To say that 2018 was a busy year for Rachel Krupa, is a bit of an understatement. In addition to running her successful public relations firm, Krupa Consultancy, the entrepreneur is also the force behind the consciously-minded convenience store, The Goods Mart, which opened its first outpost in Los Angeles’ Silverlake neighbourhood last spring and was swiftly followed by a second location in New York’s Soho district last October.
In under a year, The Goods Mart has quickly set a new standard for making better-for-you snacks, drinks and other convenience store mainstays more accessible by grouping them under one roof. Products that make the cut are not only made from healthier ingredients, but also better for the environment and often backed by a socially-driven mission. The store exclusively stocks items that shun GMOs, artificial colouring, pesticides, artificial flavoring and sweeteners. It is also committed to reducing the use of plastics (no single-serve plastic bottles here), always opting for reusable or recyclable packaging, while embracing a spirit of transparency with its clientele.
Rachel, a Michigan-native with a weakness for convenience stores and gas station minimarts, was spurred on to take up the mantle after learning about all the better consumer good options available out there, while developing her food and wellness-focused client portfolio for her PR agency.
She recalls, ‘Before, it was all about organic ingredients and knowing where things are coming from, but then things shifted about two years ago, and [the question was about] how do you make better food more accessible, and does everything need to be organic?’
‘As a publicist, you realize you have a voice and you actually can do good in the world, by choosing to work with clients who are looking to do better,’ she adds. ‘Obviously brands are there to make money, but are they making money while wanting to make the world a better place? In our role being able to connect with editors and connect with the world, I thought why don’t we work with those clients?’
The Goods Mart’s origins can be traced back to a monthly snack bag that Krupa Consultancy curated from its clients and would send to friends and editors. That turned into an idea for an exhibition presenting natural and organic foods on one side, juxtaposed by products with disease-causing ingredients and other nasties on the other side.
‘[The thought was], if we choose to eat better, why do we have to go into a small section of a grocery store and be alienated? Why can’t that be the entire store?’ Rachel reiterates. ‘It was a shift in that idea: maybe it’s not about the negative and calling out all the products that are bad for you, but creating a store that has everything that’s good for you. That’s what lead to The Goods. It was an accumulation of what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years of my life.’
The underlying philosophy of The Goods Mart is simply that there are better options out there for everything. Rachel says, ‘Rather than the processed stuff, just have real cane sugar. It’s about curating the best of the best, but also being conscious of price and then making sure that taste is number one. It’s always a balance of more accessibility and keeping the pillars of what you stand for.’
From stocking snacks such as Little Secrets chocolate wafers and Barbara’s all-natural Cheese Puffs, to sustainable home and beauty products like chlorine-free coffee filters, organic toothpaste and metal straws, there is something available at all price ranges. Other goodies include organic frozen fruit and kombucha slushies and La Colombe drip coffees, both served in paper cups and a curated assortment of prepared sandwiches and burritos from local favorite eateries, such as Burrito La Palma (LA) and Alidoro (NYC). What’s more, The Goods Mart is bolstered by a host of community-focused missions. At both locations, all tips in store go to local charities that rotate each month, while all soon to be expired food is donated to shelters and similar initiatives close by.
Rachel emphasises, ‘I don’t talk about it like we are a healthier store, but we’re better because we don’t have the artificial stuff. We still have things that have sugar, but it’s educating people about choosing a better option. We don’t go, ‘Everything has to have under 12g of sugar’ because that’s not what everyone wants. Everyone wants to have a range of things so it’s about having people understand that there are multiple pillars of how everyone should eat and not have one model fit everything.’
What does wellness mean to you?Wellness to me is the small things you can do everyday that make you feel good. They are the little things you could do in a minute of your day, or five minutes. Something that is an everyday thing is more wellness to me than anything else.
What are some of your cherished rituals?Every morning I’m up early and I work out. Literally I wake up and am in a workout class within 15 or 20 minutes of even being awake. Then I get home and chug a litre of water. I take some herbs, prescribed by my acupuncturist. I have a lot of heat, so they release heat. Then I take collagen and as I’m getting into the shower, I dry brush to warm up. I do an oil pull in the shower to save time, and then I take any other vitamins I need to take and get out as quickly as possible. I always have little essential oils with me so throughout the day, I’ll put essential oils on. And I always try to remember to breathe.
Saturdays are my self-care days, where I try to get a massage, put my phone away for a couple hours and go work out without it. I regularly do IV drips, acupuncture and massages, otherwise I will go crazy. I try to do those twice a month, especially when I travel.
How do you end your day?When I get home, I drink water – I try to drink two litres a day, which is hard. Take more pills, I really like the Plant People CBD pill, Be Calm. I’m bad, I work on email throughout the night. I do The Goods work in the morning, especially when I’m in New York and then at 3pm, I switch to LA time, which goes until 9pm, when the Krupa Consulting LA office closes. I do calls and check-ins with the team. Before I go to bed, I use rosewater and burn palo santo, wash my face and mask (or work with a mask on.)
What is your preferred mode of exercise?
Pilates and yoga. I feel best when I strengthen and lengthen my body at the same time. It allows my brain to focus on my body rather than my ‘to-do’ list.
How does your work reflect your outlook on life?
I never want to do anything if I’m not happy. My only rule in life [is], if I’m not happy, why do it? I’m not driven by dollars so much. Obviously I want a comfortable life, but at the same time, happiness comes first.
If you’re feeling down or stressed, what’s your surefire pick-me-up?
I’m a believer that sometimes if you cry things out, you’ll feel so much better. I’m an emotional person, where every emotion is crying. Anything is just tears and I have no control. Just let it out – you’ll feel better.
What one thing can’t you live without?
A cozy sweater - it’s my security blanket.
How do you regulate being on your phone?
It’s hard. I try and I still look at it. Around 3 or 4pm everyday, I try to leave the office or wherever to go get an iced tea or matcha. To get away from computers and get out of phones to actually walk. I walk for about 15 to 20 minutes halfway. I also just started putting the ‘do not disturb’ mode on from 10.30pm to 7am.
What are some of the biggest issues on your mind today?
Food accessibility. We have so many hungry individuals in the United States, at the same time we have so much food waste. There needs to be a better way to solve the problem. I also think a lot about the homeless population in New York and LA.; how we can help them, improve and educate more on mental health issues, and how we can help get these individuals a roof over their heads.
What aspect of wellness do you think people should talk more about?
I love how people are talking more about things; sexual health, feminine health and reproductive health. Conversations about those kinds of things, like menopause, why don’t those exist? I think we’re doing it more, but there needs to be more. There should never be a fear of what people think when you’re asking a question.
Words: Pei-Ru Keh
Photography: Ye Rin Mok