When the modeling jobs stopped coming in, I quickly found myself in a pretty rough financial situation.
A few times a week I rented my apartment on AirBNB to make some money. I borrowed from my family and sent desperate emails to the accounting department at my agency to rush my last few paychecks.
I was so stressed, and felt isolated because I couldn’t even spend $3 to get coffee with a friend. I was two months late on rent and too depressed to reach out for help.
Something had to change.
I decided to inventory my day to see how I spent my time and figure out how to make money doing what I was already doing. The personal inventory showed I spent a lot of time sharing recipes and cooking for friends.
I shared my health journey on social media, and had built a great following. I also spent time answering emails from people who said that clean eating was a challenge: they didn’t know how to cook, they didn’t have time, they thought it was too expensive, they were overwhelmed with where to start.
I knew if they could feel the same high that I felt after transforming my diet, that they’d be more motivated to create it for themselves. But they needed a head start.
So I began cooking out of my tiny apartment kitchen – with no dishwasher, no dining table, no culinary training, and no business experience.
My clientele grew naturally and the next thing I knew I had a legitimate business. I couldn’t afford a taxi so I’d walk to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and lug 100 lbs of groceries home on the subway. I’d cook Whole30 compliant meals, photograph them, print a menu with all the ingredients, pack a cooler bag, and deliver them by foot and train all over Manhattan and Brooklyn. My landlord helped me install a second refrigerator in my studio apartment. Model Meals was born.
I started making videos and posting them to YouTube. I covered everything from “My Trader Joe’s Shopping List” to “5 Ways I Practice Self-Care Daily”. After all, the word “model” in Model Meals is about being a role model of how to live and eat cleaner.
But there was an issue: cooking out of my apartment was not only illegal, it was also limiting, in terms of how many people I could reach with this message.
Whole30 had been the catalyst for a complete lifestyle change: I’d developed a regular practice of meditation, fitness, getting great sleep, avoiding alcohol, journaling, and so much more. If I could help more people experience this lifestyle, it could completely change the world.
But I couldn’t reach the world by cooking for 10 people, and my apartment kitchen was at capacity. If I wanted to really do this I would have to get out of the desperate financial situation I’d fallen into.
I decided to move back to California and live with my parents. I packed my 200 pound dog into a rental car and drove cross country. Once I got settled, I teamed up with two amazing women to take Model Meals to the next level. In August of 2015, with no investment or business plan, we started cooking out of a shared kitchen space in Orange County, California and the rest is history.
Through sharing content online, I was discovered by one of the top talent agents in the world. I signed with William Morris Endeavor, and we are in the process of producing a show that will allow me to take my message of wellness to the mainstream.
I am rebuilding my modeling career with a focus on finding success at whatever size my body chooses to settle in. I’m working hard and remaining optimistic, but most importantly, I am putting my energy and soul into something I deeply believe in.
To me, being whole means being cohesive. Being one. And that starts with being whole within myself so that I can be a part of the greater “whole” in this world. I have created my dream life — and it started with food. After all, “If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?”