We recently got to meet Chamberlin Newsome of wonderful mushroom blend, Powderful. Now, her co-founder, Nicola Cartwright, lets SBS in on her part in the company as the nutritionist, supporting the science behind the brand.
Originally from Northern England, Cartwright has also lived in Bangkok, London, and New York. Now, the Austin, TX, resident looks back on her childhood with a mother who was passionate about eating healthy, spending tons of time outdoors and exercising as being lucky, though at the time she didn’t appreciate the lack of processed foods or sweets.
Her path to becoming a nutritionist was bolstered by those experiences, and also filled with compassion after having recovered from an eating disorder. On her quest to improve her own health, she realized she wanted to help others too. Below, she shares more about her path to her career, Powderful and more. Read on!
SBS: What was your path to becoming a nutritionist?
Nicola Cartwright: My upbringing and growing up in the 90s definitely had undesirable effects on me that put me on this path: While working through an eating disorder, I tried to educate myself on the damage caused by depriving the body of nutrients. On the flip side, the rates of obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic illnesses in the UK were sky-rocketing, so I decided I wanted to study nutrition so I could help and educate others on how to take care of their bodies and live a healthy life. I got my Bachelors in Nutrition and Exercise Sciences and worked as a nutrition and fitness coach during my studies and after graduating.
Even when I moved to Thailand and worked as a teacher for two years, I provided healthy eating education materials for the parents. I was very passionate about helping others to feel better!
In 2015, I moved to London to work for a dietary supplement company as their Senior Nutritionist and Product Designer, creating supplements for the fitness world. I moved with the company to New York in 2016, and I coached transformation teams on nutrition and fitness while they used the supplements I had created. I was always more interested in herbal ingredients over sports nutrition, so when my Chamberlin reached out to me to work on Powderful, I was so happy to be involved!
SBS: How did you get involved in Powderful? What made it interesting and appealing to you?
NC: I knew my co-founder from our days volunteering for an events company in New York. Chamberlin and her partner had been mixing up a blend of adaptogens and were thinking of selling it. Since I had so much experience in the industry, they invited me to join them. I had been using adaptogens for a lot of years, and I was obsessed with them! I had never been able to create my own product with them as I was working in sports nutrition. So this opportunity was perfect.
SBS: How does your partnership with Chamberlin work?
NC: Working with another strong, powerful woman has been a pleasure. We are trying to create the company values now for when we take on staff, and that includes honest, constructive feedback, education, accountability, empathy and support. It’s been great to create something with someone who has the same values.
SBS: What is your advice for starting a company like Powderful? And what about advice for partnering with a friend?
NC: Know your industry and competition! You need to be able to set yourself apart from everyone else, so make sure you are different.
Partnering with a friend has been wonderful for us. If you go down that route you should make sure you are clear on responsibilities, and that you're comfortable enough to give and receive constructive criticism like we do. There are also going to be times when you have different opinions. Are you comfortable debating a point without it affecting the friendship?
SBS: What are the most common nutrition misconceptions?
NC: There are so many!
- Fat is bad and low-fat diet products are good. This was a conclusion from studies in the 70s, and in one, a scientist was bribed to falsify results to hide the fact that sugar was bad. Fat has amazing health benefits! Diet products tend to be highly processed and full of sugar. Eat whole foods, avoid processed foods, and enjoy everything in moderation.
- Supplements are a waste of money. Supplements can be incredibly helpful for nutrient deficiencies, as well as healing with energy levels, immune function, skin health, and so much more.
- Carbs make you gain weight. Nope! Eating more than you burn off makes you gain weight! Whole grains are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and beneficial to health. Just avoid carbs from processed foods such as chips, cookies and soda.
SBS: What are three nutritional concepts that are a helpful start for anyone?
- Eating in a 12-hour window (or less) each day helps with weight management and allows your digestive system time to clean and heal, among other health benefits.
- Ignore the fad diets! They are a waste of time and aren’t a long-term solution for your health. Focus on a variety of nutritious, whole foods, and pay attention to your body and how it feels when you eat a certain way. Find what works for your body rather than following a set diet.
- As your digestive system contains 70% of your immune system, keeping your gut health in check is so important. Tap water, processed foods, sugar, seed and vegetable oils, alcohol, pesticides, and conventional dairy are the main culprits in our diets, with stress, poor sleep, and toxic household and personal products also making an impact.
SBS: What is the shape of the company now, and what are your hopes for its growth?
NC: We launched earlier in 2022 and, so far, have 100% five-star reviews, which we are so happy with! We’re growing steadily, and are currently working on some exciting collaboration opportunities. We hope to be ranked as one of the top mushroom brands this time next year. If anyone is interested in finding out more about Powderful, they can check us out @bepowderful on IG, or www.powderful.com (code NICOLA25).
SBS: What advice would you give to yourself starting the brand from what you know now? What would you have done differently?
NC: We definitely have worked out what works and what is a waste of time when it comes to growing the business. My advice to us back then would be to put more time into networking and connecting with others who genuinely support us, rather than looking for influencers and sending free packages to so many people.
SBS: What's your wellness routine like? What's your version of self-care?
NC: While I’m ridiculously busy most days, I have non-negotiables to keep my physical and mental health on track. Every day starts with 20 minutes of me-time for reading/meditation/brain training, then an hour and a half of walking and running with my dog, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of strength training. At lunch time I take 30 minutes for yoga and nutritious food. In the evening, I have 20 minutes of me-time again.
SBS: How do you manage all of your different activities?
NC: I have to have structure. I have set hours for certain tasks and always schedule regular breaks. I also have notifications turned off while I’m in a block of work. I’ve learned to listen to my body. If I’m struggling to focus or my mental health is suffering that day, I will take a walk, dance, listen to music, or meditate. And when I’ve given myself that space rather than forcing it, I can generally get back to work.
SBS: How has your life changed professionally and personally since COVID started?
NC: While COVID wasn’t an easy time for anyone, the things that have come from it have been positive for me. Personally, I got married: Strangely the stress and close quarters of quarantine made us closer! I also made the decision to leave the supplement company I was working for and to focus on Powderful. Both were huge decisions that I’m happy I made.
The best, zaniest part of being Nicola: I would say my best part is being a good friend and being unapologetically me! I have a sense of humor that’s an acquired taste. I don’t fit in with many people, but I stay true to who I am, and I look after those close to me.
Nicola’s SBS Mantra: Be Present. Learning to be present and mindful was a key part of my mental health journey!
Nicola’s Austin Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: Bouldin Creek Cafe
Splurge Restaurant: Justine’s
Fun Activity: Paddleboarding or bat watching!
Calming Activity: Drawing
Yoga Studio: Black Swan Yoga
Athletic Shoes: Nike
Books: Why Buddhism Is True by Robert Wright, Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Online Resources: Dr. Rhonda Patrick (nutrition, wellness), Dr Michael Greger (vegan, nutrition)