Be honest with yourself – how many arguments has the question, “What’s for dinner?”, started? Who ever knew that those three little words could do so much damage! Luckily, Ally Milligan is out to put a stop to the daily disputes over chicken versus fish. As a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Ally founded Loveleaf Co. to reclaim her sanity and take back the joy of cooking weeknight meals through simplifying her kitchen environment and streamlining the way she cooks. She’s since been featured in Brit + Co, Woman’s Day Magazine, Whole Food’s, and more!
So what are you waiting for? Read more about how Ally has deviated from her nine-to-five and built her business!
Tell us a little about your background (ie. Hometown, College, Job, Interests, etc.)
"I grew up in Southampton, New York on the East End of Long Island. I went to NYU for undergrad and studied photography and education and then went to grad school at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications (Syracuse University) to study photojournalism! After grad school, I went to work in the communications department of a university outside of Boston and started a food blog as a hobby, which I would work on over the weekends. I was lucky to grow up near lots of farmland and my dad owned a local seafood business, so food and health was always a passion of mine. With my food blog, I combined my interests of food and photography and eventually I made the decision to leave my office job and work on Loveleaf Co. full-time!"
What is something that most people don't know about you?
"Something most people don’t know about me is that I actually don’t love to cook! The reason that I started Loveleaf Co. and that I’m so passionate about simplifying healthy eating is because I know it’s possible to cook food that makes you feel your best… even on busy weeknights and even when cooking isn’t your thing."
As our Nive Girl of the Month, how do you think you would define your individual style?
"My style is very simple (surprise surprise). My brain is always going a mile a minute, so I try to keep my external world as calming as possible! My home decor and wardrobe are full of natural fabrics and neutrals that I can easily dress up or down. Jumpsuits are pretty much my favorite thing ever because they're so effortless - just a shoe and accessory change and you can be ready for anything."
Tell us about your morning routine! (early/late riser, coffee/tea drinker, gym/yoga sessions, makeup, etc.)
"I do the same routine every single morning! I wake up at 6am and have lemon water and black coffee immediately (my husband and I program the coffee maker the night before - I’m very serious about this ;). Then, I spend 45 minutes drinking coffee in bed, writing (whatever comes to mind!), reading, and I’ll try to do a 5-minute meditation (I’m not great at meditating but I do try). By 7am I am moving my body in some way - I either do a Peloton spin class, a yoga class, a Melissa Wood Health workout, or an hour-long walk with a podcast. Then, I shower, put a moisturizer or oil on my face (right now I’m loving the All Bright C serum from Beautycounter!), some mineral foundation, a little mascara, and I make a smoothie. By 8:30am, I’m sitting at my desk in my office with my second cup of coffee, the smoothie, and a huge bottle of water, ready to work!"
How have you chosen to deviate from the typical 40-hour work week? What initially prompted you to start your own business?
"While I was working a 9-5 (read: 8-6) office job, I struggled to figure out how to make healthy weeknight meals. After lots of trial and error, I finally figured out a simple system that worked for me and, having already had some success with my side-hobby food blog, decided to go all in with Loveleaf Co. I work way more than 40 hours a week (I’m working on setting better boundaries!), but to me it is all worth it, 100%."
Starting your own business can be a tough road. In the difficult moments, how do you stay focused on moving forward and making progress?
"I love this question! Two things help me in difficult moments or moments of “failure.” First, I try to remember that failing is LEARNING. Being stuck in indecision or inaction means you are not learning anything, one way or the other. I try to look at it like - the more failure, the better because it means I’m moving forward. Secondly, when I get overwhelmed or feel stuck, I break down everything I have to do into the tiniest tasks. Being able to cross small items of a list motivates me and gets the momentum going on projects that seem insurmountable at first."
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
"So many influences! In the food space, I love Sprouted Kitchen, Amy Chaplin, Alison Roman, Ottolenghi, and many many others. For lifestyle, PINTEREST!, Marie Kondo (of course!), Melissa Wood Health, and the Nutritional Therapy Association (through which I became a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner!). For managing my mind, I look to The Life Coach School. I became inspired to do what I’m doing now when I realized I had figured out a way to eat healthfully without stressing about it - and that I could share what I know simply and visually to help others do the same."
Over the past few months, all businesses have been impacted in one way or another by COVID-19. How has your business pivoted to adapt to the new business environment?
"This pandemic has been an interesting time for my business because, in a way, it’s forced a lot of people to spend more time in their kitchens, whether they like it or not ;). My website traffic has increased dramatically during this time and so I’ve doubled down by trying to offer my audience even more easy, pantry-friendly recipes and simple meal planning strategies because I believe cooking weeknight meals should be a source of nourishment and comfort instead of a source of stress. My hope is that people come out of this pandemic feeling more calm and confident in the kitchen than ever."
What is one piece of advice that you'd like to share with our readers?
"The best piece of advice I can offer is this: start small. Whether it’s cooking at home more often, eating healthier, starting a business, or anything else, small incremental actions add up. Going too big right out of the gate usually leads to burn out, overwhelm, and ultimately, right back to where you started. It’s the (sometimes boring) small daily actions that will get you to your goal and truly change your life."
THE INTERVIEW DOESN'T STOP HERE...
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