightbulb moment occurred when she attended a nut milk workshop with her sister-in-law who is a holistic nutritionist.
"I went there out of curiosity because I don’t do dairy and I don’t like the taste of regular store-bought almond and soy beverages - it’s pretty bad, got no texture and really watered down tasting! It made my granola and coffee taste gross in the morning. [After the workshop] I started to experiment with different blends of nuts, flavorings, and superfoods for that healthy component and gave it away to friends and family and was encouraged along the way. When I actually sat down and looked into what other companies were doing this, there wasn’t another one that existed so I thought I could fill that with NutMeg Mylk."
NutMeg Mylk takes pride in creating fresh nut milks with no fillers or preservatives, perfect for those aiming for a 'whole' lifestyle and consuming more nutrient-rich foods.
"I just try to focus on eating whole foods which I think is the most important. Eating real food like protein, nuts and seeds, and no processed food like back in the cavemen and hunter-gatherer days! [NutMeg Mylk] focuses on real ingredients, tasting good, and unique superfoods. I don't know any other nut milks where you can get a lavender latte! We try to keep things interesting with healthy flavors, and not being too sweet, and just high-quality ingredients."
Some of the groundbreaking flavors on the NutMeg Mylk menu include the Tahiti (organic Brazil almond vanilla mylk), the Blue Moon (blend of coconut and cashew mylk with light maple, cinnamon, vanilla), the Indie (organic turmeric golden almond mylk with bee pollen, honey, Himalayan pink salt), and the Provence (organic lavender honey mylk) among many others. The nut mylks are versatile and can be consumed alone and in fun combinations as well for your lattes, morning granola, smoothie bowls, etc. The selection of the superfoods and ingredients in each mylk are done with the utmost care and research to provide the customer with the most nutritious, and delicious experience.
However, putting together these nut mylks, launching a company, and being a business owner was not easy and presented Megan with endless professional and personal hurdles she had to overcome every day. At first, people close to her assumed her nut mylks were just a hobby she did on the side while still working her corporate job. She worked at both for four months until she was able to quit and focus on NutMeg Mylk full-time.
"When did I not have a hurdle! I literally have multiple fires, as I call them, every day. There’s always something to deal with. A lot of being a business owner is constantly putting out fires and keeping your business afloat. The biggest hurdle was telling my family and friends - people were kind of confused by it and I had to learn to not care what people's opinions are. As women, we’re taught to care a lot about what other people think. Telling my mom that I was leaving my corporate, cushy, job with a good salary and benefits to start my own thing was difficult. You have to be bold enough to say 'okay, I'm going to do this'."
Another challenge she's experienced, especially in the health food space, is education. While some people understand the price point (each nut mylk is $11/bottle), she admits there has been some backlash to the amount she charges simply because people do not understand how expensive organic ingredients and superfoods are, along with the benefits of consuming them for your body. NutMeg Mylk has come to be known for its beautiful, old-school glass milk bottles as well - while healthier for the consumer, also increases the price of the overall product.
"This year I really want to focus on accessibility...Right now we have a very premium product with a premium offering which comes with a premium price tag. We literally chose all the top of the line things that we could possibly choose - from a glass bottle to organic ingredients… all those are costs and the product is a higher-priced product for a reason. It’s priced that way because that's what it needs to be in order for it to make sense for our retailers and for us. I would love to have a secondary line that is more accessible and bridge the gap between what’s being offered right now and ours. [I want to] create a hybrid that doesn’t compromise quality or taste but is a cheaper option."
The past two years of being an entrepreneur have taught Megan the importance of resourcefulness, determination, and sacrifice. She admits to turning to Google for a lot of her questions and writing a list and checking things off as she went along. Staying authentic to your strengths and genuine interests are a big takeaway as well - she stresses developing the skill set you already have, and not being afraid to ask the right people questions if you’re feeling lost. Her advice to fellow young women and aspiring female entrepreneurs is honest and impactful:
"Be resilient. You have to have a willingness to go full force and be willing to put yourself out there and be uncomfortable. Every day you’re putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. Even if you don't know what you want to do, create space. Put it out there that you want to do this and an idea will come to you."
Designing a life you love is not easy, but stories like Megan's let us know that it's definitely worth it in the end. One step at a time and one nut mylk at a time, she is creating a healthier, more delicious world.
Be sure to check out NutMeg Mylk on Instagram @nutmegmylk
And www.nutmegmylk.com for a full list of retailers, the official menu, and the blog for innovative (and yummy!) new ways to use your mylks!